Intel Failures Compounded US Capitol Riot: Security Officials To US Congress

Clay Curtis
February 26, 2021

The lawmaker who's chair of a hearing on the January 6 riot says the U.S. Capitol Police's acting chief failed to understand the threat facing lawmakers that day.

Former officials responsible for Capitol security appeared before two Senate panels on Tuesday to defend their actions in the lead-up to and during the bloody riot that left five dead and hundreds injured, saying they did everything they could to prepare for the attack and that the intelligence community failed to see it coming. To ensure his agency wouldn't be at full strength, Sund said protesters who were trying to keep Congress from tallying the electoral votes to formalize Joe Biden's victory over Trump attacked the building's west front 20 minutes before the end of a rally Trump was conducting on the Ellipse. He recommended future Capitol Police chiefs be able to seek National Guard help without that hurdle. An inability to diagnose the problems that plagued law enforcement that day could leave the US government exposed to future attacks.

Trump was acquitted by the Senate earlier this month after a weeklong trial, following the House of Representatives on January 13 voting to impeach him on one article - inciting insurrection - in connection with the Capitol riot on January 6.

Testimony from the security officials conflicted on some details of the events.

Klobuchar, D-Minn., said senators will be especially focused on the timing of the deployment of the National Guard, which eventually arrived to help the overwhelmed police, how security agencies shared information ahead of the attack and if the command structure of the Capitol Police Board, which includes the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, contributed to the failures.

Sund, Irving and Stenger resigned under pressure immediately after the deadly attack.

The former chief of the US Capitol Police has said he learned this week that his officers had received a report from an Federal Bureau of Investigation field office that forecast in detail the chances that extremists could commit "war" in Washington the following day - the day of the Capitol insurrection.

The Jan. 6 rally had been planned for months, and was meant to be the culmination of several "Stop the Steal" protests across the country, including two large demonstrations in Washington in November and December which also led to violence.

Richard Michetti
Richard Michetti is the latest Pennsylvanian to be charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot

The final effort in January was widely advertised online with posters that included language like "Occupy the Capitol" and "Storm the Capitol".

Mr. Irving called that account "categorically false".

Contee, whose agency responded quickly with backup, described a call with top law enforcement officials that took place the afternoon of the attack.

Army officials were reluctant, expressing concerns about how it would look, Contee said, adding, "I was stunned at that response".

"I really wonder why we didn't take this seriously enough to be prepared for this, and the hours it took to bring in the National Guard and everything else", Leahy said.

"It was a horror what happened, we all know that", she said. "I accept that responsibility, and as you know, I have resigned my position".

Among them were former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who testified that armed insurrectionists came "prepared for war".

The hearing was a joint one between the Senate committees on Rules and Administration and Homeland Security and Government Affairs. But other lawmakers are also seeking answers: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced plans to pursue a 9/11-style commission that would review the security failures. In another striking moment, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who was the first Republican to announce that he would object to certifying the presidential election results and was photographed on the day of the insurrection raising his fist for the mob, asked the witnesses whether they were complicit in the riot. "Eugene got caught on camera and I'm not surprised that he did the right thing, the fearless thing, the heroic thing - there were so many Eugene Goodmans that weren't caught on camera that day... and I'm proud to work with all of them".

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