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DC National Guard Whistleblowers Expose the Jan. 6 Debacle

After years of finger-pointing on both sides, the culprits appear to have been discovered.

On April 17, the Oversight Subcommittee of the Committee on House Administration held a hearing titled “Three Years Later: D.C. National Guard Whistleblowers Speak Out on January 6 Delay.” The purpose of this hearing was to get to the bottom of why National Guard troops were not deployed to the US Capitol until after 6 p.m. on that now-infamous day. By that time, violent confrontations with Capitol Police and the breach of the Capitol building had taken place. The four whistleblowers who testified put a few false or inaccurate Jan. 6 narratives to rest – but, as expected, Democrats on the committee were interested only in pointing the finger at former President Donald Trump.

The central questions of the hearing were: Who had the authority to order the National Guard deployment? Who gave the order? Why did it come so late in the day?

As the four witnesses explained, the Capitol Police, early in the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, had frantically requested the support of the DC National Guard – which was ready, willing, and able to deploy soldiers to the Capitol Rotunda from the DC armory just a couple of miles away.

Acting US Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller gave the order mid-afternoon, but, according to the whistleblowers – all career soldiers and former senior members of the DC National Guard – Miller’s order didn’t go any farther than the Secretary of the Army, who has authority over that force.

Indecision or Something Worse on Jan. 6?

The witnesses described a conference call – which they were all on – with two senior officers at the Pentagon. They testified that these two officers were more concerned with the “optics” of deploying National Guard troops to the Capitol than they were with the safety of the building itself and those inside it. The most outspoken of the witnesses, Colonel Earl Matthews, chief legal adviser to the DC Army National Guard, observed that there had been a small group of senior officers within the Pentagon who claimed to be concerned that then-President Trump would use the military for his own benefit. Matthews further pointed out that these officers owed their positions to General Mark Milley, who, at the time, was serving as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – and who is known to be no fan of Trump.

Matthews implied heavily that forces were at work within the senior echelon at the Pentagon to thwart or undermine Trump’s control of the military. So, what possible motivations were there to dither while Trump’s supporters swarmed Capitol Hill?

The hearing’s witnesses agreed that it really came down to incompetence, confusion, or fear at the Pentagon. But there’s no disregarding the possibility that anti-Trump army commanders didn’t want those National Guard troops on the ground for other reasons. Matthews laughed off the fear he had described among a few officers: that Trump would somehow personally rally the DC National Guard to keep him in power by force of arms. The scenario, one supposes, involves the outgoing commander-in-chief showing up on Capitol Hill, bypassing the entire existing chain of command, and personally ordering the National Guardsmen to do … what? Storm the building, detain members of Congress, and bring the constitutional process of certifying the election results to an end – at gunpoint? Such an episode could only be thought up in the fevered brains of Trump Derangement Syndrome victims.

Alternatively, perhaps those Pentagon officers didn’t want the Guardsmen deployed because they knew the more dangerous and chaotic the situation became, the worse Trump would look. That’s wildly speculative, of course, and, in normal times, such a thought process coming from US Army officers would be unimaginable. But, then again, we’re back to Trump Derangement Syndrome – and what it renders certain people capable of thinking and doing.

Some Democrats on the subcommittee repeatedly asserted that Trump himself should have called the Acting Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of the Army and demanded that they deploy the National Guard immediately. However, Miller already had all the authority he needed to order the deployment. He didn’t require further permission from Trump. One witness, retired Command Sergeant Major Michael Brooks, said that it would have been “highly irregular” for the commander-in-chief himself to order the DC National Guard to deploy.

Matthews went further. He told the committee: “During that time they were talking about the president improperly using the military and they wanted to take precautions against that use. So, they want to have it both ways – to say he didn’t call. But if he would have called, they would have said he was trying to interfere with the chain of command.”

Rumors, stories, and conspiracy theories put to rest, then? If these Jan. 6 National Guard whistleblowers are credible – and there’s no reason to suspect they are not – then the blame for the Guard’s late deployment rests squarely with senior Pentagon officers who inappropriately disrupted the chain of command.

Read More From Graham J Noble

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