Shining a Light on Shady, Menacing, Unbadged Armed Forces

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If driving the news cycle and the broader media conversation about national security weren’t high-impact enough, you’ll be inspired to know that Mother Jones reporter Dan Friedman did both and much more last week, when his exclusive front-line dispatches and chilling photographs from the protests broke a defining story across America. Shady armed forces, without any badges or name tags, stood menacing watch over protesters in the nation’s capital. Asked who they’re with, they told Friedman opaquely “the Department of Justice” and “the federal government.”

Citing Friedman’s images and alert eye, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut announced, “We cannot tolerate an American secret police.” (COINTELPRO, anyone?) Murphy pledged to introduce legislation that requires “uniformed federal officers…to clearly identify what military branch or agency they represent.” Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon boosted Friedman’s work strongly: “This picture really troubles me. Armed forces in the nation’s capital, appearing to have been stripped of all badges and name tags—making them totally unaccountable to the people—is something I’d expect to see from a dictatorship, not a democracy.”

Newsrooms everywhere shined a collective light on Friedman’s essential work, giving all of us at Mother Jones added indication of the strength across not only our newsroom, but national media, in the search for transparency and truth. I’ll take my Recharge where I can. For those of you who can join me, consider supporting consequential reporting like Friedman’s, and enter the week on a high note.

And an even higher note, once you feast your eyes on Tilda Swinton’s doppelganger in kitten form. H/T to my colleague Nina Liss-Schultz for making Tilda happen.

Note that I linked COINTELPRO above to Nat Hentoff’s searing, definitive Village Voice essay “J. Edgar Bloomberg: COINTELPRO in NY,” from 2007, eerily echoing today. Read and share. And Friday was National Doughnut Day, which, to this copy editor, raises a timeless one: “doughnut” or “donut”? I’m pro-dough. Weigh in at

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