Tens of thousands of National Guard troops on the streets of Washington, D.C. amount to “overkill” for a threat against President-elect Joe Biden that has never materialized, says a former U.S. Army officer.
Pentagon officials have reported as many as 25,000 National Guard troops were pouring into the nation’s capital in recent days for what is known as Joint Task Force District of Columbia, The Military Times reported earlier this week.
The use of military force was requested by federal agencies after Donald Trump supporters stormed the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to protest the election. Many of the protesters continued into the building after breaking down barriers and overwhelming police officers, and the melee ended with five deaths, including a Capitol Hill police officer and a Trump supporter who was trampled to death.
So far, there has been no threat to Biden’s safety, in fact, but the FBI is screening all the troops and 12 National Guard members have been removed from duty in D.C. so far. Two of them made “inappropriate” comments online and 10 others were removed for still-vague reasons such as "questionable behavior" unrelated to politics and the new president.
“While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital,” Christopher Miller, acting Secretary of Defense, said in a statement.
Bob Maginnis, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel now with the Family Research Council, says it is obvious government officials are concerned but he has yet to see a threat analysis that justifies so many troops and shutting down the city.
“It's incredibly overkill,” Maginnis tells One News Now. “This isn't what a democracy does. Nor do we have to have such a major show of force unless there's some justification, and I have yet to see a thread of justification for this."
There is some irony about the nation’s capital on lockdown, with armed troops on the street, to protect Biden from a possible threat. During the summer, Secret Service agents in the White House rushed Trump to the bunker as fellow agents fought George Floyd protesters near the White House and its highly-guarded grounds, where Secret Service vehicles were damaged and security barriers were toppled.
According to the Secret Service, more than 60 of its agents were injured from bricks, rocks, bottles, and fireworks, and 11 agents were sent to hospitals during several days of riots in early May.
After it was learned Trump was rushed to safety, which was first reported by The New York Times, a Washington Post blogger wrote that Trump was “cowering in fear,” and the hash tag “#bunkerboy” took off on social media.
Muriel Bowser, Washington's mayor, objected to the deployment of National Guard troops in the city last June to end days of violent protests, which drew crowds estimated at 10,000.
Last week, Mayor Bowser told CBS News she welcomed the National Guard troops because too many Americans "pledged allegiance to Donald Trump," and she defended the troops being armed on the streets because of the "attack" on the Capitol building.