In an interview with Fox News, former President Donald Trump claimed that he requested 10,000 National Guard officials to defend Congress last January 6. Or, at least, that’s what he implied to the Secretary of Defense: that that number of soldiers was required to defend the Capitol.
No, it’s not a Trump invention to excuse himself. Vanity Fair magazine published a story titled “The President Threw Us Under the Bus: Embedding With Pentagon Leadership in Trump’s Chaotic Last Week.”
The report, which is essentially a criticism of the last stage of the Trump administration, does not delve into a reading that has remained between the lines. It has also failed to ask the most pertinent question: what if the riots of January 6th were more complex than the media presented?
Perhaps it is an exaggeration, yet there are enough facts to affirm that much more could have been done to neutralize the seizure of the Capitol, the tragic deaths, and those absurd social media posts and posterior censorship that embarrassed the entire republic.
After the left pointed to Trump as the main culprit of the events of January 6 -for his incendiary speech and the failed crusade to change the election results by trying to prove massive fraud- the media have stopped looking for other reasons -direct or indirect- that provoked or allowed the assault on the Capitol to take place.
For example, not guarding the legislative seat well, not defending it with the necessary force, or having an intelligence community that did not agree to anticipate what was evident.
Why wasn’t necessary force used?
“The ease with which Donald Trump’s supporters managed to enter Capitol Hill to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s election as the new president of the United States was one of the things that caused the greatest surprise inside and outside the U.S.,” says a Jan. 7 BBC article.
“How was it possible for a relatively small number of people to storm the seat of Congress of the most powerful country in the world?” the media outlet asks. It continues, “However, it is relatively simple. Quite simply, the authorities did not use the immense force at their disposal to try to prevent it.”
“Why, however, is already a more complicated matter.”
The BBC explains, among other things, that the intelligence community failed; that security was left to the 2,000-man Capitol Police; and that they were unprepared for the sudden break-in. At the same time, it analyzes that, unlike last summer’s “racial” protests, there were almost no National Guardsmen in DC, only about 300.
Also, of the soldiers who were there, most were actually supporting only traffic issues. They were not protecting the Capitol.
Still, people died on Capitol Hill and there was repression. And, the passivity, did not come for lack of predisposition of the president who, as stated above, said that a large number of guards were necessary to protect the compound.
What there was that day, and which seems to be forgotten as the days go by, are Kafkaesque images quoted by the BBC itself.
“The fact that some officers took selfies inside the Capitol with the assailants only increased criticism of the police action,” the English media reported. “In addition, some videos showed an officer raising a barrier to allow the assailants to enter. In others, police officers are seen escorting protesters through the Capitol without stopping them.”
This is what was seen; an insufficient security force. In some cases, even docile. Then, when the Capitol was already taken, the force arrived. Leaving dead, wounded, terrible and shameful images.
Flawed intelligence information
A previous article at El American explained that inconsistencies in the intelligence community’s reporting prevented good coordination, articulation and effectiveness of a forceful defense against the January 6 rioters.
For example, an article in The New York Times exposed how inconsistent intelligence reporting prevented an effective response to the demonstrations that ended with the assault on the Capitol.
There were reports that explained the improbability of a takeover of the legislative seat, but there were others that pointed to the dangers of an angry mob that thought they were being robbed of the election and should save American democracy. Moreover, there were messages on social media where it was pointed out that the goal, for some groups, was to take over the Capitol.
Particularly, what was most striking was that the FBI did not warn about what was planned on January 6; something that the Times explains in a report.
“The documents show how the police and federal law enforcement agencies produced inconsistent and sometimes conflicting assessments of the threat from American citizens marching on the Capitol as Mr. Trump sought to hold on to power. That lack of clarity in turn helps explain why the government did not bring more urgency to security preparations for a worst-case outcome.”
And the Times itself admits, “But the decision in the face of muddled intelligence to take only limited measures to bolster security and prepare backup highlights another issue: whether, as some critics have long said, agencies that have spent two decades and billions of dollars reacting aggressively to intelligence about the potential for Islamic terrorism are similarly focused on the full array of threats from the homegrown far right.”
What does this mean? That events like those on Jan. 6 often have the watchful eye of government agencies for being considered potentially dangerous. How is it possible that, after the social polarization, the Trump campaign’s election legal crusade, and social media posts, the threat has not been acted upon forcefully?
Steven Sund, who resigned as chief of the Capitol Police after Jan. 6, mentioned in “a previously undisclosed letter sent on Monday to congressional leaders that the “entire intelligence community seems to have missed” the warning signs. the Times stressed.
In the case of the Capitol riot, Mr. Sund did make a request several days beforehand for National Guard troops, though it was denied at that time by his bosses, the sergeants-at-arms of the House and the Senate,” the Times says. “The Capitol Police request at the time was driven primarily by the need to expand the security perimeter around the building because of the size of the anticipated demonstration and its possible duration — and not any intelligence warning that there could be an armed assault on the Capitol, according to a person familiar with the Capitol Police’s decision making.
Basically, various intelligence reports indicating that the legislative building could indeed be taken over with weapons were overlooked. And, given this possibility, the question arises: Why, instead of arming the precinct, did they opt for a half-hearted security?
Such a huge security failure, on such an important day, with so much information about what could have happened and what ended up happening, is implausible. Many people are waiting for a thorough investigation to be carried out and for many facts to be clarified.
The Wall Street Journal said that the security system failed. “The federal security apparatus retooled after 9/11 fielded intelligence on the Jan. 6 rally but didn’t mobilize to prevent the violence,” reads the lead-in to a lengthy report on the Capitol assault.
According to the WSJ, what happened is that the “national security network set up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to identify and thwart threats failed ahead of last month’s Capitol riot, as law enforcement didn’t act on intelligence about potential violence and prevent the assault.”
What the media outlet explains, is that offices around the country that collect, share, analyze and use intelligence among law enforcement across the country, “alarming online discussions about weapons in the days before the Jan. 6 rally in Washington.”
For example, the WSJ explained that a FBI field office went so far as to report a call for violence that could escalate significantly. They also mentioned that the Department of Homeland Security “warned about the heightened potential for violence in the rally’s run-up, though mentioned no specific threat for Jan. 6.”
The problem is that even though federal offices shared information, despite knowing what could happen in a worst-case scenario, “t this multipoint warning system broke down, failing to generate sufficient follow-up, as officials spotted and dismissed these signals while missing others entirely, according to interviews with current and former officials and a review of internal government documents.”
What happened? Everyone saw it. The DC safety net was never prepared, in large part, because the system failed. And, strikingly, it was unable to organize against a group of people who seemed anything but efficiently orchestrated to breach Capitol Hill. But they succeeded. They subverted, for the first time in U.S. history, the Legislative Branch.
A 9-11 commission to investigate the Capitol assault
The investigations from the legislative palace, moreover, are politically motivated. The second impeachment against Trump, which did not prosper, and the 9/11-style commission are clear examples of this.
“It’s official: Donald Trump has been acquitted in the Senate regarding his responsibility for the January 6 assault. However, there will still be investigations and sessions to find out, exactly, what happened. And the latest idea from lawmakers is to create a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Capitol riots,” says a previous article in El American.
“Republicans have pointed out that evidence could show that Democratic leaders were aware of the threat and did little to prevent the Jan. 6 attack. Democrats, who failed to condemn Trump, see their window to hold the president accountable for the chaos closing quickly,” reads a Fox News article regarding the issue.
A 9/11-style independent commission “would elevate the investigation one step further, offering a definitive account of the government-backed events,” Fox reported.
Beyond a last chance for Democrats to condemn Trump, what would be truly relevant about a commission would be to determine whether, in fact, there were individuals responsible for slowing or hindering actions for Capitol Hill security.
Fingers are pointed at Trump, in part with good reason, for his incendiary speech within minutes of hundreds of protesters with MAGA banners storming Congress. In the end, the debate was strained by the former president’s campaign crusade to prove voter fraud.
However, it cannot be omitted that the main reason for the assault on the Capitol was a tremendous failure of security forces. Nor can it be omitted that, as the president told Fox News and as reported by Vanity Fair from a direct source, Donald Trump proposed ten thousand troops to guard the Capitol.