Following new revelations that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People's Liberation Army that he would let Li know if the US were to attack China before it happens, Former Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, said he did not authorize such a conversation.
According to Fox News, Miller, who led the Pentagon from after the 2020 election through Inauguration Day, said that he "did not and would not ever authorize" Milley to have "secret" calls with his Chinese counterpart, describing the allegations as a "disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination," and calling on Milley to resign "immediately."
"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the highest-ranking military officer whose sole role is providing military-specific advice to the president, and by law is prohibited from exercising executive authority to command forces," Miller said. "The chain of command runs from the President to the Secretary of Defense, not through the Chairman," said Miller.
In Peril, from Bob Woodward and the Washington Post's Robert Costa, they alleged that two secret phone calls between Milley and Li took place on October 30, 2020, before the election, as well as on January 8, 2021.
The book claims that Milley got in contact with Li "after he had reviewed intelligence that suggested Chinese officials believed the United States was planning an attack on China amid military exercises in the South China Sea," according to Fox News.
It also claims that Milley contacted Li a second time to reassure Li that the US would not attack China. "We are 100% steady. Everything's fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes," Milley told Li.
According to multiple individuals who were in the room during the two phone calls who spoke with Fox News, these calls were not conducted in secrecy like Miller alleges.
"They were not secret," a U.S. official told Fox News about the calls. There were reportedly 15 people present for these calls, including multiple note takers. The calls were allegedly conducted with full knowledge of then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and then-acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, despite Miller's statement otherwise.
"If the reporting in Woodward's book is accurate, it represents a disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination by the Nation's top military officer," Miller said, adding that if the story of Milley's "histrionic outbursts and unsanctioned, anti-Constitutional involvement in foreign policy prove true, he must resign immediately or be fired by the Secretary of Defense to guarantee the sanctity of the officer corps."
"Pursuit of partisan politics and individual self-interests are a violation of an officer’s sacred duty and have no place in the United States military," Miller said, noting that "a lesser ranking officer accused of such behavior would immediately be relieved of duty pending a thorough and independent investigation."
"As secretary of defense, I did not and would not ever authorize such conduct," Miller said.
He also noted that the allegations that former President Donald Trump would start a war with China were "unfounded."
"Any accusations that President Trump was intent on starting a war with China are completely unfounded," Miller said. "President Trump absolutely believed and advocated for a more aggressive approach to China, but he was elected to end our Nation’s wars, not start new ones. I was proud to play a small role in achieving those goals."
"I look forward to a full, non-partisan investigation of the accusations made by Woodward to guarantee that the genius of our Founders and following generations that established a system and culture of the subservience of our military – the most powerful force in our Nation – to civilian control endures," he added.
former chief of staff for the Department of Defense Kash Patel told Fox News that "the law governing the Joint Chiefs of Staff specifically forbids the chairman from exercising any operational command authority," and that the calls with China are true, Milley "has violated the law regarding operational authority."
"Calling a foreign counterpart and discussing operational capabilities against that enemy is literally treasonous," Patel said. "The White House, nor the Office of the Secretary of Defense authorized the chairman to conduct any calls with Chinese officials regarding operations."
Despite the numerous allegations against Milley from former officials, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Col. Dave Butler supported Milley's calls, saying the conversations are "vital" to "reducing tensions" and "avoiding unintended consequences or conflict," and stated that the calls were coordinated with high-level defense officials.
"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs regularly communicates with Chiefs of Defense across the world, including with China and Russia. These conversations remain vital to improving mutual understanding of U.S. national security interests, reducing tensions, providing clarity and avoiding unintended consequences or conflict," Butler said in a statement Wednesday.
Butler added that Milley's calls to Li kept "with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability."
"All calls from the Chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency," Butler said.
"General Milley continues to act and advise within his authority in the lawful tradition of civilian control of the military and his oath to the Constitution," Butler added.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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