Inspector General drops bombshell, says Capitol Police ignored intelligence warnings about pending riot

WASHINGTON, DC- In the same week that two US Capitol police officers filed suit against former President Donald Trump and others, the United States Capitol Police Office of Inspector General released a preliminary report highly critical of that agency. 

CBS News is reporting, the OIG says the agency failed to act on intelligence which warned protesters coming to the rally on January 6 might be armed and planned to “target” Congress.

The report, dated March 1 noted numerous “deficiencies” and zeroed in on the department’s failure to disseminate intelligence from as early as December 30 which suggested protesters “may be inclined to become violent.”

The reports, obtained by CBS News has not been previously published, however some lawmakers are pressing to have them publicized.

“USCP did not prepare a comprehensive, Department-wide plan for demonstrations planned for January 6, 2021,” wrote Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton.

That review was the first federal audit conducted of the January 6 siege.

According to the Washington Examiner, Bolton also hammered the department for a general failure to share information from others, in particular the FBI’s Norfolk field office’s memo that warned of potential violence and “war” at the Capitol.

The memo was distributed internally one day prior to the riot, according to the watchdog report.

According to former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who was forced to resign after the incident, the memo never reached the top ranks of the department. The agency’s current acting police chief, Yogananda Pittman contended with Sund’s testimony.

Pittman, testifying before Congress in February said that while the department was aware that extremist groups might participate in the January 6 protest, and possibly target members of Congress and become violent, she denied the department had received a “credible” threat related to a large-scale attack on Congress.

“Although we knew the likelihood for violence by extremists, no credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol, nor did the intelligence received from the FBI or any other law enforcement partner indicate such a threat,” Pittman testified.

The OIG report said there were numerous inconsistencies in the department’s planning.

Pittman and her Deputy, Assistant Chief of Police Chad Thomas told the IG they had intended to use the department’s emergency response team to “extract non-compliant violators and disarm protesters if necessary,” however other officials told the IG they “were not familiar with any plans to…arrest or disarm protesters.”

Pittman told lawmakers that the Capitol Police had indeed taken steps to upgrade security, such as increasing the number of offices assigned to civil disturbance units, deploying counter surveillance agents to monitor crowds and posting agents with patrol rifles outside certain high-profile lawmakers’ homes.

She said that the department had also added bike rack barriers outside the Capitol, and had helped intercept and monitor demonstrator’s radio communications on the day of the siege.

“While the Department was prepared to neutralize and remove individuals or groups engaging in civil disobedience or violence among the demonstrators, it was quickly overwhelmed by the thousands of insurrectionists [emphasis added] (many armed) who immediately and without provocation began attacking officers, bypassing physical barriers, and refusing to comply with lawful orders,” Pittman said.

The OIG also cited a daily intelligence assessment which was shared among the Capitol Police which listed the upcoming January 6 event as “Million MAGA March/US Capitol” and categorized the possibility of “acts of civil disobedience/arrests” occurring as “improbable.”

This was despite an internal assessment from January 3 that warned protesters “sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent” and “Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

The Capitol Police responded to the OIG watchdog’s report in a statement obtained by the Examiner. The statement defended the agency’s “significant improvements” made for its security response.

“Despite its challenges, the Department strongly believes that, short of excessive use of deadly force, nothing within its arsenal on January 6 would have stopped the violent insurrectionists,” the Capitol Police statement read.

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The agency admitted having “internal challenges including communication issues and inadequate training” that “it is correcting.”

“The Department is proud of its officers, including the late Brian Sicknick and Howard Liebengood, who helped carry out USCP’s vital mission to protect Congress and the Democratic Process,” the statement added.

Tim Ryan, chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee issued a statement in which he said he had read the report, and added that he may seek committee hearings on the issue.

Ryan and a bipartisan group of legislators signed a letter Wednesday asking officials to host regular press conferences on any threats to the U.S. Capitol.

Ryan and ranking subcommittee member Jaime Herrera Beutler have called on the OIG to release the March 1 watchdog report publicly, noting that they “express frustration” with the Capitol Police Board’s “unwillingness to release information to the public or answer media questions regarding the events of January 6.”

CBS News noted that unlike other agencies, the Capitol Police Department is not required legally to publicly release reports issued by its IG.

“This report will be a vital step to help better protect the Capitol Complex,,” Ryan and Herrera Beutler wrote.

The IG document was the first among a number of “flash reports” from Bolton, including a timeline provided by the department, and makes eight recommendations for the department to implement, including recommendations that the agency better train its personnel on how to understand intelligence assessments.

In addition, the report recommended all agency officers and employees obtain security clearances to receive classified intelligence briefings—a recommendation the IG first made to Capitol Police nearly two years ago.

In a statement to CBS News, the U.S. Capitol Police said it has “made major changes to improve the flow of information to Congress and the public following the attack on our democracy.”

Later Thursday, the agency issued an updated statement in which it “acknowledges it had internal challenges including communication issues and inadequate training, which it is correcting.”

Continuing, the statement said that the department’s preparations were based on the information gathered from law enforcement partners in the intelligence community, “none of which indicated that a mass insurrection of this scale would occur.”

The statement went on to note the intelligence assessment shared from the FBI was self-identified as raw and not to be acted upon.

“Despite its challenges,” the statement went on, “the Department strongly believes that, short of excessive use of deadly force, nothing within its arsenal on January 6 would have stopped the violent insurrectionists [emphasis added] that descended on the U.S. Capitol.

“Going forward in addition to enhanced physical infrastructure, the Department believes that external support will be necessary for certain events.”

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Author: Pat Droney

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