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Probe Finds Capitol Police Leaders Ignored Key Intel Ahead of January 6 Insurrection

"Congress itself is the target," warned one internal threat assessment three days before the deadly attack by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

Capitol Police officers are overwhelmed by a mob of invading supporters of then-President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021. (Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Outnumbered Capitol Police officers face a mob of invading supporters of then-President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021. (Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images) 

U.S. Capitol Police leaders brushed aside critical intelligence ahead of the deadly January 6 right-wing mob attack—including a warning that "Congress itself is the target"—and did not allow officers to use more forceful measures to stop the invasion, according to an internal agency investigation reported Tuesday by the New York Times. 

"Stop the Steal's propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike."
—Capitol Police IG report

The Times obtained an advance copy of the 104-page report—entitled Review of the Events Surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Takeover of the U.S. Capitol—which Capitol Police Inspector General Michael A. Bolton has classified as "law enforcement sensitive" and declined to release to the public ahead of congressional testimony scheduled for Thursday. 

The IG investigation reportedly found that three days before the attack, the department's intelligence unit warned of a potentially violent assault on the Capitol inspired by the "Big Lie" perpetrated by then-President Donald Trump and his enablers that the 2020 presidential election was "stolen."

"Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counterprotesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th," the January 3 threat assessment stated.

"Stop the Steal's propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike," it added. 

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned the department that it had discovered a map of the Capitol's tunnel system posted on pro-Trump internet message boards, while the FBI expressed its concern a day before the attack.

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However, a Capitol Police operations plan later claimed there were "no specific known threats related to the joint session of Congress" that was underway to ratify then-President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. 

In addition to finding that "heavier less-lethal weapons" such as stun grenades "were not used that day because of orders from leadership," the IG report noted that officers responding to the events of January 6 were equipped with improperly stored shields that "shattered upon impact." 

The new report is likely to once again draw attention to disparities in U.S. policing. In the wake of the Capitol siege, numerous observers noted what some called a "literally black-and-white" contrast between the relatively relaxed—and sometimes friendly—reaction of officers during a deadly attack on the beating heart of the nation's government in which one of their colleagues was killed to the often brutal repression of peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. 

Amid sustained criticism over uneven policing, officers in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota—where 20-year-old unarmed Black man Daunte Wright was shot dead by a police officer on Sunday—almost immediately violated a freshly enacted ban on some less-lethal weapons by attacking peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters with tear gas Monday evening. 

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