Imagine for a moment that we’re back in the year 2001, and the US Senate has just issued a report into 9/11 neglecting to say it was an act of terrorism or cite Osama bin Laden as the man responsible for inspiring it?
We’d think they’d all gone nuts, right?
This was my thought process as I studied the Senate’s 127-page findings into the January 6 riots at Capitol Hill and could find little reference to the two whopping big elephants in the accountability room: Donald Trump and the word Insurrection.
The report makes startling, horrifying reading, not least for revealing the calamitous failure by intelligence agencies including the FBI to identify the deadly threat that they were reading about all over cyberspace in the build-up to one of the darkest days in America’s history.
For weeks before the attacks, Donald Trump supporters were making very visible threats online to storm the Capitol and target lawmakers, even sharing maps of the building’s tunnel system.
One comment seen on a pro-Trump website by intelligence agencies read, ‘If a million patriots [show] up bristling with AR’s, just how brave do you think they’ll be when it comes to enforcing their unconstitutional laws? This is do or die. Bring your guns’.
As I studied the Senate’s 127-page findings into the January 6 riots (pictured), I could find little reference to the two whopping big elephants in the accountability room: Donald Trump and the word Insurrection
Not exactly ambiguous, right?
Another online message that agencies read before January 6 said: ‘If they [cops] don’t show up, we enter the Capitol as the Third Continental Congress and certify the Trump Electors.’
A third message urged: ‘Get into Capitol Building, stand outside congress. Be in the room next to them. They wont have time [to] run if they play dumb.’
Short of going on national TV and declaring ‘we’re going to attack the Capitol and take control’, it’s hard to know what more the thugs who did just that could have done to alert the world to what they were going to do.
An FBI memo on January 5 even warned of people travelling to Washington for ‘war’ at the Capitol, yet staggeringly this warning never made its way to senior law enforcement officials.
‘The failure to adequately assess the threat of violence on that day contributed significantly to the breach of the Capitol,’ said Senator Gary Peters. ‘The attack was quite frankly planned in plain sight.’
It was, and those charged with preventing it, knew it.
A January 3 report by one of three Capitol Police intelligence units warned that ‘Congress itself is the target on the 6th’ and could create a ‘significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike.’
The report makes startling, horrifying reading, not least for revealing the calamitous failure by intelligence agencies including the FBI to identify the deadly threat that they were reading about all over cyberspace in the build-up to one of the darkest days in America’s history. Protesters attempt to force their way through a police barricade in front of the U.S. Capitol on January 6
The Capitol Police, many of whom were astoundingly brave during the rioting, are eviscerated throughout in the report. Riot police clear the hallway inside the Capitol Jan. 6
Yet this intelligence, which was obviously very accurate, wasn’t incorporated into subsequent reports leading up to the attack.
Alarmingly, the Senate report states that ‘FBI and DHS officials stressed the difficulty in discerning constitutionally protected free speech versus actionable, credible threats of violence.’
Anyone with half a brain could surely see those messages were actionable threats?
The Capitol Police, many of whom were astoundingly brave during the rioting, are eviscerated throughout in the report for awful planning, a lack of training, faulty equipment including a shortage of helmets and riot gear, and a woeful dereliction of leadership that led to senior officers getting engaged with the fighting, communications collapsing, and regular officers left feeling ‘betrayed’ and ‘defenseless.’
Incredibly, it also took three hours for the National Guard to be summonsed, by which time the worst of the carnage was over.
‘The failures are obvious,’ said Senator Amy Klobuchar, ‘To me, it was all summed up by one of the officers who was heard on the radio that day asking a tragically simple question: “Does anybody have a plan?” Sadly, no one did.’
What a shameful damning verdict.
How could one of America’s most revered buildings, full of its most powerful people, be left so shockingly unprotected?
Enemies of the United States must have been licking their lips in glee as they witnessed how pathetically easy it is to attack the political headquarters of the world’s biggest superpower.
But horrific though these findings are, it’s what isn’t included in them that is even more shocking.
Donald Trump was the man whose ugly, violent rhetoric directly led to what happened on January 6. He is pictured at the North Carolina Republican Convention Saturday, June 5
Nowhere in the report does it use the word ‘insurrection’ to describe what was unequivocally an insurrection, which is defined as ‘a violent uprising against an authority or government.’
I don’t know what it would formally take to be deemed an insurrection but given that 465 people have been arrested in connection with the violent uprising against their government, while the federal government is set to charge a total of 550, I’d say this one probably just gets over the qualification line.
Nor does the report go into the root cause of the riots, which was Donald Trump’s persistent furious refusal to accept the result of the 2020 election and rallying cry for his supporters to go to the Capitol and ‘fight like hell’ that day to stop his presidency supposedly being ‘stolen’ from him.
These omissions are frankly preposterous.
CNN reported today that Democratic Senate investigators ‘took careful steps not to alienate their Republican counterparts in the process of the probe, which meant not taking a closer look at Trump’s role in promoting the January 6 rally and months-long attempt to pressure local officials, lawmakers in Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence to subvert the will of the electorate.’
They also apparently ‘steered clear of language that could turn off some Republicans, including not referring to the attack as an ‘insurrection’.’
To which I say, why?
How can you possibly file an extensive report into such an outrageous atrocity and not call it what it was, or who inspired it?
This wasn’t just irresponsible by the Democrats – it was downright gutless.
Donald Trump was the man whose ugly, violent rhetoric directly led to what happened on January 6.
He took the most powerful megaphone in the world, and he screamed at his enraged, unhinged diehard fan base to go to the Capitol that day and ‘fight’ for his presidency that he lied about being stolen from him.
So, that’s exactly what thousands of them did.
Many of the rioters have said in their own words that it was Trump’s command that drove them to attack Congress.
Yet reading this Senate report, you’d be left thinking this was a minor irrelevance and that the real scandal was the abject failure by intelligence and law enforcement to deal with the murderous rampage that ensued, costing six people their lives.
Those failings were undeniably appalling, and lessons must now be learned very fast to stop anything like this being allowed to happen again.
But the real scandal is that the President of the United States incited an insurrection and still hasn’t been made remotely accountable for it, other than being barred from various social media platforms.
And worse, he is still out there every day screaming about the election being rigged and stolen from him, which is a humongous demonstrable lie, and many senior Republicans are still supporting him in this dangerous, delusional bullsh*t.
It beggars belief that Trump thinks he could run again in 2024 after inspiring such a terrible attack on US democracy, but if the Senate hasn’t got the collective cojones to condemn his culpability for what went down on January 6, then he can be forgiven for believing that he’s got away with it and can win the White House again.
Shame on the Senate for their moral cowardice, and shame on the intelligence and law enforcement officials who dropped the ball so badly.
But most of all, and this should have been the key finding of this whitewashed report, shame on Donald Trump for continuing to perpetuate a grotesque inflammatory lie that threatens to imperil the very foundation of American democracy.