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Attack on US Capitol: Security officials point to disastrous response to riots

“The breach of the United States Capitol was not the result of poor planning or a failure to contain a protest gone awry,” said former US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund to two Senate committees at the first public hearing on the Capitol Riot.

Senator Gary Peters revealed on Tuesday that an FBI report containing “disturbing” information was delivered to the United States Capitol Police Headquarters on the eve of January 6, but never surrendered. at the head of the department, a breakdown according to the Democrat of Michigan is “clearly a major problem. “

“How not to get this vital intelligence on the eve of what is going to be a major event?” Peters asked.

Sund responded that the information “came in the form of raw data”, while acknowledging that the information would have been useful.

“I agree that this is something we need to look at. What is the process and how do you streamline?” he said.

Sund added that the report prompted the Capitol Police to discuss their plans with the Metropolitan Police and expand their perimeter for the event, although he also said the expansion was already underway.

A coordinated attack

The four officials who testified on Tuesday said they believed the Jan.6 uprising was coordinated.

“These people specifically came with gear… bringing climbing gear to a protest, bringing explosives, chemical spray… you come ready,” Sund said. “I think there was significant coordination with this attack.”

DC Metropolitan Police Acting Chief Robert Contee echoed this view, telling lawmakers: “Since the day of the incident, several insurgents have used hand signals. Several people involved radioed … I certainly believe it was coordinated. “

The issue of coordination between rioters played into the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the attack, as well as the impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

Some of the rioters have since claimed to have been inspired by the rush of the crowd when they stormed the Capitol. But federal prosecutors have laid several criminal charges against members of far-right extremist groups who allegedly planned the attack for weeks or months.

During Trump’s impeachment, his lawyers pointed to claims the attack was pre-planned as part of their argument that he had not incited violence with his inflammatory speech beforehand.

Dispute over the deployment of the National Guard

Lawmakers questioned the four witnesses on Tuesday as to why it took so long for the National Guard to be called in once the U.S. Capitol was under siege.

In his initial statement, Contee described a phone call shortly after pro-Trump rioters violated the Capitol, and how Pentagon officials were apparently unable or unwilling to dispatch National Guard troops quickly.

“I was surprised at the reluctance to immediately send the National Guard to the Capitol grounds,” he said.

During his testimony, Irving disputed reports that he was concerned about the “optics” of National Guard members appearing on Capitol Hill and therefore refused to call for reinforcements on Jan. 4, two days in advance.

“We discussed whether the intelligence justified having troops on Capitol Hill, and our collective judgment at the time was no – the intelligence did not warrant it,” he wrote in his prepared statement. . “The intelligence supported the plan that had been prepared by Chief Sund.”

“Based on the intelligence, we all thought the plan met the threat and we were ready,” Irving added. “We now know we had the wrong plan.”

In a previous letter, Sund said he asked Irving and former Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger to ask the National Guard ahead of the event.

Irving said he “was concerned about ‘the optics’ and didn’t think intelligence was backing it,” Sund wrote in his letter. Stenger suggested asking the Guard to be ready in case Sund needed them.

On Thursday, Republican Senator Roy Blunt questioned Sund, Irving and Stenger about a request Sund says he made for National Guard troops in the days leading up to the riot. Sund said he asked Irving and Stenger to make a declaration of emergency, which he believed he had to call in troops.

Irving responded that he did not view Sund’s investigation as a request for troops, but rather a conversation in which Sund said the National Guard offered to deliver 125 troops to help with crowd control.

Irving said the three men decided the information about the protest did not warrant a military response.

Blunt also insisted on conflicting timelines regarding when custody was requested after the rally turned into a clear riot.

Sund claimed he made the request at 1:09 p.m., but Irving insisted he didn’t remember a conversation at the time, claiming instead that the two spoke around 1:30 p.m. .

Captain says she is still recovering from chemical burns

Captain Carneysha Mendoza of the United States Capitol Police on Tuesday morning provided captivating testimony about his first-hand experience in responding to the insurgency.

“I made it to the Rotunda where I noticed a heavy smoke-like residue and smelled what I believed to be military grade CS gas – a familiar scent,” Mendoza said, mentioning that she had served in the army. “It was mixed with a fire extinguisher spray deployed by the rioters. The rioters continued to deploy CS inside the Rotunda.”

CS is a reference to tear gas, which is often used by police as a riot agent. Footage from the Capitol attack shows officers and rioters using chemical sprays against each other during the hour-long melee.

“The officers were exposed to a lot of gas, which is much worse inside the building than outside because there is nowhere to go,” Mendoza said. “I received chemical burns on my face which have not yet been healed.”

She also described the terrifying times when she and other officers argued with hundreds of rioters.

“At one point my right arm got stuck between the rioters and the railing along the wall,” she said. “A sergeant (from DC Police) freed my arm and if he hadn’t, I’m sure it would have been broken.”

Search for a new Capitol police chief

USCP interim chief Yogananda Pittman is scheduled to testify in a public hearing before the House appropriations committee on Thursday. It will also mark the first time Pittman has publicly answered questions. She has already appeared in a closed-door hearing in which she apologized to lawmakers.
Attack on US Capitol: Security officials point to disastrous response to riots

His new testimony comes as officials begin the search for a new head of the USCP.

A Congressional source told CNN that Congress is moving forward with hiring an outside entity to begin the research.

Several other committees working together have already received briefings and documents from intelligence agencies in connection with the numerous investigations.

The joint review of the House Intelligence, Homeland Security, Oversight and Justice committees last week prompted the production of documents from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Anti-Humanitarian Center. terrorism, a congressional source told CNN. In addition, they received several presentations from the three agencies.

The source has so far said that the documents have been mostly finished intelligence products that the committee can already access.

This story has been updated with testimony from Tuesday’s hearing.


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