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Joint Chiefs pointedly remind military personnel Biden will be president, 'sedition and insurrection' are illegal

In an extraordinary letter Tuesday, all eight of the top U.S. military officers told U.S. service members that last week's deadly mob attack on the U.S. Capitol was an illegal "direct assault" on not just Congress but also America's constitutional order, and "the rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition, and insurrection."

The letter from the Joint Chiefs of Staff followed Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy's approval of 15,000 National Guardsmen, some armed with lethal weapons, to help secure the Capitol amid credible threats of violence from armed militia groups leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next Tuesday. Biden, the four-star generals reminded U.S. forces in their letter, "will be inaugurated and will become our 46th commander in chief."

"As service members, we must embody the values and ideals of the nation," the Joint Chiefs said. "We support and defend the Constitution. Any act to disrupt the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath; it is against the law."

Some retired military officers participated in Wednesday's insurrection, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) asked the Pentagon on Monday to cooperate with the FBI and Capitol Police to determine the extent of participation in the "seditious conspiracy" by current and former service members. Another veteran, Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), said Sunday that McCarthy should screen any military personnel involved in inauguration security to make sure none are "sympathetic to domestic terrorists."