The Corner

Politics & Policy

What a Debacle

We have a Senate report on the law-enforcement preparation for and response to the January 6 riot, and it’s not pretty.

There was a stark failure in information-sharing in the run-up to January 6:

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.

The report also sheds light on why the National Guard was so slow to arrive:

Senate investigators also found that leaders failed to follow arguably murky procedures for calling in reinforcements. The Capitol Police chief never filed a formal request to call in the National Guard, they determined, despite repeatedly asking his superiors to procure such backup — and the members of the Capitol Police Board still disagree about whether approving such a request needed to be a unanimous decision.

Giving the Capitol Police chief the power to call up the National Guard in emergencies is among the report’s 20 bipartisan recommendations for improving the Capitol’s security posture in the future — and the subject of forthcoming legislation from Rules and Administration Committee leaders, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). The recommendations also include pointed suggestions for federal agencies, such as exhorting the Defense Department and the D.C. National Guard to devise a standing plan for protecting the Capitol and mounting a faster response to terrorist threats.

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.

And this is depressing but kind of perfect, given how the George Floyd protests have put cops on their back feet all around the country, creating space for criminals:

The Department of Defense’s response to the January 6 Capitol riot was colored by criticism it had received about its response to unrest after the murder of George Floyd, according to a new Senate report . . . .

“DOD’s response to January 6 was informed by criticism it received about its response to the civil unrest after the murder of George Floyd during the summer of 2020,” the report reads. “DOD was criticized for its heavy-handed response, particularly flying military helicopters over the protests in summer 2020.”

It adds: “DOD officials cited lessons learned from the summer 2020 as guiding its decision-making for January 6. DOD officials believed it needed ‘control measures’ and ‘rigor’ before deploying DCNG personnel, including a clear deployment plan to avoid the appearance of overmilitarization.”

It was a common misapprehension, by the way, that the only way the riot could be investigated was through the proposed January 6 commission, when this Senate investigation was already well underway.


The Latest