Roughly one year ago, on Jan. 8, 2021, acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller unwittingly requested that I assist him in committing an unlawful act by using our National Guard soldiers and airmen as a domestic police force against American citizens in response to the events of Jan. 6, 2021. As the commanding general of the Arizona National Guard, I refused, because the request was clearly unlawful.
I placed my objections to Miller’s request in writing on Jan. 15, 2021. Since then, these clear violations of U.S. law have been ignored by the Department of Defense (DoD), corporate media, and even the House of Representatives’ Select Committee tasked with investigating the events of Jan. 6.
On Jan. 8, 2021, in response to the unrest two days earlier, DoD requested every state to mobilize National Guard troops to the nation’s capital. Fifty-three of the 54 U.S. states and territories granted that request, and Arizona stood alone in opposition to the unlawful request.
The Posse Comitatus Act, Department of Defense Directive 3025.18, and Department of Defense Instruction 3025.21 prohibit the use of military personnel to execute civilian laws, making it unlawful for a government official to use military members to police civilians in the United States. Unless properly authorized, using military members to engage in search, seizure, arrest, apprehension, stop and frisk, brandishing a weapon, security functions, crowd and traffic control, operating, manning, or staffing checkpoints, or surveillance or pursuit of individuals is simply illegal. Those, of course, include some of the exact illegal activities demanded by Mr. Miller and other senior military officials.
To be sure, officials may attempt to argue that the prohibitions against military policing civilians do not apply when those soldiers and airmen are under the control of their respective governors. Yet Department of Defense regulations implementing the Posse Comitatus Act are clear and run contrary to this position.
Of course, there are other limited exceptions to the prohibition against using the military in domestic operations against the civilian population, including the Insurrection Act. What was critically missing was presidential approval of such an action from President Trump. This did not occur.
Regulations also allow an exception to quell emergency civil disturbances, but the emergency conditions were fully dissipated after the civil disturbance at the Capitol was cleared and the governmental functions of Congress were restored. In fact, the request from DoD came well after the violence was over, and the majority of state national guards responded once emergency conditions had ended.
If more civilian law enforcement were needed, the District of Columbia mayor or the federal government could have requested or directed other civilian law enforcement personnel assistance; such action would have avoided violations of the Posse Comitatus Act. Again, this did not occur. Instead, 26,000 National Guard troops were unlawfully deployed to police U.S. citizens and subsequently relegated to sleeping on floors and in parking garages during the course of this unlawful mission.
Our Founding Fathers pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to free Americans from a tyrannical government that employed its army to execute laws and police the citizens. The events of Jan. 6, although indefensible, would not have surprised the Founding Fathers.
They drafted the U.S. Constitution in the aftermath of Shays’ Rebellion and other civil unrest events that tested our young country and the fledgling democracy that was created. The laws and standards to deploy U.S. military personnel against their fellow citizens are clear and unambiguous.
The United States is a country of laws. If the laws are ignored to fit a particular narrative, we cease being a country and instead are a collective held together by the whims of those who have singular apparent authority over the military. This cannot stand. The illegal use of extraterritorial National Guard soldiers and airmen as a domestic police force against our citizens must have the founders rolling over in their graves.
The Jan. 6 Select Committee is specifically directed to identify, review, and evaluate the lessons learned regarding the armed forces and National Guard, among others, and has spent months focused on the response time of the D.C. National Guard on Jan. 6, 2021. If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi actually desires to evaluate the use and deployment of the U.S. military in domestic operations, she should start with the illegal activity of government officials in the days following Jan. 6 and why an occupying force surrounded our Capitol for months after.
U.S. citizens, whether in uniform or not, deserve nothing less.