A newly released bipartisan report on the January 6th attack on the US Capitol reveals the failures of governmental organizations along with recommendations on how to solve their problems.

Democratic Senators Gary Peters and Amy Klobuchar along with Republican Senators Rob Portman and Roy Blunt released a report on Tuesday morning on the “security, planning, and response failures related to the violent and unprecedented attack on January 6th.” Peters and Portman are chairman and ranking members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, while Klobuchar and Blunt are chairwoman and ranking members of the committee on Rules and Administration. 

After President Trump falsely claimed the 2020 election was “stolen” from him, his supporters set out to reinstate him into office. This led to an insurrection on the US Capitol on January 6th, 2021. By 2 pm, a large group of rioters was present in the DC area, preparing to breach Capitol security and obstruct the current Joint Session occurring inside. It took an hour for additional federal reinforcements and security officers to arrive. The January 6th attack resulted in 5 deaths, 140 injuries, and over 400 arrests. 

The report found how the Capitol police and security fell short to protect and serve the congressmen during the attack and it offered key recommendations for the Capitol Police Board and other governmental organizations.

Key Findings

The bipartisan committee found multiple failures which ultimately resulted in the breaching of the Capitol and obstruction of security, such as the Federal Intelligence Community failing to warn of a potentially violent attack, the US Capitol Police not being adequately prepared to prevent the breach, and the failure of the Capitol Police to request the help of the National Guard. 

The report highlights significant delays by the police which led to a failure of contacting the Department of Defense and other organizations which are meant to promote the security of the Capitol. 

The Failures of Capitol Security

—USCP’s intelligence components failed to convey the full scope of threat information they possessed.

—The federal Intelligence Community—led by FBI and DHS—did not issue a threat assessment warning of potential violence targeting the Capitol on January 6.

—The Intelligence and Interagency Coordination Division (“IICD”) was aware of the potential for violence for some time before January 6. It received various information about threats of violence focused on the Joint Session and the Capitol Complex on January 6. Yet, IICD failed to fully incorporate this information into all of its internal assessments about January 6 and the Joint Session. As a result, critical information regarding threats of violence was not shared with USCP’s own officers and other law enforcement partners.

—The intelligence failures, coupled with the Capitol Police Board’s failure to request National Guard assistance prior to January 6, meant DCNG was not activated, staged, and prepared to quickly respond to an attack on the Capitol. As the attack unfolded, DoD required time to approve the request and gather, equip, and instruct its personnel on the mission, which resulted in additional delays.

—USCP was not adequately prepared to prevent or respond to the January 6 security threats, which contributed to the breach of the Capitol, the report has found. 

— USCP leadership also failed to provide front-line officers with effective protective equipment or training.

—“Opaque processes and a lack of emergency authority delayed requests for National Guard assistance,” states the report. The USCP Chief must submit a request for assistance to the Capitol Police Board for approval to call the National Guard. Steven Sund never submitted a formal request to the Capitol Police Board for National Guard support in advance of January 6. Instead, he had informal conversations with the House Sergeant at Arms, Paul Irving, and the Senate Sergeant at Arms, Michael Stenger, regarding the potential need for National Guard support. No one ever discussed the possibility of National Guard support with the Architect of the Capitol, the third voting member of the Capitol Police Board.

Recommendations to Prevent Further Attacks

The report also produced a list of recommendations for various organizations in order to solve these problems for the future. This consists of recommendations for the Capitol Police Board, US Capitol Police, Intelligence Agencies, DoD and National Guard, Law Enforcement in the DC Region, and House & Senate Sergeants. Each group received a different list of recommendations, but they consisted of similar themes. 

The committees are urging these organizations to better plan and watch over any potential threats in order to target and prevent an attack before it occurs, such as by monitoring social media. The creation of a Civil Disturbance Unit that is fully equipped to handle these attacks was also a recommendation for the US Capitol Police as well as the Department of Defense undergoing drills and “concept of operation” scenarios in order to learn how to properly handle any future attacks on the Capitol. 

Some specific recommendations for these organizations include:

—Empower the Chief of USCP to request assistance from D.C. National Guard in emergency situations.

—Document and streamline Board policies and procedures for submitting, reviewing, and approving requests from USCP to ensure coordination among all members of the Board

—Ensure USCP has sufficient civilian and sworn personnel, with appropriate training and equipment, in the roles necessary to fulfill its mission. 

—Review and evaluate the handling of open-source information, such as social media and the internet, containing any potential threats of violence.

—Fully comply with statutory reporting requirements to Congress on domestic terrorism data, including on the threat level and the resources dedicated to countering the threat.

—Consolidate and elevate all USCP intelligence units into an Intelligence Bureau, led by a civilian Director of Intelligence reporting to the Assistant Chief of Police for Protective and Intelligence Operations; ensure the Bureau is adequately staffed and all agents and analysts are properly trained to receive and analyze intelligence information and develop policies to disseminate intelligence information to leadership and rank-and-file officers effectively.  

—Develop standing “concept of operation” scenarios and contingency plans for responding quickly to civil disturbance and terrorism incidents.

Final Thoughts

These committees have been working on this bipartisan report for almost six months, starting two days after the January 6th attack. By analyzing the events which took place and the failures of the Capitol as well as reviewing important documents and written statements from those involved, the four Senators created a concise and robust report targeting the failures of the security organizations and recommendations for improvement. 

When introducing their report to Congress, Senator Portman stated, “We make specific recommendations to address key failures in the Capitol Police Board structure and processes; ensure Capitol Police has the training and equipment necessary to complete its mission; update how the intelligence agencies assess and issue intelligence bulletins, particularly as it relates to social media; enhance communications between the chain of command at the Department of Defense; and ensure timely and effective cooperation and coordination amongst federal, state, and local law enforcement. We must address these failures and make the necessary reforms to ensure this never happens again.”

Anoosha Murtaza

Anoosha Murtaza is a Gen Z Voice at the Pavlovic Today and a rising third-year student at the University of Virginia. Anoosha has a passion for good journalism, strong political views, and social justice.