Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security Committee released a scathing report Tuesday detailing how the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies repeatedly ignored, downplayed or failed to share warnings of violence ahead of the January 6, 2021 attack. against the Capitol.
The 106-page report, titled “Planned at a Glance,” highlighted and added to evidence already uncovered by the now-defunct House Jan. 6 committee, news reports and other congressional work to give the most complete picture yet. the date of a cascading set. of security and intelligence failures that culminated in the deadliest assault on the Capitol in centuries.
The aides said Senate staff obtained thousands of additional documents from federal law enforcement agencies, including the Justice Department, before writing the report. It includes multiple calls for gun violence, calls to occupy federal buildings, including the Capitol, and some of the clearest threats the FBI received but did little about, including a warning that the far-right group the Proud Boys planned to kill people. in washington.
“Our intelligence agencies completely dropped the ball,” said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. It added: “Despite a multitude of tips and other warnings of intelligence violence on January 6, the report showed that these agencies repeatedly, repeatedly, downplayed the threat level and failed to share the intelligence they had with partners tasked with doing so. obey the law”.
The report found that the FBI’s monitoring of social media threats was “downgraded just days before the attack” because the bureau changed contracts for third-party monitoring of social media. The committee obtained internal emails showing that FBI officials were “shocked” by the timing of the contract change and “regretted the negative effect it would have on their monitoring capabilities in the lead up to January 6.”
But the investigation made it clear that monitoring was not the only problem. He blamed the FBI for failing to act on a series of dire warnings.
On January 3, 2021, the FBI became aware of several posts calling for violence, such as a Parler user saying, “Come armed.” On January 4, Justice Department leaders noted multiple troubling posts, including calls to “occupy federal buildings,” discussions of “invading the capitol building,” and people arming themselves “to engage in political violence.”
Still, the report highlighted interviews with two FBI leaders who said they were unaware that Congress could be under siege.
“If everyone knew and the entire public knew that they were going to storm Congress, I don’t know why one person didn’t tell us,” said Jennifer Moore, the special agent in charge of the intelligence division of the Washington Field Office of the FBI. Senate investigators.
Jill Sanborn, former deputy director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, testified: “None of us had any intelligence to suggest that people were going to storm and breach the Capitol.”
The performance of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis was also criticized. The report found that the agency, on January 2, discovered that people were sharing a map of the Capitol online. One employee messaged another, saying, “I feel like people are really going to try to hurt politicians.”
But the agency’s analysts appeared not to take such threats seriously, even as it became clear that the violence being warned about was materializing. At 2:58 p.m. on January 6, after police declared a riot and the Capitol was closed, analysts noted internal conversations online that “called for more violent action,” but added that “at this time there is no information credible for the pace has been established”.
An FBI representative said it had been working with law enforcement agencies, including the Capitol Police, in the lead up to January 6 and on the day: “We also set up command posts and had tactical assets ready to deploy. in case our partners request such assistance”.
The agency added that after the attack it increased its focus on “rapid information sharing” with law enforcement partners, and that it also “made enhancements to assist investigators and analysts in all of our field offices throughout the Investigation process”.
A representative for the Department of Homeland Security said the agency “has strengthened intelligence analysis, information sharing and operational preparedness to help prevent acts of violence and keep our communities safe” since the attack.
The report was not the first to look at serious security lapses during and before the attack on the Capitol on January 6. A bipartisan group of senators, including Peters, released a report in June 2021 that outlined large-scale failures.
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol also detailed a “colossal intelligence failure,” uncovering clues such as a Dec. 26 warning that the Proud Boys were amassing “a large enough group enough to march into DC armed and you will outnumber the police. so they can’t be stopped.”
That committee, which undertook one of the largest investigative efforts in congressional history, generated some criticism from his own staff for focusing intensely on former President Donald J. Trump’s role in the plan to overturn the 2020 election and not putting as much emphasis on intelligence failures by law enforcement.
Peters said his committee’s report was meant to “fill in some gaps.”