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Homeland Security labels ACLU call to dismantle a political stunt

Homeland Security labels ACLU call to dismantle a political stunt
© Washington Post/Pool

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Monday labeled the American Civil Liberties Union's call to dismantle the department a political stunt based on misinformation. 

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfTravel industry calls on Trump administration to prevent the need for quarantines by creating a testing plan Voting rights group files suit against Trump, administration officials alleging voter intimidation Business groups, universities file lawsuit over new rules targeting H-1B visas MORE slammed the ACLU’s request to “Dismantle DHS” as “merely an echo of ‘Abolish ICE’ and ‘Defund the Police’” in a Newsweek op-ed published about a week after the ACLU’s calls. 

“Americans have a keen sense for political stunts, and the ACLU's push to dismantle DHS is as close as it gets,” Wolf wrote. “To be clear: The ACLU sees violence on our streets and its first instinct is to criticize law enforcement and call for the dismantling of the very institution established to protect the homeland, the American people and our values.”

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The ACLU's call to get rid of the agency came weeks after DHS officers were deployed to Portland, Ore., to respond to protests there last months and reports circulated that federal officers detained demonstrators in unmarked vans.

Wolf emphasized the violence associated with the protests saying “lawless criminals” made efforts in “looting businesses, attempting to burn down government buildings and assaulting law enforcement officers.” He asserted the ACLU “slanders DHS law enforcement by labeling our efforts toward peace in Portland as ‘paramilitary.’”

“Given that the ACLU's complaints rely so heavily on misinformation, it comes as no surprise that the organization offers no real solutions,” the acting secretary wrote. “Instead, the organization advocates rewinding the clock to September 10, 2001, when critical intelligence was stovepiped and federal agencies were fragmented.”

“Willfully ignoring DHS's duty, the ACLU permits its all-consuming political disdain for this administration to eclipse these facts,” Wolf added.

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The Department of Homeland Security was created in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as part of an effort to improve communication and coordination among government intelligence agencies. 

But the ACLU labeled it in a series of tweets last week as a “fail[ed] experiment” that became a “badge of shame” under President TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE.

“Nearly 20 years of abuse, waste, and corruption demonstrate the failure of the DHS experiment. Many knew DHS to be an ineffective superagency, but President Trump has converted DHS into our government’s most notable badge of shame,” the tweets said.

“Dismantling DHS, breaking it apart into various federal agencies, and shrinking its federal budget will allow for more effective oversight, accountability and public transparency,” it added.

The tweets linked to a USA Today op-ed by Executive Director Anthony Romero. 

The ACLU also responded to Wolf's op-ed, saying in tweets and an online post that "Dismantling DHS is not a stunt — it is defending the Constitution. You should try it sometime."

The organization has filed a lawsuit against DHS and the U.S. Marshals Service for their actions during the Portland demonstrations.

—Updated at 7:55 p.m.