The Call Is Coming from Inside the Capitol

Illustration for article titled The Call Is Coming from Inside the Capitol
Photo: Stefani Reynolds (Getty Images)

The FBI will vet all 25,000 National Guard troops coming to Washington D.C. ahead of the inauguration, fearing a potential insider attack.

So far, there’s no evidence of any mutinous plans and the vetting process hasn’t raised any red flags, according to the Associated Press. But Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told the news agency that officials are preparing for the possibility of an inside job.

”We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” McCarthy told the AP. “We need to be conscious of it and we need to put all of the mechanisms in place to thoroughly vet these men and women who would support any operations like this.”


Officials said the process began as soon as the first National Guard troops arrived in the Capitol last week, and that it’s poised to be completed by Inauguration Day (as one would certainly hope).

Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said that individual guard troops and commanders have been instructed to report any extremist attitudes that their peers may express as well. “If there’s any indication that any of our soldiers or airmen are expressing things that are extremist views, it’s either handed over to law enforcement or dealt with the chain of command immediately,” he said.

I can’t say I find any of this terribly reassuring! The vetting process is ostensibly a good thing, but it is also evidence of a much deeper problem that cannot be solved with these last-minute measures. We saw it up close earlier this month, when some police officers appeared to express sympathy with the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol, allowing them to enter the building with apparent ease, taking selfies with them, and donning MAGA hats. To put it in horror movie parlance: The call was coming from inside the Capitol.

“Again, we were reminded that the designation of a peaceful protest is one made by law enforcement and the state,” Melissa Gira Grant wrote for The New Republic on the day of the attacks. “There’s no question of keeping the peace, really, when there’s only one side. What we’ve witnessed at the Capitol isn’t an insurrection; it’s an alliance.”


The country’s law enforcement rests on a foundation of white supremacy, and so it is no surprise that those who participate in this system may seek to apply its principles when they go to work every day. If you’re only recognizing this a week ahead of the inauguration, you’re too late.

Night blogger at Jezebel with writing at The Baffler, The Nation, The New Republic, Vice, and more.

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At this point, the wise thing to do would be to move the inauguration indoors and live stream only. They need to restrict the event to family and friends of the new POTUS and VPOTUS. They may want to project a normal transition of power, but nothing about this is normal. There is a pandemic and officials are spooked enough to add another vetting process to their usual inauguration vetting process. The stakes are too damn high.