Wednesday, America and the world watched a few thousand American citizens who support President Trump be egged on by him, Republican Representative Mo Brooks, Republican Senator Hawley, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, both his adult sons, and other pro-Trump surrogates and then march on and attack the Congress of the United States in an act of violent revolt against the United States, its Constitution, and the constitutional order.
All done, in a misguided attempt to overthrow the Constitution so that Trump can remain president for four more years. “President of what?” is a question for another day, because had yesterday’s efforts been successful, the Constitution and with it the American experiment in democratic-republican self government, would have been shredded and ended.
This was first a failure of responsible leadership by Republican elected officials and their elite and notable surrogates whipping a crowd into a violent, insurrectionist mob in pursuit of an un-American, un-patriotic, and anti-Constitutional attempt to violently overthrow the U.S. constitutional order and American self government. Second, the other major failure was on the part of the Capitol Police, other Federal law enforcement, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security never conducted a risk assessment for yesterday’s event writing:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and an intelligence unit inside the Department of Homeland Security didn’t issue a threat assessment of the Jan. 6 pro-Trump protests that devolved into violence inside the Capitol, people briefed on the matter said.
In the weeks leading up to the protests, extremists posted about their plans to “storm” the Capitol on social media.
The joint department bulletin is a routine report before notable events that the agencies usually send to federal, state and local law-enforcement and homeland security advisers. The reports help plan for events that could pose significant risks.
At the DHS unit, called Intelligence and Analysis, management didn’t view the demonstrations as posing a significant threat, some of the people said.
They failed to do this, because they purposefully decided they did not need to do it. This, despite it being incredibly clear to even a casual peruser of pro-Trump social media that violence was not just being planned, but also called for and incited. All of it was done out in the open, including by President Trump. The Guardian via MSN has provided a complete timeline of President Trump’s incitement, as well as that by elected Republican officials, going back to Dec. 19, 2020.
What we saw yesterday, what the whole world saw, was a failure by the Capitol Police, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. It was a failure of strategic, critical, creative, and historical thinking that led to not having sufficient personnel on site, let alone an effective strategy and plan, to handle what was clearly a possibility: an attempt to violently breach the Capitol to overthrow the election results.
We know that the Capitol Police are able to do proper threat assessments, forecasting, and then over-responding to just peaceful protests. For example, the overreaction to the ADAPT protests at Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s office back in 2017:
This is how Capitol police treated ADAPT activists for peacefully protesting their right to healthcare pic.twitter.com/A6b13MUazr
— rebekah entralgo fernández (@rebekahentralgo) January 6, 2021
The ADAPT protestors were both peaceful and disabled. As you can see from the pictures the Capitol Police had no problem exerting necessary force to remove them. But with a bunch of white Trump supporters — they RETREATED?
This appears to be the initial entry into the Capitol:
They breached the Capitol pic.twitter.com/tWKxojW2Hr
— Matt Laslo (@MattLaslo) January 6, 2021
According to a vetted source who works in Congress that I spoke with, these smaller side doors are always locked from the inside as they do not have a manned security presence. Repeat: locked.
So who in the Capitol unlocked and opened the locked side door on the east side of the complex allowing the armed, violent, extremists to breach into the building? Was it a staffer for one of the GOP members of the House and Senate who helped to inspire and foment this? Was it a member of the Capitol Police? Those doors are always locked because they don’t have manned security. Someone had to unlock it and open it from the inside, so who was it?
And let’s be really honest with ourselves. If the extremist insurrectionists today where visibly identifiable as ethnic minorities – Black, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Southeast Asian, East Asian – or from a visible religious minority or visibly LGBTQ (or visibly disabled) maximum force would have been directed back at them. Elected and appointed officials and the news media would be calling them terrorists. New, draconian security legislation would already be written to be passed tonight in an emergency session of Congress. Instead we’ve got video of Capitol Police taking selfies with the insurrectionists:
Cops are taking selfies with the terrorists. pic.twitter.com/EjkQ83h1p2
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 6, 2021
This guy waved at reporters and the Capitol Police as he was allowed to steal the Speaker’s lectern and just walk out with it (Parrish is just outside of Sarasota, FL):
His name is Adam Christian Johnson. And he lives in Parrish.
— Marc R. Masferrer (@MRMasferrer) January 7, 2021
Or the lovely fellow from Arkansas who decided to ransack Speaker Pelosi’s office and steal her mail. The U.S. Postal Service investigators are going to enjoy sending Mr. Barnett to Federal prison for a very long time in addition to the other Federal felony charges he’s facing.
That’s Richard “Bigo” Barnett, 60, from Gravette, Ak., showing off the personalized envelope he took from Speaker Pelosi’s office. He insisted he didn’t steal it — “I left a quarter on her desk.” pic.twitter.com/aST7MCoRwP
— Matthew Rosenberg (@AllMattNYT) January 6, 2021
Here’s noted neo-Nazi Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet being allowed to just walk out of the Capitol by a SWAT Team after he both violently stormed the Capitol and helped to ransack congressional members offices:
Neo-nazi loser Baked Alaska ejected from capitol building by swat team as coup attempt implodes pic.twitter.com/ndQhhdm28J
— Nathan Bernard (@nathanTbernard) January 6, 2021
Does anyone really think, even for a minute, that if any of these people were Black or Hispanic or Asian or visible religious minorities or visibly LGBTQ that they would have been just allowed to go on their way from engaging in a violent revolt to overthrow Congress? Of course not. We all know what the law enforcement response would have been: overwhelmingly violent and draconian because we’ve seen it happen. We watched it all summer as Federal, state, and local law enforcement brutally suppressed anti-police brutality protests all over the U.S. attacking non-violent protesters and the news media there to cover the demonstrations.
These people didn’t violently assault the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to just wander around and stream to social media. Some were clearly prepared to take hostages from among the representatives, senators, and their staffs to compel them to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election so that President Trump could remain president. How do I know? This is how I know:
WOW: Was there a plan to take hostages? This man is carrying police-style zip-tie handcuffs. And mace(?) pic.twitter.com/np3i1pUc6n
— John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) January 7, 2021
Let’s take stock of this insurrectionist’s kit. He’s got a semi-automatic pistol on his right hip and back up magazines on the left side of his plate carrier and he’s carrying zip ties. Zip ties are used to restrain people. You only have them in this type of situation if you’re law enforcement and using them as flex cuffs or if you’re planning on taking hostages at gunpoint! And since he’s not law enforcement, we can reasonably conclude he has them because he was planning on taking hostages.
And here’s a second guy with a similar kit:
— John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) January 7, 2021
But the various intentions from yesterday’s insurrectionist attack on Congress didn’t end with stealing souvenirs, taking selfies, streaming on social media, and planning to take hostages. Politico has reported that it may have also included the theft of national security material, writing:
“National security equities” may have been among the records stolen from the Capitol on Wednesday when pro-Trump insurgents stormed the building and looted several congressional offices, the Justice Department said in a briefing Thursday.
Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., said it will likely take “several days to flesh out exactly what happened, what was stolen, what wasn’t,” noting that “items, electronic items were stolen from senators’ offices, documents and materials were stolen, and we have to identify what was done to mitigate that [damage].”
But it’s not only the physical security of members, staff and other employees that was endangered by the breach—congressional offices were ransacked, and at least one laptop, belonging to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), was stolen, Merkley said. Rioters were photographed sitting at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk and removing a piece of her mail from the building. And the Senate Parliamentarian’s office was raided, leaving piles of documents scattered across the floor and into the hallway.
“We have to do a full review of what was taken, or copied, or even left behind in terms of bugs and listening devices, etc.,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), raising the possibility that foreign adversaries could have easily infiltrated the crowd that encircled the Capitol.
As of this time, the Chief of the Capitol Police has resigned after Speaker Pelosi asked for him to do so. Here is his resignation letter.
Here’s Sund’s resignation letter: pic.twitter.com/H2l7i0txy9
— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) January 7, 2021
The incoming Senate Majority Leader and current Senate Minority Leader, Senator Chuck Schumer, has also called for the resignation of the Senate Sergeant at Arms and Speaker Pelosi has also asked for the resignation of the House Sergeant of Arms.
It will take a long time to work through Wednesday’s failures. The failures to “think security” about, made by the Federal law enforcement and counterintelligence personnel who missed all the signs of a very real, very dangerous domestic insider threat against the United States government. The failures of senior Federal law enforcement and counterintelligence leaders to prepare an adequate strategy and plan to effectively deal with yesterday’s violent revolt and insurrectionary attack on Congress. And the failures of the actual Federal law enforcement officers to actually properly protect members of Congress, their staff, and the Capitol itself. Questions will be asked about whether members of the Capitol Police aided the insurrectionists or were involved in the events yesterday based on the video and imagery I included above; showing barricades being moved for the insurrectionists and doors being unlocked and opened.
Questions also need to be asked and reflection needs to be undertaken about the insider threat that has been growing within the United States; an insider threat that is allowed to hide in plain sight because it is white and nominally Christian and claims to be and represent the “real America” and “real Americans”.
If you think yesterday’s event was a good time had by all, a prank, “owning the libs”, if you think it was somehow justified by the Constitution or American history or that the Founding Fathers would have supported it and that those who participated in it are “patriots” you are sadly mistaken.
While it is true that Americans have been rebelling against their local, state, and Federal government since the founding of the country – beginning with the Whiskey Rebellion – you need to remember that President Washington himself used force and the threat of force to put down the Whiskey Rebellion as an illegal and anti-constitutional attack on the U.S. government and the constitutional order of the United States.
What happened yesterday clearly fits within the Federal legal definitions of domestic terrorism, sedition, and insurrection and those involved should be treated by Federal law enforcement and the judicial system as such. It wasn’t the act of patriots, it was the act of deluded anti-American extremists who present a clear and present danger as an insider threat to the constitutional order, the Constitution, and the United States.
Watch this space…