Senate Report On Jan. 6 Events At U.S. Capitol: ‘Widespread and Unacceptable Breakdowns in Intelligence Gathering’
[guest post by Dana]
The U.S. Capitol Police had specific intelligence that supporters of President Donald Trump planned to mount an armed invasion of the Capitol at least two weeks before the Jan. 6 riot, according to new findings in a bipartisan Senate investigation, but a series of omissions and miscommunications kept that information from reaching front-line officers targeted by the violence.
A joint report, from the Senate Rules and Administration and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees, outlines the most detailed public timeline to date of the communications and intelligence failures that led the Capitol Police and partner agencies to prepare for the “Stop the Steal” protest as though it were a routine Trump rally, instead of the organized assault that was planned in the open online.
Released Tuesday, the report shows how an intelligence arm of the Capitol Police disseminated security assessments labeling the threat of violence “remote” to “improbable,” even as authorities collected evidence showing that pro-Trump activists intended to bring weapons to the demonstration and “storm the Capitol.”
“There were significant, widespread and unacceptable breakdowns in the intelligence gathering … The failure to adequately assess the threat of violence on that day contributed significantly to the breach of the Capitol,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., chairman of the Homeland Security panel, told reporters. “The attack was, quite frankly, planned in plain sight.”
The report states that the authorities knew as early as Dec. 21 that not good things were in the works:
According to the report, Capitol Police intelligence officers knew as early as Dec. 21 that protesters planned to “bring guns” and other weapons to the Jan. 6 demonstration and turn them on any law enforcement officers who blocked their entry into the Capitol. They knew that would-be rioters were sharing maps of the Capitol campus online and discussing the building’s best entry points — and how to seal them off to trap lawmakers inside. But that information was shared only with command officers.
A separate security assessment dated Dec. 23 made no mention of those findings. Neither did a follow-up Dec. 30.
The report faults slow mobilization and poor interdepartmental communication — not any sort of stand-down order from the White House, as some Trump critics had speculated — for the fact that it took the National Guard more than three hours to respond to pleas for help from the Capitol during the attack. According to its findings, it was Army staff — not Trump — expressing early reservations about a military intervention, while the Army secretary claimed he was never informed that the D.C. National Guard had a quick reaction force “ready to go” to the Capitol, just awaiting his approval.
[Ed. I really wanted to bold all of the text because the whole thing is so damning, but I opted to use a bit of self-restraint…]
Anyway, it makes sense that Trump’s role is not examined in the report, given that neither side would ever be able to agree on any specific descriptions of the former president and his actions. But certainly, that’s problematic:
But at the same time, there are several glaring omissions in the report, including any examination of Donald Trump’s role in the riots, raising questions about whether lawmakers, in their quest for bipartisanship, exposed the limits of a Congress divided and unable to agree on certain truths, particularly those related to the former President’s actions. Sources tell CNN that in order for this report, which was compiled by the Senate Homeland Security and Rules committees, to have support from both parties, the language had to be carefully crafted, and that included excluding the word “insurrection,” which notably does not appear outside of witness quotes and footnotes. “Did we look at Trump’s role in the attack? The answer is no,” a Senate committee aide told reporters. “The report did not attempt to look at the origins and development of the groups or individuals that participated in the attack on the Capitol,” the aide said.
Without examining the origins and development of the groups involved, as well as who influenced and steered rioters in the direction they went, the report lacks vital information that could help prevent another insurrection from happening in the future. Perhaps in 2024, if you know who runs and loses the election. Again.