An FBI report describing specific threats of violence by extremists preparing for “war” in Washington visited the United States Capitol Police Headquarters a day before the violent attack on Congress, but the three main security officials on Capitol Hill say they have never seen her, according to testimony given during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
The revelation was made during a joint monitoring hearing led by members of the Senate Homeland Security and Rules committees to examine the security failures that led to the Capitol breach on January 6.
The existence of the report, released Jan.5 by an FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia, was first made public by the Washington Post on Jan.12, just days after the insurgency that left five people dead. However, former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said on Tuesday he had only been informed “within the last 24 hours” that the Capitol Police Department had, in fact, received the report.
Sund said the intelligence report was first received by a member of the Capitol Police assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on the evening of January 5. This person “reviewed it and then passed it on to an individual in the United States Capitol Police Headquarters Intelligence Division.” “
Sund said that, as far as he knew, “it was no further than that”.
Former Senate and House sergeants-at-arms Michael Stenger and Paul Irving said they had not received the FBI report either. Sund, Stenger and Irving all stepped down from their posts amid scrutiny of security failures in the wake of the deadly siege, which they unanimously recognized in Tuesday’s hearing as a “coordinated attack.”
According to the Washington Post, the situation briefing report produced by the Norfolk FBI office provided insight into online discussions between people preparing to travel to Washington on January 6, including the circulation of a card tunnels under the US Capitol complex and explicit calls. for participants to “become violent. Stop calling it a march, rally, or protest. Go there ready for war.
Although several senators were disturbed to learn that such valuable information apparently did not reach senior officials responsible for securing the Capitol, it was not clear from witness statements whether and how it was reported. information in that January 5 report could have triggered additional security. measures.
Sund has repeatedly referred to the threats described in the report, which were allegedly posted by strangers to an online forum thread, as “raw data.”
“Taken together with everything else, none of the other intelligence showed that we were watching this type of insurgency-type event with thousands of armed and coordinated individuals,” Sund said.
In fact, the Capitol Police Intelligence Unit had previously produced its own internal report describing the very real potential for violence from thousands of people, including “white supremacists, militiamen and others who actively promote violence, ”which Washington was expected for a day of protests promoted by then-President Donald Trump.
“The supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021 as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” reads part of the internal report of the Capitol Police, published on January 3. “This feeling of hopelessness and disappointment can further encourage one to become violent. “
In addition to “disturbing calls for protesters to come to these events armed,” the report notes that, “unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they are. were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.
Sund and the other witnesses said the January 3 report, along with other information received in the weeks and days leading up to January 6, informed of security measures put in place that day, including an extension of the perimeter of the Capitol police. around the Capitol complex, and a request for additional support from the DC Metropolitan Police.
“We predicted an increase in the level of violence on Capitol Hill and that some participants could be armed,” Sund said during his opening speech. “What we got was a coordinated military-style attack on my officers and a violent takeover of the Capitol building.
“These criminals came prepared for war,” he said.
“Based on the intelligence, we all thought the plan met the threat and we were ready,” said Irving, the former House Sergeant-at-Arms. “We now know we had the wrong plan.”
However, Sund and Irving provided conflicting timelines regarding when National Guard requests for assistance were first made and approved, raising questions about what ultimately caused the delays in mobilizing additional troops. at the Capitol once the riots were underway.
Ahead of the swearing-in of witnesses on Tuesday, senators heard from Capitol Building Police Captain Carneysha Mendoza, who responded to the violent siege on January 6. Mendoza said that inside the Capitol Rotunda, she “noticed heavy smoke” and smelled what appeared to be military tear gas.
“The officers were exposed to the gas a lot,” she said. “I received chemical burns on my face which have still not been healed to this day.”
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