Inadequate intelligence, outdated operating procedures and insufficient funding opened the door to chaos at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the Capitol Police’s top watchdog told Congress during a hearing on the attack.
WASHINGTON (CN) — The U.S. Capitol Police’s intelligence gathering was officially deemed inadequate in the run-up to the Jan. 6 insurrection by the agency’s top watchdog Monday as lawmakers met to pore over his assessment.
Outdated guidance for standard operating procedures, a series of failures to report on “stop and contact activities” by officers the night before the attack and broadly insufficient resources spanning the department are all to blame for the failure to secure the Capitol during the insurrection, Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton said Monday.
“All of that information coming into the department, we were not able to triage it,” Bolton told members of the House Administration Committee.
Threats and warnings were flowing to the Capitol Police before the insurrection but there was only one analyst on hand to review them and respond, he added.
For weeks, on message boards like 8kun and throughout some dark — and less dark — corners of the internet, users who supported President Donald Trump’s false claim to the 2020 election vowed to take to the streets.
Among the more extreme supporters of the former president, they regularly vowed to commit a rebellion should Congress continue with its tradition of certifying the electoral college and counting votes that had overwhelmingly fallen in then-candidate-now-president Joe Biden’s favor.
Threats to kill or maim those who might stand in their way were a regular feature of the posts and the extent of violence to be levied that day was often up for debate online with participants chatting at length about whether police officers should be exempt from the forthcoming melee.
Invitations were sent out to would-be participants, including digital flyers posted with a clear purpose: “Operation Occupy the Capitol.” The FBI also drew up a report warning of the potential violence for lawmakers on Jan. 5.
Steven Sund, the former Capitol Police chief, testified before the Senate in February that he never saw a bulletin from the FBI. The former sergeants-at-arms for the House and Senate, Paul Irving and Michael Stenger, also said they never saw the report. Sund, Irving and Stenger have all resigned since the attack.
Setting up a “stand-alone counter-surveillance unit” was chief among Bolton’s recommendations for the department. Leaning more on the FBI for assistance would also be a boon for the agency, but all of this would require more officers on the force.
It would also behoove the Capitol Police to start acting more like a “protective agency” for lawmakers and the complex instead of a traditional police department.
“Even if we hire 1,000 officers, if we don’t have the infrastructure, the training not just initial but continuous training and gear it towards a protective model as opposed to a police department, then we are not going to accomplish our goal,” Bolton said.
So far, the department has been “very receptive” to his recommendations, he testified.
That is a good sign for lawmakers. Since last year, threats to legislators have sharply increased by 107%, the Capitol Police force said.
Bolton’s testimony Monday was one part in a series of hearings with the inspector general before Congress. He is expected to return in June when the office releases its assessment on radio communications before and during the attack.
While independent hearings on the Jan. 6 siege have been unfolding for weeks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still leading a push to form a special commission to probe the event. Its creation has mostly been stymied due to contentions over its makeup and overall purpose.