Bipartisan Senate report lays blame on multiple intelligence, law enforcement failings ahead of Jan. 6 riot

A just-released bipartisan report from two Senate committees blames multiple failings of federal intelligence and law enforcement ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol Building riot in which one unarmed protester was shot and killed and one police officer later died from an unrelated medical condition.

The report from the Senate Rules and Administration, as well as the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees, follows a scrupulous probe into the incident in which investigators discovered breakdowns in several intelligence agencies and a Capitol Police agency that was ill-prepared to deal with a riot and thus was quickly overtaken by crowds.

“Rioters were intent on disrupting the Joint Session, during which Members of Congress were scheduled to perform their constitutional obligation to count the electoral votes for President and Vice President of the United States and announce the official results of the 2020 election,” says an executive summary of the 128-page report.

“The Committees’ investigation uncovered a number of intelligence and security failures leading up to and on January 6 that allowed for the breach of the Capitol. These breakdowns ranged from federal intelligence agencies failing to warn of a potential for violence to a lack of planning and preparation by USCP and law enforcement leadership,” the summary adds.

Noting that the U.S. Capitol Police rely primarily on federal intelligence agencies within the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, the report says neither of them provided the USCP with actionable information ahead of the assault though people plotting to disrupt Congress that day posted about their plans on social media.

“Throughout 2020, the FBI and DHS disseminated written documents detailing the potential for increased violent extremist activity at lawful protests and targeting of law enforcement and government facilities and personnel,” the report states.

“Despite online calls for violence at the Capitol, neither the FBI nor DHS issued a threat assessment or intelligence bulletin warning law enforcement entities in the National Capital Region of the potential for violence,” it adds.

That said, the USCP’s internal intelligence apparatuses were aware of the potential for violence ahead of Jan. 6, but nevertheless “failed to fully incorporate this information into all of its internal assessments about January 6 and the Joint Session.” As such, officers and supervisors on duty the day of the assault were never provided the information, the report adds.

In an eyewitness report published a week after the riot at The Federalist, J. Michael Waller, a senior analyst for strategy at the Center for Security Policy who is an expert in propaganda, political warfare, psychological warfare, and subversion, said he saw trained “provocateurs” in action that day. They included “plainclothes militants,” “agents provocateurs,” “fake Trump protesters,” and a “disciplined uniformed column of attackers,” all of which suggests a substantial amount of prior planning and coordination among various elements.

The Senate report also noted that officers on duty the day of the assault were not provided adequate riot gear or “training.” And while the USCP leadership did activate “seven specialty Civil Disturbance Unit (‘CDU’) platoons” for the joint session, “only four of those platoons were outfitted with special protective equipment, including helmets, hardened plastic armor, and shields,” says the report.

“The many other USCP officers who fought to defend the Capitol were left to do so in their daily uniforms,” it added.

The committees also faulted USCP leaders for failing to call for National Guard back-up well in advance of Jan. 6. Also, “members of the Capitol Police Board who were in charge on January 6 did not appear to be fully familiar with the statutory and regulatory requirements for requesting National Guard support, which contributed to the delay in deploying the National Guard to the Capitol,” the report states.

“Based on the findings of the investigation, the Committees identified a number of recommendations to address the intelligence and security failures leading up to and on January 6,” the report says. “Recommendations specific to the Capitol Complex include empowering the USCP Chief to request assistance from the DCNG in emergency situations and passing legislation to clarify the statutes governing requests for assistance from executive agencies and departments in nonemergency situations.

“To address the preparedness of the USCP, the Committees recommend improvements to training, equipment, intelligence collection, and operational planning,” it adds.

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Jon Dougherty

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