A Capitol Attacked
Arlington, VA – The National Security Institute (NSI) at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School recently released a statement from NSI’s Founder and Executive Director Jamil N. Jaffer regarding the attack on the United States Capitol by domestic terrorists. The statement reads:
Yesterday’s assault on the United States Capitol—and the role of certain national leaders, including the President, in stoking it—was appalling and demands action. We, as Americans, are blessed to live with the benefits of liberty under a system of governance that protects our rights, whether that is to cast our votes, peacefully protest, or seek redress of grievances from our government. However, yesterday, that very system of governance came under direct assault and worse still, this assault came not from our enemies abroad, but from within.
Although it is always legitimate to peacefully raise questions about how our government and electoral system functions, both the courts—and now Congress—have determined this election was free and fair. The behavior of those who invaded our nation’s Capitol and threatened our legislators was driven by conspiracy theories and is completely unacceptable. It is the civic duty of every American—Republican and Democrat alike—to call out this fact and to demand action from our government. Those involved should be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
We also cannot ignore what the events of yesterday mean for our country’s national security and our standing in the international community. Throughout U.S. history, other nations have looked to America as the preeminent example of democratic values and political liberty. The power of this message has, for over two centuries, helped us build a more free and prosperous world order. The attack on the Capitol has already caused far-reaching damage to our ability to inspire and support those committed to democracy and will stain our nation for years to come. Likewise, the lawless actions of yesterday also plays directly into the hands of those, like the Russians and the Chinese, who would like nothing more than to see our nation divided and our rule of law undermined.
Those involved in yesterday’s unlawful shenanigans at the Capitol ought take a close look at themselves and their behavior and ask whether they are promoting the agenda of a better America, or that of our enemies. It is not a close call.
And the same goes for those elected and appointed leaders in our government—in both political branches—whose words and actions in recent weeks, months, and even years, have coddled conspiracy theories, undermined confidence in our democratic process, and cut down our rule of law institutions. Each one of them must look in the mirror and truly ask whether their actions have benefitted our nation or whether they are helping those nations around the world that oppose us. These leaders must now turn their efforts to doing better.
As an organization dedicated to educating future leaders and addressing hard national security problems—including efforts by our global adversaries to undermine our government, the rule of law, and our national unity—the National Security Institute at the Scalia Law School, will do our part. Today we recommit ourselves to forthrightly calling out and combatting the efforts of those who seek to manipulate our national dialogue and undermine our twin commitments to the rule of law and democracy that is our core strength as a nation. Likewise, we will continue to call for strong and sustained American leadership around the globe, a military and intelligence community resourced to support it, and policies that confront our adversaries and strengthen our allies. And we will work to educate our students and the other future national security leaders to adopt a similar approach.
We cannot squander the sacrifices of the men and women who have died to preserve our freedom by allowing our nation to be divided or the rule of law to be ignored. We can and must do better.
Jamil N. Jaffer in the Founder & Executive Director of GMU’s National Security Institute and served in various government positions for over a decade, including in Bush Administration at the White House, the Justice Department, and on Capitol Hill.
About the National Security InstituteThe National Security Institute serves as a platform for research, teaching, scholarship, and policy development that incorporates a realistic assessment of the threats facing the United States and its allies, as well as an appreciation of the legal and practical challenges facing U.S. intelligence, defense, law enforcement, homeland security, and cybersecurity communities. NSI draws on the experience of its fellows, as well as its highly distinguished advisory board and faculty, to produce timely research and policy materials that deliver insightful analysis and actionable recommendations to senior policymakers in the White House and key departments and agencies, as well as those on Capitol Hill.
About George Mason
George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls more than 33,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility.
About the Scalia Law School
The Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University is defined by three words: Learn. Challenge. Lead. Students receive an outstanding legal education (Learn), are taught to critically evaluate prevailing orthodoxy and pursue new ideas (Challenge), and, ultimately, are well prepared to distinguish themselves in their chosen fields (Lead). It has been one of America’s top-ranked law schools for the last fifteen years.