A senior White House official has denied an anonymously sourced report that military police units have been put on alert in case they are needed to respond to American cities scarred by rioting.
Minneapolis has been the scene of increasingly violent riots since Tuesday, when the first protests were held in response to the death of George Floyd. Since then, rioting has spread to New York City, Atlanta and other major cities.
In response, soldiers from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in northern New York state are under orders to be ready to deploy within four hours if they are called for action, according to a report from The Associated Press.
The report said that additional units at Fort Carson in Colorado and Fort Riley in Kansas were being readied for deployment within 24 hours of an orders to respond to the growing violence in U.S. cities.
The AP said it was given the information by “three people with direct knowledge of the orders.” The names of the sources were not published, but The Western Journal is reporting on this information because of its potential impact on constitutionally protected freedoms in the effected areas.
The orders followed a phone conversation between President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper regarding possible military options if the riots worsen, according to what the AP called “a senior Pentagon official who was on the call.”
The New York Times also reported on the readiness orders, but apparently based its report solely on the same anonymously sourced AP story.
The legal basis for any intervention would be the Insurrection Act of 1807, which was used in Los Angeles in 1992 after the Rodney King trial.
“If this is where the president is headed response-wise, it would represent a significant escalation and a determination that the various state and local authorities are not up to the task of responding to the growing unrest,” said Brad Moss, a Washington D.C.-based attorney.
AP’s report, citing what it said were “three people, including two Defense Department officials,” said that 800 members of military police units at Fort Drum would be sent to Minneapolis first.
A Pentagon spokesman told the AP that Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz had not yet requested help from the military under Title 10, the law that allows the military to act inside the U.S. under specific circumstances.
“The Department has been in touch with the Governor and there is no request for Title 10 forces to support the Minnesota National Guard or state law enforcement,” the spokesman said.
Alyssa Farah, the White House director of strategic communications, denied the report.
“False: off the record – title 10 not under discussion,” Farah said in an email to AP.
The mechanics of intervention are vague, said Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas School of Law professor who specializes in constitutional and national security law.
Trump could act on his own, or in concert with state officials, he said.
“It is a very, very broad grant of authority for the president,” he added.
Walk has asked for 1,200 members of his state’s National Guard to be deployed to Minneaspolis, according to Fox News. That deployment will swell the number of National Guard troops in the city to 1,700. The Minnesota National Guard has also been dispatched to nearby St. Paul to help quell rioting there.
“This is the largest civilian deployment in Minnesota history that we have out there today and quite candidly right now, we do not have the numbers,” Walz said. “We cannot arrest people when we are trying to hold ground because of the sheer size, the dynamics and the wanton violence.”
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