Homeland Security – In a recently published report by the Center for American Defense Studies (CADS) in Washington, DC, which I help lead, Major General Donald McGregor, USAF, Ret., former lead advisor to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, asks critical questions about how and why the National Guard was deployed in such massive numbers to Washington, DC.
It also questions the legality of the deployments and the subsequent unprecedented political ‘screenings’ of Guard personnel tasked with Capitol defense.
Ostensibly requested to provide security after the outrageous attack by a mostly unarmed mob of a few hundred on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, the massive military effort eventually topped 26,000 troops. McGregor questions whether there was a proper threat assessment completed after January 6 to justify this over-the-top response.
He also notes that the January 6 riot is also being used to justify other inappropriate actions, such as the added ‘screening’ of Guardsmen, and the possible purge of troops in the regular military accused of undefined ‘extremism.’
Per his report:
That day’s tragic events are far-reaching and go well beyond the event itself. The malevolent behavior of a few laid the foundation for a disproportionate military response in support of the 59th Presidential Inaugural. Worse, it led to the unwarranted and ill-defined “screening” of our National Guard. And now a confusing ideological purge of military members accused of possible ‘extremism.’
Regarding the legality of the deployment, McGregor notes: “It remains unknown how the request unfolded and whether it was solely the Pentagon’s doing or went through more appropriate channels such as a civilian federal agency, the District of Columbia Mayor, local law enforcement—or did it come directly from the President?”
The report adds that “one state’s National Guard Adjutant General (AG) questioned the legality of the request for Guard support to civil disturbance operations in DC and possible lack of presidential authorization. The Adjutant General for Arizona denied National Guard support due to legal concerns, noting in a letter that it appeared the President’s involvement with this request was in question, which is legally problematic.”
The AG stated in his letter:
My legal team raised the above concerns, regarding the Posse Comitatus Act and related DoD regulatory prohibitions on the use of the Title 32 USC 502(f)(2)(A) status to perform direct support to law enforcement and civil disturbance operations in the District of Columbia.”
Further, the AG questioned, “The press release [11 January 2021 White House press release] does not mention Presidential approval for the use of DoD resources in support of civilian law enforcement and civil disturbance operations.
This is a serious unanswered question. Did President Trump actually authorize this massive military effort? Was it legal?
Another critical question is – What was the threat?
And was the threat properly assessed and defined? More specifically, as Maj. Gen. McGregor asks, “Was the National Special Security Event (NSSE) security planning process required for the Inauguration ignored or politicized?” He explains:
NSSE Security planning always begins with one thing – A threat assessment. This is fundamental to the planning process as it drives the security resources and commensurate response to secure the event. Put simply, what is the threat, how bad is it, and what do we do about it? DHS did release a “first of its kind” Homeland Threat Assessment October 6, 2020, before the election—an important document that can be used to build a baseline threat appraisal.
But the specifics of the event such as location, logistics, geographics, lines of communication, and local jurisdictions require a separate and more detailed review, not to mention a serious update after the January 6 riot. Since this threat assessment is supposed to drive the allocation of every security resource, threat level, and the need for additional background checks, was one completed?
From the publicly available reports, it appears that only a limited overall threat assessment was performed beyond the above noted October 2020 DHS Assessment. And it is very possible that it was not updated to incorporate the events of January 6.
Maj. General McGregor adds that based “on indicators such as a lack of logistical resources to support the increase in numbers, possible misuse, and violation of policies and/or statutory military activation laws, improper assigned missions and roles, hasty and unwarranted additional screening, and questionable outside pressure, make it appear that the level of NG response had little to do with the actual threats and more to do with politics.”
These are just a few of the serious concerns, and unanswered questions regarding the still ongoing – and potentially illegal – deployment of National Guard troops to our nation’s capital. Maj. Gen. McGregor asks many more, especially about the legality and justification for the politicized ‘screening’ of National Guard troops sent to DC.
The most important question though, is – where are the answers?