Of Course Capitol Police Leaders Knew What The MAGA CHUDs Were Going To Do, Everyone Did
During the January 6 insurrection, it seemed like Capitol Police handled the mostly white MAGA mob a little differently from how the police usually manage protesters, even ones who aren't trying to overthrow the government. It turns out we weren't just paranoid, divisive, or somehow inciting violence by even suggesting racism exists. Capitol Police Assistant Inspector General Michael A. Bolton has released what the New York Times calls a “scathing new report" that reveals the Capitol Police knew well in advance that a potential attack was likely and that “Congress itself was a target" for violence. Yet, officers were instructed not to use their “most aggressive tactics" against the violent mob, which was good since it likely would've led to a bloodbath because the mob was heavily armed. Still, this clearly put the police at a disadvantage because “aggressive tactics" are their speciality. It's like telling Mick Jagger before a concert that he can't strut around the stage like a chicken. What's he supposed to do for two hours?
But once the mob breached the Capitol, it was only dumb luck that Congress members weren't killed.
In a 104-page document, the inspector general, Michael A. Bolton, criticized the way the Capitol Police prepared for and responded to the mob violence on Jan. 6. The report was reviewed by The New York Times and will be the subject of a Capitol Hill hearing on Thursday.
Mr. Bolton found that the agency's leaders failed to adequately prepare despite explicit warnings that pro-Trump extremists posed a threat to law enforcement and civilians and that the police used defective protective equipment. He also found that the leaders ordered their Civil Disturbance Unit to refrain from using its most powerful crowd-control tools — like stun grenades — to put down the onslaught.
The challenge for the Capitol Police was that the looming threat wasn't random Black people demanding that the police not kill them. If it's a Black Lives Matter rally, then it's stun grenades all around, even in Seattle. This time, the threat was the one-term loser's supporters who believed his whiny-ass lies that the election was stolen. Three days before the siege, Capitol Police were aware that the former White House squatter's droogs had posted a map of the Capitol's underground tunnel system on pro-MAGA message boards.
According to the inspector general's report, Capitol Police had assessed that “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.
“Stop the Steal" was a popular MAGA slogan even before the twice-impeached thug lost the 2020 election. His campaign and supporters were whipping up the mob for most of the year. Users in group chats for the Oath Keepers had proposed taking violent action if Joe Biden won. This was in October, so President Lost Cause's post-election tantrum was a clear and present danger. But it's politically uncomfortable if the commander in chief is the ringleader of a mounting national security threat.
Three days before Capitol attack, the Capitol Police's assessment was that “supporters of the current president see Jan. 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election." Anyone with access to the former guy's Twitter feed could've picked up on this. The assessment claimed that “this sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent." That also fit with the increasingly unhinged rhetoric from the insurrectionist in chief, who compared US elections unfavorably to Afghanistan's and demanded that “Republican senators step up and fight for the presidency." The election had been over for weeks, and no legal, non-violent remedy existed for keeping that sentient boil in office. How did anyone seriously think this would end?
The Department of Homeland Security had even warned Capitol Police on December 21 about comments on pro-MAGA boards promoting attacks against members of Congress. Yet on January 5, Capitol Police declared in a plan for the MAGA protest that there were "no specific known threats related to the joint session of Congress." Lawmakers have already accused the Capitol Police of downplaying the potential threat, for which they were utterly unprepared. But it's obvious now that the Capitol Police weren't caught flatfooted. They misrepresented the threat level. (This is our less legally actionable way of saying those motherfuckers lied.)
Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the attack, testified that the police had determined the likelihood of violence was “improbable." Maybe Sund genuinely believed violence at rally filled with white supremacists and unhinged militia members was inconceivable, but if so, he might not fully understand what those words mean.
Mr. Bolton concluded such intelligence breakdowns stemmed from dysfunction within the agency and called for "guidance that clearly documents channels for efficiently and effectively disseminating intelligence information to all of its personnel."
Bolton is expected to testify Thursday afternoon before the House Administration Committee. Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chair the Administration Committee, has called Bolton's findings “disturbing." They are indeed. Meanwhile, sad little Republicans still refuse to fully denounce and reject the man who set all this in motion with his lies.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."