Did Some in Our Federal Police Conspire To Overthrow America?
Congressman Ron Paul’s former staffer, Elmer Stuart Rhodes, leader of the Oathkeepers, was just convicted of seditious conspiracy. But how did he and his merry band get close enough to Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi to present the kind of deadly threat they tried to carry out?
“Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?” the Scotland Yard police inspector asked Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story The Adventure of Silver Blaze.
“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time,” Holmes replied.
“The dog,” the inspector said, “did nothing in the night-time.”
“That,” replied Holmes, “was the curious incident.”
Why didn’t the “dogs” of our federal police, investigative, and military agencies “bark” when they knew full well in advance that an armed mob was coming to the Capitol to try to overthrow our government, and that many within the mob were armed and willing to kill (and did) to try to accomplish their goal?
Why, afterward, did the Secret Service and the Department of Defense wipe their phones so the data could never be retrieved? Why has there never been a public examination of most of this?
It’s as if a small-town police force was warned that a gang of bank robbers was on their way into town on the following Saturday, and that weekend the entire police force decided to leave their phones off the hook and go fishing. And after the bank was robbed, they all said they didn’t realize they’d really intended to rob the town’s bank. And then destroyed the note warning them the robbers were coming to town.
Why are so few people openly speculating that corrupt individuals — possibly only a tiny handful — within the FBI, Secret Service, and Department of Defense may have participated in a plot led by Donald Trump to overthrow our government?
Is it simply because treason is such an unimaginably heinous act? Does journalistic integrity require them to await “smoking gun” evidence that, at the very least, some people within these organizations were knowing or unknowing participants in Trump’s plot to become America’s last president? Is it fear of losing sources in the agencies?
When I was 13 years old my father gave me a just-published book he’d gotten from a friend in the John Birch Society titled None Dare Call It Treason. It posited that the US State Department was riddled with communist sympathizers, largely based on circumstantial evidence and the “investigations” conducted a decade earlier by Senator Joe McCarthy.
There was no such conspiracy (although there were a few identified as “commies,” mostly just good liberals), but that didn’t stop the head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, from frequently and loudly suggesting to the press that there was.
Similarly, from the viewpoint of some of the people working in the FBI and Secret Service on January 6th, it may not have been as absurd as it sounds today to have then believed that Democrats in a half-dozen states had successfully stolen the election from Trump.
After all, the President of the United States was making that claim himself, repeatedly. And dozens of other high-ranking officials, including members of the House and Senate from the various states where the crimes allegedly occurred, were themselves corroborating his claim.
Trump was the boss, and if people in police agencies are anything it’s deferential to the boss. And highly aware of the chain of command. As the old saying goes, if he says, “Jump!” it’s their job to reply, “How high?”
Anybody who’s ever had much contact with members of police and military agencies knows they lean conservative, sometimes to the point of outright support for police-state style fascism. In many instances and circumstances a certain amount of authoritarianism seems necessary to do the job, particularly policing, which is why that kind of work draws authoritarian personalities to it.
It’s also no secret that both police officers and military enlistees vote overwhelmingly Republican, largely for the same reasons (although the GOP also goes out of its way to court those voters).
So, should we be surprised to learn that a handful of members of our federal police agencies — the FBI and Secret Service — and a few most senior officials in the Department of Defense may have conspired — wittingly or unwittingly — with Donald Trump to end democracy in America and institute a Trump-led strongman government?
As the January 6th Select Committee in the House is wrapping up their work and writing their final report, there are more than a few questions around the DOD, FBI, and Secret Service that remain unanswered, particularly about the days and weeks leading up to that fateful day.
The largest question, of course, is why they all stood down, knowing that armed militias were coming to try to overturn an election. And that the militia members were willing to spill blood, which they did, including that of the three police officers killed and over 140 injured, to accomplish their goal.
The attack heading toward the Capitol wasn’t a secret, by any measure. Trump had tweeted an invitation on December 19th saying it would be “wild” and reiterated the invitation multiple times both on Twitter and in other venues.
Rhodes texted to his Oathkeeper members, which included at least one FBI informant:
“We are not getting through this without a civil war. Prepare your mind, body and spirit.”
If that wasn’t clear enough, he also proclaimed:
“We will have to do a bloody, massively bloody revolution against them. That's what's going to have to happen.”
Planning was all over rightwing media, Twitter, and Facebook. People were openly discussing violence and plans for violence. There was brazen talk of revolution, of assassination.
Somebody brought and assembled a gallows on the lawn of the capitol building, but somehow nobody stopped the construction or knows the identities of its builders and how or why it was organized.
And we now know that FBI field offices across the country had noticed the boiling calls for violence, and the Secret Service and DOD were also fully aware of it.
But not only did they do nothing: they actively prevented — for days in advance, and for multiple hours during the active armed assault — any rescue of the small contingent of Capitol Police and legislators left to deal with an armed mob of thousands.
The Commanding General of the National Guard, Gen. William J. Walker, has openly complained that he was prevented — for four hours — from helping the Capitol Policy that day. As The Washington Post reported:
“Walker contends that restrictions placed on him by McCarthy and Trump’s acting defense secretary, Christopher Miller, prevented him from sending Guard members to assist sooner.”
How is this an accident?
When Trump took the dais to whip up the crowd before sending them to the Capitol to “hang Mike Pence,” he took the unusual step of speaking from behind a wall of bulletproof glass. Congressman Mo Brooks, among others, wore a bulletproof vest.
They knew what the hell was up.
Hours before Trump’s rally, in the early morning hours, armed people had started showing up near the ellipse; DC police and the Secret Service had reports of an armed person in a tree and others carrying semiautomatic weapons.
January 6th Committee testimony suggests the Secret Service reported this to Trump himself although, weirdly, nobody tried to disarm these people in a city where guns are largely illegal. Instead, apparently there was a debate about whether or not to turn off the magnetometers.
Trump then demanded — in real time, from the stage — that those armed followers be allowed in to hear his speech without having to go through the magnetometers that would have identified their weapons.
Yet somehow his hand-picked FBI Director hadn’t prepared to deal with an armed mob in advance and, on the day of the assault, went fishing or something (his statement to Congress is here).
Whatever he was doing, he was seemingly paralyzed for most of the day and only took direct action, he testified under oath to Congress:
“Beginning on the evening of January 6, the FBI surged substantial resources to help ensure the safety and security of the U.S. Capitol complex, members of Congress, and their staff, and the public.” (emphasis mine)
For similarly unknown reasons his acting Defense Secretary told the National Guard two days earlier, on January 4th, that they were not, without specific permission from him, allowed to help the Capitol police on January 6th. (His memo is reproduced at the end of this article.)
Meanwhile, as convicted seditionist Stuart Rhodes testified at his own trial, Oathkeepers were fully expecting counter-protestors to show up, people they could identify as “Antifa” and attack. General Mike Flynn was pushing Trump to use that expected battle as the excuse to declare martial law and suspend election activity.
And it now looks like Trump may have been prepared to execute Flynn’s plan, had those counter-protestors actually showed up.
The day before, on January 5th, Trump issued an executive order asserting that “Antifa” was both a domestic terrorist and organized crime group and should be treated as such by the federal government.
“[R]eliable reporting,” the January 5th order notes, “suggests that the movement known as Antifa is directly or indirectly responsible for some of the recent lawlessness in our communities, and has exploited tragedies to advance a radical, leftist, anarchist, and often violent agenda. In fact, Antifa has long used otherwise permissible demonstrations to engage in lawless, criminal behavior to further its radical agenda. …
“Those affiliated with Antifa have also repeatedly threatened violence, including against law enforcement officers. …
“In late September of 2020, individuals in a moving truck distributed riot equipment — including shields, masks, and a sign emblazoned with an Antifa symbol — in Louisville, Kentucky, before riots ensued there. Hours later, the violent situation resulted in the shooting of two police officers. And on October 5, 2020, reported Antifa activists in Portland were captured on video attacking a woman carrying an American flag.
“The Department of Justice has already publicly confirmed that actions by Antifa and similar groups meet the standard for domestic terrorism.”
Over at the Department of Defense then-acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller and his Chief of Staff Kash Patel (formerly of Devin Nunes’ staff) were running the place.
They controlled the Pentagon and our armed forces but, more importantly, they controlled the National Guard, whose troops had previously surrounded buildings in the Capitol area three-deep during the peaceful BLM protests just six months earlier.
The prospect that violence was heading toward the Capitol on January 6th wasn’t a secret to anybody with a Twitter or Facebook account: the nation was awash with threats and planning for violence, much of it in the open. It was discussed on talk radio and podcasts.
This apparently so alarmed Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy that, on January 4th, he reached out to his boss, Trump’s recently-appointed Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, to get permission to send the National Guard to the Capitol building on January 6th to prevent the violence they were seeing being planned all over social media.
Acting Defense Secretary Miller, in the effective role of commander of our entire military just one step below Commander-in-Chief Trump (on whose behalf he acted), then issued a memo on January 4th specifically directing McCarthy and the National Guard that they were:
*Not authorized to be issued weapons, ammunition, bayonets, batons, or ballistic protection equipment such as helmets and body armor.
*Not to interact physically with protestors, except when necessary in self-defense or defense of others.
*Not to employ any riot control agents.
*Not to share equipment with law enforcement agencies.
*Not authorized to use Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) assets or to conduct ISR or Incident, Awareness, and Assessment activities in assistance to Capitol Police.
*Not allowed to employ helicopters or any other air assets.
*Not to conduct searches, seizures, arrests, or other similar direct law enforcement activity.
*Not authorized to seek support from any non-DC National Guard units.
There’s no coherent theory about why Chris Miller wrote this memo and thus blocked the National Guard from protecting the Capitol and the members of Congress within it.
Some have suggested it was to retain an appearance of “normality at the Capitol,” but that makes no sense when you see their response to things like that summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. That was the new normal.
But something wasn’t normal at all in the Trump administration.
“President Trump’s decision to fire Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday [the day before the election] raised concerns that he may be planning far-reaching military moves in his final weeks in office — and is putting in place new leadership more inclined to go along.
“Trump named Christopher Miller, director of the national counterterrorism center, to take over as acting Defense secretary, bypassing the normal practice of having the Pentagon’s No. 2 official take charge temporarily if the top job becomes vacant.”
The article also noted that Miller’s predecessor, who’d been through a Senate confirmation and was a “legal” Secretary of Defense (Miller was not), was concerned:
“In an interview conducted before his dismissal but published after he was fired Monday, Esper suggested that his successor might be more willing than he was to go along with Trump’s questionable uses of the military.
“‘Who’s going to come in behind me?’ Esper told Military Times, which covers the armed forces. ‘It’s going to be a real ‘yes man.’ And then God help us.’”
What did it take for Trump to get Chris Miller to write this memo? Was he duped? Was he an enthusiastic or reluctant participant? Did Donald Trump or his Chief of Staff and apparent co-conspirator Mark Meadows dictate it?
If this isn’t bad enough, on January 6th itself — as armed traitors were attacking police and searching to “hang Mike Pence” — Chris Miller oversaw a mid-afternoon, mid-riot conference call in which Army Secretary McCarthy was again begging for authority to immediately bring in the National Guard.
Then-Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations General Charles Flynn, the brother of convicted/pardoned foreign agent General Michael Flynn (who had been pushing Trump to declare martial law and seize voting machines nationwide) was on the call; both the Pentagon and the Army, it has been reported, lied to the press, Congress, and, apparently, to the Biden administration about his presence on that call for almost a year.
It wasn’t until December, 2021 that it was widely reported that the National Security Council’s Colonel Earl Matthews (who was also on the call) wrote a memo calling both Charles Flynn and Lt. Gen Walter Piatt, the Director of Army Staff, “absolute and unmitigated liars” for their testimony to Congress in which they both denied they’d argued to withhold the National Guard on January 6th.
Then we discovered that the phones and text messages of most of the group, including Chris Miller, Walter Piatt, Kash Patel, and Ryan McCarthy were all wiped of all conversations and text messages they had on and in the lead-up to January 6th.
Most of the communication-based evidence was destroyed. Completely destroyed. By coincidence, they said.
Why is it such a stretch to imagine that at least some of these men believed, as Stuart Rhodes has said he believed, that the battle of January 6th would end with Donald Trump declared the president?
That, once declared, he’d award them all presidential medals and give them promotions and positions of even greater power in his second administration?
That 2016 would be the last election actually determined by the people themselves, and they were all okay with that?
Is it simply true that “none dare call it treason?”
Perhaps I’m missing some critical detail that reduces this speculation to nonsense. Or maybe it’s just that because I’m publishing here on Substack in my own little silo I don’t have to answer to a nervous editor who wants to maintain his publication’s access to the FBI, Secret Service, and DOD.
If you know what I’m missing, please let me know in the comments section below.
If not, please join me in asking this simple question:
“Was there a conspiracy — even if it only involved a handful of people — at the highest levels of our government to end the American Experiment that was only defeated by sheer luck? And, if so, who were the conspirators and who were the unwitting dupes?”
Americans deserve to know why the dog didn’t bark on January 6th and in the days leading up to it. And, if appropriate, to dare to call it treason.
Thom Hartmann is the NY Times bestselling author 34 books in 17 languages & nation's #1 progressive radio host. Psychotherapist, international relief worker. Politics, history, spirituality, psychology, science, anthropology, pre-history, culture, and the natural world.