Saturday 6 March 2021

Where's the Q-Anon storming of the fortified Capitol?

 National Guard surprised by extension request and find no QAnon-inspired protesters

Washington Examiner,

5 March, 2021

National Guard troops surrounding the U.S. Capitol were surprised to learn Thursday they may be staying in Washington well into the spring — despite a peaceful day after senior law enforcement officials had warned of possible QAnon-inspired violence.

Their shock came after Pentagon officials confirmed they had received a request to extend the Guard mission for a reported 60 days despite an unclear threat, with GOP lawmakers railing at what they believe is an unnecessary militarization of the capital city. Republicans contend the Biden administration and Democratic congressional leaders are using the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and continued troop presence to make former President Donald Trump and his supporters look bad.

Oh, really?” one Pennsylvania National Guard member said when informed of the extension by the Washington Examiner through a vast Capitol perimeter fence at 2nd Street NE.

We signed on the dotted line. We do what we’re told,” he added from behind Oakley-style sunglasses while clutching a Bang energy drink.

The sentiment reflected the same obedient acceptance as numerous Guard members who reacted to the extension throughout the day.

One Pennsylvania Guard member said he is ready to go home.

We’ve been here a long time, and there is a lot of National Guard,” he said, calling for rotations from other states. Asked about his family, he said: “I miss them.”

The citizen-soldiers are standing guard in Washington, with their day jobs and loved ones waiting back home.

Some 5,200 National Guard members from 30 states and U.S. territories remain in Washington in support of law enforcement agencies on a mission that was supposed to end March 12. Now, the Pentagon has confirmed that U.S. Capitol police has asked some of the troops to stay longer.

Some members of Congress are tired of what they perceive as an affront to democracy via the added layers of security, which on Thursday included bomb-sniffing dogs.

This is the 'people’s house,' and we should be welcoming law-abiding citizens to participate in our government, not using the military to keep them out like a dictatorship,” Florida Republican and Afghanistan War veteran Rep. Brian Mast told the Washington Examiner.

Another Florida veteran, GOP Rep. Greg Steube, has long called for the barbed wire fences surrounding the Capitol to come down.

Illegal immigrants with COVID-19 can walk right through our border, but citizens of this country can’t meet with their representative in D.C.,” he said. “We have received no information about specific threats today, and we have received no information that would justify any National Guard presence.”

However, California Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu tweeted a response to angry lawmakers across the aisle.

"Republican leaders can reduce the risk of further political violence by saying one simple, truthful sentence: The election was not stolen," he wrote. "Their refusal to do so is why our taxpayer funds are being spent to deploy our military to guard our Capitol against ourselves."

The National Guard presence in the capital city began on the evening of Jan. 6 and peaked at 26,000 for Inauguration Day security and is expected to cost taxpayers around $483 million.

D.C. National Guard spokeswoman Maj. Renee Lee declined to specify the threats keeping the National Guard in place other than to say the citizen-soldiers are acting in support of law enforcement.

The National Guard is in Washington, D.C., at the request of local and federal law enforcement agencies,” she told the Washington Examiner. “Guard soldiers and airmen are providing assistance such as security, medical evacuation, communications, logistics, and safety support.”

Some prominent Republican members such as Rep. Michael McCaul, a former Homeland Security Committee chairman, have been briefed on the intelligence about the alleged Thursday QAnon threat and called it legitimate. But because law enforcement and National Guard officials have been vague about the intelligence they have reviewed, it has been difficult to assess the seriousness of the threat and the need for the Guard presence — and an extension.

Potential threats’

A defense official said early Thursday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was considering a request by U.S. Capitol Police to extend the mission of the National Guard. Reports indicate that the mission could keep Guard members in place until May.

On Wednesday, U.S. Capitol Police released a statement warning that an unspecified militia group had plans to breach the Capitol grounds.

We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4,” read the statement. “The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex.”

McCaul said earlier this week the alleged threat was from a right-wing militia group.

Guard members said on Thursday that they trust government officials and called their mission important.

We’re here to make sure there is no threat, to prevent things before they happen,” said one female Guard member from Pennsylvania.

The young Guard member said she has been helping with security for three weeks and would be happy to continue guarding the Capitol.

Fellow Guard members were less enthusiastic, with one saying of commanders and officials: “Whatever they want.”

Threats surrounding the March 4 date are tied to a QAnon-backed conspiracy theory that Trump would return to the presidency on Thursday. That's because March 4 was Inauguration Day for presidents until the 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933, changed the date to Jan. 20.

Of the more than a dozen Guard members who spoke to the Washington Examiner Thursday, none observed protesters.

Shortly after 9 a.m., as the occasional jogger ran alongside 7-foot nonscalable fences, as dozens of photographers and camera crews elbowed for coveted corners where a live shot exhibited a backdrop of Army trucks, camouflaged Guard members, and a distant Capitol building.

I’m always expecting something,” one sergeant first class from the Delaware Army National Guard said when asked if he expected a threat Thursday.

Asked if the Guard presence was warranted, he shouted through a green gaiter: “You have to ask the people who sent us here.”

Farther along Louisiana and D Streets, NW, troops referred a reporter’s questions to the National Guard's office of public affairs.

We’re not here to answer questions,” one Guard member said, interrupting a discussion underway. “Just carry along, sir.”

The Capitol Police have requested that members of the National Guard continue 

to provide security at the U.S. Capitol for another two months, The Associated 

Press has learned. Defense officials say the new proposal is being reviewed by 

the Pentagon, and negotiations between the department, the police and 

congressional authorities are ongoing.

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