WASHINGTON: In the midst of concerns about renewed violence on Inauguration Day, top military leaders issued a written reminder to all service members that last week’s deadly Capitol insurrection was an anti-democratic, criminal act, and that no one is entitled to commit violence because of the right to free speech.
A memo signed by all members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also reminded members of the military that Joe Biden had been duly elected as the next president and would be sworn in on 20 January.
The memo was unique in that the military leadership felt obliged to warn service personnel that it was unethical to interrupt the legislative structure, including Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Through identifying the attack as an act of sedition and an insurrection, the wording went deeper than comments by the civilian Pentagon chief, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. It has been deemed reprehensible by Miller and contradictory to the ideals of the Constitution of the United States.
It comes as law enforcement officials continue to ascertain the full scope of illegal activities at the Capitol and to figure out the extent of presence of present or former members of the service.
It has now been confirmed that certain military veterans took part in the Capitol protests, but the scale of their participation in active service has not been established. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a veteran of the Iraq war, wrote to the Department of Defense urging its criminal investigation agencies to work with the FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police to determine whether active and former members of the armed forces were part of a seditious government plot.
The Joint Chiefs memo made no clear reference to the topic of military participation.
The memo claimed that we observed acts that were conflicting with the rule of law within the Capitol building. Free expression and assembly privileges do not grant someone the freedom to return to violence, sedition and rebellion.
We would reflect the nation’s traditions and principles as service members. The Constitution is endorsed and defended by all. It is not just against our traditions, principles and pledge but any act to undermine the Legislative process is against the law.
Gen. Robert Abrams, who is one of the most senior military generals in South Korea as commander of the US forces, but is not a member of the Joint Chiefs, wrote on Twitter that no one of the military should misinterpret what happened on Jan 6.
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What happened at the Capitol, which was an alleged insurrection, he wrote, is not unclear. I would advise (you) to sit down and read the constitution that you swore an oath to uphold and protect while you are served in uniform and feel it was something else.