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‘Does the Land of the Free Need a KGB?’ Yale Expert on Tyranny Condemns Trump’s Militarized Federal Police Crackdown in Portland

Yale University historian Timothy Snyder condemned President Donald Trump’s militarized federal crackdown on protests in Portland and other U.S. cities, likening the Draconian moves to those of dictators and authoritarian leaders he studied for his book On Tyranny.

Appearing on The 11th Hour with Brian Williams on Friday, Snyder discussed the heavily armed response the Trump administration resorted to in Portland and the shocking images of the violent clashes with protestors, some of whom were snatched off the street by unnamed agents and whisked away in unmarked vans.

“Your book enumerates so much of what we’ve seen, I should hasten to add, before we saw it,” the MSNBC host said, referring to Snyder’s prescient, 2017 book on tyrannical political leaders. “Buildings with the leaders’ name on them, military parades and on and on. It also enumerates the sight we have now seen in Portland, Oregon,” Williams added, before pointing to the camoflauged, combat-style deployment that has ignited bipartisan outrage.

“Yeah. I mean the question is does the land of the free need a KGB? I would say the answer is no,” Snyder replied. “The United States of America does not need a secret police. We do not need a police force which appears without insignia, which doesn’t identify itself, and which pulls random people off the street. That’s the nightmare of an authoritarian or totalitarian state.”

Snyder went on to warn that this kind of conduct by a government can fast descend a slippery slope to other, more extreme provocations and abuses of power.

“History tells us that the people, the men who staff these kinds of organizations, are very often people with experience in lawless zones. That means concentration camps or places like our detention centers,” he noted. “It tells us that they are very often people of experience defending a border or working at a border, which again is the case here. And another thing which is concerning is that all of this is takes place not on the basis of law, but on the basis of a conspiracy theory. The president mouths dangerous words like ‘anarchists’ and so on and ‘terrorists.’ That’s all a conspiracisy theory. Nothing like that is happening in the United States. These are historical reasons to be very concerned. This is why in the book I said be wary of paramilitaries and also be reflective if you must be armed. These are things we should be keeping in mind. We, of course, can see the dangers, can still talk about it and can still stop it and we should do the right thing before it’s too late.”

Watch the video above, via MSNBC.

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