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US Capitol Police watchdog issues scathing report on January 6 failures

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The United States Capitol Police’s Inspector General has issued a scathing preliminary report about the department’s “deficiencies” leading up to the January 6 riot that left five people dead and nearly 140 law enforcement officers injured.

A source familiar with the report told CNN that Inspector General Michael Bolton found that the department failed to send out intelligence the agency possessed as early as December 30 suggesting January 6 protestors may have been “inclined to become violent,” adding that the department did not prepare a detailed plan directing all aspects of Capitol Police force.

“USCP did not prepare a comprehensive, Department-wide plan for demonstrations planned for January 6, 2021,” Bolton wrote, according to the source familiar with the report, which is one of several fast-tracked reports about the insurrection.

CBS News was first to report the details of the watchdog’s findings.

Bolton also criticized the department for failing to pass along information from others, such as the now-widely reported FBI Norfolk memo that warned for potential violence and a “war” at the Capitol that was disseminated on January 5. According to the report, a Capitol Police intelligence officer sent the email around internally.

Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and Acting Police Chief Yogananda Pittman testified the memo never reached the department’s top ranks.

Bolton’s report noted even the intelligence that Capitol Police used to prepare was rife with conflicting conclusions — an observation Acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett noted in a recent hearing about failures by Hill security officials.

Some of the intelligence shared within USCP concluded the chances of civil disobedience and arrests related to the January 6 protest were improbable, despite another assessment that pointed out the anger and frustration among protestors could lead to violence targeted toward Congress.

These initial reports are preliminary, but they are the most substantive and credentialed review into the events of January 6 to date, a congressional source familiar with the documents told CNN on Wednesday. They include a series of findings and recommendations but they are not the IG’s final report on the matter, the source added.

House Defense appropriations subcommittee Chairman Tim Ryan said in a statement Wednesday that he had reviewed the report and was looking into the possibility of his committee holding a hearing. “I appreciate IG [Michael] Bolton undertaking this valuable and extensive report,” the Ohio Democrat said.

Past testimony

In a congressional hearing on February 25, Pittman told lawmakers the agency never obtained information about a credible threat.

“Since the 6th, it has been suggested that the department was either ignorant of or ignored critical intelligence that indicated that an attack of the magnitude that we experienced on January 6th would occur,” Pittman said. “The department was not ignorant of intelligence indicating an attack of the size and scale we encountered on the 6th. There was no such intelligence.”

Pittman acknowledged the department knew there was a possibility for violence, and increased staffing. However, in an exchange with Virginia Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton, Pittman admitted the staffing for January 6 did not match typical staffing for a high-profile event such as the State of The Union. During the question-and-answer session, Pittman said the State of the Union would call for “a full hands-on deck” response of around 1,800 officers.

She admitted the department had only 1,200 officers by noon on January 6, and just 1,400 by 4 p.m. — hours after the rally turned into an all-out riot at the Capitol.

Pittman said the department planned for possible violence by increasing its civil disturbance response by roughly 120 officers and expanded protective details to six officers, up from four officers.

Police force responds

In a statement to CNN, USCP acknowledged “it had internal challenges including communication issues and inadequate training, which it is correcting,” but reiterated its position that there was nothing more it could have done to stop insurrectionists from storming the Capitol.

“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 that descended on the U.S. Capitol. Going forward, in additional to enhanced physical infrastructure, the Department believes that external support will be necessary for certain events,” the statement said.

USCP also defended its preparations ahead of the January 6 riots, noting significant improvements to security posture were made based on the information that was available in the days prior.

“The Department’s preparations were based on the information it gathered from its law enforcement partners within the intelligence community, none of which indicated that a mass insurrection of this scale would occur. Even the intelligence from the FBI’s Norfolk office was self-identified as raw and not to be acted upon,” the statement said.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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