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Report details security failures in Capitol riot

By AI HEPING in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-06-09 11:06

The dome of the US Capitol Building is seen as the sun sets on Capitol Hill in Washington, on July 26, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

A bipartisan Senate investigation of the Jan 6 attack on the US Capitol that was released on Tuesday found that failures at all levels of law enforcement, government and the military allowed the assault to happen.

The Capitol Police intelligence unit "knew about social media posts calling for violence at the Capitol on January 6, including a plot to breach the Capitol'', according to the report.

It notes that on Dec 28 someone emailed a public Capitol Police account and warned about "countless tweets from Trump supporters saying they will be armed on January 6th" and "tweets from people organizing to 'storm the Capitol'".

There were also internal warnings of an increase in posts on various sites that showed maps of the Capitol, including its underground tunnels. But those specifics were never disseminated widely, the report said.

The 127-page report said that the day before the attack an FBI memo warned of people traveling to Washington for "war", but it didn't reach top law enforcement officials.

The Capitol Police failed to widely circulate information its own intelligence unit had collected as early as mid-December about the threat of violence on Jan 6, including a report that said right-wing extremist groups and supporters of President Donald Trump had been posting online and in far-right chat groups about gathering at the Capitol, armed with weapons, to pressure lawmakers to overturn his election loss.

"If they don't show up, we enter the Capitol as the Third Continental Congress and certify the Trump Electors," one post said. "Bring guns. It's now or never," said another.

The report is based on more than three months of hearings and interviews and reviews of thousands of pages of documents of the break into the Capitol, which interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden's victory. The report doesn't go into the causes of the attack and comes two weeks after Republicans in the Senate blocked a bipartisan, independent commission that would have investigated it more broadly.

"This report is important in the fact that it allows us to make some immediate improvements to the security situation here in the Capitol," said Democratic Michigan Senator Gary Peters, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which conducted the investigation with the Senate Rules Committee. "But it does not answer some of the bigger questions that we need to face, quite frankly, as a country and as a democracy."

The report includes new details about the police officers who suffered chemical burns, brain injuries and broken bones from the rioters and who told senators that they were left with no direction when command systems broke down.

It also says that officers complained about a lack of leadership within the department as they tried to repel the attack and that top leaders were virtually silent as they begged for help.

The committee's interviews with police officers detail "absolutely brutal" abuse from Trump's supporters as they ran over them and broke into the building. The officers described hearing racial slurs and seeing Nazi salutes. One officer trying to evacuate the Senate said he had stopped several men in full tactical gear, one of whom said, "You better get out of our way, boy, or we'll go through you to get (the senators).'"

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