Ex-Pentagon chiefs warn against using US military in election row

In a unprecedented rebuke of US President Donald Trump, all 10 dwelling former secretaries of defence cautioned on Sunday towards any transfer to contain the army in pursuing claims of election fraud, arguing that it might take the nation into “dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory”.

The 10 males, each Democrats and Republicans, signed on to an opinion article printed in The Washington Post newspaper that implicitly questioned Trump’s willingness to comply with his constitutional obligation to peacefully relinquish energy on January 20.

Following the November 3 election and subsequent recounts in some states, in addition to unsuccessful court docket challenges, the result is evident, they wrote, whereas not specifying Trump within the article.

“The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived,” they wrote.

The former Pentagon chiefs warned towards use of the army in any effort to vary the result.

“Efforts to involve the US armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory,” they wrote. “Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.”

Quite a few senior army officers, together with General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have mentioned publicly in current weeks that the army has no function in figuring out the result of US elections and that their loyalty is to the structure, to not a person chief or a political celebration.

The 10 former Pentagon leaders additionally warned of their Post article of the hazards of impeding a full and easy transition at Defense Department previous to Inauguration Day as a part of a switch to energy to President-elect Joe Biden. Biden has complained of efforts by Trump-appointed Pentagon officers to hinder the transition.

Without mentioning a particular instance, the previous defence secretaries wrote that transfers of energy “often occur at times of international uncertainty about US national security policy and posture,” including: “They can be a moment when the nation is vulnerable to actions by adversaries seeking to take advantage of the situation.”

Tensions with Iran characterize simply such a second. Sunday marked one 12 months for the reason that US killing of Qassem Soleimani, the highest Iranian basic; Iran has pledged to avenge the killing and US officers mentioned in current days that they’re on heightened alert for a possible Iranian assault on US forces or pursuits within the Middle East.

In an additional signal of US-Iranian stress, the performing Secretary of Defense, Christopher Miller, introduced on night that he has modified his thoughts about sending the Navy plane service, the USS Nimitz, dwelling from the Middle East and as an alternative will preserve the vessel on obligation. Just final week, Miller introduced that he was sending the Nimitz dwelling, a call that had been opposed by senior army officers.

In reversing himself, Miller cited “recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other US government officials”. He didn’t elaborate, and the Pentagon didn’t reply to questions.

The opinion article within the Post was signed by Dick Cheney, William Perry, Donald Rumsfeld, William Cohen, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, Ash Carter, James Mattis and Mark Esper. Mattis was Trump’s first defence secretary; he resigned in 2018 and was succeeded by Esper, who was fired simply days after the November 3 election.

The Post reported that the concept for writing the opinion piece started with a dialog between Cheney and Eric Edelman, a retired ambassador and former senior Pentagon official, about how Trump may search to make use of the army within the coming days.