A Senate investigation of the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol has uncovered broad government, military and law enforcement missteps surrounding the violent attack.
hese include a breakdown within multiple intelligence agencies and a lack of training and preparation for Capitol Police officers who were quickly overwhelmed by the rioters.
The Senate report released yesterday is the first – and could be the last – bipartisan review of how hundreds of former President Donald Trump’s supporters were able to violently push past security lines and break into the Capitol that day, interrupting the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
It includes new details about the police officers on the front lines who suffered chemical burns, brain injuries and broken bones and who told senators that they were left with no direction when command systems broke down.
It recommends immediate changes to give the Capitol Police chief more authority, to provide better planning and equipment for law enforcement and to streamline intelligence gathering among federal agencies.
As a bipartisan effort, the report does not delve into the root causes of the attack, including Mr Trump’s role as he called for his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat that day. It does not call the attack an insurrection, even though it was. It comes two weeks after Republicans blocked a bipartisan, independent commission that would investigate the insurrection more broadly.
“This report is important in the fact that it allows us to make some immediate improvements to the security situation here in the Capitol,” said Senator Gary Peters, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which conducted the probe along with the Senate Rules Committee. “But it does not answer some of the bigger questions that we need to face, quite frankly, as a country and as a democracy.”
The House in May passed legislation to create a commission that would be modelled after a panel that investigated the September 11 terrorist attack two decades ago. But the Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed to advance, with many Republicans pointing to the Senate report as sufficient.
The top Republican on the Rules panel, Senator Roy Blunt, has opposed the commission, arguing that investigation would take too long. He said the recommendations made in the Senate can be implemented faster, including legislation that he and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, the rules committee chair, intend to introduce soon that would give the chief of Capitol Police more authority to request assistance from the National Guard.
The Senate report recounts how the Guard was delayed for hours on January 6 as officials in multiple agencies took bureaucratic steps to release the troops. It details hours of calls between officials in the Capitol and the Pentagon and as the then-chief of the Capitol Police, Steven Sund, desperately begged for help.
In a response to the report, the Capitol Police acknowledged the need for improvements, some of which they said they are already making. “Intelligence can mean the difference between life and death,” the statement said.