A Pentagon policy adviser, James Miller, resigned from the Defense Advisory Board on Tuesday in a clear rebuke of Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s role in the violent dispersal of anti-racism protesters from Lafayette Square for a presidential photo op on Monday.
In a resignation letter obtained by the Washington Post, Miller denounced Esper “visibly” supporting the excessive crowd-control measures, calling it a violation of the nation’s top defense official’s oath of office.
Miller, who served as the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for policy during the Obama administration before joining the advisory board, said that he had again swore an oath of office for his now-former position, which bore him responsible to support and defend the Constitution.
“You recited that same oath on July 23, 2019, when you were sworn in as Secretary of Defense. On Monday, June 1, 2020, I believe that you violated that oath,” Miller wrote in the letter addressed to Esper, adding that he feared Esper may be asked to exploit U.S. military power by wielding it in ways that “further undermine the Constitution and harm Americans.”
As a “concerned citizen,” Miller also cited comments Esper made on a conference call with the President and governors on Monday about dominating “the battlespace” of American streets.
Esper told NBC on Tuesday that he thought the trip out of the White House was to assess some damage and to talk to troops.
“I didn’t know where I was going,” Esper told NBC,” I wanted to see how much damage actually happened.” That very phrase may prove to haunt Americans for years to come in a moment that sends both literal and figurative smoke of a sharp turn by the President and his supporters toward aggressive and militaristic tactics to suppress the expression of free speech.