A dozen National Guard troops were removed from Washington, D.C., ahead of Wednesday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden over alleged links to militias and for social media posts described as “extremist.”
The Associated Press initially reported in a story updated Wednesday that two Army National Guard members were removed from the detail securing the inauguration. The outlet vaguely noted the troops were connected to “right-wing militia groups.”
The AP reported there were no specific threats to Biden or the event found.
“Due to operational security, we do not discuss the process nor the outcome of the vetting process for military members supporting the inauguration,” a member of the National Guard Bureau told the outlet.
The FBI vetting of troops who are in the country’s capital drew condemnation from some who accused the vetting of being politically motivated.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted he would never again deploy members of his state’s National Guard should such perceived political purity tests again be conducted on men and women in uniform.
“This is the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard. No one should ever question the loyalty or professionalism of the Texas National Guard,” Abbott tweeted on Monday.
“I authorized more than 1,000 to go to DC. I’ll never do it again if they are disrespected like this,” he wrote. The next day, troops were pulled from securing the inauguration over the reported militia links.
This is the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard.
No one should ever question the loyalty or professionalism of the Texas National Guard. @TexasGuard
I authorized more than 1,000 to go to DC.
I’ll never do it again if they are disrespected like this.https://t.co/STZDMz7PGm
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 19, 2021
Following the initial removal of just two troops, the AP then updated the story on Wednesday to reflect that the number of troops pulled from duty had risen to 12. The guardsmen were described as “security liabilities” by anonymous officials with knowledge of their removal from the inauguration event.
The AP noted all 12 troops were connected to “right-wing militia groups” or had “posted extremist views online.” The outlet did not expound on what kind of groups were connected to the troops, or what kind of extremism they had been linked to.
Ten were reportedly sent home for “other potential issues that may involve previous criminal behavior or other activities,” while two had sent text messages or made comments which were deemed “inappropriate” in relation to the inauguration.
Defense Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said at a news conference that troops were removed “out of an abundance of caution,” but did not provide further details regarding what the troops were specifically accused of.
AP White House correspondent Zeke Miller reported Monday that troops were being vetted after Pentagon officials said they feared a potential “inside attack” from those securing Biden’s inauguration.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense officials tell AP they fear possible inside attack at inauguration, will have National Guard troops vetted.
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) January 18, 2021
“We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press on Sunday.
There are an estimated 25,000 troops in Washington for the inauguration.
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