Just before last November's presidential election, two former Army officers wrote an open letter to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a man called Mark Milley. The letter was published on a left-wing blog called "Defense One." Within minutes it was all over the Internet. The authors of the letter had a direct order for Mark Milley, who strictly speaking did not report to them.
"If Donald Trump refuses to leave office," the letter began, "the United States military must remove him by force, and you must give that order." You must remove the president by force.
That was a little shocking. What country is this? Even the usual power-mad partisans in the national news media began to wonder if that was a good idea. Slate.com, of all places, reminded its readers that, no matter how orange Donald Trump might be, military coups generally turn out to be unwise.
The Pentagon had to go on the record against it too. The rest of us could keep civilian control of our government. What a relief. Within days, the story receded, another weird footnote to a weird four years. But if you thought about it for a second, you had to wonder: where did that idea even come from? Did two former military officers talk like that or think like that, and do a lot of them have views like that? Do a lot of them have these views?
We pushed the thought from our minds. We shouldn’t have. Now we know that Mark Milley himself is the sort of person who considers military coups entirely within the realm of possibility.
A new book, written by reporters at The Washington Post who cover Milley, reveals the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a legitimate extremist — the last person you’d give power to if you could possibly help it. In the book, Milley describes Donald Trump and the millions who supported him, as the moral equivalent of Adolph Hitler. As thousands of Trump supporters peacefully gathered in Washington for what they assumed was a constitutionally-protected political rally shortly after the election, Milley likened them to "brownshirts" -- the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party. Trump’s complaints about voter fraud, Milley explained to his advisers, out loud, were actually calls for genocide.
"This is a Reichstag moment," Milley said. "The gospel of the Führer." Those are quotes. Think about that. Your grandfather joined the U.S. military to risk his life fighting the Nazis. Now the head of the US military calls you a Nazi for having your grandfather’s political views. What do you think of that?
Keep in mind, Milley is a man the media tell us is a deep intellectual, someone who reads books and stuff, not just Wikipedia. Yet this "well-read man of history" is comparing nearly half our country to Adolf Hitler, including presumably the many Hispanics in the Rio Grande Valley who voted for Trump because they agreed with him on immigration. Mark Milley isn’t just your average guy with crackpot views, he has control of nuclear weapons. Are we OK with this? The people on TV are ok with it.
ANDERSON COOPER: You read what Milley was doing and which you know is obeying the Constitution. It is standing up to the oath that he and serving members have taken. I mean, that's what a patriot does.
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN ANALYST: General Milley and his team in the military, with the courage to stand up to realize that something was going horribly off the rails with the President of the United States,
CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Now, thank goodness, General Milley was there and other generals, I think, all saw this guy`s flaws.
BARBARA STARR, CNN: It is. It is jaw-dropping. There's no other way around it. They may be the guys with the guns, but Milley was going to make darn sure that those guns were not used.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN: You think of General Milley as someone who chooses every word with intention and is a student of history and to use the words he used like Nazi and Reichstag says a lot and those words that were used.
They’re easy to impress over on CNN. Make a reference to Nazis and the Reichstag Fire and you are really high-brow, grad-school history stuff. You hear someone compare his political enemies to Nazis, you know for sure he went to Princeton. Pretty funny.
So we’ve established that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the same intellectual plane as the midday newsreaders on CNN. The problem is, he’s a lot more powerful than they are.
According to the Post, Mark Milley is the reason that thousands of soldiers occupied the Capitol this year, ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration.
"We’re going to put a ring of steel around this city and the Nazis aren’t getting in," Milley said, referring to American citizens. A ring of steel to repel the QAnon shaman and several hundred senior citizens from Orlando with signs. This is a guy, by the way, who’s paid to assess threats realistically. What countries pose a threat to the United States? Put them in order. If you think the QAnon shaman is the same as the SS, maybe you’re not so good at that.
Then, Milley then gave a speech straight out of a 90's Bruce Willis flick. "Everything's going to be okay. We're going to have a peaceful transfer of power. We're going to land this plane safely. This is America. It's strong. The institutions are bending, but it won't break."
But in the end, no Nazi attack ever came, much to Mark Milley's disappointment. It wasn’t Dunkirk. Now, you'd think that would be an embarrassment for Mark Milley. You give a speech like that and nothing happens. Some guy dressed like Chewbacca shows up. But no. He later testified before Congress, apparently not referring to himself, that he understands "White rage" better than anyone:
MILLEY: I do think it's important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read. And it is important that we train and we understand. I want to understand White rage, and I'm white, I want to understand it. So what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America. What caused that? I want to find that out, I want to maintain an open mind here and I do want to analyze it. It’s important that we understand that because our soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines come from the American people, so it is important that the leaders now and in the future do understand it.
White rage – just a casual racial slur. These people have no self-awareness. But, he tells us, he spent many hours reading Robin DiAngelo and Ibrim X Kendi, learning about "White rage," but that White rage never came. Mark Milley wasn't deterred by that. Instead, soon after the election, the Post reported, "Milley ... began informally planning with other military leaders, strategizing how they would block Trump’s order to use the military in a way they deemed dangerous or illegal."
Now, wait a second. Is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the guy who’s empowered by our constitution, our democracy, to make those decisions? No, he’s not. We have civilian leadership, he can’t make them independently, if he disagrees, he can resign. But he can’t make them independently.
But he kept going. In early January, Nancy Pelosi pressed for specifics. She wanted to know that the generals had done to help her. She wanted to know that they were doing things that were illegal, taking control of the military from civilian-elected leaders. Milley confirmed that they had done just that.
"Ma’am," Milley told Pelosi, "I guarantee you that we have checks and balances in the system."
According to the Post, some of those "checks and balances" he referred to involved undermining the president's authority to choose his own CIA Director. When the president reportedly considered firing Gina Haspel who runs the CIA and replacing her with Kush Patel in the closing days of his administration, we now know that Milley pressured the president's chief of staff not to do that, to keep Haspel. "What the hell is going on here?" Milley asked Trump's chief of staff. "What are you guys doing?"
This is lunacy, it’s not how the government is supposed to work, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs should not be having that conversation, expressing those views, he should leave if he can’t keep them to himself.
That quote there is grounds for Mark Milley's immediate termination. Mark Milley does not have any say over CIA appointees, no one in the military does. They can’t. Talk about a threat to our system.
But the Washington Post thinks this is fine because the president at the time was talking about election fraud. That was inciting an insurrection. Scary.
We already know Milley was subverting civilian control of the military long before the election even took place. On February 29 of last year, the Trump administration reached a deal with the Taliban to end U.S. military involvement in the country after only 20 years. Immediately, the Pentagon -- led by Mark Milley -- conspired to kill the deal, which they are not allowed to do under our Constitution, but they did it anyway.
According to reporting by the Grayzone, "With startling swiftness and determination, Pentagon officials and military leadership exploited the open-ended terms of the ceasefire to derail the implementation of the agreement."
No informed person denies that happened. It did.
The head of U.S. Central Command, Kenneth MacKenzie, testified before Congress that the deal would be determined by "conditions on the ground" -- meaning, not by civilian leaders in Washington, but by the Pentagon. Again, a threat to democracy. Acting unilaterally, the Pentagon launched more than 30 drone attacks and eight-night raids led by Special Operations forces against the Taliban. Within weeks, the peace deal was dead. They killed it.
Voters had no say in this. They operated completely independently like they ran the country. A little scarier than the QAnon shaman.
Ironically, preserving a "peace deal with the Taliban" was the same justification Mark Milley used later -- in late 2020 -- to overrule Donald Trump's order to pull out of Afghanistan. Milley told the president that it was only possible to remove half of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, not all of them.
No one in the media seems concerned by any of this. In fact, the Washington Post is already publishing follow-up op-eds explaining that Mark Milley is a hero -- there are Nazis among us – you! Therefore we need to get rid of the filibuster. Try to follow that logic. They're also noting with approval that Mark Milley smiled at Michelle Obama when Joe Biden was inaugurated.
The question is: why is Mark Milley still in command of the US military? This is not a small question. If what the Washington Post reporters are reporting is true, it’s a question we need to deal with right now.
This article is adapted from Tucker Carlson's opening commentary on the July 15, 2021, edition of "Tucker Carlson Tonight."