Military must stay out of US election, say ex-Pentagon chiefs




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All 10 living former US defense secretaries, including two Donald Trump appointees, warned Sunday against involving the military in the US presidential transition.

In an essay published in The Washington Post, Ashton Carter, Leon Panetta, William Perry, Dick Cheney, William Cohen, Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel, Donald Rumsfeld, James Mattis and Mark Esper urged the Pentagon to commit to a transition of power.

“Efforts to involve the US armed forces in resolving disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory,” they said, adding that officials who sought to do so could face serious and criminal consequences.

Referring to the process and transfers of power as “hallmarks of our democracy,” the secretaries noted that other than Abraham Lincoln’s in 1860 that ultimately led to the pro-slavery seceding and the US Civil War, the country has had an unbroken record of transitions.

“This year should be no exception,” they wrote.

The secretaries, who come from both US political parties with Esper and Mattis both by Trump, pointed out that all legal challenges to the presidential results had been dismissed by the courts, and the votes certified by state governors.

It is time to formally certify the Electoral votes, they said.

They also called on acting defense secretary Christopher Miller and all defense department officials to facilitate the transition for President-elect Joe Biden’s administration “fully, cooperatively and transparently.”

“They must also refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new ,” the essay said.

Trump, who is refusing to acknowledge his election loss to Biden, until recently held back from allowing government agencies to cooperate with Biden’s , as is the custom.

In late December, Biden said that political appointees at the Pentagon, which Trump has packed with loyalists since the election, have refused to provide a “clear picture” on troop posture or budgeting.

“It is nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility,” Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware, warning that US adversaries could take advantage of the transition.

(AFP)