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The head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday vigorously defended the use of federal law enforcement agents to respond to unrest in Portland, Ore.
Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf in a "State of the Homeland" address pointed to a series of threats the agency has responded to this year, while in particular rebutting the criticism and "narrative" that he says paints the federal officials as menacing and escalating chaos rather than protecting people and property.
"We cannot and must not fall victim to the delusion of a fringe minority of Americans who are opposed to the honorable men and women who wear the badge who swear to protect our communities," Wolf said at the podium.
He also knocked unnamed individuals that he said masquerade as experts, who have criticized the protests in Portland without evaluating the situation on the ground.
Federal officials have said they are seeking to protect federal property in Portland, pointing to vandalism and other violence that has spilled out over protests related to race relations in the U.S. Democrats and other critics, meanwhile, have alleged that federal officials were sent without proper training and that they have made the violence worse.
"It's been disappointing to see so-called experts criticize our response in Portland without understanding the facts on the ground," Wolf said.
"It's unsettling that the self-appointed experts rush to criticize the uniform men and women of DHS, working to save lives and defend federal property, even before they condemn the violent behavior of a rioting mob," the DHS chief added.
Wolf also praised DHS for its efforts to confront an array of threats, including the COVID-19 pandemic, cyberattacks, transnational criminal activity, illegal immigration, civil unrest, natural disasters and malign actors.
"We're here because this administration did something uncommon here in D.C. We did precisely what we said we would do," Wolf said.
Wolf ticked off what he describes as feats by the Trump administration, including their seizure of hard drugs and President Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
While Trump has come under fire for his response to the deadly virus — which has infected more than 6.3 million in the U.S. and killed more than 189,000 — Wolf directed his criticism at China and the World Health Organization.
"President Trump's decisive and rapid action led to our federal government to pursue a whole-of-America response, which continues to deliver results — very locally executed, state-managed and federally supported strategy," Wolf said.
The address also comes two days ahead of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which ultimately led to the creation of DHS to help protect the homeland from threats like terrorism.
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