Vetting process or forced fealty?

The Associated Press, CNN and others reported that those National Guard troops from all over the United States sent to help secure this week’s inauguration ceremony were vetted based on their political beliefs. 

In the zest to make sure the capitol and the inauguration remained safe, the FBI and Secret Service enhanced background checks of Guard members looked for references or links to any extremist political positions among other criteria. 

According to Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Daniel Hokanson, two were sent home based on inappropriate texts and comments. Ten others were removed for questionable behavior found in the vetting process.

Under intensified scrutiny, 12 guard members, out of 25,000 sent to Washington DC to protect the inauguration were deemed unacceptable and sent away out of an abundance of caution. Twelve out of 25,000.

Military members are accustomed to being vetted, and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said the extra going-over would be done in most cases of this type in protecting high profile events.

The supplementary probe was made in an effort to root out untoward comments concerning violence or any other disturbing extremist information. National Guard officials said due to operational security they do not discuss the process nor the outcome of the vetting process for military members supporting the inauguration.

Even so, some media outlets immediately defined the criteria as looking specifically for “white supremacy beliefs.” 

While that was undoubtedly part of the basis for disqualifying criteria, there would be many reasons for someone to be deemed unacceptable for the assignment. We simply do not know why 12 Guard members were sent home.

Twelve out of 25,000. That is .048 percent. Guard members of all backgrounds, colors, religions, cultures, and political beliefs were deployed, and over 99.5% were proven to take their oath to the United States Constitution extemely seriously.

Can you find and vet any group of this size anywhere in the U. S., or in the world, that adheres to the precepts of their own oath at that high level? Doubtful. 

The big headlines were about the tiny number of possibly bad apples among the Guard members, and tried to smear them with a racist label. The implication from some media was that the Guard, and military in general, is replete with white supremacists. But the headlines should have reflected the true story. 

Some media on the other side of the political spectrum also tried to misconstrue the vetting as some sort of test of fealty to the incoming president and administration. It is alarming to think that you may be excluded from participating in something because of your political beliefs. We never want to think that, in this country, we can be discriminated against because of our political beliefs. But in this case, our officials are assuring us the decisions were made based on exposed potential for violence, not simply on politics.

That may be acceptable in these security situations, as long as that precept does not inch further toward political purity. It is our job as constitution and freedom loving Americans to guard against that type of mission creep.