The Missing Link

Watching the 1/6 invasion of the Capitol on TV in real time, it was easy to think that most of the people were a strange sort of riot tourists. Yes, a vanguard looked tooled up, but the mass we saw on TV looked more along for the ride than anything else.

Since then, we’ve learned that key things were not on camera. There was some substantial advance planning among at least a portion of the insurrectionists. They may have had help from inside the building, both police and even members of Congress. They had phone calls or texts to people in the White House. There was a lot of big financial support from groups committed to overturning the election.

We also learned that Trump’s efforts to get certain states to overturn their results were much more extensive than first appeared from the inconclusive meeting with Michigan electoral officials. There were, at least, extensive efforts in Arizona and in Georgia, a key piece of which we have on tape.

And of course there were three score and more lawsuits around the country.

What was missing from the picture was the military angle. To run a real coup requires troops. We knew that Trump cleaned out top officials from the Pentagon and replaced them with acting officials who had the mien of stooges. That seemed to have cleared the decks for some sort of military action. The prospect of something certainly scared Dick Cheney enough that he convened a large group of former Defense Secretaries to write a warning to the military to stay out of the election. Yet, no sign of actual military activity manifested. Did the Cheney letter head something off?

Now, however, a different story seems to be coming into focus. The military angle wasn’t action as such: rather it was enforced inaction. Not only were the Capitol Police kept from preparing, or lulled into inaction, but so too was the National Guard. And this goes much further than not activating them: Acting Defense Secretary Miller tied the DC National Guard’s hands in what seems an extraordinary fashion, forbidding all the following from being deployed, used, or done by the Guard on Jan 5-6 without his personal approval:

  • Weapons, ammunition, protection gear such as helmets and body armor
  • Interacting physically with demonstrators except in self-defense
  • Employing any riot control agents
  • Sharing equipment with law enforcement
  • Using any “intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance” assets to monitor the demonstrators.
  • Helicopters or other air assets
  • Conducting searches or seizures arrests or anything else directed by law enforcement
  • Seeking support from law enforcement

In short, the Guard was rendered completely ineffective.

In other words, there was a plan: the plan was to remove all impediments both civilian and military that might get in the mob’s way, and then, to coin a phrase, unleash the Kraken.

And, it came quite close to working, in the sense that had there been a bloodbath then Congress might have found itself unable to act on the 6th. Personally, I don’t think that would have sufficed to keep Congress from doing its job the next day if it needed to and I don’t think that a majority (if living) would have given in, but maybe the plan was to have a long-run standoff like at Waco.

Since Trump and Pence’s terms would have ended on the 20th anyway, this would not have kept them in office.  But if the insurrectionists had killed the Speaker and managed to keep Congress from meeting elsewhere and selecting a new Speaker, then presumably Chuck Grassley, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate would have become President.  And we know what a profile in courage he is….

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9 Responses to The Missing Link

  1. C.E. Petit says:

    This is all true. It’s also entirely about DC statehood.

    Let’s hypothetically say that everything happened in Baltimore. In that instance, the governor of Maryland would have had full control over National Guard elements operating within his state’s borders as non-active-duty National Guard (so as to not run into Posse Comitatus, which is NOT trivial problem). If it had been Richmond, or Atlanta, or Lansing, the same for the respective state governors.

    But DC has no governor. Its national guard elements are directly controlled by an office at the Pentagon, and what was described here shows the failure mode of doing so.

    This has been pondered and debated by the national command authority (uniformed and civilian) for several decades. Every time, the Executive Summary had to include at least two or three paragraphs noting that “DC is different because it’s not a state, and Congress won’t give the Mayor the same authority as a state’s Governor has.” And specifically, it’s been Deep South members of Congress, usually in committee and/or smoke-filled back rooms, who have blocked statehood (which would end-run the problem) or in-advance adminstrative measures to deal with a known problem.

  2. Vic says:

    Well, first of all, DC statehood is a Constitutional issue. It will require BOTH a Constitutional Amendment and the usual State admission process. Two completely separate processes. This is not trivial. It will not be accomplished by a bunch of folks in Washington having a majority. DC statehood is extremely unlikely. It would be easier to make Manitoba a state.

    Second, I can tell you that such a limit on the ROE for military members is quite typical (wrongly, IMO). I will tell you from first hand experience (FIRST HAND) that it is a great fear that keeps Generals, and more importantly, Colonels, up at night to have the slightest possibility of an “incident” where an armed Marine (in my case) does anything aggressive to maintain any sort of order. No politician wants to be linked in any way to stories, or worse, pictures, of armed U.S. troops doing anything militarily against ANY civilians. This goes to absolutely absurd levels. I can tell you for a FACT that under orders I have sent Marines to stand guard against lethal dangers who were not allowed to put a magazine in the weapon. In fact, there was a time when a special wire was also attached to the weapon to PREVENT it from being loaded. We have had troops killed because of this practice and I will say no more of the details.

    The rules on that document, true or not, are pretty much typical for this sort of thing. It’s wrong. I argued against it for a long time. It makes no sense. But it is how it works. You only find it shocking and surprising because you’ve never been in the position of having to operate under such orders. People who have never served will never believe some of the stuff we were forced to do.

    But to the original point, I think if we’ve learned anything at all in the last couple of months, it’s that a coup is just not possible in DC because just about everyone there has no desire at all to change anything or jeopardize their spot at the table. There can be no coup, because everybody is on the same side, for the most part. Trump, and a very small group of people were the outsiders, everybody else, including the military, including the Judiciary, everybody else, are all insiders and on the same side. (Are you actually suggesting that the same DoD that refused to pull our troops out of Afghanistan and lied to the President about it, suddenly wanted to protect him?!). This little political cosplay they put on for the masses is just to confuse people and give an apparent reason to “need” them and the election for theatrical effect. There is no coup. There can never be any coup. The only coup possible is an actual revolution from the people of the United States, and we are not even slightly close to that. Until then, the elites run the place and we just need to let them decide everything. (If you doubt that, you might consider, for just ONE thing, why NY22 is still undecided three months after the election. Oh, you didn’t know that? Maybe you should wonder why that is as well.)

  3. Vic says:

    Oh, and the USCPD reports to Congress, not DoD or DoJ. They are Congressional police, so you are saying that two branches of government were attempting a coup, or to let one occurs through inaction?

    • The Chief of the USCPD reports directly to a Board consisting of the two sergeant at arms, one appointed by the House, the other by the Senate (and the Architect of the Capitol. Their failure in this story (they didn’t do much, also didn’t consult with Pelosi, at least), is indeed mysterious. It is notable that both House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger resigned shortly after the insurgency.

      That said, there was also an absence of warnings from Homeland Security and others in the exec branch which would normally have triggered something in the circumstances.

      • Vic says:

        I know that. All you did was add detail. It’s all right there for all to see on the USCPD website. The POINT is that they are not an entity that is within an outside reporting structure. The DoJ, Homeland, or whomever else you chose to blame, is not a part of their chain. Only Congress (referring to the Department).

        And they WERE warned. Days before. The chose to under-react. I don’t see a wider conspiracy here, I see the Congress full of defund-the-police blowhards that would have jumped on the CPD if they actually prepared and then entered battle. This was a classic damned-if-you-do-etc situation.

  4. C.E. Petit says:

    Vic:

    From my own active-duty time, I have rather detailed (historical) awareness of the restrictions on the DC National Guard, and the differences between DC and the states. The rules of engagement (“ROE”), and the difference between those for the DC National Guard and those for Maryland and Virginia, were direct consequences of the statehood-and-control distinction. I was not attempting to go into what would be necessary/proper to “fix” statehood and control, but explain its consequences in this instance.

    In this specific instance, the ROE would have been designated by an office at the Pentagon on a uniform/nationwide basis, and not designated by a governor who was presumably more familiar with the specific location’s requirements. <sarcasm> I specifically did not make any clear statement regarding any conflicts of interest caused by or otherwise related to the specific appointments and the specific chain of command in this instance. </sarcasm>

    • Vic says:

      And I’m telling you, as someone who lead Marines in a much more combative environment than being a Guardsman in DC, that these ROE are TYPICAL. They are NOT an example of how some difference in C&C changes how the DC Guard is allowed to behave. I have been at the head of Marines who were potentially in harms way, who were not allowed to put a mag in their weapons, much less chamber a round, because it might offend the sensibilities of people who might read about it while having tea.

      Funny how there is more concern with whether the guard is armed than with the apparent fact that DC is now an armed camp, patrolled by troops that had to pass loyalty vetting. If the Smithsonian weren’t there, I doubt that average citizens would ever be let in again without specific reason to be there.

      • C.E. Petit says:

        I wasn’t saying anything at all about Marine ROEs in non-CONUS hostile zones. I wasn’t remarking on the individual soldiers’ actions. I was remarking on the C^3 problems unique to DC as opposed to any other domestic use of local National Guard elements.

        ROE are important. Nobody even GOT to (potential or actual) ROE problems, though, due to the C^3 issues.

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