Two men stand at the center of years of controversy. From draconian and heartless immigration policies to indifference towards the Bill of Rights, Attorney General William Barr and Acting Department of Homeland Security Director Chad Wolf have spent decades preparing for this moment. Today, they are testing the waters for all out authoritarian rule and the end of representational democracy in the United States.
Wolves at the Door
Even before Chad Wolf was appointed as the acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Policy, and Plans, he was well known in Washington. He had been a lobbyist and Assistant Administrator for Transportation Security Policy under Bill Clinton. The swamp never quite drains with each new administration, just dredges bureaucrats into new roles.
One of the roles Wolf held was with the small group of security thought leaders who crafted the infamous family separation policy that had displaced over 2,500 children with 1,500 still unaccounted for. And on the streets of Portland, Oregon, his federal coalition of troops is terrorizing American citizens using what he calls “preemptive” arrests without Due Process.
It is exactly this disregard for the law that made Wolf the perfect foil to help William Barr realize his intentions for the country.
Wolf’s career and penchant for ignoring legality made him the right prospect to enact policy crafted by Attorney General William Barr. Barr has succeeded in folding the entirety of the Justice Department and the White House Office of Legal Council into a singular entity that he effectively leads. Both offices had been a counterbalance to each other, but as Barr led both offices under various administrations, it was naturally easier to consolidate them in principle and mission, with his direction driving operations across both organizations.
Moral and legal questions aside, Barr has succeeded there and in neutralizing opposition from the Department of State, an entity with numerous unfilled vacancies after a massive exodus of leaders and key staffers who resigned early in the Trump presidency. During the 2019 impeachment trial, even more diplomats and foreign service workers resigned as Trump himself seemed intent on gutting the entire foreign service corps.
At the core of this cabal is a small army of high-level appointees, mere agency figureheads, to enact the policies Barr has imagined for decades; policies that are clearly unconstitutional and on full display in Portland, Oregon today.
The warning signs have been evident for decades. Even as this administration grew bolder, the evidence was there. James Risen wrote for the Intercept in June 2020 with a clear understanding of Barr’s obvious intent:
“Under Barr, the Department of Justice has two objectives: to suppress any investigation of President Trump and his associates, and to aggressively pursue investigations of his political rivals. The attorney general has turned the Justice Department into a law firm with one client: Donald Trump. Barr doesn’t even hide his intentions any longer.”
Risen points to the Flynn case and the firing of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Both are evidence to support the operational merger Barr had orchestrated instead of the measured check on executive power. Yet the installation of figurehead appointees has encompassed nearly every federal agency in the country with some, like Chad Wolf and his second at DHS, now serving illegally.