The Case of the Capitol Police and the January 6 Near-Putsch

Cop Jan 6

Capitol Police officer on Jan 6, 2021
© 2021 lvert Barnes via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License

At Press Watch my brother drops the results of an intensive investigation into the Jan. 6 committee documents and more in The story no one wants to touch: Why the Capitol Police enabled 1/6:

The news media’s continuing failure to explore why the U.S. Capitol was so scantily defended against an angry horde of white Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, has now been compounded by the House select committee’s refusal to connect the most obvious dots or ask the most vital questions.

It’s true that there were countless law enforcement failures that day — indeed, far too many to be a coincidence.

But the singular point of failure — the one thing that could have prevented all of it from happening — was that Capitol Police leaders brushed off ample warnings that an armed mob was headed their way.

They lied to everyone about their level of preparedness beforehand. Then they sent a less-than-full contingent of hapless, unarmored officers out to defend a perimeter defined by bike racks, without less-than-lethal weaponry and without a semblance of a plan.

Even the insurrectionists who actively intended to stop the vote could never have expected that breaching the Capitol would be so easy.


An examination of the committee reports, the accompanying depositions and supporting documents leads to the following conclusion:

  • The failure was not due to lack of intelligence. There was plenty. “I don’t think it was a failure of intelligence. I think it was a failure to operationalize the intelligence,” Julie Farnam, assistant director of the Capitol Police intelligence unit, told committee investigators. “They should have been ready for war, and they weren’t.”
  • The lag in mobilization of the National Guard is a red herring. No one at the Capitol requested their presence until after police lines had been breached. To the extent that it was discussed beforehand, it was in order to have the Guard help direct traffic on surrounding streets.
  • The Capitol Police were vastly unprepared. Despite Sund’s insistence that he was getting “all hands on deck,” he didn’t even cancel officers’ days off.
  • The perimeter was defined with bike racks, which are good only for protests where most people are law-abiding. They do nothing to stop a horde. In fact, they get turned into weapons to use against the police.
  • The Capitol Police had no backup plan in case multiple protesters posed a threat. Even as police lines had already collapsed, clueless police leaders were trying to deploy more bike racks.
  • Incredibly, chief Sund ordered the removal of some bike racks late on Jan. 5, for reasons that some of his colleagues considered suspect.
  • Actual calls for help were only made after it was too late. Justice Department officials said that even after they saw TV footage of insurrectionists parading through the Capitol Rotunda, Capitol Police officials told them they had things under control.
  • Police leadership simply could not conceive of white Trump supporters as the enemy. Time and again, law enforcement leaders were presented with intelligence showing that desperate Trump supporters were targeting the Capitol, but didn’t take it seriously.
  • Anti-scale fencing — the kind erected around the White House during the Black Lives Matter protests — would have stopped any of this from happening. It was never even considered.

There’s lots more where that came from.  IMHO, this deserves wide attention.

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2 Responses to The Case of the Capitol Police and the January 6 Near-Putsch

  1. Just me says:

    Kudos to you for promoting your brother’s well written work and to him for looking at issues that aren’t necessarily at front of mind. But, I wonder if this isn’t some well-meaning variety of “blame the victim.”

    It’s not that the concerns described are not real or legitimate, but rather that focusing on these issues tends to deflect attention from the much bigger issue: the fact that Americans were actively lied to by an outgoing President about an election and ginned up to violence and an attempt to overturn the legitimate transition of power.

    Sure, the wife shouldn’t have called him a lazy drunk that night (much less in front of the kids) and then poured a beer over his head, but lets not lose sight of the fact that he stabbed her 5 times with a kitchen knife after downing a 12-pack. In the same way, sure, the Capitol Police and others should have reacted differently/better/more proactively to the threat of this insurrection, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that an outgoing President was actively lying to these insurrectionists and ginning them up. That was, I think, the correct focus of the House select committee and of the media at large. The Capitol Police’s preparedness is not “the most vital question[]” – it is a side show.

  2. Dan Froomkin says:

    I would agree if there were any danger of that. The “bigger issue” has gotten plenty of attention. This one has gotten… none.

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