Following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, Democrats are now calling for and encouraging the vetting of National Guard members, especially those assigned to provide security in Washington, D.C., for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, for ties to “extremism.”
“When you have Guardsmen and women coming from all over the nation at this time, I do think that it is prudent to make sure that they are being vetted and that anybody who cannot pledge allegiance to their missions, and may be pulled by other views, needs not only to be removed from this duty, they need to be removed from the Guard,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Tuesday.
Just days before, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., explained a similar concept to CNN’s Jim Sciutto, saying that even though “the guard is 90-some-odd-percent male … only about 20 percent of white males voted for Biden.”
“You’ve got to figure that in the Guard, which is predominantly more conservative — I see that on my social media, and we know it. They’re probably not more than 25 percent of the people that are there protecting us who voted for Biden,” Cohen said. “The other 75 percent are in the class, the large class of folks, who might want to do something.”
Rep. Steve Cohen implies that 75% of the National Guard are in the class of people who "may want to do something" at the inauguration.
Cohen is saying that National Guard troops who voted for Trump should automatically be suspected of being threats. pic.twitter.com/6ozID4y9ry
— America Rising (@AmericaRising) January 18, 2021
JUST IN: Gen. Lloyd Austin tells Senate that if confirmed "I will rid our [Pentagon and US military] ranks of racists & extremists."
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) January 19, 2021
Previously, U.S. defense officials told the press that they fear “an insider attack or other threat from service members” in D.C., spurring an extra troops-evaluation process by the FBI, despite the already routine screenings for “extremist connections.”
On Monday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said there was no observable “evidence of any threats, and officials said the vetting hadn’t flagged any issues that they were aware of.”
About 25,000 National Guard troops will be in D.C., at least two and a half times the number for previous inaugurals. While the military routinely reviews service members for extremist connections, the FBI screening is on top of any previous monitoring.https://t.co/NnOPklsrnL
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 18, 2021
By Tuesday afternoon, however, at least 12 of the 25,000 National Guard members in D.C. were dismissed from providing security for inauguration ceremonies. According to Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, who is chief of the National Guard Bureau, at least two of these Guardsmen were removed due to “inappropriate” comments and texts. The other 10, however, were vaguely “identified” and removed “out of an abundance of caution” and possible links to “extremism.”
“I’m not concerned as a large part of our organization. If you look at 25,000, we’ve had 12 identified, and some of those they are just looking into — it may be unrelated to this — but we want to make sure out of an abundance of caution as I stated earlier that we do the right thing until that gets cleared up,” Hokanson told reporters.
Some people pushed back on the vetting narrative, noting that not only did the Guard members not receive due process before being dismissed, but this evaluation process opens the door for the “politicization of the military.”
This is the first step toward the politicization of military enlisted personnel and junior officers. It is how one-party regimes are created. https://t.co/uGhAdcaFZi
— J Michael Waller (@JMichaelWaller) January 18, 2021
So there is no due process for those accused of "extremism." Got it. https://t.co/AdSzYSRtoK
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) January 19, 2021
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott also condemned the purge, saying it is “the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard.”
“No one should ever question the loyalty or professionalism of the Texas National Guard. I authorized more than 1,000 to go to DC. I’ll never do it again if they are disrespected like this,” he wrote.
This is the most offensive thing I've ever heard.
No one should ever question the loyalty or professionalism of the Texas National Guard. @TexasGuard
I authorized more than 1,000 to go to DC.
I'll never do it again if they are disrespected like this.https://t.co/STZDMz7PGm
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 19, 2021