As a military veteran, I still live by the oath I swore to protect and defend the Constitution.

When Trump tried invoking the Insurrection Act to quell civil unrest with U.S. troops, my fears about Trump became reality. Fortunately, his threats created crises within the top military brass — his plan lost momentum.

However, the recent executive order, implementation of Operation Legend, and the use of “acting” officials, such as Chad Wolf, circumvents the need for the Insurrection Act. This effectively outsources the “duties” of suppressing dissent to Homeland Security contractors. Through legal loopholes, DHS repurposes agents from multiple federal agencies into “rapid deployment teams.” They are accountable only to President Trump.

Trump refuses diplomacy with Americans protesting systematic racism and police brutality. By unleashing paramilitary forces, he overrides state and local governments. It’s more than campaign antics, it’s textbook fascism ushered through eroded democratic institutions. To assume otherwise is to ignore deafening alarms.

On July 15, in Portland, Ore., unidentifiable paramilitary forces violently detained peaceful protesters. American citizens were snatched off the streets, restrained without cause and taken away in unmarked vans to unknown locations. This was an abduction. Where else will this happen? What’s next?

As a veteran, I vehemently oppose authoritarianism. I demand accountability for the actions of the DHS, and I demand it be carried out in public view. Furthermore, the House must pass legislation to invalidate this executive order and condition the Homeland Security appropriations bill to close the exploited loopholes and bring these extrajudicial abuses of power to a halt. I did not serve my country for our civil liberties to be suspended, for U.S. citizens to be fair game for abduction by the federal government.

James Stanley, Tehachapi

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