The deadly riot on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 exposed devastating security and intelligence weaknesses, with military officials responding too slowly to calls for National Guard support against an overwhelming crowd, security officials said Tuesday in Congress.
Among the most serious breaches revealed: The Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a report to the US Capitol Police on the eve of the unrest, warning that extremist groups were arriving in Washington “ready for war,” but the document failed. not reached the leadership of the USCP.
And lawmakers have also heard that military officials have been “reluctant” to send troops to defend Congress, even when it was clear conditions on Capitol Hill had deteriorated.
At the first congressional hearing on the attack, House and Senate police chiefs and sergeants-at-arms admitted being blinded by the lack of intelligence and coordination of the response to the worst national insurgency since civil war.
In convincing testimony, they painted a picture of officers largely outnumbered by armed and coordinated insurgents.
They highlighted a series of gaps in threat level intelligence, including assessments of the “remote” and “unlikely” chances of major violence on January 6, although extremist groups like the Proud Boys have made it clear that ‘they were coming to Washington that day to get excited. troubles.
“No entity, including the FBI, has provided information indicating that there would be a violent coordinated attack on the United States Capitol by thousands of well-equipped armed insurgents,” a situation that left its officers sadly ill-prepared against a violent crowd, said Steven Sund, then US Capitol Police Chief.
Later in the four-hour joint hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Rules Committees, however, Sund said the USCP “received” the FBI report warning of the violence, but “no direction , including myself, to the Capitol Police were not informed until the time of the occurrence. “
“It is very disturbing,” Senator Jeff Merkley told Sund during questioning.
Sund resigned from his post days after the riot, which left five people dead, including a policeman and four others. Two other police officers committed suicide shortly after.
House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger have also resigned.
Irving testified that “the intelligence was not that there would be a coordinated assault on Capitol Hill, nor was this considered in any of the interagency discussions I attended in the days leading up to the attack.”
The worst of the worst ‘
The unprecedented rupture of the citadel of American democracy came on January 6 after then-President Donald Trump stoked a crowd of his supporters, urging them to march on Congress and “fight like hell ”.
The riot, fueled by Trump’s repeated misrepresentation that the election was rigged, appeared to be aimed at blocking Joe Biden’s certification as the winner of the November 3 vote.
Acting Washington Police Chief Robert Contee said his officers were “fighting for their lives” on Capitol Hill.
But he was “stunned by the response” from the Army Department, which he said was “reluctant” to send National Guard troops to protect the Capitol.
Officials attending the hearing agreed that a thorough review of intelligence-sharing operations and internal processes is needed to determine what reforms should be undertaken to prevent further attacks.
And Senate Rules Committee chair Amy Klobuchar, noting the “intelligence breakdown” regarding the FBI report, announced that a new hearing would be called next week with testimony from FBI officials, the Department of Justice. Homeland Security and the Pentagon.
The Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Gary Peters, described January 6 as “one of the darkest days in our country” and said the security problems on Capitol Hill were “a failure of systemic and leadership. “that needs to be resolved.
Lawmakers heard a startling account of the unrest from Capitol Hill Police Captain Carneysha Mendoza, including how she helped keep a group of rioters at bay as they made their way into the building.
“It was by far the worst of the worst,” Mendoza said, noting how rioters fired “military grade” tear gas in the Rotunda as they clashed with police.
“We could have had 10 times as many people working with us, and I still think the battle would have been just as devastating,” she said.
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