Pentagon Officials Express Concern As Trump Threatens To Use Military to ’Dominate’ Protestors
By Staff, CNN
US Military officials told CNN there was deep and growing discomfort among some in the Pentagon even before US President Donald Trump announced Monday that he is ready to deploy the military to enforce order inside the United States.
As tear gas wafted through the air in Lafayette Park across from the White House, Trump announced from the Rose Garden that if state or city leaders refuse "to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents," he will invoke the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that allows a president to deploy the US military to suppress civil disorder.
But some Pentagon officials are deeply wary, several military officials told CNN. They have tried to respond by making a strong case that the situation does not yet call for deploying active duty troops unless state governors make a clear argument such forces are needed.
"There is an intense desire for local law enforcement to be in charge," a military official said, alluding to the laws that forbid the military from performing law enforcement roles inside the United States.
There is also discomfort with the civil order mission among some National Guard troops -- more of whom are now mobilized inside the US than at any previous time in history.
Trump is threatening to use the Insurrection Act as US cities across the country struggle to deal with protests and, at times, looting and rioting that began last week after the killing of George Floyd, a black man who was being taken into custody by police in Minneapolis. Trump, who faces a climbing death toll from the coronavirus pandemic and uncertain reelection prospects in November, is now emphasizing law, order and a military response against American citizens.
On Monday, Trump intensified his rhetoric about using military forces to "dominate" protesters and wished aloud there was an "occupying force" in cities across America during a call with governors where he urged a tougher response to protests. Later, the National Guard fired tear gas and rubber bullets at a peaceful crowd outside the White House.