“Donald Trump, abdicated his duty to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” an opinion piece read in The New York Times Thursday. The House January 6 Select Committee has unearthed a chest full of events that have stunned of Americans, Democrats and Republicans. The collection of strange individuals Trump surrounded himself with told him to use the military to seize voting machines and recount the votes.
Seven retired generals penned the opinion piece as the nation awaited the last of the series of summer-time January 6 Committee hearings. In the meantime, these retired military men were alarmed that Trump might slip out of the US officials’ hands, and they enlightened us regarding some of the consequences of 45’s actions in those last weeks. They were:
‘Retired generals Admirals Steve Abbot, James Loy, John Nathman, and Wiliam Owens and Generals Peter Chiarelli, John Jumper, and Johnnie Wilson are retired four-star generals and admirals in the U.S. armed forces.’
The military cannot confiscate voting machines nor “supervise a do-over of the election.” They wrote that would have been illegal. Worse it would have:
‘[I]mperiled a foundational precept of American democracy: civilian control of the military.’
They pointed out that the public assumed our democracy will continue functioning. But “civilian and military leaders” must have a common goal of “supporting and defending the Constitution.” Otherwise, our democracy will fail.
And the U.S. Military chain of command must be followed:
‘Civilian authorities have the constitutional and legal right and responsibility to decide whether to use military force. As military officers, we had the duty to provide candid, expert advice on how to use such force and then to obey all lawful orders, whether we agreed or not.’
On January 6, that tandem working arrangement was threatened:
‘When a mob attacked the Capitol, the commander in chief failed to act to restore order and even encouraged the rioters.’
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mark Milley testified that Vice President Mike Pence “attempted to fill the void by calling on the National Guard to intervene.” However, the generals pointed out that Pence was not in the chain of command unless the president might have experienced “illness or incapacitation:”
‘The National Guard deployed not in response to those pleas but under lawful orders issued by the acting secretary of defense, Christopher Miller.’
At the same time, the military had “a duty to obey all lawful orders” and “a duty to question and disobey unlawful orders.”
The Standing Rules for the Use of Force are as the Public Intelligence reported:
‘[The military must] limit use of force but explicitly authorize it to protect people from imminent threat of death or serious harm, to defend “assets vital to national security” and “to prevent the sabotage of a national critical infrastructure.”’
Of course, the generals noted, part of the solution was “robust training, guidance, and resources.” But that alone was “not sufficient:”
‘We each took an oath as former leaders of the armed forces to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” We fulfilled that oath through service to civilian leadership elected by and accountable to the American people.
‘This essential arrangement, however, is not self-executing; it relies on civilian leaders equally committed to protecting and defending the Constitution — including, most important, the commander in chief.’
Trump’s “dereliction of duty” on January 6 proved that “our democracy was not a given:”
‘Americans must demand nothing less from their leaders than an unassailable commitment to country over party — and to their oaths above all.’
Hopefully, Americans will never elect such a corrupt president or other leader again.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
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