Washington – A Senate investigation into the January 6 insurrection in the US Capitol found extensive failures by multi-agency intelligence services, as well as widespread errors by security forces that led to the violent breakthrough.
There were clear warnings and clues that supporters of former President Donald Trump, including far-right groups, planned to “break into the Capitol” with weapons and possibly infiltrate the building’s tunnel system. But that intelligence information never reached the higher ups.
The result was chaos. A Senate report released Tuesday details how front-line officers suffered chemical burns, brain injuries and fractures, among other injuries, after confronting the assailants, who quickly overran them and entered the building. Agents told Senate investigators that they were left without leadership or direction when command systems broke down.
The Senate report is the first, and perhaps the last, bipartisan analysis of how hundreds of Trump supporters that day were able to force their way through security perimeters and stormed the Capitol, disrupting the certification of the electoral victory of the current president, Joe Biden. The flaws pointed out in the report highlighted how, almost 20 years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, US intelligence agencies continue to suffer from a fundamental problem: a lack of imagination.
The report recommends that immediate changes be made to give the Capitol Police Chief more authority, as well as improve planning and equipping law enforcement agencies and streamline the transmission of information between federal agencies.
But the report does not delve into the motives for the attack, such as Trump’s intervention when he told his followers that day to “fight everything” to overturn their electoral defeat. Nor does he describe the attack as an insurrection, although it was. And it was published two weeks after Republicans blocked the creation of an independent, bipartisan commission that would have investigated the insurrection further.
“This report is important because it allows us to make some immediate improvements to the security situation here on Capitol Hill,” said Senator Gary Peters, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, which conducted the investigation in conjunction with the Committee on Rules. “But it does not answer some of the most important questions that we must face, honestly, as a country and as a democracy.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that the findings show an even greater need for a bipartisan commission to investigate the root causes of the attack, referring to Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about the 2020 election.
“As the ‘big lie’ continues to spread, as faith in our choices continues to wane, it is critical that we establish a reliable and independent record of what happened,” said Schumer.
The Policemen try to stop the protesters in front of the Capitol.
From this window you can see how the supporters of Donald Trump were congregated.
Supporters of Donald Trump gathered in Washington DC to hear the president around noon, shortly after the violent incidents occurred.
The Capitol Police tried to stop the protesters from entering.
Police aim their pistols at protesters trying to enter the Capitol.
Situation inside the federal building.
Moment when Donald Trump supporters tried to pass the Police barricade in front of the Capitol.
In the end, they managed to pass the perimeter of the Police.
President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin)
A woman is helped by the Police during the demonstration at the Capitol.
However, the Republican leader in the upper house, Mitch McConnell, who led the blockade against the formation of such a commission, said he is confident that the ongoing reviews by lawmakers and authorities will be sufficient.
The House of Representatives approved in May the creation of a commission similar to the one that investigated the September 11 attacks two decades ago.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her colleagues in a letter issued Tuesday that if the Senate does not approve the commission, her house will conduct its own investigations.
The highest-ranking Republican on the Standards Commission, Senator Roy Blunt, has opposed the commission, claiming the investigation would take too long. He said the recommendations made in the Senate can be implemented faster; for example, in the bill he and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Standards Commission, plan to introduce, which would give the Capitol Police Chief more authority to request assistance from the National Guard.
The report details how the intervention of the National Guard was delayed for hours on January 6, while officials from different agencies carried out bureaucratic procedures to authorize the deployment. The text details hours of calls between officials at the Capitol and the Pentagon as then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund desperately pleaded for help.
The report indicates that the Pentagon spent hours “planning the mission” and requesting authorizations from different levels while the Capitol Police were overwhelmed and suffered brutal beatings by the insurgents. It also indicates that the Defense Department’s response was “influenced by criticism” of its aggressive response to the protests in the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police.
Senators were highly critical of the Capitol Police Board, a three-member committee that includes those responsible for security in the House of Representatives and Senate and the administration of the Capitol. Currently, requests from the chief of police must be authorized by the board, even in an emergency. The report recommends that its members “adequately review policies and procedures” after senators determined that none of the board members on January 6 understood their authority or could detail what was required to request help from the National Guard.
Two of the three members of the junta, the security chiefs of the two chambers, were dismissed in the days after the attack. Sund also resigned under pressure.
The report also recommends creating a consolidated intelligence unit in the Capitol Police after widespread errors by different agencies, which did not predict the attack despite the fact that the insurgents were planning it openly online.
The police intelligence unit “knew of social media posts calling for violence on Capitol Hill on January 6, including a plan to raid the compound, the internet sharing of maps of the complex’s tunnel systems. of the Capitol and other specific threats of violence, ”according to the report, but the agents did not adequately inform the commanding officers of everything they had found.
On December 28, for example, the report states that someone sent an email to a public account of the Capitol Police in which he alerted about “innumerable tweets from Trump supporters in which they say they will be armed on January 6 “And” tweets from people who are organizing to break into the Capitol. ” There were also internal warnings of an increase in posts on various websites displaying maps of the Capitol, including its tunnels. But those details were never widely released.
In response to the report, the Capitol Police recognized the need for improvements, some of which were already being implemented. “Law enforcement agencies across the country depend on intelligence information, and the quality of that information can make the difference between life and death,” the statement said.
During the attack, the report noted, the Capitol Police were highly exposed by poor intelligence information, inadequate equipment and a lack of leadership. The chain of command “was broken during the attack,” leaving officers at the front without orders. There were no operational commanders directing the situation and some commanders were fighting instead of giving orders. “The Capitol Police commanders did not take control of the radio system to transmit orders to front-line agents at any time,” the investigation concluded.
“I was horrified that no deputy chief or superior was on the radio or helping us,” a police officer told the commission in an anonymous statement. “For hours the screaming on the radio was horrible, the views were unimaginable and there was a total loss of control … For hours no boss or superior took command or control. The policemen begged and asked for help with the medical triage ”.
Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman, who replaced Sund after he resigned, told the commissions that the lack of communication was due to “incident commanders being overwhelmed and clashing with agitators, rather than giving orders for Radio”.
The commission’s interviews with law enforcement officers show “absolutely brutal” abuse by Trump supporters after they ran over them and broke into the building. Agents described hearing racist slurs and seeing Nazi greetings. A police officer trying to evacuate the Senate said he had detained several men in full tactical gear, one of whom told him, “You better get out of our way, boy, or we will run over you to get to them.” senators.
The insurgents told the police they would kill them, and then the members of Congress.
At the same time, the senators recognized the agents’ courage and noted that one of them told them that “all the agents inside behaved admirably and heroically and, even outnumbered, took the offensive and took back the Capitol.” .