Nation correspondent on the federal police presence in Portland

The Nation's Washington correspondent Ken Klippenstein discussed the deployment of federal officers to Portland, Ore., and concerns about both their tactics and the transparency around them.

“They’re using what’s called Border Patrol Tactical Units… they wear military fatigues, camo, they’ll use night vision. So this is a very high level of sort of federal power to bring to bear against what is alleged to be vandalism and things like that,” Klippenstein said in a HillTV interview Monday, saying civil libertarians are alarmed by the use of not only unmarked vehicles but “essentially the SWAT equivalent of the Border Patrol.”

Klippenstein added that the forces had been present in the city for several weeks but their exact numbers were unclear, “and I think that is a lot of the origins of the concern over this is there’s a lack of transparency about it and it’s unclear what authority they’re using for it.”

He added that according to Department of Homeland Security documents he obtained, officers have been instructed to say they do not know how long their presence will last, “so it’s profoundly unclear what’s going on.”

Klippenstein lamented the “partisan prism that this is being put into,” saying the federal government descending on a city over the objections of local officials should be disturbing to conservatives as well.