Lawmakers want Pentagon, DOJ to punish current, former military members who participated in riot


A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is calling on the Pentagon and Justice Department to go after any active duty and retired military service members who participated in last week’s violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“We write with grave concerns over reports that multiple active duty and retired military service members and veterans are under investigation, or have been arrested, in connection with their participation in the riot and insurrection in the U.S. Capitol last week,” the group wrote in a letter Wednesday to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

“As veterans and Members of Congress, who have taken the Oath of Office twice over, we have sworn to protect the Constitution and hold accountable our fellow Americans who have served in uniform to the Oaths they themselves have sworn to our country.”

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) signed the letter with Democratic Reps. Jake Auchincloss (Mass.), Kaiali’i Kahele (Hawaii), Seth Moulton (Mass.) and Jimmy Panetta (Calif.).

Following the letter’s release, Director of Defense Intelligence Garry Reid told reporters that those in the Pentagon “are doing everything we can to eliminate extremism” in the department.

“DOD policy expressly prohibits military personnel from actively advocating supremacist, extremist or criminal gang doctrine, ideology or causes.  All military personnel, including members of the National Guard, have undergone a background investigation, are subject to continuous evaluation, and are enrolled in an insider threat program. Simply put, we will not tolerate extremism of any sort in DOD,” Reid said Thursday. 

Numerous participants in the Jan. 6 riot have been identified as current or former members of the military, raising questions about the extent of extremism in the ranks of the armed forces.

Those with military connections include Ashli Babbitt, the 35-year-old Air Force veteran who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer while trying to breach the door to the Speaker’s Lobby, and Jacob Anthony Chansley, who served in the Navy for two years and was photographed inside the Capitol wearing a horned, fur-covered headdress and face paint.

Others include Rendall Brock Jr., a former Air Force lieutenant colonel who was photographed in tactical gear and carrying zip-tie restraints on the Senate floor.

The Army is already investigating Capt. Emily Rainey for her involvement in the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol. Rainey has been in the process of separating from the service but was still on active duty when she led a group at last week’s protests.

In their letter, the lawmakers said they wanted to know about any administrative and legal tools that could be used to prosecute those who participated in the riot. They asked questions like whether security clearances could be revoked, access to military bases could be prohibited and if benefits earned during military service could be withdrawn.

The lawmakers pointed to the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which stipulates that “no person may hold civil or military office in the United States, who, having taken an Oath as an officer of the United States to support the Constitution, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States.”

“Our leaders knew then that the security of our democracy requires that service members, veterans, and retirees of the U.S. military should be investigated, convicted, and found guilty if they committed insurrection or rebellion against our country,” the lawmakers wrote.

The military’s top officers have condemned the “sedition and insurrection” that took place as a joint session of Congress met to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

The riot  which forced lawmakers, staffers and journalists to hide in secure locations as the mob ransacked offices, assaulted Capitol Police officers and stole property  came after Trump spent weeks falsely claiming the election was rigged against him and shortly after he told a crowd of his supporters in Washington to march on the Capitol and show “strength.”

One Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, a former New Jersey Air National Guard staff sergeant, died of injuries sustained during the riot.

Updated at 4:07 p.m.

Tags Capitol breach Jimmy Panetta Joe Biden Military Seth Moulton
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