USA TODAY US Edition

Re­tired mil­i­tary brass sup­port Bi­den

Nearly 500 sig­na­to­ries con­cerned about Trump

- Tom Van­den Brook

WASH­ING­TON – Nearly 500 gen­er­als, ad­mi­rals and for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials from both par­ties en­dorsed for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den on Thurs­day, and blasted Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as “not equal” to the chal­lenges of the job in a let­ter re­leased Thurs­day.

The let­ter, signed by 489 mem­bers of the group called the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Lead­ers for Bi­den, in­cludes for­mer Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion De­fense Sec­re­taries Ash Carter, Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta, along with for­mer Navy Sec­re­tary and NASA ad­min­is­tra­tor Sean O’Keefe, who served un­der both for­mer Pres­i­dents Ge­orge H.W. and Ge­orge W. Bush. Among the re­tired se­nior of­fi­cers is Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, who un­til last year was the vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff un­der Trump.

The sig­na­ture of a se­nior of­fi­cial like Selva, with re­cent, rel­e­vant ex­pe­ri­ence ad­vis­ing the Trump White House as the mil­i­tary’s sec­ond-high­est rank­ing of­fi­cer, in­di­cates alarm about Trump’s fit­ness as com­man­der in chief, said Michael O’Han­lon, a mil­i­tary an­a­lyst at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion. O’Han­lon pointed to rev­e­la­tions in Bob Wood­ward’s new book “Rage“that showed the United States and North Korea were dan­ger­ously close to war in 2017. Trump’s er­ratic, “seat of the pants” de­ci­sion-mak­ing has rat­tled se­nior mil­i­tary and civil­ian of­fi­cials, he said.

“There is real con­cern among some of these folks that we’re liv­ing on bor­rowed time with this guy hav­ing his fin­ger on the nu­clear trig­ger,” O’Han­lon said of Trump.

O’Keefe, a Repub­li­can, said in an in­ter­view that the state­ment is aimed at un­de­cided vot­ers. The group in­tends to write op-eds for news or­ga­ni­za­tions and to speak out through the elec­tion, he said.

“This is a ref­er­en­dum on whether we want to re­in­force and es­tab­lish what has kept this demo­cratic ex­per­i­ment in play for the last 250 years or so or go into un­charted ter­ri­tory and re­de­fine who we are as Amer­i­cans,” O’Keefe said.

The let­ter praises Bi­den for his moral­ity, in­tegrity and ex­pe­ri­ence. The let­ter ex­co­ri­ates Trump with­out men­tion­ing him by name.

“The cur­rent Pres­i­dent has demon­strated he is not equal to the enor­mous re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of his of­fice; he can­not rise to meet chal­lenges large or small,” the group writes. “Thanks to his dis­dain­ful at­ti­tude and his fail­ures, our al­lies no longer trust or re­spect us, and our en­e­mies no longer fear us.”

The let­ter is ad­dressed to “fel­low cit­i­zens.” Its sig­na­to­ries “are gen­er­als, ad­mi­rals, se­nior non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers, am­bas­sadors, and se­nior civil­ian na­tional se­cu­rity lead­ers. We are Repub­li­cans, Democrats, and In­de­pen­dents. We love our coun­try. Un­for­tu­nately, we also fear for it.”

The list also in­cludes of­fi­cials from the White House such as Su­san Rice, Obama’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser; John Kerry, his sec­re­tary of State; and James Clap­per, his di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence.

“Don­ald Trump has weak­ened our global al­liances, un­der­mined trust in U.S. lead­er­ship and com­pe­tence, and time af­ter time priv­i­leged Vladimir Putin over Amer­i­can na­tional in­ter­ests,” Rice said in a state­ment. “The United States can­not en­dure four more years of Trump’s failed lead­er­ship.”

They con­clude by say­ing the next pres­i­dent must deal with tur­moil caused by the COVID-19 pan­demic, re­ces­sion and em­bold­ened ad­ver­saries such as North Korea and Rus­sia: “Joe Bi­den has the char­ac­ter, prin­ci­ples, wis­dom, and lead­er­ship nec­es­sary to ad­dress a world on fire. That is why Joe Bi­den must be the next Pres­i­dent of the United States; why we vig­or­ously sup­port his elec­tion; and why we urge our fel­low cit­i­zens to do the same.”

 ?? AP ?? Now-re­tired vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Paul Selva, signed a let­ter en­dors­ing Joe Bi­den.
AP Now-re­tired vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Paul Selva, signed a let­ter en­dors­ing Joe Bi­den.

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