The Pentagon Lied and People Died

Remember back during Barack Obama’s second term when republicans chanted, “Hillary Clinton Lied and Four Americans Died” after the Benghazi, Libya embassy attack?

That little rhyme was the product of two years of congressional hearings that cost American taxpayers $7 million, only to conclude then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong in what Rep. Elijah Cummings called a “taxpayer-funded fishing expedition“.

Fast forward ten years.

In a 36-page memo released to Politico, former D.C. National Guard official, Col. Earl Matthews, accuses U.S. Army deputy chief of staff for operations Gen. Charles Flynn (brother of disgraced former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn) and director of Army staff Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt of being “absolute and unmitigated liars” to Congress in their rendition of the January 6 domestic terror attack on the Capitol intending to violently subvert the constitutional process of certifying states’ electoral votes.

On that day Matthews was attorney to Maj. Gen. William Walker, then the D.C. National Guard’s commanding general and current House sergeant at arms.

At 2:30 p.m. then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund “pleaded” on a conference call with senior military, including Walker, Matthews, Flynn, Piatt, and law enforcement officials for immediate national guard deployment to the Capitol, claiming rioters had infiltrated its perimeter.

Matthews’s memo states:

“Every leader in the D.C. Guard wanted to respond and knew they could respond to the riot at the seat of government.”

But instead of responding to the chief’s plea, LTG Piatt stated that it would not be his best military advice to recommend to the Secretary of the Army that the D.C. National Guard be allowed to deploy to the Capitol at that time,” Matthews explains, adding:

“LTGs Piatt and Flynn stated that the optics of having uniformed military personnel deployed to the U.S. Capitol would not be good.”

Instead, Matthews recalls, Piatt and Flynn suggested guardsmen assume D.C. police officers’ traffic duties to enable officers to respond to the Capitol.

At 2:37 p.m., Piatt and Flynn “recommended for DC Guard to standby.”

Flynn reiterated the recommendation four minutes later “until the request has been routed” to then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and then-acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller.

Matthews’ memo states those on the call–except Flynn and Piatt–were “astounded”.

But this isn’t the account Piatt and Flynn told Congress.

In response to House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney’s inquiry about whether Piatt advised anyone in the National Guard’s chain of command to delay deployment to the Capitol, Piatt responded:

“At no point on January 6 did I tell anyone that the D.C. National Guard should not deploy directly to the Capitol.”

Flynn told Maloney he “never expressed a concern about the visuals, image, or public perception of” sending guardsmen to the Capitol, adding:

“[A] team of over 40 officers and non-commissioned officers immediately worked to recall the 154 D.C. National Guard personnel from their current missions, reorganize them, re-equip them, and begin to redeploy them to the Capitol.”

Both generals asserted the National Guard wasn’t ready to respond.

Matthews’s memo documents this as “outright perjury,” “willful deception of Congress,” and calls the Army’s written account about the attack “worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist.”

Of Flynn’s statement, Matthews states:

“If it does not constitute the willful and deliberate misleading of Congress, then nothing does. Flynn was referring to 154 D.C. Guardsmen who were already on duty, were trained in civil disturbance response, already had area familiarization with Washington, DC, were properly kitted and were delayed only because of inaction and inertia at the Pentagon.”

Every D.C. Guard leader was ready to act, Matthews writes, explaining that responding to civil unrest is “a foundational mission, a statutory mission of the D.C. National Guard.”

A Jan. 4 memo from former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller lists very restrictive requirements for D.C. National Guard should they obtain “personal authorization” to be deployed to the scene, which they eventually were much too late.

The day Capitol police were aware of a “strong potential” for violence against Congress, Miller released the following:

Trump loyalists all over the country had been planning insurrections for months, acting on Trump’s insistence either he win or the election is rigged.

Police agencies all over the country were preparing for unrest for months.

There was even some in D.C. in December.

Two days before the Jan. 6 melee, The Hill ran the headline “DC braces for pro-Trump protests amid Electoral College challenge.

Back in June, the Transition Integrity Project (TIP) helped organize a bipartisan group of Democratic and Republican officials to simulate the day after a possibly contested election, for which every scenario resulted in “street-level violence.”

We now know in the week leading up to the insurrection that killed several people, including police officers, top Trump campaign fundraiser Caroline Wren contacted “constitutional conservative” Cindy Chafian via text message about managing operations, logistics, budgeting, funding, and messaging for the Trump rally that culminated in violence.

Caroline Wren was deputy to Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, at presidential fundraising committee Trump Victory.

Trump family members, administration officials, campaign advisers, “January 6” organizers, and at least one United States Senator met at the Washington, D.C. Trump International Hotel.

According to attendee Republican Charles W. Herbster, then Trump administration National Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committeeguests included the president’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric; former and disgraced National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy and National Defense Production Act Policy Coordinator, Peter Navarro; 2016 Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; 2016 Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie; Republican Attorneys General Association executive director Adam Piper; and newly elected Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville.

Also in attendance, according to political strategist Cheri Jacobus, were Txtwire CEO Daniel Beck, Rudy Giuliani, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and “MyPillow” CEO and Trump donor Michael Lindell.

The Omaha World Herald explained Herbster’s presence at the gathering was for the purpose of “discuss[ing] how to pressure more members of Congress to object to the Electoral College results that made Joe Biden the winner.”

Another apparent conspirator is far right-wing radio show host Alex Jones.

The Hill reports he and Publix Super Market chain heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli worked together to donate $300,000.

Jones himself planned on donating $50,000 in seed money for a “top speaking slot of his choice.

Far-right conspiracy theorist Ali Alexander worked with Caroline Wren to organize the uprising, tweeting invitations to millions of Trump supporters.

The House committee investigating Jan. 6 is proceeding with contempt charges for several former Trump administration officials for ignoring congressional subpoenas, most recently former chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon has also been indicted for contempt and will be tried in July.

Image credit: Flickr

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.