When both branches of Congress met during a joint session on Wednesday, January 6th, to certify President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, many journalists, law enforcement officials and national security experts feared that violence would occur in the streets of Washington, D.C. In my blog post on the day before, e.g.
I warned about the threat - making use of findings from security and other personnel, and information from a Washington Post piece. As was noted:
"Trump already tweeted earlier this month an appeal to the Proud Boys and other supporters to come to the capital to buttress his campaign to overturn the election results. He basically wants them to raise hell and create chaos and violence to intimidate thousands, especially the Republicans in House and Senate who may not wish to play along.
As the Post warned:
"That the president is actively seeking to incite street protests is a matter of more than a little concern to D.C. officials who — based on the behavior of some of Mr. Trump’s supporters at two previous rallies — fear there could be violence."
Meanwhile, Trump's neo-Nazis have issued a call on an app called 'Telegram' for "boots on the ground tomorrow". Also present will be the Proud Boys - likely with weapons- KKK members, other White Nationalists and the Oath Keepers and the youth-led Groypers according to the Washington Post."
But all this came as a major shock when a violent mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol, and virtually none of the existing authorities was prepared, or they had vastly underestimated the mob's potential for violence. How did this happen?
It took a couple days to piece together the monumental failure but The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 8, p. A1, Jan. 11, p. A3) managed to do just that and the findings are not only blood curdling but enraging- disclosing too many officials asleep at the switch. Others living in a land of delusion, i.e. convinced the incoming MAGA mob posed no real threat.
Here's what we know now:
- Three days before the MAGA terror apes rioted at the Capitol, the Pentagon asked the Capitol Police if they needed National Guard manpower. They declined, turning down FBI agents, saying they'd have the situation in hand.
- The Capitol Police were critically understaffed last Wednesday, a reality which no one will accept responsibility for and which will have to be thoroughly investigated in the coming days and weeks. This is why it beggars credulity that they wouldn't have asked for more help.
- But it wasn't just a lack of force that abetted an insurrectionist mob laying siege to the People's House, it was in some cases support for the insurrectionists. That's led to several U.S. Capitol Police officers being suspended and more than a dozen others being investigated.
-D.C. officials (including Mayor Bowser) were intent on avoiding any appearance that the federal government was deploying active duty or National Guard troops against Americans. They did not want the "bad" optics.
Mayor Bowser especially recalled the government’s heavy-handed response to the Black Lives Matter demonstrations over the summer. Then Trump had deployed unidentified agents and tactical teams to the streets of Washington against the wishes of Ms. Bowser. These (mostly) out- of -state agents had also tear-gassed protesters, allowing the Dotard to walk to a nearby church and stage a photo op holding a Bible.In the wake of Trump's authoritarian performance, we couldn't be too surprised that Bowser had sent a letter to top federal law enforcement officials on Tuesday warning against excessive deployments. Though the city had sought some National Guard troops for traffic control, she did also note that the D.C. police had not requested additional personnel from law enforcement agencies for the rallies on Wednesday and again referred to the aggressive deployment in June.
As I also noted already (Jan. 7 post) the passivity of the Capitol police (with maybe one or two exceptions) also raised troubling concerns about the wrist slap treatment of the mainly white Trump brigands. To wit, these terrorists were allowed to roam freely through the building for hours, ransacking offices, pilfering mail and laptops and leaving lickspittle and excrement all over. Whereas Janice noted they'd all have been shot dead if black or brown (Muslims) .
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said:
“There was a failure of leadership at the top,”
But it went beyond failure of leadership to lack of core discipline as well as a failure of imagination. In the case of the former the fact some D.C. cops were caught in MAGA caps and taking selfies with the renegades disclosed no respect or recognition for their role as protectors and peace keepers . It was as if they were too spell bound by the whiteness of the terrorist perps to respond adequately, e.g. firing shots into them or at least over their heads. Rep. Jason Crow, an Army vet (Afghanistan) in a CBS interview the day after, noted he almost asked for a service weapon for protection because he didn't feel the supposed protectors had the nerve to shoot.
As to the failure of imagination, that entered because - as the WSJ noted (Jan. 11, p. A9) "Pentagon and local officials didn't want to be seen intervening against what they thought would be largely peaceful protesters."
This despite the fact the NYPD and FBI had sent blunt warnings the day before about "war is coming" - taken hot off the websites of the assorted terrorists. And yet, the failure to imagine thousands of whites looting, pillaging and destroying didn't register in consciousness. Because the law enforcement charged with protection couldn't conceive of the whities doing it. (Despite the Proud Boys barely a month or so earlier going on a rampage in D.C. and burning 'Black Lives Matter' signs.)
The fallout? Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, under pressure from Schumer, Pelosi and other congressional leaders, was forced to resign. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for and received the resignation of the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate, Michael Stenger, effective immediately. Meantime, the Sergeant at Arms of the House also was expected to be removed.
Despite so many lawmakers having the illusion that the Capitol "was among the safest places to be" - that was ripped asunder in the wake of the insurrection. the terror and chaos that exploded for 4 hours showed that the government agencies in charge were really toothless tigers.
They had no coordinated plan to defend against a determined attack on the Capitol — especially one specifically aimed at powerful elected officials. This, even though the Trump MAGA mob had openly plotted a mass assault online. Indeed, police and FBI intelligence privately warned of attempted insurrection, as Trump escalated his lies about election results. And yet those formidable law enforcement partners of summer who went all out against BLM, failed to have a coordinated plan for Jan. 6.
They also stupidly believed the "protests" would be simply vanilla, first amendment - with signs held up and some yelling. Not breaching the Capitol walls, smashing windows to get in and crunching cops in between partitions and the crowd howling epithets and death threats while beating other cops with flag poles.
Nor any remote sense that QAnon, an online conspiracy cult, was well represented among the crowd, and had been labeled a domestic terrorist threat by the F.B.I.
Once the Capitol building was breached, a patchwork group of reinforcements was forced to try to navigate a labyrinthine complex of unfamiliar passages and byways that would prove dangerous. By contrast, the terror mob benefited from dozens of helmeted, military fatigue clad insurgents (Oath Keepers?) seen marching in "Ranger file" formation. This is standard operating procedure for a combat team "stacking up" to breach a building - and recognizable to any vet who's served in Afghanistan or Iraq. Many of this lot also. sported communications and navigational equipment enabling them to advance easily through tunnels and hallways - as if a number of the terrorists already knew the way to the hallowed House and Senate chambers.
Meanwhile, the outnumbered force of Capitol Police tried numerous tactics to keep the terrorists at bay: setting up barricades, using pepper spray and trying to push back against the mob at the building’s doors and windows. All of these measures failed, and the terrorists often overcame the cops using their own larger cans of bear spray, metal rods, tasers, wooden clubs and bags of human excrement.
Left in the lurch were the hapless and terrified lawmakers who had no clear evacuation plan and were forced to improvise on their own. Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, told CBS' Gayle King how he and a Pennsylvania congresswomen were forced to hide behind seats in the gallery as the howling mob pounded on the doors to get in.
Federal agencies and the Capitol Police appeared to issue no serious warnings in the days leading up to the riots that the gathering could turn violent, despite countless posts on right-wing social media sites pledging confrontation and even bloodshed.
A total surprise? It shouldn't have been! A day before the uprising. one post on far-right social media announced:
“The Capitol is our goal. Everything else is a distraction. Every corrupt member of Congress locked in one room and surrounded by real Americans is an opportunity that will never present itself again.”
That mass capture using plastic zip ties was also potentially in the offing, as well as possible executions - seemed to have been lost or ignored by a number of the House Reep traitors and objecting seditionists. That includes the Colorado firebrand Lauren Boebert who tried to give away AOC's location as well as Nancy Pelosi's. See my forthcoming separate post on Boebert and why this little, Glock-toting worm needs to be expelled from the House forthwith.
In 1923, Hitler and the Nazis stormed a beer hall in Munich, Germany, from whence they planned to overthrow German democracy. The putsch failed ignominiously, and Hitler was briefly jailed.
That, of course, was not the end of Adolf Hitler. America needs to remember that history if we want to preserve our democracy from the right-wing forces rallied by Donald Trump today.