The day after the riot, Ed Morrissey asked one of the more obvious questions regarding the events of January 6. What happened to Capitol Hill security? To say that they appeared unprepared when the front wave of rioters reached the steps is a massive understatement. The list of complaints we heard included accusations of having too few law enforcement personnel on hand and the use of barricades that were little more than bicycle racks, easily knocked aside by the mob.
But it wasn’t as if many of us hadn’t already been questioning the preparations. Two days before the riot at the Capitol building, the Mayor of D.C. announced that the National Guard was being called up. But one item from the announcement led me to ask a question:
“Another curious item from the announcement is that the Guardsmen will not be armed and they won’t be wearing body armor. If they are being called up to prevent any outbursts of violence, why would you send them in there in uniform without protection? It just seems to me like that makes them targets more than an enhanced security presence.”
We’re dealing with two separate security forces here, with one being the Capitol Hill Police and the other the National Guard. At least in terms of the Guardsmen, the Department of Defense has now issued a preliminary assessment of how everyone was caught flat-footed. The military had a “quick-reaction force” available to respond when things began heating up, but they weren’t deployed because of a lack of planning. (WaPo)
A small quick-reaction force assembled by the Defense Department to assist if needed during protests in Washington on Wednesday did not immediately respond when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol because of a lack of planning with Capitol Police over how it might be deployed, Pentagon officials said…
The timeline states that the quick-reaction force was a few miles away at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and authorized for use by acting defense secretary Christopher Miller “if additional support is requested by civil authorities.”
But a senior defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the Defense Department and Capitol Police hadn’t reached an agreement or settled on a concept ahead of time.
From the sound of things, there was a plan to have a plan, but that was never finalized. Without having a procedure set up in advance, another source said that there were concerns over sending in the military, particularly after they drew a lot of flack for doing what essentially amounted to a photo op with President Trump the previous month. The only military in the area was a small force called up by Mayor Bowser (with the approval of the Army Secretary), but they were unarmed and without riot gear.
Officials are determined that it won’t happen again for the inauguration, however. National Guard members from the Army and the Air Force will be deployed to the region well in advance of the January 20 ceremonies, and according to this report from Yahoo News, they will be bringing “lethal weapons” with them.
Army and Air National Guard members deploying to Washington, D.C. to help guard the capital and stay through the Jan. 20 inauguration will have access to lethal weapons at their commanders’ discretion, Guard commanders said Friday.
“There’s no hiding the fact that soldiers and airmen do have lethal force with them,” Army Brig. Gen. David Wood, joint staff director of the Pennsylvania National Guard, said at a virtual roundtable with defense reporters.
They will be bringing the weapons with them and that equipment will be ready to hand out on short notice. But whether the troops will be actively carrying their rifles on the streets in the absence of any potential threats is a decision that will be made in the coming days. It’s also a safe bet that they’re already connecting with the CHP this time because they know they can’t afford to get caught with their pants down twice in a row.
Before closing, I wanted to revisit a couple of items from that January 4th article of mine that I linked near the top. In all of the chaos surrounding the riot, I’d honestly forgotten that I’d written it until this morning. In retrospect, I’m left with a rather unsettled feeling about posing the questions and comments that I did when I had absolutely no reason to suspect that any violence was in the offing. Here’s the first example, dealing with the optics of Mayor Bowser calling up the National Guard for a Trump rally when she loudly opposed any such actions during BLM protests and riots. (Emphasis added)
That’s funny because, just like the rest of the Democratic mayors in charge of large cities, when the BLM riots were breaking out, she insisted that she didn’t want any form of military help because we’re not supposed to quash the voices of the “peaceful protesters.” But now that she’s heard rumors of a rare protest by the President’s supporters, she wants to figuratively call in the big guns. I’m sure Mayor Bowser would be terribly upset if somebody in a MAGA hat wound up getting shot, right?
Well, as it turns out, somebody in a MAGA hat did get shot. And she died shortly thereafter. I’m not one to believe in jinxes or curses, but in hindsight, I feel absolutely sick over having written that. And then there’s this paragraph.
Just as with any other activist group in the nation, if people want to show up to conduct an actual peaceful protest of what’s going on this Wednesday, they should be free to express themselves. But if they start busting up the city, setting fires, and mimicking the things that have been happening for the past year in other cities, the cops and the National Guard should be beating them down. And no, I don’t give a hoot who they are marching to support. Everyone has to play by the same rules.
Allow me to confess that I wrote those words strictly as a hypothetical bit of whataboutism, though I was sincere and stand by them now. On January 4th, I didn’t imagine there was any way in the world that the march would turn into a riot. I was used to conservatives showing up in D.C. for things like Tea Party rallies and the March for Life, filled more with people praying or delivering orderly speeches. This idea of it turning into a rioting mob simply didn’t exist in my world. But we all saw what happened and I still maintain that the same rules have to apply to everyone or they don’t mean a thing.