The expected and constant barrage of propaganda arrived exactly on time this weekend, but some of its content caught many of us off guard. The gossip largely concerns reports of “Masked federal jackbooted thugs, arriving in unmarked cars, tactically kitted” coming to “Black Bag anybody who even looks like a protester” from the greater Portland Area! It wasn't the volume or the consistent omission of facts that surprised me, but instead the unexpected effectiveness of this most recent campaign. I will fully admit to spending most of Friday and part of Saturday feeling more than a little conflicted about the reports I was reading. I have spent the last several days digging into a few of those claims and would like to share what I found.
Let me begin by stating upfront that I am always and entirely open to being corrected. Send me any evidence which contradicts these claims and I will not only fully retract my statements, I will go on the offensive as far as that fact is concerned. I am only interested in truth, not narrative convenience.
1: The federal agents in Portland do in fact have their badge numbers visible, contrary to essentially every report. This is line is particularly popular among the social media activist crowd. When in tactical gear, the badge number is displayed on a patch on their left sleeve. The only ones who do not have this identification, just like a month and a half ago in DC, are the FBOP. They are not required to have identifying info on their gear.
For clarity's sake let's talk briefly about why that is. Not having names on tactical gear makes practical sense in a prison environment. The tactical gear is largely shared and not assigned to a single individual because of the realities of grabbing gear from the closest available locker in a prison riot. The prison has excellent documentation capabilities via surveillance systems and centrally operated door systems. They generally know where each staff member is supposed to be within the prison at all times, thus it becomes less necessary. When the FBOP was created nobody thought they might be called on to serve outside of prisons, so criticism and change can be made there. However, currently, no law prevents them from being used in this way, nor does it require a uniform change before they do.
Again, apart from the couple dozen FBOP guys in each city, they each have their badge number visible on the flap of their left shoulder pocket sleeve. Directly below that will be a patch letting you know what agency they work for. In the example below, taken in Portland over the weekend, you can clearly see his badge number and his US Border Patrol Patch. The same has been true for every photo I have seen thus far.
2: There have been no credible reports of anybody being "Black Bagged." This is a specific term and the people using it both left and right are referring to the powers granted to the executive branch under the NDAA. Specifically, they are talking about the power to detain anybody the executive branch label a terrorist, including US citizens, indefinitely without trial. It's what they use to keep the people in Gitmo, and they have specifically refused to add language excluding American citizens on US soil during two separate votes taken years apart. Both the right and left agreed on the NDAA, apart from a handful of resistors on each side who were easily quashed. This was created and passed under the Obama administration. It's horrifying, we should absolutely fight to get it repealed (IMHO entirely, but we can't even get this part done right now) and I have been doing so for years at every opportunity.
However, I refuse to make judgments in the absence of evidence, and I try even harder not to do so when a narrative plays to my biases. Let's be very clear about this: After a weekend of heavy research I have only seen reports of people getting scooped up and released within hours, people getting arrested and held for federal crimes, and one extremely suspicious viral video (which I will get to in point 5.) Nobody has claimed their friends are missing after being scooped up, apart from the few who have been held and charged already. I have yet to see a single credible report thus far. Keep in mind, the feds have the authority to detain you for up to 72 hours (not including weekends or holidays) if they so much as suspect you of a federal crime. They don't have to charge you with anything to do so, and that power has nothing to do with the NDAA, it's simply long-standing federal law. The arrests and detentions started on Thursday night. As weekend time is not counted towards the 72-hour detention window, the soonest we could even begin to credibly claim anybody is being black bagged is the evening of the 21st.
Just in case the implications of that last bit went over your head let me go over it again. The Feds can hold you for 72 on suspicion alone. They don't have to charge you. If they don't present charges the only paperwork they have to do is internal unless they book you into jail, then they have to do mugshots and intake paperwork which is what people generally use to confirm an arrest. If they have space and availability of resources they probably won't send you to jail in a situation like this. Seems pretty likely they will just toss you in the holding cell at a station or at the federal offices so they have easy access to you for questioning. No external paperwork there unless they keep you over the 72 without charges.
So, for the sake of argument lets try to get in the heads of agents who are actually carrying out such an operation. Say they really were out on the streets looking to black bag Antifa members and haul them off to a new Gitmo for American citizens. They wouldn't just pick up anybody, That's not just a waste of resources, which they have few enough of on the ground right now, but is also a PR nightmare. So they start scooping people up based on surveillance, confidential informants, Intel gathered by undercover agents, and tip evidence collected over the last 2 and a half months of rioting. You start making pickups, but it turns out that because they all dress in black block specifically as a tactic to make it hard to identify the violent thugs, it's hard to always get the right person out of a crowd. Let's say during their operation they grab some poor general population citizen just out in a black hoodie at the wrong time (which happened a couple of times this weekend.) Do you think they let him go during the middle of the operation, having the potential to tell people what happened, alerting your targets and potentially publicly exposing your sure to be controversial operation to the public? (This is what they have been doing so far) Or do you simply say you suspected them of a crime (which you did or you wouldn't have nabbed them) and then hold them for the full term allowed by federal law while you continue your sweep up, thus keeping some semblance of operational security in place? Probably the second one, right? So, if they are black bagging people for real they are doing it in the most idiotic manner one could imagine from a tactical point of view, or, more likely, they are just making arrests and detaining people they suspect of federal crimes, then letting them go if they don't turn up anything that would hold up in court.
Next let's consider motive, as all good investigators should. This operation is being driven by Trump, and he is very public about it. They announced “Operation Legend” in a press conference back on the 8th. All of this is a part of that operation. Trump is in the middle of a tense election cycle, and there has been rioting in many major American cities for 53 days now. His side, and most of those likely to vote for him, want to see those people put on trial for the crimes the saw them commit on national television, and they are practically frothing for it. Make no mistake about it, they're absolutely absolutely were people braking some pretty egregious federal laws, so it's not like they have to make up some kind of crazy solution like using the NDAA to grab most of those people either. Not only does he not need to use the NDAA, but he is also entirely disincentivized to do so, as the people won't get the trials they are clamoring for. Instead, his logical next move is to just come down heavy with federal law enforcement in the way almost any president would against any other group who breaks federal law so blatantly. The federal system has a 98% conviction rate, no bail, no parole, and I hear they are not taking plea deals lower than the maximum sentence. He definitely wants them to go thru the federal system, not the black site system, if for no other reason then for PR.
Again, I am absolutely open to being proven wrong. Send me evidence of it happening. I will dig into it until I get to the bottom of it. We should absolutely take reports like this seriously, we just shouldn't take them at face value.
3: This one is pretty simple and obvious, but let's talk about Feds using unmarked rental cars. They get flown in from all over the country for a special assignment. It's probably four to five times the number of federal officers who are usually in town. They are here because people have been surrounding the federal courthouse, attacking police and federal agents, and trying to light the court building on fire on a nightly basis. They have already surrounded and attacked or burned several police vehicles up to this point as well, and have actively attacked officers trying to make arrests in the crowd. Your goal here is to arrest the ring leaders driving the violence in the crowd. To add on to all this, local agencies you usually depend on are not being allowed to give you voluntary assistance in any way upon direct order from the mayor and governor.
So, there's the situation. First off, do you think the feds just have 50 some odd extra marked federal vehicles laying around every large town “just in case?”? Hell no. When the feds come to town they generally do 1 of 3 things. Generally, they come in small enough numbers that their own agencies can handle a couple of extra vehicles it will take. If that's not possible, they ask the local agencies for help and extra equipment. If that's not available then just use unmarked rental cars or the car they drove in with. Nothing sinister about that, just logistics. So, that part is standard procedure, but it also plays to their advantage right now, as the crowd will have a harder time knowing which vehicles to attack or run away from.
4: Very briefly, some have said that federal officers don't have jurisdiction in Portland. I don't know what kind of cracked out back-alley lawyer told you that, but it's flat out not true. The feds have authority across state lines so long as they are perusing you for a federal crime. Additionally, Oregon has provisions in it's constitution giving federal officers additional jurisdiction within the state. They are legally in the right to make arrests there under a wide variety of circumstances, and everything I have seen them charge the ones they are holding with falls under that umbrella.
5: We finally come to it. The video which sparked all this panic. The only incident I have seen documented in any format, extremely surprising in itself given the protesters propensity for recording authorities, of someone actually getting scooped up. If you haven't seen the clip yet, here is a good shaved down look at the raw video, sorry in advance for sending you to the cesspool of twitter:
Unlike all the other points on the list, there isn't a whole lot of evidence surrounding this apart from the video itself, which is strange. Because of this, we are left to draw conclusions based on the video itself. So, what did we see in the video? Did you notice the guy being detained doesn't struggle or try to run at all, even though the officers are in full tac gear and he could probably lose them pretty quick in a crowd with his black block outfit? Did you see how he keeps his hand visible and then places them behind his back without being told to do so? Did you notice that they didn't give him any commands or even try to flexicuff him? Did you notice that the only thing the guys says during the whole encounter is, “I didn't do anything wrong” a few times in the beginning, and then clams up hard? There is a crowd of people there supporting him without him saying a word, and he doesn't say “Help!” or “is somebody filming this?” or even just try to raise a commotion as they always do to make the cops look bad? The protesters ask his name, something I would absolutely want to give out if I thought I was being nabbed by masked unknown guys in military kit, but he says nothing. He stays silent even after being told the friendly protesters want his name so they can give it to a local org that has been bailing out rioters and legally representing them free of charge. He walks calmly to the van and gets in the back with no fuss.
So, what am I driving at by point out all this strange behavior and incongruities? Every single person I have spoken to who has done any amount of undercover work has stated pretty firmly that this is almost definitely a textbook informant pickup. Aside from everything else I have already gone over, in the current environment inside downtown Portland they are not going to send just two agents out to do a pickup of somebody who is potentially going to violently resist, or have people around them who will violently resist you arresting the target, they would send a team. There would be at least 1 officer per target, plus a few extra to do crowd work and secure the vehicle.
These are the facts as far as I have been able to find them. Read it or not, heed it or not, it's entirely up to you. I for one am not falling for or supporting this line of propaganda any longer. The supposed issue of “Federal Storm Troopers disappearing peaceful protesters off the streets of Portland,” really just seems to be rioters getting arrested for committing federal crimes by federal agents.
I am not a fan of the federal government or the unconstitutional powers they have granted themselves, but the facts are the facts, and until somebody presents evidence to the contrary you are just being a useful idiot for the communists by spreading it. As long as the feds are doing things above board and in the federal court system, I am happy to see arsonists and people trying to push their horrible ideology on others with violence being stopped and removed from society for a while so they can't hurt innocent people.