Michael A. Bolton is the Inspector General for the Capitol Police. On Tuesday, Mr. Bolton released a 104-page report about the horrific attack by domestic terrorists on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, and this report is … jaw-dropping. We were told, shortly after the attack, that there had been forewarning of what was to come, that calls for help were largely ignored, but the details are far worse than even I imagined.
Three key takeaways from this report are:
- There was evidence of what was to come, but the Capitol Police leadership ignored or disregarded the intelligence warnings.
- Department leaders ordered a special crowd-control unit not to use its most powerful nonlethal weapons to stop the protestors.
- The protective equipment Capitol officers were given that day was defective, and additional equipment such as shields were under lock and key, could not be accessed.
All three of these points are, in my book, criminal. If I were Nancy Pelosi or Mike Pence, who damn near lost their lives to the deranged mob that day, I would be mad as hell. If I were any one of the 140 Capitol Police officers who were injured that day, I’d be fighting mad. If I were the family of Officer Brian Sicknick who was murdered that day, I’d be out for blood. Here are a few tidbits from the report that I think you’ll find interesting …
- The Department of Homeland Security warned the Capitol Police on December 21st, more than two weeks before that fateful day, of comments on a pro-Trump website promoting attacks on members of Congress with a map of the tunnel system. “Several comments promote confronting members of Congress and carrying firearms during the protest,” wrote a Capitol Police analyst. Among the comments reported to the Capitol Police: “Bring guns. It’s now or never,” and, “We can’t give them a choice. Overwhelming armed numbers is our only chance.”
- On January 5th, the FBI’s Norfolk field office, in Virginia, relayed another threat from an anonymous social media thread that warned of a looming war at the Capitol. “Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent … stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”
- The January 5th threat assessment said, “Unlike previous postelection 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. 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.”
Are you chilled yet? Are you angry yet? But wait … there’s more.
On January 5th, after receiving the aforementioned assessments, the agency wrote in a plan for the protest that there were “no specific known threats related to the joint session of Congress.” And the former chief of the Capitol Police has testified that the force had determined that the likelihood of violence was “improbable.” SAY WHAT??? Any fool reading the FBI threat assessment would consider the likelihood of violence to be an almost absolute certainty!
Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU), which specializes in handling large groups of protesters, was not allowed to use some of its most powerful tools and techniques against the crowd, on the orders of supervisors. “Heavier, less-lethal weapons,” including stun grenades, “were not used that day because of orders from leadership,” Mr. Bolton wrote. Officials on duty on Jan. 6 told him that such equipment could have helped the police to “push back the rioters.”
Some of the shields that officers were equipped with during the riot “shattered upon impact” because they had been improperly stored in a trailer that was not climate-controlled, Mr. Bolton found. Others could not be used by officers in desperate need of protection because the shields were locked on a bus.
“When the crowd became unruly, the C.D.U. platoon attempted to access the bus to distribute the shields but were unable because the door was locked. The platoon ‘was consequently required to respond to the crowd without the protection of their riot shields.’”
In light of this and more, it is a thousand wonders that more people did not die on that day. It is nothing short of a miracle that no member of Congress was even injured. Apparently, we have to be thankful that the attackers weren’t all that bright or well-organized, else we might be living in an entirely different country today.
Two thoughts are at the forefront of my mind after reading about this:
- I wonder when evidence will be found that inextricably links the former ‘president’ to the orders to lock up equipment, to downplay the threat, and to order the police not to use crowd control equipment. You’ll note I said I wonder “when”, not I wonder “if”, for there is not a shred of doubt in my mind that the former guy had a heavy hand in trying to make it easier for the attackers to do maximum damage.
- There have been reports that certain groups are planning another attack on the Capitol on the day that President Biden addresses a joint session of Congress for the first time. He is scheduled to do so in less than two weeks, on April 28th. I damn sure hope the Capitol Police and every federal law enforcement agency are on hand to protect Congress and our President. The joint session will be designated a National Special Security Event and there will be a limit on the number of lawmakers in the chamber. Lawmakers will also be seated in the upstairs gallery in addition to the House floor and guests will not be permitted.
This afternoon, Inspector General Bolton will present his report to Congress at a hearing on Capitol Hill. His full report is classified and not available to the public, but if you’re interested, you can access his prepared remarks for the hearing.