Douglas Andrews / February 5, 2021

Why the Continued Guard Presence in DC?

Despite Dem opportunism and paranoia, it’s long past time to thank our National Guardsmen and return them home.

It’s been a month since the January 6 Capitol riot, but Beltway Democrats and their media fellow-travelers continue to play it for all it’s worth.

And that’s understandable. It might’ve been the least effective “armed insurrection” in history, but it still shook the party of Sandy Cortez to its core. The days since then, however, have been whisper-quiet in our nation’s capital, with Joe Biden safely ensconced in the Oval Office and nary a hint of another “white nationalist” uprising.

Which is why it’s time — long past time, in fact — to thank our National Guardsmen and return them home to their communities.

On January 19, the day before Joe Biden’s inauguration, we wondered why we needed 26,000 Guardsmen in our nation’s capital to protect 1,000 Chicken Little Democrats. It seemed, uh, excessive. And it seemed deeply disgraceful when, the day after the inauguration, 5,000 Guardsmen were banished from the Capitol complex to an unheated parking garage with a single Porta-John.

But we honor your service, say the Democrats.

Since then, the Guard’s presence has been drawn down considerably, but there are still 5,000 troops in DC. And they’re expected to remain there until mid-March.

Why?

According to acting Army Secretary John Whitley, the Pentagon received four requests for the Guard to remain and provide assistance to the U.S. Park Police, Secret Service, Capitol Police, and the DC Metropolitan Police amid continued “fears of threats” to officials and the city in the wake of the deadly Capitol riot. “They’re concerned,” said Whitley, “that there could be situations where there are lawful protests — First Amendment-protected protests — that could either be used by malicious actors or other problems that could emerge.”

Since when is the mere fear of a threat a legitimate reason to deploy our Guardsmen against their fellow citizens, keep them from returning home to their families, and run up a taxpayer tab of nearly $500 million?

But let’s be clear: It’s not just the Guard’s presence that makes our nation’s capital look like a paranoid police state. As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York reports, “If you go to the federal area of Washington, you’ll find tall fencing and razor wire creating a huge militarized zone around the Capitol, with National Guard members guarding it from inside the fence. The barrier is not just on the perimeter of the Capitol. It extends for blocks beyond the building in every direction.”

Again, we have to ask: Why?

Who are these fearful folks, and where’s the ongoing threat that explains this radical reaction? As columnist Gary Bauer points out, “When President Trump deployed razor wire at the southern border, the left was apoplectic.”

Bauer went on to note that there are lawful activities in DC all the time — activities for which the Guard is never deployed — and that Tom Cotton, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said there is no intelligence that justifies the continued presence of thousands of these troops.

“The lesson of the Capitol riot is not that we should quarter a standing army at the Capitol just in case,” Cotton wrote in a Fox News op-ed, “but rather that our security measures should be calibrated to the actual threats.”

Cotton noted that the Capitol is the seat of our republic, and that it belongs to the American people. “The National Guard answered the call at a critical time,” he wrote, “but its mission is now complete. It’s time to reopen the Capitol grounds to the American people.”

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