Sen. Chris Murphy: ‘We Cannot Tolerate An American Secret Police’

Federal law enfocement agents seen in Washington DC who would only identify themselves as working for the Justice Department were later identified as specialized teams from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.@dfriedman33 / Twitter

JakeThomas

Sen. Chris Murphy's bill is in response to reports of unidentified federal agents working protests in Washington DC.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) announced on Wednesday that he is working on legislation to ensure that federal law enforcement officers must clearly identify to the public which agency they represent, according to MSNBC.

  • Murphy wrote on Twitter: "We cannot tolerate an American secret police. I will be introducing legislation to require uniformed federal officers performing any domestic security duties to clearly identify what military branch or agency they represent."

  • MSNBC noted that such a move would likely seem unnecessary under normal circumstances, adding that “Americans have grown accustomed to seeing law-enforcement personnel in uniforms for many years, and in each instances [sic], they're easily identifiable.”

  • But these are not normal circumstances, the news outlet reported:

[A]s a Washington Post report noted yesterday, residents of the nation's capital have been confronted this week "with a number of other heavily armed law enforcement officers who share an unexpected characteristic: Neither their affiliation nor their personal identities are discernible.

Several D.C.-area journalists have highlighted the problem, including my MSNBC colleague Garrett Haake, who published a tweet yesterday from outside the White House, where he saw federal law enforcement "of some kind," with personnel who wouldn't identify themselves, and whose "insignias and name plates have been removed."

The agents who refused to say which agency they were from were later identified as specialized teams from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

However, The Post noted: in an analysis:

"Such anonymity echoes the way in which enforcers in autocratic regimes have worked to avoid accountability. If you believe that you were unlawfully detained or assaulted by a law enforcement official, you can try to hold them to account.... But how do you hold someone accountable when you don't know who they are or even who they work for?"

MSNBC suggested that at this time and place in the U.S., Murphy’s bill is likely to attract a number of co-sponsors.

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