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US Military leaders are prepared to defend Pentagon response to Capitol riot at Senate hearing

03:30  03 march  2021
03:30  03 march  2021 Source:   cnn.com

Building an effective 9/11 commission for the Capitol riots

  Building an effective 9/11 commission for the Capitol riots An effective investigation must not be swayed by the considerations which properly drive politically-elected officials or the limitations which necessarily constrain state and federal courts. Such investigations are the work of commissioners, not congressmen or courts. Lawmakers from both parties have introduced bills to create one based on the 9/11 commission. A successful commission must have a broad mandate, a bipartisan membership and a threefold emphasis. Specifically, it must address the riot's character as a breakdown of law enforcement, a failure of antiterrorism efforts and a resurgence of fringe hate groups.

The Pentagon is ready to defend itself if necessary at a Senate hearing Wednesday against accusations it delayed or hindered the deployment of the National Guard on January 6, a senior defense official said, as two competing narratives emerge about the response to US Capitol riot .

How the US Capitol riot unfolded, minute by minute 04:47. At the same DC and Pentagon officials point fingers, they are preparing for the next major event to be held around the Capitol on January 20 with the inauguration of Prior to Wednesday, Capitol Police said it did not need military support. No other requests came in from They are usually only set in response to actions made by you, which

The Pentagon is ready to defend itself if necessary at a Senate hearing Wednesday against accusations it delayed or hindered the deployment of the National Guard on January 6, a senior defense official said, as two competing narratives emerge about the response to US Capitol riot.

a group of people standing in front of a building: WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 17: National Guard soldier head to the east front of the U.S. Capitol from the Capitol Visitors Center on January 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. After last week's riots at the U.S. Capitol Building, the FBI has warned of additional threats in the nation's capital and in all 50 states. According to reports, as many as 25,000 National Guard soldiers will be guarding the city as preparations are made for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. President. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) © Samuel Corum/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 17: National Guard soldier head to the east front of the U.S. Capitol from the Capitol Visitors Center on January 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. After last week's riots at the U.S. Capitol Building, the FBI has warned of additional threats in the nation's capital and in all 50 states. According to reports, as many as 25,000 National Guard soldiers will be guarding the city as preparations are made for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. President. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

During hearings last week, the former chief of the Capitol Police, as well as the former House and Senate Sergeant at Arms, all of whom resigned following the riot, accused law enforcement agencies of proving bad intelligence and blamed the Defense Department for not responding fast enough to their requests for help.

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The Department of Justice will lead the federal law enforcement response , Hoffman said. Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said he coordinated with Vice President Mike Pence and congressional leaders to activate the National Guard and assist officers with taking back the Capitol . "We are prepared to provide additional support as necessary and appropriate as requested by local authorities," Miller said in an emailed statement Wednesday. "Our people are sworn to defend the constitution and our democratic form of government and they will act accordingly," Miller added.

Top Pentagon leaders were criticized this summer when National Guardsmen helped clear Lafayette Square of peaceful protesters in order for Trump to stage a photo op in front of a church holding a Bible. Shortly after activating the additional Guardsmen, Miller spoke with congressional leaders and Vice President Mike Pence about the decision, Hoffman said. Earlier in the week, Miller had received guidance directly from Trump that he should take any necessary steps to support law enforcement, Hoffman added. Up to 6,200 Guardsmen began arriving Wednesday night and will continue to pour

But military leaders have maintained there was no delay on their end and that it took time to clarify and organize a response to what they say was a vague yet urgent request for help from city officials and Capitol Police.

In conversations over the past few weeks, defense officials have reiterated that the National Guard is not a first responder unit capable of sending armed troops into a hostile situation with minimal planning. There is also a sense of frustration and annoyance among some former officials that Capitol Police and others in Washington, DC, expected Guardsmen to show up instantaneously.

"The Army cannot mobilize Guardsmen or plan for contingencies without request," former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in late-January.

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Officials on the call recalled hearing two Army leaders discussing the “optics” and “visual” of having National Guard members respond at the Capitol . “Thank you for the opportunity to comment, however we have nothing further to add,” the Army said in response to questions posed by The Post through email. One official directly familiar with the situation said there was concern in both the Army and National Guard about possible political fallout if it was discovered that Flynn was involved in the Army’s deliberations.

What went wrong with the Capitol police response . Man who beat police officer says 'death is the only remedy'. 15 hours of chaos that led to Trump's impeachment. Lawmakers' fiery language under scrutiny. Officers describe tense moments during riot at Capitol . In the days leading up to January 6, Pentagon officials were sensitive to the deployment of troops on the streets of DC, particularly after the criticism they faced following the Army's response to June's protests. Nevertheless, the Pentagon deployed 340 members of the DC National Guard, asking both the city and the Capitol Police if they

Pentagon officials repeatedly offered more National Guardsmen before January 6 and were turned down, including on the day before the riot. Meanwhile, some Defense Department officials have wondered why the Secret Service and the Park Police didn't sound the alarm earlier in the day of the riot when they witnessed large crowds gathering and making their way toward the Capitol.

McCarthy is not scheduled to testify at the Senate hearing on Wednesday. Instead, Gen. William Walker, commander of the DC National Guard, and Robert Salesses, a civilian official acting as the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, are expected to testify.

Confusion over chain of command

In a joint hearing last Tuesday, the former Senate Sergeant at Arms, the former House Sergeant at Arms, and Sund all said they needed help from the National Guard. But the three, though united in blaming the Pentagon for delaying help, disagreed on when they knew they needed that help and seemed unaware of the process or the chain of command for requesting and activating the National Guard.

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WASHINGTON — In an extraordinary letter Tuesday to the U.S. military , the nation's top commanders condemned last week's acts of "sedition and insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol , while acknowledging Joe Biden's election victory. The message did not mention President Donald Trump by name, but the "As we have done throughout our history, the U.S. military will obey lawful orders from civilian leadership , support civilian authorities to protect lives and property, ensure public safety in accordance with the law, and remain fully committed to protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States against

As unrest spread across dozens of American cities on Friday, the Pentagon took the rare step of ordering the Army to put several active-duty U.S. military police units on the ready to deploy to Minneapolis, where the police killing of George Floyd sparked the widespread protests. The Pentagon then ordered the Army to prepare units of Military Police to enter the city if and when the order is given. That’s where things stand right now as the sun is rising on this Saturday morning.

Sund said he first flagged the need for more help on January 4, two days before the riot. But former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving said he didn't interpret the call from Sund as a request, and that Sund, Irving and former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger agreed the intelligence did not support calling up more troops.

The final decision was to mobilize 340 soldiers from the DC National Guard, along with a 40-person quick response force and a chemical-biological hazardous materials team. The Guardsmen had the specific task, agreed upon between the Pentagon, Washington officials, and others, to assist with traffic control.

The Guardsmen were intentionally unarmed, a result of the sensitivity of putting armed soldiers on the street after the blowback from the racial justice protests in June.

A crucial phone call

Sund told the hearing last week that he had 125 National Guardsmen on standby from Walker, the commanding officer of the DC National Guard.

"If we needed a response, a quick response, [Walker] could, what he called, re-purpose them and get them to the armory," testified Sund, "at which point we could get somebody over there to swear them in and try to get them to us as quick as possible."

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But Walker didn't have the authority to change the mission of the National Guard, nor could he activate more Guardsmen on his own.

Sund was apparently unaware of the process of activating the DC National Guard, which runs through the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Army. Because DC is not a state, the process does not run through the mayor's office or the DC National Guard.

During his testimony last week, Sund said he reached out to Walker at the DC Guard at 1:49 pm, only to learn that Walker could not activate the Guard on his own.

Nearly 30 minutes later, at 2:22 pm, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and others joined former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy on a phone call to request the National Guard. Much of the friction between officials in DC and Pentagon leaders focuses on this call. Those officials expected immediate help. Instead, they say they heard hesitation and worse.

"I was very surprised at the amount of time and the pushback I was receiving when I was making an urgent request for their systems," said Sund.

Not a first responder unit

In the weeks after the riot, defense officials have come back to the purpose of the Guard: it is not a first responder organization designed to quickly hit the streets armed with full riot gear, but a last resort in an emergency, and one that requires close coordination and specific tasks to deploy. Moving the Guardsmen from traffic control to security support required re-tasking the mission, part of a bureaucratic process that took time.

Echoing their DC counterparts, defense officials have also pointed to the intelligence failure ahead of the riot.

Officials in DC have already begun working on improving the flow and sharing of information. Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, who replaced Sund after his resignation, said at Thursday's House hearing that Capitol Police now have "routine intelligence calls" with the FBI and the National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium. These intelligence updates are shared with Congress.

Pittman insisted that the Capitol Police succeeded in their mission in protecting Congressional leaders and members. It was a point Sund hit as well, insisting that the failure to secure the building at the heart of American democracy lay elsewhere.

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