Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr., Trump's likely nominee to head Homeland Security, has advocated for holding Americans suspected of terrorism “indefinitely” at the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Yesterday, President-elect Donald Trump met with David Clarke, the controversial sheriff of Milwaukee County, at Trump Tower as he and his transition team work to fill out the remaining Cabinet positions in his upcoming administration. Clarke has been reported to be Trump’s likely pick for the leading role at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration enforcement, the Secret Service, the TSA, the Coast Guard, and FEMA. Though many of Trump’s selected and potential cabinet picks have caused alarm among his detractors, Clarke may be one of the most controversial figures vying for a cabinet position. Clarke, an African-American, became a hero among conservatives largely due to his scathing criticisms of the anti-police brutality group Black Lives Matter. Clarke has referred to the nationwide movement as both “vile” and “slimy” while also blaming it for a string of recent police murders. Clarke has also praised the acquittal of police officers involved in very well-known cases of police brutality against African-Americans, such as the acquittal of an officer involved in the death of Freddie Gray.
However, Clarke’s most alarming positions relate to his views on how to best tackle terrorism. As the Department of Homeland Security was essentially formed to prevent terror attacks within the US following the September 11th attacks, Clarke, if appointed, would essentially direct the government’s response to domestic terror threats. In his upcoming memoir, “Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America,” Clarke argues for treating any and all American citizens suspected of terrorism as “enemy combatants,” denying them their right to an attorney, and trying them in military tribunals as opposed to civilian courts. He has also advocated for detaining suspects indefinitely, which is already legal under US law thanks to the NDAA’s indefinite detention clause. However, if Clarke is appointed, it seems likely that it would be utilized more frequently than it has been under the Obama administration.
Equally concerning is Clarke’s call to round up Americans who sympathize with terrorists or their causes, whether verbally or via social media, and to ship them to the US’ offshore prison in Guantanamo Bay. The controversial prison on Cuban soil has been a contentious issue in US politics for years and was also one of Obama’s many undelivered campaign promises in the 2008 election. However, Clarke has made it very clear that he wants to greatly expand the Guantanamo Bay prison, which has never held more than 800 prisoners and currently holds 149. On his radio show in December of last year, Clarke said that his proposals on combating terrorism would allow him to imprison up to 1 million people in the facility.
The problem with this is that the terms “terrorism” and “terrorist sympathizer” are all very difficult to define. Currently, Homeland Security includes a number of very common behaviors and activities as being suspicious and potentially related to terrorism. Ironically, many of these activities/behaviors could implicate a large number of Trump supporters as potential domestic terrorists. They include: the expression of libertarian philosophies, supporting the 2nd amendment, being a “prepper,” believing in survivalism or self-sufficiency, fear of economic collapse, expressed fears of big government or “Big Brother,” and religious views concerning the book of Revelation (i.e. most Christians). Other “warning signs” include homeschooling, being anti-vaccine, and believing in the New World Order or other “conspiracy theories.” According to Rand Paul, having more than 7 days of food in your own home can make you a target. If Clarke is selected, his extreme views on how to handle “terrorists” could end up targeting liberals and conservatives alike, as well as those who find themselves somewhere in between.
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