Troops deployed to DC for inauguration forced to sleep outside, vetted for political beliefs
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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 25, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Thousands of National Guardsmen deployed to the nation’s capital for the inauguration last Wednesday were forced to sleep outside after being ordered to leave the U.S. Capitol, with some subsequently contracting COVID-19.
The many thousands of troops brought in to protect President Joe Biden from any threats were also subjected to enhanced vetting from the FBI, to determine if they themselves posed a potential security threat by having espoused extremist views. However, shortly before the inauguration, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told the Associated Press that “he and other leaders say they have seen no evidence of any threats, and officials said the vetting hadn’t flagged any issues that they were aware of.”
Troops resting in the Capitol were “abruptly told to vacate the facility on Thursday” and “forced to rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet, and one bathroom with two stalls for 5,000 troops,” Politico reported. Temperatures in D.C. ranged in the low 40s on Thursday night.
Hundreds of Guard soldiers relegated to the Senate garage, breathing in exhaust fumes and covid. Story coming in a bit pic.twitter.com/8OW4frePOh— Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX) January 22, 2021
“Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service,” a Guardsman told the outlet. “Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” he added.
“I’ve never in my entire career felt like I’ve been booted onto the curb and told, ‘Figure it out on your own,’” one soldier and veteran told the Washington Post. The conditions nearly led to a Guardsman being hit by car, another said.
Relocating to the garage also forced the Guardsmen to break the Biden administration’s new COVID-19 guidelines. At least one hundred troops have tested positive for the virus since arriving in D.C., while others who were exposed reputedly were told to break quarantine to support the military buildup for the inauguration.
By “late Thursday night” a source for the National Guard told Politico that the Guard had been ordered to return inside the Capitol building. In fact, one Guardsman told the Military Times that due to the “MASSIVE backlash over this, we are now being allowed back into the Senate building. We’re going to make a big show of marching back into the building.”
The expulsion of the Guard was disputed by the Acting Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Yogananda Pittman, who released a statement attesting that the USCP “did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities.”
In an email to LifeSiteNews, the Department of Defense echoed Pittman, saying that the USCP and the National Guard had “coordinated their efforts to ensure that National Guardsmen and women are stationed throughout the Capitol Complex are in appropriate spaces within Congressional buildings, including the U.S. Capitol, where they may take on-duty breaks. Off-duty troops are being housed in hotel rooms or other comfortable accommodations.”
The abandoning of the troops, just one day after the inauguration, drew bi-partisan condemnation and has left the National Guard embittered. One spoke anonymously to Politico: “Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed.”
Another spoke to the Military Times: “So the politicians are definitely not grateful for us at all. The day after the inauguration we are no longer allowed inside the Senate building but we are still guarding them. So when we are ‘on break’ we will ... have to either sit outside or in the bus.”
“I just want people to know how the senators have been treating us,” another soldier said. “They keep increasing the Guard force and decreasing the space we are allowed to rest in.”
One guard, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, mentioned that “I’ve never in my entire career felt like I’ve been booted onto the curb and told, ‘Figure it out on your own.’”
A number of state governors took swift action in calling the Guard home. Texas governor Greg Abbott, along with Montana governor Greg Gianforte and New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu, all ordered the Guard back, away from what Sununu called “substandard conditions.”
Florida governor Ron de Santis did likewise, saying that “[t]hey’re soldiers, they’re not Nancy Pelosi’s servants, and this comes on the back end of them trying to investigate the backgrounds of our Guardmen … This is a half-cocked mission at this point, and I think the appropriate thing is to bring them home.”
Biden was shamed into calling the National Guard to apologize for the way they had been treated following his inauguration. His wife Jill Biden then visited some of the guard, bringing a small basket of “chocolate chip cookies” as a “small thank you,” reminding them that “the Biden’s are a National Guard family.”
No violent protests were reported in D.C. or at any state capitols on inauguration day, despite FBI warnings of “armed protests” in all 50 states. One armed Antifa activist was arrested on January 17 in Florida for promoting violence against Trump supporters.