January 6 U.S. Capitol attack preceded by intelligence agency failures

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A new report detailing the intelligence failures leading up to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol said government agencies tasked with anticipating trouble downplayed the threat – even as the building was taken storming in an attempt to stop Congress’ certification of Joe Biden as the 46th president.

The 105-page report, released Tuesday by the Democrats of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said intelligence personnel from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other agencies ignored warnings of violence in December 2020.

They later blamed themselves for not preventing the ensuing attack on January 6, which left more than 140 police officers injured and several dead.

Since then, the US government has won hundreds of convictions against the rioters, some of whom received long prison sentences.

“These agencies failed to sound the alarm and share critical information that could have helped law enforcement better prepare for the events” of January 6, said Sen. Gary Peters, chairman of the committee releasing the report. titled “Planned in Full Sight, An Examination of Intelligence Failures in Advance of January 6, 2021.”

Republicans on the committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Last summer, a special House of Representatives committee held several hearings, following a lengthy investigation, in which it concluded that then-Republican President Donald Trump repeatedly ignored the findings by key aides that there was no significant fraud in the November 2020 presidential election, which he lost.

Trump continued to falsely insist that he won that contest and was the victim of a massive voter fraud effort by Democrats. Just hours before the riot, Trump delivered a fiery speech to a large gathering of supporters, urging them to march to the Capitol as the House and Senate met in joint session to certify victory for Biden, a Democrat .

Trump is currently seen as the leading candidate to win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He and some of his Republican rivals have pledged to grant or consider granting clemency to rioters serving jail time if elected. .

Among the committee’s conclusions:

In December 2020, the FBI received reports that the far-right extremist group Proud Boys planned to be in Washington “literally killing people”.

Intelligence agencies, on January 3 and 4, 2021, were aware of several social media posts calling for gun violence and storming the Capitol. Yet “as late as 8:57 a.m. on January 6, a senior monitoring officer at the DHS National Operations Center wrote”[t]there is no indication of civil disobedience.

At 2:58 p.m., the report notes, with a riot declared and the Capitol in formal “lockdown” mode, the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis noted “chatter” online calling for more violent actions “but at this time no credible information to the transmission has been established.”

Over the summer of 2020, protests were staged in several US cities following the killing of black George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer during his arrest.

The Senate report noted that the Office of Intelligence and Analysis was then criticized for “over-gathering intelligence on U.S. citizens,” which “resulted in a ‘swing of the pendulum’ after which analysts were then hesitant to report the open source intelligence they saw in the build-up to January 6.”

The report concluded that there is a “clear need … for a reassessment of the federal government’s domestic intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination processes.”

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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