Capitol Police Failed to See Riot Threat: ‘These Criminals Came Prepared’

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Capitol Police Failed to See Riot Threat: ‘These Criminals Came Prepared’” – below is their description.

    Law enforcement officials responsible for U.S. Capitol security during the Jan. 6 attack blamed their inadequate defense on incomplete intelligence, and they offered differing accounts of why it took so long to call in National Guard reinforcements to repel the rioters.

    The officials, three of whom resigned after the riot, spoke at a joint Senate hearing Tuesday that failed to shed light on the intelligence failures beforehand and delays in the Defense Department response. Senators plan to call witnesses next week from several federal agencies, including the Pentagon as the panels continue to seek accountability and improved security at the U.S. Capitol.

    Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former Senate Sergeant-At-Arms Michael Stenger, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving as well as District of Columbia acting Police Chief Robert Contee said their planning was based on intelligence predicting mere civil disobedience by former President Donald Trump’s supporters. They were not prepared for the protest to turn into an insurrection.

    “A clear lack of accurate and complete intelligence across several federal agencies contributed to this event, and not poor planning by United States Capitol Police,” Sund said. “These criminals came prepared for war.”

    Contee testified that as conditions deteriorated around the building, he was “stunned at the response” of the Department of the Army, “which was reluctant to send the D.C. National Guard to the Capitol.”

    The joint hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Rules and Administration committees was the first in a series of lawmaker inquiries into the origins of the insurrection and the failure of Capitol security forces to anticipate and then quell the riot that left five people dead.

    “While we made progress today, this is not the end of our quest for answers,” Rules Chair Amy Klobuchar said after the hearing. “Next week, we will hear from witnesses from federal agencies — including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense — that are critical to our understanding of what happened this day and what changes need to be made to ensure it never occurs again.”

    During Tuesday’s hearing, Sund and Irving contradicted each other’s recollection of a request for National Guard reinforcements Sund said was denied two days before the riot. There also were disagreements on key details of planning for and responses to the attacks, such as Sund suggesting that the “chain of command,“ including congressional leaders, delayed the approval of National Guard backup the afternoon of the riot.

    Rather than blaming Trump for inflaming his supporters with a fiery speech before the attack, some Republicans have focused on the role House Speaker Nancy Pelosi played in security preparations.

    In response to questions from Republicans, including Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, Irving said he didn’t wait for Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to approve a request for reinforcements.

    ”Absolutely not,” Irving said, when asked by Hawley whether consulting with congressional leaders delayed National Guard deployment.

    All of Tuesday’s witnesses said they were caught off guard by the coordinated violence from insurrectionists chanting support for Trump and threats of violence against members of Congress. They said they didn’t have the forces to deal with such an unprecedented event.

    “These resources were barely enough to counter an event that had never happened in the history of the United States: a mob of thousands of American citizens launching a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol – the seat of our government – in an attempt to halt the counting of the electoral ballots, an essential step in the peaceful transfer of power in our nation,“ Contee said.

    Investigating Capitol security flaws was crucial for the lawmakers hearing Tuesday’s testimony, since they themselves were targets of the mob that sought to disrupt a joint session of Congress meeting to certify November’s presidential election.

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