Outgoing Capitol Police chief: House, Senate security officials hamstrung efforts to call in National Guard – The Washington Post

Sund asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby in case he needed quick backup.

…House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving said he wasn’t comfortable with the “optics” of formally declaring an emergency ahead of the demonstration, Sund said. Meanwhile, Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger suggested that Sund should informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to “lean forward” and be on alert in case Capitol Police needed their help.

…It was the first of six times Sund’s request for help was rejected or delayed, he said. Two days later on Wednesday afternoon, his forces already in the midst of crisis, Sund said he pleaded for help five more times as a scene far more dire than he had ever imagined unfolded on the historic Capitol grounds.

“I am making an urgent, urgent immediate request for National Guard assistance,” Sund recalled saying. “I have got to get boots on the ground.”

On the call were several officials from the D.C. government, as well as officials from the Pentagon. The D.C. contingent was flabbergasted to hear a top Army official say that he could not recommend that his boss, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, approve the request.

“I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background,” the official said, according to Sund and others on the call.

…Despite Sund’s pleas, the first National Guard personnel didn’t arrive at the Capitol until 5:40 p.m. — after four people had died and the worst was long over.

On the way home that evening, Sund did as Stenger suggested, calling Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the head of the 1,000-member D.C. National Guard, to tell him that he might call on him for help. “If we can get you leaning forward,” Sund said, “how long do you think it would take to get us assistance?”

Walker said he thought he could send 125 personnel fairly quickly. Over the weekend, Sund had also conferred with D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III, who also had offered to lend a hand if trouble arose.

…Sund said he now suspects that the pipe bombs were an intentional effort to draw officers away from the Capitol perimeter.

…“Violent confrontations from the start. They came with riot helmets, gas masks, shields, pepper spray, fireworks, climbing gear — climbing gear! — explosives, metal pipes, baseball bats. I have never seen anything like it in 30 years of events in Washington.”

Sund immediately called Contee, who sent 100 officers to the scene, with some arriving within 10 minutes. But at 1:09 p.m., Sund said he called Irving and Stenger, telling them it was time to call in the Guard. He wanted an emergency declaration. Both men said they would “run it up the chain” and get back to him, he said.

Minutes later, aides to the top congressional leaders were called to Stenger’s office for an update on the situation — and were infuriated to learn that the sergeants at arms had not yet called in the National Guard or any other reinforcements, as was their responsibility to do without seeking approval from leaders.

Unlike anywhere else in the country, the D.C. Guard does not report to a governor, but to the president, so Walker patched in the office of the Secretary of the Army, noting that he would need authorization from the Pentagon to order soldiers to the Capitol.

A top Army official noted the Pentagon still needed authorization from Capitol Police to step foot on Capitol grounds. Sund ticked through details on the severity of the breach, but the call got noisy with crosstalk as officials asked more questions.

…But the Army official, dialed in from across the river at the Pentagon, pushed back, according to Sund, saying he would prefer to have Guard soldiers take up posts around Washington, relieving D.C. police, so that they could respond to the Capitol instead of guardsmen. Sund’s account is supported by four D.C. officials on the call, including D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser.

…At one point, according to a defense official, Contee said, “Let me be clear, are you denying this?” To which the Army official responded that he wasn’t denying the request; he simply didn’t have the authority to approve it.




How a String of Failures Led to the Capitol Siege – The New York Times

Rioters had broken through the thin police line on the Capitol steps and were descending on hundreds of lawmakers conducting the ceremonial, quadrennial act of certifying the presidential vote — and the mayor and her aides were not able to stop the attack.

Ms. Bowser and her police chief called the Pentagon, asking for additional D.C. National Guard troops to be mobilized to support what officials were realizing was inadequate protection at the Capitol. But they were told that the request would first have to come from the Capitol Police.

In a call to Chief Steven Sund of the Capitol Police, they learned that his force was under siege, lawmakers were being rushed to safety, and rioters were overrunning anyone in authority. He kept repeating the same phrase: “The situation is dire.”

…Capitol Police and the city’s Metropolitan Police had rebuffed offers days before for more help from the National Guard beyond a relatively modest contingent to provide traffic control, so no additional troops had been placed on standby. It took hours for them to arrive.

…Federal agencies and the Capitol Police appeared to issue no serious warnings in the days leading up to the riots that the gathering could turn violent, despite countless posts on right-wing social media sites pledging confrontation and even bloodshed.

…Once the Capitol building was breached, a patchwork group of reinforcements was forced to try to navigate a labyrinthine complex of unfamiliar passages and byways that would prove dangerous.

…Hundreds of rioters carrying long guns and Molotov cocktails breached the seat of American power — some with the clear intent of injuring, holding hostage or even killing federal officials to stop them from certifying the vote.

…Law enforcement and other officials were aware of the chatter and took some steps to try to reduce the chances of violence. Homeland security officials put tactical agents on standby in downtown Washington. The F.B.I. questioned neo-Nazis who were under investigation and planning to attend the demonstrations.

…Chase Jennings, a spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, said in the days leading up the breach at the Capitol, the agency “had open channels with partners and shared information on those channels.”

…The Justice Department was treating the event as relatively peaceful, officials said. The acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, worked on Wednesday from his office rather than the F.B.I. war room, where the crisis response unfolded.

…“The evidence is starkly clear that the momentum of violence has shifted to the right in this country. We’ve seen this in city after city,” Mr. Eddy said. “There was a failure among law enforcement to imagine that people who ‘look like me’ would do this.”

…Lawmakers had no clear evacuation plan and were forced to improvise.

Mr. Crow said he moved other lawmakers away from the barricaded door inside the gallery, helped them don hoods to protect against tear gas, had them remove their House lapel pins to avoid being targeted and took out his only possible weapon: a pen.

After nearly 30 minutes, he said, the Capitol Police and unidentified SWAT team officers cleared a path outside the gallery, above the House floor, and hustled out the lawmakers.

With the police in the lead, guns drawn, the group stumbled through the mayhem, Mr. Crow said. Some police officers rushed to barricade other doors to block the mob. Others pinned some rioters to the ground to allow the lawmakers to pass.

Because of efforts to restrict the number of people in the chamber, several lawmakers and aides were sheltering in their offices, scattered across the complex. Some were not contacted by the police, even as they barricaded themselves inside.

…On the Senate side of the Capitol, the rioters came perilously close to lawmakers. As they approached, a quick-thinking Capitol Police officer pushed one of them, then backed away, and the crowd chased him. The officer’s maneuver helped lead the mob away from an entrance to the Senate several feet away.

When the rioters breached the Capitol, Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, said a quick prayer.

As he and the other senators made their way out of the chamber to the basement, an officer urged them to hurry because the rioters were on their heels.

“‘Move quicker, people,’ the officer said. ‘They’re right behind.’ It was serious,” Mr. Cramer recalled.

Out of immediate danger, senators took roll call. Four were missing, including Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, who uses a wheelchair after sustaining injuries in Iraq. She had barricaded herself in her office.

Mr. Benedict [of ATF] connected with a commander of the Capitol Police SWAT team who was inside the complex, who acknowledged that they needed immediate help but said he needed a moment to arrange the official request.

A.T.F. and F.B.I. teams were soon headed to the Capitol. Neither bureau trains its agents for crowd control or riots, and they would have to find a way in, where they could help clear the Capitol and rescue staff members and employees.

When Mr. Benedict and his deputy finally got into the building, it was madness, he recalled. Clouds of noxious gas — bear spray, he guessed, from rioters — floated through the halls. With the help of a Capitol Police officer, they helped usher their teams through a growing crowd of rioters on the building’s south side.

…Thirty-three miles away, in Annapolis, Md., Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, was on a video conference call with the Japanese ambassador when his chief of staff rushed into his office, telling him, “The Capitol is under attack.”

The governor’s phone rang minutes later: a call from Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the House majority leader.

…He says, ‘Governor, I’m in a room with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. We need help. What can you do?’”

By then, the mob had breached the security outside the building, and Ms. Bowser and her staff members had begun making urgent calls to mobilize larger numbers of D.C. National Guard troops and move those already in the city to the Capitol. In the days before, Ms. Bowser had requested only a relatively small contingent of 340 D.C. National Guard troops, and only to control traffic and help protect public transportation stops, an effort to avoid the militarized federal presence that had been a major factor in the protest response in June.

One of the calls was to Mr. Hogan, asking the governor to dispatch Maryland National Guard troops to the city. 

…Mr. Hogan’s phone rang. It was Ryan D. McCarthy, the secretary of the Army and the de facto head of the D.C. National Guard. He asked whether Maryland troops could come immediately.

“I said, ‘Yes, we’ve been waiting,’” Mr. Hogan recalled.

Ms. Bowser was having similar problems. Even during the phone call when Chief Sund said he needed National Guard troops to beat back the rioters — a request the mayor and her staff members figured would immediately prompt an order of reinforcements — Pentagon officials would not commit to sending them.

…“We are not denying the request,” the general insisted. But, he added, he would have to seek approval first. The phone call ended.

Inside the mayor’s command center, where officials recalled the debacle in June when the military sent a helicopter to Black Lives Matter protests, frustration turned to anger.

…Inside the besieged Capitol, lawmakers were making their own urgent requests to the Pentagon. Representative Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan and a former defense official, called Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to plead for help from the National Guard.

…Ed Roessler, the police chief in Fairfax County, Va., was driving when his phone rang at 2:27 p.m. A deputy told him that a request for help had just gone out over the police mutual aid radio system used by law enforcement agencies in the Washington region. He was stunned.

…About 40 Fairfax County officers were quickly deputized by an official from the United States marshals and sent to Washington. At the Capitol, they assembled in a wedge formation and went inside, where they helped push out rioters.

Then they stood guard while officers from other agencies built a larger security perimeter around the Capitol.

…Other requests for help went out, and the Capitol Police also sought assistance from the Homeland Security Department, but not until more than an hour after the rioters had surrounded the Capitol and the police had first fired what appeared to be flash-bang grenades.

When the request came at 2:30 p.m., the Secret Service deployed both uniformed and special agents, according to Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the acting deputy secretary of homeland security, the parent agency of the Secret Service.

……Finally, at about 3 p.m., Mr. Miller decided that all available D.C. National Guard soldiers — 1,100 troops — would be deployed.

…“Josh Hawley started the whole thing, and all who assisted him, they’ve got to be held accountable,” Mr. Manchin said.



Schiff demands answers from Pentagon on monitoring domestic unrest

Schiff, a Democrat from California, wrote Joseph Kernan, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security, asking about whether the Pentagon has been asked or was already supporting efforts to surveil the protests.

…In his letter, Schiff cited the “sudden and impulsive manner in which the Armed Forces and law enforcement components from across the federal government have been mobilized to date, and the lack of public transparency regarding their orders,” calling these recent actions “deeply troubling.”

…Attorney General William Barr has said he believes there may be foreign influence involved in the domestic protests, which if true could provide a legal authority to allow the DIA to assist with investigating those connections. However, so far no public evidence of a foreign connection has emerged in connection with the protests, which were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man, in police custody.

…Schiff asked Kernan for further confirmation that military agencies, including the DIA, are not being asked to support law enforcement responses to civil unrest, “including to monitor, assess, or otherwise track Americans who are taking to the streets or otherwise engaging in constitutionally protected activity within the United States.”

Schiff demands answers from Pentagon on monitoring domestic unrest


Some senators want to stop police getting military equipment or weapons

“It is clear that many police departments are being outfitted as if they are going to war, and it is not working in terms of maintaining the peace,” Schatz told the New York Times. “This is not the only thing we need to do, but as our country sees these images on television that remind us of some countries far, far away, it’s time to recalibrate this program. Just because the Department of Defense has excess weaponry doesn’t mean it will be put to good use.”

…While the 1033 program’s intent may have been to equip specialized units for extreme, dangerous situations, fighting al-Qaeda sleeper cells, or powerful drug cartels, the effect has been to incorporate SWAT-style raids into ordinary police operations. That includes, but is certainly not limited to, the serving of search warrants. This may partly be because the program requires that all equipment issued through the 1033 program be used within one year of the date it is granted. That means that if police departments want to keep their new gear, they can’t wait for a rare emergency like an active shooter or hostage situation in order to use it.

…Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) proposed a series of reforms, including a national police misconduct database, in response to the protests.

Some senators want to stop police getting military equipment or weapons – Vox


Former Green Beret takes responsibility for failed boat raid aimed at overthrowing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

Goudreau said 60 of his men were still on the ground and calls were being activated inside Venezuela, some of them fighting under the command of Venezuelan National Guardsman Capt. Antonio Sequea, who participated in a barracks revolt against Maduro a year ago.

None of their claims of an ongoing operation could be independently verified. But Goudreau said he hoped to join the rebels soon and invited Venezuelans and Maduro’s troops to join the would-be insurgency although there was no sign of any fighting in the capital or elsewhere as night fell.

In an interview later with Miami-based journalist Patricia Poleo, he provided a contradictory account of his activities and the support he claims to have once had — and then lost — from Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader recognized as Venezuela’s interim president by the U.S. and some 60 countries.

…The government’s claims that it had foiled a beach landing Sunday triggered a frenzy of confusing claims and counterclaims about the alleged plot. While Maduro’s allies said it had been backed by Guaidó, Colombia and the U.S., the opposition accused Maduro of fabricating the whole episode to distract attention from the country’s ongoing humanitarian crisis.

…The government’s claims that it had foiled a beach landing Sunday triggered a frenzy of confusing claims and counterclaims about the alleged plot. While Maduro’s allies said it had been backed by Guaidó, Colombia and the U.S., the opposition accused Maduro of fabricating the whole episode to distract attention from the country’s ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Former Green Beret takes responsibility for failed boat raid aimed at overthrowing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro – Chicago Tribune


Maryland National Guard defending coronavirus tests at secret location

The Maryland governor said when the Korean Air jet carrying the 500,000 tests flew into Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, it was met by National Guard troops and state police.

…Hogan, who is a Republican, said he had heard reports from other states of the federal government confiscating supplies. He specifically pointed to an incident in Massachusetts.

After 3 million masks purchased for the state were confiscated in New York, state leaders in Massachusetts turned to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft to help bring in coveted N95 masks from China on a private plane.

….The governor added that the test protection was ongoing, saying that “the National Guard and state police are both guarding these tests at an undisclosed location.”

Maryland National Guard defending coronavirus tests at secret location – Business Insider


Fired captain sent memo to fewer people than former Navy head alleged: report | TheHill

The email from Capt. Brett Crozier was sent to three admirals and copied to seven other captains, according to a copy obtained by the Post. Former acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly [lied when he asserted that]  it was sent to “20 or 30” people.

Fired captain sent memo to fewer people than former Navy head alleged: report | TheHill


Trump tweets order to ‘destroy’ Iranian boats. Pentagon calls it a warning.

Trump announced Wednesday that he had directed the Navy to “shoot down” Iranian gunboats that harass U.S. ships. Pentagon officials said they had received no new directives.

…“What he was emphasizing is all of our ships retain the right of self-defense, and people need to be very careful in their interactions to understand the inherent right of self-defense,” said Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist. [?????!]

“It was a very useful thing he put out,” Norquist added. [?????!]

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. John Hyten said “the president’s message was crystal clear,” adding, “I like that the president warned an adversary.” [?!!!!]

Trump tweets order to ‘destroy’ Iranian boats. Pentagon calls it a warning.

For the love of….

U.S. probe unable to rule out White House influence on JEDI contract awarded to Microsoft, not Amazon

Several officials said their conversations were privileged “presidential communications.”

…“We could not definitively determine the full extent or nature of interactions that administration officials had, or may have had, with senior DoD officials regarding the JEDI Cloud procurement because of the assertion of a ‘presidential communications privilege,’” the report said, referring to the Department of Defense by its acronym.

…Amazon has said the Defense Department’s decision to give the contract to Microsoft was full of “egregious errors,” which were a result of “improper pressure from [Trump.]”

U.S. probe unable to rule out White House influence on JEDI contract awarded to Microsoft, not Amazon – Reuters


‘There Will Be Losses’: How a Captain’s Plea Exposed a Rift in the Military – The New York Times

The warship’s doctors estimated that more than 50 crew members would die, but Capt. Brett E. Crozier’s superiors were balking at what they considered his drastic request to evacuate nearly the entire ship.

…On March 30, after four days of rebuffs from his superiors, Captain Crozier sat down to compose an email. “Sailors don’t need to die,” he wrote to 20 other people, all Navy personnel in the Pacific, asking for help.

…He showed the email to a handful of the most senior officers on the ship. They told him they wanted to sign it, too. Captain Crozier, fearing for their careers, told them no.

…A Naval Academy graduate with nearly 30 years of military service, the captain knew the email would most likely end his career, his friends said in interviews.

…He hit “send” anyway.

…Captain Crozier’s letter ran headlong into the administration’s narrative that it had everything under control.

..,Mr. Modly boarded a Gulfstream business jet at an airfield in suburban Washington and made the 35-hour round-trip flight to Guam, at a cost of $243,116.65.

…He went to the Roosevelt and delivered a 15-minute diatribe over the ship’s loudspeakers berating the crew for cheering for its captain. He called Captain Crozier either “too naïve” or “too stupid” to command an aircraft carrier. He told the sailors they should never trust the media. He blamed China for the virus. Less than 30 minutes later, after taking no questions from the sailors, he was gone.

Within another 30 minutes of his visit, audio of his remarks was being shared broadly across social media, complete with crew reaction.

…Three other carriers — the Ronald Reagan, the Carl Vinson and the Nimitz — have had sailors test positive.

‘There Will Be Losses’: How a Captain’s Plea Exposed a Rift in the Military – The New York Times

Trump has killed our once proud military.

Trump’s Navy secretary debacle is about more than Modly’s mistakes or Crozier’s composure

Modly’s decision to relieve Crozier came despite the opposition of Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations, and Gen. Mark Milley, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Both recommended that the decision be left up to the military leadership. (Modly served in the Navy but retired from active duty in 1990 to attend business school.) Gilday and Milley further stressed that such a drastic step should not be taken until an investigation had been conducted.

But Modly refused to wait. It has also been reported that he confided to an aide that Trump wanted Crozier fired and apparently also feared stalling would appear indecisive to the impatient commander-in-chief. Though the president has denied any involvement, his administration has a record of firing anyone who appears disloyal.

….Equally concerning is the way the Trump administration has established new norms for the politicization of the military. These have included involving senior retired officers in political campaigns, urging troops to lobby Congress, deploying forces to the Mexican border to underscore a political statement, and using funds appropriated by the Congress for the military for pet projects.

…Sadly, this is not just the story of a political appointee who allowed his ambition to override his good judgment. Rather it is a warning about a growing threat to a foundation of American democracy.

Jeff McCausland: Trump’s Navy secretary debacle is about more than Modly’s mistakes or Crozier’s composure

Exclusive: Navy commander says virus-struck aircraft carrier crew ‘struggling’ after captain’s firing – CNNPolitics

Merz was able to verify Crozier’s immediate superior did not know he was sending the memo in which Crozier had urgently asked Navy leadership to evacuate sailors from the Roosevelt as the virus spread. Noting that, “I was not in his shoes,” Merz offered his own caveated assessment of Crozier’s actions pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation.

“I certainly don’t question his motives. I think his motives were pure. He was looking out for his crew,”Merz said.

But Merz also noted all commanders have “a lot of tools available to be heard,” adding “I am not going to second guess him at this point.”

The investigation could be completed as soon as next week. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he isn’t ruling out the possibility that Crozier could be restored to command.

Exclusive: Navy commander says virus-struck aircraft carrier crew ‘struggling’ after captain’s firing – CNNPolitics


USS Theodore Roosevelt captain refused to let officers sign letter about COVID-19 outbreak

Senior officers aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier reeling from a coronavirus outbreak offered to sign a revealing letter about the dire situation, only to be denied by the ship’s commander, Capt. Brett Crozier.

Crozier, who has since been relieved of command for sending the four-page letter out to over 20 recipients, was asked by senior officers on the ship to sign the letter, according to a New York Times report published Sunday.

Crozier reportedly feared for their careers and denied their request.

USS Theodore Roosevelt captain refused to let officers sign letter about COVID-19 outbreak – Task & Purpose


New York Daily News: Salute a naval officer choosing sailor lives over career on a coronavirus-infected vessel

Publicly bucking those you’re supposed to salute is a surefire pink slip. Yet the Navy got the message and began evacuating the Roosevelt.

May the wind be at Brett Crozier’s back, whether he’s on land or sea.

Salute a naval officer choosing sailor lives over career on a coronavirus-infected vessel – New York Daily News