By Tom Squitieri, Talk Media News
WASHINGTON — While those opposed to President Trump spent time worrying that he might use the Pentagon to impose martial law, the White House was playing a bait-and-switch ruse.
They never planned to use the Pentagon as a pro-active force, according to interviews.The plan all along was to take the Pentagon out of the game, reducing the potential counterbalance power of the military to a capon fenced in by loyalists.
According to multiple interviews with current and former Pentagon officials and employees, the mindset for control of the Pentagon focused in two distinct areas: hobbling it as a possible roadblock to insurrection activities and using it as a tool to provoke an international incident, such as a strike on Iran, to distract from the domestic malfeasance of the White House.
Thus the immediate post-election decapitation of Pentagon leadership.
“The late-stage purge of the DoD to bring in extremists ready to help him with illegal measures is part of this story,” Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of the book “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present,” said in an interview.
“Any future history of the Trump administration will have to feature the war he waged on the federal government as the President sought to turn federal agencies into tools of his personal aims, including his crusade to take down American democracy so he could stay in power indefinitely,” she said.
The Trump administration even provided a dry run on how it would nullify the Pentagon for the January 6 insurrection that Trump urged, encouraged, provoked and abetted.
All one had to do was look at the plan it foisted on the U.S. Postal Service.
To accomplish his goal of winning the election, Trump’s team targeted for disruption areas that would likely produce the highest percentage of Democratic votes — such as mail-in ballots. He then purged the postal service’s leadership and installed Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor, fundraiser and an ally, as Postmaster General who in June drove the actions to disrupt, diminish and defame postal service and delivery.
He came close to succeeding with the postal service insurrection — but failed. Yet the blueprint seemed sound and the Pentagon was the next key institution to recast.
Almost immediately after he lost the November 3 election, Trump began his purge of the Pentagon leadership.
On November 9, he fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Esper, often derided for being too pliant with Trump, had decided to be as much of a counter to the anti-democratic plans Trump he and veteran Pentagon officials saw brewing in the White House, according to those interviewed.
Esper’s firing was followed by either the firings or resignations of other senior civilian officials, inching his chief of staff and the top officials overseeing policy and intelligence. They were replaced by perceived Trump loyalists, including a controversial figure who promoted fringe conspiracy theories and called former President Obama a terrorist.
After that in November, 11 members of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board were removed, including former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright; retired Adm. Gary Roughead; onetime ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Jane Harman; and Rudy De Leon, a former chief operating officer at the Pentagon.
In December, the White House removed nine members of the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board, replacing them with Trump loyalists that included presidential allies Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.
To ensure any scrutiny of the Pentagon was kept elsewhere, Pentagon officials unilaterally shut down meetings with the Biden transition team during the critical week before the January 6 counting of the Electoral College votes by Congress. That kept the Biden team members away from Pentagon officials and sent the media and Congress to chase that story.
The decks were cleared. All was in place to deny ahead of time needed protective support during January 6 activities and then slow-walk requests for help as they urgently arrived during the day, those interviewed said and outlined.
“The Capitol was assaulted on Wednesday. Rep. Jason Crow and I want the Army to tell us why the National Guard wasn’t there to meet the terrorists at the door. And what they’re doing to make sure it never happens again,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, R-Ariz., and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a tweet on Sunday.
The new Pentagon officials have denied all suggestions of no cooperation with the Biden transition team as well as slow-walking requests for support in advance and during the January assault.
It has issued numerous statements detailing the number of meetings with Biden transition team — some with statements EVEN IN CAPITAL LETTERS – and late Friday released a timeline justifying its role in January 6.
Washington, DC, officials started the process to seek Guard support for the January 6 events on December 31; on January 2 the Pentagon “confirms with U.S. Capitol Police that there is no request for DoD support,” according to a timeline provided Friday by the Pentagon.
The “no need” for Pentagon support was reiterated on January 4. Pentagon officials also said they would begin to consider a request for 340 Guard troops in DC and creating a 40 member quick response team to be stationed at Joint Base Andrews — but only as a last resort.
However, they placed limits on the DC Guard by giving it a narrow mission. he Pentagon prohibited the District’s guardsmen from receiving ammunition or riot gear, interacting with protesters unless necessary for self-defense, sharing equipment with local law enforcement, or using Guard surveillance and air assets without the defense secretary’s explicit sign-off,
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy defended the rapid response of a limited D.C. National Guard active force while skirting blame for intelligence failures that allowed rioters to enter the Capitol building on January 6.
“Getting back to the pure intelligence, it was all over the board,” McCarthy told defense reporters during a Pentagon phone briefing Thursday, citing protest size estimates that ranged from 2,000 to 80,000. This is despite repeated news stories outlining the plans of pro-Trump gunsels to attack the Capitol building.
For example, a January 4 risk analysis by the security firm G4S stated that “current rhetoric suggests that there will be attendees who have violent intent, including armed militia groups” between January 6 and Inauguration Day.”
As the violence increased and the Trump loyalists’ plan unfolded as designed, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, immediately sought federal permission to send hundreds of Guard troops and Maryland State Police.
He waited 90 minutes for McCarthy to authorize the deployment, all while he was fielding desperate pleas from congressional leaders, including Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, who he said were calling from a “bunker” on Capitol Hill.
“I was ready, willing, and able to immediately deploy [the National Guard] to the Capitol. However, we were repeatedly denied approval to do so,” Hogan said at a press conference later in the week.
The Guard will be in a larger force at the U.S Capitol by this weekend. DC police and Guard forces no have permission to go onto the Capitol Grounds. Congressional hearings will be held, a new administration will try and clean up the Pentagon.
However, there are two more shoes likely to fall before Trump leaves, Pentagon officials said, and no checks in place to counter them.