Final report into attacks lets law enforcement off the hook – Rip News

One of the early red flags came after Trump put out a December 19, 2020 tweet telling his supporters: “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”


Immediately after, an analyst at the National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium noticed a ten-fold uptick in violent online rhetoric targeting Congress and law enforcement – including the sudden coordination of efforts between violent right-wing groups that had not previously been aligned.

By December 21, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the US Capitol Police were all aware of a surge in viewers of online maps of the Capitol’s underground tunnels, which were attracting increased attention on a Trump-supporter website, alongside violent rhetoric supporting the president.

The FBI, however, argued that its hands were tied, saying the best it could do was inform the appropriate law enforcement partner about the online discussions.

“People’s First Amendment rights, obviously, are protected,” said Washington Field Office special agent, Jennifer Moore, in reference to America’s constitutional right to free speech and protest.

The now infamous photograph of rioters at the Capitol, who mobilised and fuelled their anger with online discourse.Credit:AP

Soon enough, the red flags started piling up. The Secret Service, for instance, received one on December 26, 2020 about a Proud Boys plan to have “a large enough group to march into DC armed” and to “outnumber the police so they can’t be stopped”.

The anonymous tip also stressed: “Their plan is to literally kill people… Please please take this tip seriously and investigate further.”

Another woman who claimed she had been “tracking online far-right extremism for years” emailed Capitol Police in December and wrote that for the first time, she was “truly worried” about the posts she’d seen from people planning to storm the building on the day Congress was going to certify the votes.

She added: “January 6th will be the day most of these people realise there’s no chance left for Trump. They’ll be pushed to what they feel is the edge.”


On January 4, Democrat Senator Mark Warner, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, even phoned the FBI’s deputy director with his concerns, but was assured that the agency had everything under control.

As for the coordination that took place leading up to the Capitol riot? It took until January 3 for a coordination call to take place between the key agencies, including the departments of Defence, Justice and Homeland Security. Then acting secretary of defence Christopher Miller convened one, he said, because “no-one else was doing it”.

The threat is put into sharp focus when you realise how heavily armed Trump supporters were that day.

Indeed, the report found that 28,000 people passed through metal detectors to take part in Trump’s rally, and Secret Service confiscated 242 canisters of pepper spray, 269 knives or blades, 18 brass knuckles, 18 tasers, 6 pieces of body armour, three gas masks, 30 batons or blunt instruments, and 17 miscellaneous items like scissors, needles or screwdrivers.

But as the report also noted: “thousands of others purposely remained outside the magnetometers, or left their packs outside”.

The final report released by the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

The final report released by the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.Credit:AP

To be clear, the seven-member Select Committee has done some incredible work piecing together Trump’s role in the attack, and the multipart plan that he and key allies embarked on in a bid to retain power.

To hold him accountable, they referred the former president to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution, called for him to be banned from holding office by tightening the Constitution’s 14th amendment, and pushed for changes, adopted by Congress last week, to electoral laws that Trump and his acolytes sought to exploit.

But when it comes to the shortcomings of law enforcement and intelligence agencies – which also contributed to the under-resourcing that put so many lives at risk that day – the committee was reluctant to hold anyone responsible, arguing those agencies “potentially could not” have anticipated that Trump would rev up his mob and then refuse to stop them.


Sure, they made a few broad-ranging suggestions, such as adopting better strategies to combat extremism and reviewing intelligence gathering protocols. But by focusing so heavily on the role that Trump and his henchmen played, the committee has largely let the law enforcement agencies who are meant to be responsible for protecting the Capitol off the hook.

This is unfortunate. After all, the committee’s final report isn’t just meant to be a sobering lesson about the fragility of democracy; it’s also meant to be a wake-up call about how to protect it in the future – and that goes beyond Trump.

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