To backtrack a bit: The National Guard’s lack of response on January 6 is one of the major topics of finger-pointing two years after the insurrection. Was it the ill will of the Trump administration? Poor law enforcement plan? Opinions differ, but this week the issue is front and center again with the publication of Sund’s memoir, courage under fire,

In the book, Sundar sharply criticizes several figures who he says were responsible for the failure to deploy federal resources as they battled congestion. He recalls meetings with congressional staffers in the days before the rebellion in which he was told that then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “never going to” deploy the guards, and meetings in the middle of the crisis when Pentagon officials Said he didn’t ‘ I don’t want to take responsibility for this unprecedented spectacle of army in the citadel of democracy.

“It was sick,” Sundar told me this week. “I’m out here watching our men and women fighting to, you know, defend every inch of ground. … I go on calls with the Pentagon to find out they’re really [more] They’re more concerned about the National Guard being over at the Capitol than being assigned to my men and women and their asses. it’s sick.

In the book, Sundar notes sadly that on January 6, it took less time for the New Jersey State Police to deploy from the Garden State than it did for the guards to show up at an armory less than two miles east of Capitol Street. Put.

Sund is one of the more controversial January 6 law enforcement figures, the first person to be ousted over the day’s security failures, and someone who has come under vocal criticism from fellow cops such as injured Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone. , whose book beat Sund to the market for three months. When I interviewed him last fall, Fanon scoffed at the idea of ​​Sund writing a book. “The reality is that the United States Capitol Police as an agency was a complete and utter fucking failure,” he said.

But John Falcicchio, the DC deputy mayor who sat in on the day’s harrowing law enforcement conversations from the city’s police command center, says Sundar’s portrayal of unheard calls for federal backup is accurate.

,[D.C. Police] President [Robert] Contee says like, Hey, listen up, guys. Let’s just get down to it. Chief Sund, are you inviting the National Guard to support the US Capitol Police on the grounds of the Capitol? And it’s like a silent moment. Then he says yes. And literally, the Pentagon is the next voice to be heard. And they’re literally like, we’re not going to be able to fulfill that request.” The room broke down. “The Pentagon, in fairness, was saying: Listen, the scene of the National Guard charging up to the Capitol is something we don’t know It’s best to paint.”

Whatever his motives – and I am not competent to litigate whether he was a goat or a scapegoat – Sund’s book makes an interesting connection, one that deserves consideration as the country looks forward: his Suffice it to say, there is a direct correlation between the decision made on January 6 and something similar that happened exactly a year and a half ago, when the Trump administration teamed up with federal law enforcement to combat the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd. I was flooded.

If the consensus about January 6th is that there was an unintentionally weak federal response, then the consensus about the summer of 2020 is that when Donald Trump made his infamous move in the recently cleaned Lafayette Square There was an outrageously excessive military presence. Company of the Uniformed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

From the above general – Mark H. Met, who soon apologized profusely for “creating the impression the military was involved in domestic politics” – below, the photo-op was banned as a dangerous break from American traditions.

“When I joined the military 50 years ago, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” James Mattis, a retired general and former Trump administration secretary of defense, wrote in a statement at the time. “I never imagined that soldiers taking the same oath would be ordered to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens under any circumstances – much less to provide a bizarre photo-op for an elected commander-in-chief.” , in which the military leadership stands together.

This is less remembered now, but the summer of the protest was filled with smaller scale versions of this disagreement. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser reasserted her previously conflict-averse political reputation by clapping back at Trump’s threats to use Secret Service dogs on protesters. By January 5, Bowser was Writing to Trump’s Acting Attorney General to note that the city’s requests for assistance the next day did not mean there was any interest in a 2020 replay, when “unidentified personnel – in many cases armed – caused confusion among residents and visitors.”

and of course, new York Times’ On June 3, 2020, the decision to run an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton Title “send in troopsFamously a staff revolt and the removal of the paper’s editorial page editor occurred because the organization disapproved of the column’s publication.

Sund’s book received advance attention ahead of its publication due to the former premier’s warning that failures from 6 January onwards could easily be repeated – in his view, in passing on intelligence about the plans of the far-right rebels. The failing system hasn’t really changed. When we spoke this week, he gave bewildering details about the system for summoning guards and other reinforcements, a cumbersome process that involved sign-offs from Pentagon officials as well as congressional leadership, for whom the Capitol Police reports. He thinks that only one person should be put in charge of capital security.

The complex reporting structure remains, he said, although the 2021 recommendations panel of security experts It was installed later that year to make it easier for the chief to call in the guard. Still, Sundar said, the chief’s call for backup can be overridden, and depends on an emergency already being there — something that doesn’t make pre-deployment easier in response to intelligence.

“It’s a no-win situation for a major,” he told me.

In Washington’s local government, meanwhile, the issue connects to an enduring sore point: DC’s lack of statehood. Elsewhere in the country, a governor may call for bus guards. But in the capital, it requires a sign-off from the executive branch, which was occupied on January 6 by the administration whose fans were behind the disturbances. To get statehood, the local people would like to change that system.

All this process stuff makes sense as far as it goes. But as much as there is about Washington’s enduring hope of normalcy after the chaos of 2020, it doesn’t factor in America’s reality in 2023: a country where crisis-types of the National Guard are likely to be a partisan overlay. Is.

This is a huge change. Beyond hurricanes and other natural disasters, there is a long history of federal backup being brought in to deal with things that were in some sense highly political: civil disturbances like the 1968 riots that burned down swaths of D.C., the Bonus Army Standoffs like the eviction of unemployed World War I veterans who marched on the capital in 1932. Further afield, Federal Guard units manned standoffs such as those at Little Rock during Civil Rights-era standoffs.

But in none of these cases was it about the outcome of the election on January 6 that pitted one party against another, or even about an issue that was closely tied to the party, as in the 2020 election. Protests had taken place throughout the summer, by which point opinion on the civil rights issues of the day—unlike Little Rock’s era—had split along partisan lines. Especially after the Lafayette Square spectacle, can you blame the brass for not wanting to be involved themselves?

In a free country, it is healthy to feel uneasy about the armed forces solving partisan battles. But not policing the political chaos is dangerous because officials fear they will be dragged along by the rebels’ chosen admirers.

Which is why Sund’s preferred solution, that of depoliticizing deployment decisions anyway, isn’t cutting it. All the procedural reforms in the world will not change the fact that political cowardice will hinder any fight against insurgency. Ending the partisan divide over insurgency would be the best way out of the danger. But if that is not possible, eliminating the cowardice of fighting will also help.

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