Pentagon to vet National Guard for 'insider threat' ahead of inauguration

Members of the National Guard patrol near the U.S. Capitol as they help provide security for the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Members of the National Guard patrol near the U.S. Capitol as they help provide security for the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller on Monday said the thousands of National Guard troops who will provide security in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden will be vetted for insider threats following the arrests of former and active duty military personnel who participated in the Capitol siege earlier this month.

In a statement, Miller said the Pentagon with the FBI will vet the about 25,000 troops who will be deployed to the nation's capital for Wednesday's inauguration.


"While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital," Miller said, adding that the federal agencies will lead the effort usually conducted by law enforcement due to the scope of military involvement.

"The D.C. National Guard is also providing additional training to service members as they arrive in D.C. that if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command," he said.


The statement was issued following the arrests of former and active members of the military who were charged with storming the Capitol building with the crowd of President Donald Trump supporters on Jan. 6, resulting in at least five deaths, including that of Ashli Babbitt, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who was shot dead by a Capitol Police officer.

Several active and former members of the U.S. military have been charged over their involvement in the siege, including most recently an Army reservist who works as a contractor with "secret" security clearance and access to munitions at Naval Weapons Station Earle.

Prosecutors charged Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli, of Colts Neck, N.J., on Friday with five federal counts for participating in the siege.

Law enforcement learned of Hale-Cusanelli's involvement from a source who contacted the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, according to a statement of facts that accompanied the criminal complaint.

The source told authorities that Hale-Cusanelli is an avowed White supremacist and Nazi sympathizer who posts videos on YouTube about his political beliefs.

During a recorded conversation, Hale-Cusanelli is alleged in the statement of facts to have told the unnamed source of his involvement in the storming of the Capitol building, admitting to encouraging other members to "advance" and gave directions via hand signals.


"Hale-Cusanelli told the [source] that if they'd had more men they could have taken over the entire building," the court document said.

Among service men charged, Larry Rendall Brock Jr. is one of the more prominent as the retired Air Force lieutenant colonel has been widely seen in photos carrying flex cuffs and wearing tactical gear in the Capitol building. He was charged Jan. 10.

Master Sgt. Michel Sauret, an Army Reserve Command spokesman, said in a statement that the Army is working closely with the FBI to identify people who participated in the Capitol building attack "to determine if the individuals have any connection to the Army."

Maj. Gen. William Walker told ABC's Good Morning America on Monday that the National Guards troops to be deployed to Washington, D.C., will be screened before they leave their home state.

"What it is is a credentialing process," he said. "So, they're screened and they're repeatedly screened until they are actually put on the street. And even then, we can pull somebody off."

Walker said the troops will undergo an "enhanced" vetting process that will involve "more screening, more details and it's layered."


"The FBI is a part of it, the Secret Service is a part of it, and once they are certain that there is no insider threat, then that soldier, guardsman or airman is given a credential," he said.

National Guard Bureau Chief Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson said in a release on Monday that if they find any indication a soldier or airman harbors extremist views, the case will be immediately handed over to law enforcement or dealt with by the chain of command.

Preparing for inauguration of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris

Preparations continue at the National Mall ahead of the 59th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., on January 19. Pool Photo by Susan Walsh/UPI | License Photo

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