In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law. Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection. Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellion, coups, and secession.
"I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad." -- Donald J. Trump, March 13, 2019
Paul D. Eaton, Antonio M. Taguba, and Steven M. Anderson -- all retired generals -- at WP:
The signs of potential turmoil in our armed forces are there. On Jan. 6, a disturbing number of veterans and active-duty members of the military took part in the attack on the Capitol. More than 1 in 10 of those charged in the attacks had a service record. A group of 124 retired military officials, under the name “Flag Officers 4 America,” released a letter echoing Donald Trump’s false attacks on the legitimacy of our elections.
Recently, and perhaps more worrying, Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, the commanding general of the Oklahoma National Guard, refused an order from President Biden mandating that all National Guard members be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Mancino claimed that while the Oklahoma Guard is not federally mobilized, his commander in chief is the Republican governor of the state, not the president.
The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines — from the top of the chain to squad level — is significant should another insurrection occur. The idea of rogue units organizing among themselves to support the “rightful” commander in chief cannot be dismissed.
During the Afghan and Iraq wars, the careers of two military officers often intersected. Army General Michael Flynn and an Army Reserve colonel named Phil Waldron worked together on secret projects in both countries, Waldron said. When Flynn was appointed to run the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012, Waldron said he worked at the DIA’s clandestine service.
Flynn was an intel expert. Waldron’s specialty was psychological operations, or PSYOPs – targeting foreign adversaries, as an Army field manual describes, “to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately, the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.”
Now the two military veterans, along with at least two other retired and reserve officers, are engaged in a new mission, this time with a domestic target: They are central to the far-right effort to persuade Americans that the 2020 election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump.
For the past year, Flynn, Waldron and other intelligence veterans have helped propagate some of the outlandish theories undercutting Americans’ faith in democracy. They pitched false accusations to lawmakers and the public about how the election had been compromised, pushed spurious lawsuits to challenge its outcome, and bankrolled efforts to conduct partisan audits of the results. They provided briefings to members of Congress on methods for overturning the election, and worked aside some of the leading actors in Trump’s “Stop the Steal” movement.