WASHINGTON — Federal intelligence agencies failed to properly warn local law enforcement officers that pro-Trump extremists were plotting to storm the U.S. Capitol, despite learning of plans days before the Jan. 6 riot. That’s according to a new Senate report that highlights the security and planning failures leading up to the violent attack and offers recommendations to prevent something like that from happening again.
The 127-page bipartisan report was drafted by two Senate committees after months of interviews and public hearings involving federal intelligence and law enforcement officers. The report found U.S. Capitol police officers were not given proper warning by leaders that an attack of that magnitude was looming and that officers were unprepared and untrained to handle it. The report also details that U.S. Capitol Police had intelligence that an invasion of the Capitol was being planned, but they failed to communicate that information across the department.
“We found a number of troubling things as a result of our investigation that need to be rectified and need to be rectified quickly,” U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D–Michigan) said during a press call Tuesday.
Peters serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
“The rank-and-file officers that were out there defending the Capitol who were subjected to extremely violent attacks against them, were heroic, and we need to applaud their efforts. But clearly this was a failure of leadership, this is a failure of the kind of planning necessary to prepare for the attack of the magnitude of what we saw on Jan. 6,” Peters said.
Peters says at least 20 of the 60+ recommendations including better training, communication and interpretation of intelligence can be implemented quickly. Others, like giving the U.S. Capitol Police chief clearance to request National Guard assistance may need legislation.
The scope of the Senate report focuses solely on security, intelligence and response failures, but it does not look into why the group of pro-Trump extremists stormed the capitol or what drove them to act.
Democrats say this new report strengthens the argument to establish an independent January 6 Commission to look into those aspects of the incident. Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have created one last month.
“This was not meant to replace a commission, one that can do a more in-depth analysis, not just of what happened on the day of the attack on Jan. 6 but also look at what motivated groups of individuals to come here with such a hostile intent, what, what was behind all of that occurring,” Peters said.
Peters says he still fully supports a commission. "Certainly as we looked at the information that was out there that the intelligence groups were looking at, it was pretty clear and the folks were motivated because of the false claims made by then President Trump about the election, but there certainly needs to be further analysis into that."
While the prospect of an independent commission remains up in the air, Peters says his committee will continue to look into the rise in domestic terrorism and anti-government extremism.
“This is an incredibly important first step to make sure that the Capitol is as secure as possible so that we don't see the events of Jan. 6 ever occur again. But there are certainly other very big issues relating to our democracy and what would possibly motivate folks to engage in such violent behavior, but that's something that will hopefully continue to be examined in the future,” he added.
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