- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2021

Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and H.R. McMaster, the retired Army general who served as one of President Trump’s national security advisers, are calling for a bipartisan commission to investigate what happened on Jan. 6 when a mob of pro-Trump voters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Mr. Esper and Lt. Gen. McMaster joined former Obama administration defense secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta in calling for an independent review that could be modeled on the National Commission on Terror Attacks Upon the United States, better known as the 9/11 Commission. The suggestion was made during a recent event hosted by the Reagan Institute.

“We better damn well take a very close look at just exactly what happened, how was it inspired, how did it take place (and) how can we prevent that kind of thing from happening again,” Mr. Panetta said. “The panel must be equally balanced between Republicans and Democrats in order to be credible.”

In another comparison with the 9/11 Commission, Mr. Panetta said a review of the events at the Capitol building should be headed by two chairmen. Former Republican Gov. Thomas Kean of New Jersey and Lee Hamilton, a Democrat from Indiana who served in the U.S. House of Representatives, were co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, has said the House will create an independent panel to investigate the incident, but further details were not immediately available.

The day mobs stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of Joseph R. Biden’s presidential victory over Donald Trump will be studied as a historical event for decades to come, Mr. Esper said, but any review commission shouldn’t focus exclusively on the events of Jan. 6.

“We need to really broaden it out and understand what is the root of this? What is the nature of extremism in this country? How is it evolving and changing and how do we address that?” Mr. Esper said. 

The country won’t be able to reverse the extremism it saw climbing over the walls of the nation’s Capitol until it fully understands it, Mr. Esper said.

Lt. Gen. McMaster said a commission also should address what role politicians played in fomenting the Jan. 6 violence, which led to seven deaths. He said some elected officils seemed more willing to compromise principles in order to score partisan political points.

“I hope that the commission will also maybe define our political leadership broadly as part of the problem,” Lt. Gen. McMaster said. “And then, of course, there are those who are responsible for addressing this problem and restoring our confidence in our democratic principles and institutions and processes.”

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