The commanding general of the D.C. National Guard blew a gigantic hole in the narrative that the Capitol building security was merely ‘unprepared’ for the riots of January 6th.
The security was inadequate because the Commander of the National Guard was told not to authorize additional troops, including a “quick reaction” team, without the express approval of a civil authority. That would include Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Sergeant at Arms.
The explosive testimony of Maj. Gen. William J. Walker came at a Congressional hearing to determine the origins of the Capitol building attack. Senator Rob Portman’s interrogation of Walker gives Americans a precise rundown of what happened. Watch the testimony above.
“This morning you have testified that you received this letter from former Secretary [of the Army, Ryan D.] McCarthy on January 5th,” Senator Portman said. “So, the day before the attack on the Capitol. In that letter, did Secretary McCarthy prohibit you from deploying the National Guard’s quick reaction force without his authorization?”
“So, I have the letter in front of me,” General Walker replied. “And his letter does not. But it is the Secretary of Defense [Christopher C. Miller] says that I have to ‘use it as a last resort.’ But the Secretary of the Army told me, and it’s – I have the letter – that I could not use the quick reaction force. It would… I will just read it.”
“I withhold authority to approve deployment of the District of Columbia National Guard quick reaction force and will do so only as a last resort in response to a request from an appropriate civil authority,” General Walker read from the Secretary of the Army’s letter.
“I will require a concept of operation prior to authorizing the deployment of… a quick reaction force,” General Walker added. “Now, a quick reaction force is normally a commander’s tool to go help. Either a civilian agency, but more typically to help the National Guardsmen who are out there in need, need of assistance.”
Thus, the “quick reaction” force was deliberately kept from acting quickly to address a developing emergency at the Capitol grounds.
The Washington Post reported on the development:
Walker described the Pentagon’s restrictions as “unusual,” noting that he didn’t have such limitations last June when the D.C. Guard was tasked with responding to local racial justice protests.
In addition, we know from a letter from Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller to the Secretary of the Army on January 4th that there was a directive that severely hamstrung National Guard response.
“Without my subsequent, personal authorization, the DCNG is not authorized the following:
- To be issued weapons, ammunition, bayonets, batons, or ballistic protection equipment such as helmets, and body armor.
- To interact physically with protestors, except when necessary in self-defense or defense of others, consistent with the DCNG Rules for the Use of Force.
- To employ any riot control agents.
- To share equipment with law enforcement agencies.
- To use Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) assets or to conduct ISR or Incident, Awareness, and Assessment activities.
- To employ helicopters or any other air assets.
- To conduct searches, seizures, arrests, or other similar direct law enforcement activity.
- To seek support from any non-DCNG National Guard units. […]
“You may employ the DCNG Quick Reaction Force (QRF) only as a last resort and in response to a request from an appropriate civil authority,” Miller added.
It is important to note that this directive corresponds to the testimony of General Walker about about a letter from the Secretary of the Army from January 5th.
In addition, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also made it clear that law enforcement were to “stand down.”
“To be clear, the District of Columbia is not requesting other federal law enforcement personnel and discourages any additional deployment without immediate notification to, and consultation with, MPD if such plans are underway,” Bowser wrote in a letter to acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
The events of January 6th, as recounted from the House Sergeant at Arms, indicates the Speaker Pelosi was asked to authorize National Guard troops after the riot was already in progress.
The New York Times previously reported that the Speaker’s office confirmed that the National Guard was approved around 1:43 pm. Sund said he sent a request for help from the National Guard to Irving around 1:09 p.m, according to CNN. Irving said he was contacted about the matter after 2:00 pm, Axios reported. Sources questioned how Irving got the request after 2 pm but Pelosi approved the request at 1:43 pm.
Those troops would not arrive until nearly 5 p.m. By the time, it was much too late.
Speaker Pelosi being involved in Capitol security is not unprecedented. In June 2020, Speaker Pelosi had raised concerns with former president Donald Trump in June about the “militarization” of the Capitol. As reported by CBS News:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Trump on Thursday raising concerns about what she called the “militarization” of Washington, D.C., where thousands of National Guard troops and federal law enforcement officers have descended to quell protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd.
“It is alarming that here in our nation’s capital, the thousands who have turned out peacefully have been confronted with the deployment of various security officers from multiple jurisdictions, including unidentified federal law enforcement personnel,” Pelosi said in her letter. The California Democrat raised concerns about soldiers stationed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and Bureau of Prisons officers posted in Lafayette Square, in addition to National Guard troops and FBI officials.
“We are concerned about the increased militarization and lack of clarity that may increase chaos. I am writing to request a full list of the agencies involved and clarifications of the roles and responsibilities of the troops and federal law enforcement resources operating in the city,” Pelosi said. “Congress and the American people need to know who is in charge, what is the chain of command, what is the mission, and by what authority is the National Guard from other states operating in the capital.”
More things the American people need to know: Why Speaker Pelosi was warned about the threat of a Capitol riot and why she was not only late to authorize additional National Guard troops, but why the Commanding General was deliberately kept from deploying a “quick reaction” force to react to any potential emergency.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.