89 Former Defense Officials Speak

The following is a letter published in The Washington Post yesterday, written and signed by 89 former Defense officials.  The letter speaks for itself …


President Trump continues to use inflammatory language as many Americans protest the unlawful death of George Floyd and the unjust treatment of black Americans by our justice system. As the protests have grown, so has the intensity of the president’s rhetoric. He has gone so far as to make a shocking promise: to send active-duty members of the U.S. military to “dominate” protesters in cities throughout the country — with or without the consent of local mayors or state governors.

On Monday, the president previewed his approach on the streets of Washington. He had 1,600 troops from around the country transported to the D.C. area, and placed them on alert, as an unnamed Pentagon official put it, “to ensure faster employment if necessary.” As part of the show of force that Trump demanded, military helicopters made low-level passes over peaceful protesters — a military tactic sometimes used to disperse enemy combatants — scattering debris and broken glass among the crowd. He also had a force, including members of the National Guard and federal officers, that used flash-bang grenades, pepper spray and, according to eyewitness accounts, rubber bullets to drive lawful protesters, as well as members of the media and clergy, away from the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church. All so he could hold a politically motivated photo op there with members of his team, including, inappropriately, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Looting and violence are unacceptable acts, and perpetrators should be arrested and duly tried under the law. But as Monday’s actions near the White House demonstrated, those committing such acts are largely on the margins of the vast majority of predominantly peaceful protests. While several past presidents have called on our armed services to provide additional aid to law enforcement in times of national crisis — among them Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson — these presidents used the military to protect the rights of Americans, not to violate them.

As former leaders in the Defense Department — civilian and military, Republican, Democrat and independent — we all took an oath upon assuming office “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” as did the president and all members of the military, a fact that Gen. Milley pointed out in a recent memorandum to members of the armed forces. We are alarmed at how the president is betraying this oath by threatening to order members of the U.S. military to violate the rights of their fellow Americans.

President Trump has given governors a stark choice: either end the protests that continue to demand equal justice under our laws, or expect that he will send active-duty military units into their states. While the Insurrection Act gives the president the legal authority to do so, this authority has been invoked only in the most extreme conditions when state or local authorities were overwhelmed and were unable to safeguard the rule of law. Historically, as Secretary Esper has pointed out, it has rightly been seen as a tool of last resort.

Beyond being unnecessary, using our military to quell protests across the country would also be unwise. This is not the mission our armed forces signed up for: They signed up to fight our nation’s enemies and to secure — not infringe upon — the rights and freedoms of their fellow Americans. In addition, putting our servicemen and women in the middle of politically charged domestic unrest risks undermining the apolitical nature of the military that is so essential to our democracy. It also risks diminishing Americans’ trust in our military — and thus America’s security — for years to come.

As defense leaders who share a deep commitment to the Constitution, to freedom and justice for all Americans, and to the extraordinary men and women who volunteer to serve and protect our nation, we call on the president to immediately end his plans to send active-duty military personnel into cities as agents of law enforcement, or to employ them or any another military or police forces in ways that undermine the constitutional rights of Americans. The members of our military are always ready to serve in our nation’s defense. But they must never be used to violate the rights of those they are sworn to protect.

Leon E. Panetta, former defense secretary

Chuck Hagel, former defense secretary

Ashton B. Carter, former defense secretary

William S. Cohen, former defense secretary

Sasha Baker, former deputy chief of staff to the defense secretary

Donna Barbisch, retired major general in the U.S. Army

Jeremy Bash, chief of staff to the defense secretary

Jeffrey P. Bialos, former deputy under secretary of defense for industrial affairs

Susanna V. Blume, former deputy chief of staff to the deputy defense secretary

Ian Brzezinski, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Europe and NATO

Gabe Camarillo, former assistant secretary of the Air Force

Kurt M. Campbell, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Asia and the Pacific

Michael Carpenter, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

Rebecca Bill Chavez, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Western hemisphere affairs

Derek Chollet, former assistant defense secretary for international security affairs

Dan Christman, retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Army and former assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

James Clapper, former under secretary of defense for intelligence and director of national intelligence

Eliot A. Cohen, former member of planning staff for the defense department and former member of the Defense Policy Board

Erin Conaton, former under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness

John Conger, former principal deputy under secretary of defense

Peter S. Cooke, retired major general of the U.S. Army Reserve

Richard Danzig, former secretary of the U.S. Navy

Janine Davidson, former under secretary of the U.S. Navy

Robert L. Deitz, former general counsel at the National Security Agency

Abraham M. Denmark, former deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia

Michael B. Donley, former secretary of the U.S. Air Force

John W. Douglass, retired brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy

Raymond F. DuBois, former acting under secretary of the U.S. Army

Eric Edelman, former under secretary of defense for policy

Eric Fanning, former secretary of the U.S. Army

Evelyn N. Farkas, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

Michèle A. Flournoy, former under secretary of defense for policy

Nelson M. Ford, former under secretary of the U.S. Army

Alice Friend, former principal director for African affairs in the office of the under defense secretary for policy

John A. Gans Jr., former speechwriter for the defense secretary

Sherri Goodman, former deputy under secretary of defense for environmental security

André Gudger, former deputy assistant defense secretary for manufacturing and industrial base policy

Robert Hale, former under secretary of defense and Defense Department comptroller

Michael V. Hayden, retired general in the U.S. Air Force and former director of the National Security Agency and CIA

Mark Hertling, retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Army and former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe

Kathleen H. Hicks, former principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy

Deborah Lee James, former secretary of the U.S. Air Force

John P. Jumper, retired general of the U.S. Air Force and former chief of staff of the Air Force

Colin H. Kahl, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Middle East policy

Mara E. Karlin, former deputy assistant defense secretary for strategy and force development

Frank Kendall, former under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics

Susan Koch, former deputy assistant defense secretary for threat-reduction policy

Ken Krieg, former under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics

William Leonard, former deputy assistant defense secretary for security and information operations

Steven J. Lepper, retired major general of the U.S. Air Force

George Little, former Pentagon press secretary

William J. Lynn III, former deputy defense secretary

Ray Mabus, former secretary of the U.S. Navy and former governor of Mississippi

Kelly Magsamen, former principal deputy assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs

Carlos E. Martinez, retired brigadier general of the U.S. Air Force Reserve

Michael McCord, former under secretary of defense and Defense Department comptroller

Chris Mellon, former deputy assistant defense secretary for intelligence

James N. Miller, former under secretary of defense for policy

Edward T. Morehouse Jr., former principal deputy assistant defense secretary and former acting assistant defense secretary for operational energy plans and programs

Jamie Morin, former director of cost assessment and program evaluation at the Defense Department and former acting under secretary of the U.S. Air Force

Jennifer M. O’Connor, former general counsel of the Defense Department

Sean O’Keefe, former secretary of the U.S. Navy

Dave Oliver, former principal deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics

Robert B. Pirie, former under secretary of the U.S. Navy

John Plumb, former acting deputy assistant defense secretary for space policy

Eric Rosenbach, former assistant defense secretary for homeland defense and global security

Deborah Rosenblum, former acting deputy assistant defense secretary for counternarcotics

Todd Rosenblum, acting assistant defense secretary for homeland defense and Americas’ security affairs

Tommy Ross, former deputy assistant defense secretary for security cooperation

Henry J. Schweiter, former deputy assistant defense secretary

David B. Shear, former assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs

Amy E. Searight, former deputy assistant defense secretary for South and Southeast Asia

Vikram J. Singh, former deputy assistant defense secretary for South and Southeast Asia

Julianne Smith, former deputy national security adviser to the vice president and former principal director for Europe and NATO policy

Paula Thornhill, retired brigadier general of the Air Force and former principal director for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs

Jim Townsend, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Europe and NATO policy

Sandy Vershbow, former assistant defense secretary for international security affairs

Michael Vickers, former under secretary of defense for intelligence

Celeste Wallander, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

Andrew Weber, former assistant defense secretary for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs

William F. Wechsler, former deputy assistant defense secretary for special operations and combating terrorism

Doug Wilson, former assistant defense secretary for public affairs

Anne A. Witkowsky, former deputy assistant defense secretary for stability and humanitarian affairs

Douglas Wise, former deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

Daniel P. Woodward, retired brigadier general of the U.S. Air Force

Margaret H. Woodward, retired major general of the U.S. Air Force

Carl Woog, former deputy assistant to the defense secretary for communications

Robert O. Work, former deputy defense secretary

Dov S. Zakheim, former under secretary of defense and Defense Department comptroller

41 thoughts on “89 Former Defense Officials Speak

  1. The incumbent is clearly not up to the job. I don’t get excited about Biden but loosing DLT is step one. Think of Biden as a place holder. An emergency stop gap. Beyond that we need to improve the process that so often gives us a binary choice of people we don’t want and who aren’t remotely qualified for the job. Biden isn’t exciting but he is qualified by experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think many feel as you do. Granted, Biden isn’t the most exciting candidate, nor particularly a great speaker, and the shutdown over the coronavirus has hindered his ability to actively campaign. But, as you say, he has the experience, and I believe his heart is in the right place. In contrast, the incumbent doesn’t own a heart. To me, it’s a no-brainer, but I do fear that too many who don’t find Biden stimulating will stay home on November 3rd.

      Like

  2. Hello Jill. It is great that these people are speaking out because at different times the very people who support tRump supported them. Also the Republican members of congress are being reminded that there are people they voted to approve for very high levels of government also are condemning their support of tRump in this. These Republicans hope they continue to grift and graff the public after tRump is thrown out of office. They will need the support organizations and networks these Republican signers have. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ahhhh … you make an excellent point there, and one I hadn’t thought of! I think we are going to see more and more former officials and republicans speaking out, for the current atrocities may well be the line that people are unwilling to cross. However, Trump won’t care … well, he might care, and he will rant and bully and threaten, but at the end of the day, like a bull in a china shop, he will continue to plow right through, destroying anything and everything in his path until finally someone puts an end to him. Hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hello Jill. You really have the right metaphor. Because of who he is at his core, his base self, he is all about destruction. He is the bull trying to find a way out of the place he is in that he is not capable of understanding. The bull uses the only tool he has, his size, power, and hardened head to bash things. It destroys everything the bull can lash out at. tRump is just like that. Which is why tRump can not build, can not create, but he can only destroy and make things worse. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

  3. An impressive list of names but I would suspect 3 names would make a bigger diffrerence, those of the three Secretaries of the Armed Forces who could suggest that this is not the police job the armed forces best trained for since the protests are not riotous. It would be wrong to creeate bad feeling between the publiic and the services sincce it’s quite likely the sympathies of the service men and women may well lie with the public,
    Cwtch

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are very right, but I doubt those three would be willing to defy Trump unless push really came to shove, and even then I’m not sure if they would. Their training tells them that Trump is their “Commander-in-Chief” and that they must obey him. Now, if he actually does order them to go into cities and take action against civilians, then maybe. I just don’t know. But, as Mattis said in his letter, the military is there to protect the people, not to turn on them. We’re supposed to be able to trust them (and the police, for that matter) with our lives. Sigh. Nothing is as it should be here.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 2 people

  4. The unfortunate thing about this is that the signers are nearly all “former.” Of course we know that if something like this originated among those in “active” positions, they would immediately suffer from Trump’s WRATH! Which is SO, SO wrong … yet he continues to get away with it since few will put their careers ($$$$) on the line.

    Aren’t we lucky to have a president who has a grade-school mentality?

    Liked by 3 people

    • True on all counts. Trump is a bully who has shown he won’t hesitate to lash out and even fire people for a word spoken against him. The markings of a tyrant. But, I was pleased when Esper contradicted Trump earlier in the week and said he saw no reason to send active-duty military personnel into cities at this time. I hear that Trump was so furious he wanted to fire Esper, but his advisors talked him out of it … for now, anyway, though I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Esper has been “re-assigned” in the next week or two.

      Oh yeah, Nan … we’re so very lucky … sigh.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m heartened by their stand. I hope that their letter is also being published in right-wing media outlets. Since he considers California one of his problem states, I’m preparing myself for the sight of military Humvees patroling our city streets and military helicopters circling overhead.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hmmmm … you’ve given me an idea! I wonder if I could infiltrate a couple of those right-wing outlets and slip a few of my posts, such as this one, into them? Worth a shot, yes? I know what you mean! I live about 1/2 mile from a hospital, so hearing helicopters overhead is nothing new, but yesterday when I heard one, I stepped out to look, half expecting it to be a military chopper.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The military choppers have a different throb. The first time three of them flew over our area, during one of President Obama’s visit to Los Angeles, I immediately thought of the Vietnam war movies I had seen. A sinking feeling.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. So what does he do next scrabble around to find 90 folk of equal status who support his action or do his usual ‘I Know Best’ bluster?
    No, don’t tell me we’ve got used to it by now.
    Adapted from Shakespeare. Much Ado About Nothing: (I’ve used this before but it bears repeating)
    Dogberry (aka Trump)
    CONRADE (intelligent commentator or experienced official)
    Get away from me, you ass! You ass
    DOGBERRY(aka Trump)
    How can you call me that? Don’t you suspect my office? Don’t you suspect my age? Oh, if only the sexton were here to write down that I’m an ass! Gentlemen, remember that I am an ass; even though it’s not written down, don’t forget that I’m an ass

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Sadly, with a maniacal narcissist at the helm, the more people who push against him, the more lifts he will put in his shoes and the more amoral, apathetic lap dogs he will dig up to help him destroy freedom and peace in this country and possibly the world. Does the word Antichrist ring any bells here?

    Liked by 4 people

    • That may be true, but my hope is that ultimately enough people push against him to throw him over the cliff. It can be done, but those who are courageous enough to push against him are slow in waking up, it seems.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Jill, thanks for sharing this. I have a post coming, which I will also use in my weekly email. I will use this as a rebuttal to any pushback I get from Trump supporters. You were looking for something to send to McConnell, Cotton and Portman – this would be a good piece. It is one that says, this bothers me and it obviously bother our military, so what do you plan to do about it? What trouble us all is the acquiescence in voice or through silence of the misdeeds or divisive words of the person in the White House. Mattis said a lot of interesting and appropriate things the other day. But he made reference to the need for “mature leadership.” That says it all. Keith

    PS – It still puzzles me why a grown man would say it is a great day for George Floyd on the day he is buried. The man is dead Mr. president. That sure is a poor definition of great.

    Liked by 6 people

    • I read your piece … it was excellent! Good point … it would be a good piece to use, and I shall. Thanks for the advice! I agree … I was re-reading Mattis’ piece tonight, and that sentence stood out for me … I thought how Trump must have really growled over that!

      I don’t understand it, either … it was the most inappropriate thing he could have said at that time. Y’know … Trump has said many, many offensive, crude things in his time in office, but I think this one is the worst ever. If I were a member of Mr. Floyd’s family, I would be ready to slam his head into a brick wall over that one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, one thing that is hard to do is determine what is the worst thing Trump has ever said or done. There truly is a lot of competition on both. The one I would hold up is ingesting disinfectant to cure COVID-19. That one was both inane and dangerous, rivaling the Tide Pod challenge for stupidity. Plus, watching Dr. Birx try to disappear in her chair when he looked to her for agreement is priceless and telling. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Jill / Keith. Something just accorded to me. tRump is notorious for not wanting to read. Do you think he sits there and reads something like what Mattis wrote, or do you think he has some luckless staffer read it to him while he interrupts and rants? Do you think if it is read to him, do the staff edit or leave the worst out? Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

        • Scottie,Jill, I think he judges his reaction from the Fox opinion hosts. I don’t think he has the patience or desire to read beyond Twitter. Now, he is attacking Colin Powell who called Trump on the carpet for lying and saying he is voting for Biden. It is funny that Graham is leading an investigation into the start of the Russia investigation and is missing what the White House incumbent is doing right now to deface America. Keith

          Liked by 2 people

          • I saw on Twitter his criticism of Colin Powell, for whom I have tremendous respect, and my fingers took off before I could stop them, responding that Colin Powell was ten times the man that he, Trump, would ever be. It’s true, though. As for Lindsey Graham … he is a puppet who can change course as quick as the wind does. I have no use, no respect for him, just as I have none for McConnell.

            Like

        • Best guess is people on his staff, like Mark Meadows and Kellyanne Conway keep him apprised of what is being said or written, and provide him with a brief digest, a summation with key points highlighted. And then, they hand him his Tweety machine so he can go on Twitter and call them losers and terrible people. If they edit, I’m sure they don’t leave out the worst, for from their point of view, what fun would that be?

          Liked by 1 person

  9. As we approach the elections, he will only do more and more to provoke a genuine crisis – or at least one which can be interpreted as such – so he can suspend the rule of law and cancel the elections. All hail Dictator For Life Drump.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Pingback: Filosofas Word 89 Former Defense Officials Speak – karmashadows blog & stuff

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