November 24, 2020

Duckworth Follows Up on Her Demand for Additional Materials Related to Low-Flying Military Helicopters over Peaceful Protesters from DoD and National Guard


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – After multiple requests for investigations into the use of low-flying military aircraft over peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. on June 1, 2020, combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) wrote to Ryan McCarthy, Secretary of the Army, Sean O’Donnell, Acting Inspector General for the Department of Defense (DoD) and General Daniel Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau to follow up on her demands for information.

In her letter to McCarthy, she wrote: “While I am pleased that a number of investigations into the incident have been initiated—including one by the Department of the Army—I remain frustrated by the Department of the Army’s failure to provide some basic information and documentation that is critical to inform congressional oversight.”

When writing to O’Donnell: “Your office’s failure to release the Army’s investigation into this incident has only amplified my concern about the impact of partisan politics on the Department of Defense. My understanding, based on public reporting, is that the Army Inspector General resubmitted its report to you in September, following some revisions to its initial submission. I cannot understand why it would take two months for your office to complete its review and release the report. Even if you have a legitimate reason, this delay appears partisan and undermines faith in your office’s independence.”

Lastly, in her letter to Hokanson, Duckworth wrote: “Shortly after the incident, you and I had a productive conversation where I expressed my deep concern and reiterated my desire to get answers to a number of questions, including who approved the orders for the helicopters to fly and why. […] Several months have passed since then … that is why I am requesting additional documentation from the National Guard Bureau.”

Duckworth had separate calls with Secretary McCarthy and General Hokanson to relay her concerns and repeat her requests for investigations and information related to this incident. She has sent multiple letters to DoD as well as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) demanding information and she pushed FAA Administrator Stephen Dickinson about the dangers associated with flying helicopters at low altitudes over civilians. Duckworth also raised additional concerns and has asked the Secretary to send materials related to mission briefing sheets, risk assessments, post-flight action reports and aircrew training records.