|(From Washington Post)|
Why was law enforcement so lax at last week's Stop the Steal riot, which led to five deaths in and around the U.S. Capitol? It's not because various police agencies did not have warning, according to a report at The Washington Post. Write Devin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky:
A situational information report approved for release the day before the U.S. Capitol riot painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans, including individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet up in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina and head in groups to Washington.
“As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington. D.C.,” the document says. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”
It's not as if the information wasn't timely disseminated: From The Post:
An FBI official familiar with the document said that within 45 minutes of learning about the alarming online conversation, the Norfolk FBI office wrote the report and shared it with others within the bureau. It was not immediately clear how many law enforcement agencies outside the FBI were told, but the information was briefed to FBI officials at the bureau’s Washington field office the day before the attack, this official said.
The official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss ongoing investigations, added that the report was raw intelligence and that at the time it was written, the FBI did not know the identities of those making the online statements.
The FBI already faces tough questions about why it was not more attuned to what was being discussed in public Internet conversations in the days leading up to the attack, and why the bureau and other agencies seemed to do little to prepare for the possibility of mass violence.
The document notes that the information represents the view of the FBI’s Norfolk office, is not to be shared outside law enforcement circles, that it is not “finally evaluated intelligence,” and that agencies that receive it “are requested not to take action based on this raw reporting without prior coordination with the FBI.
The law-enforcement failure at The Capitol is leading to uncomfortable conversations at the FBI:
Multiple law enforcement officials have said privately in recent days that the level of violence exhibited at the Capitol has led to difficult discussions within the FBI and other agencies about race, terrorism, and whether investigators failed to register the degree of danger because the overwhelming majority of the participants at the rally were White conservatives fiercely loyal to the President Trump.
“Individuals/Organizations named in this [situational information report] have been identified as participating in activities that are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” the document says. “Their inclusion here is not intended to associate the protected activity with criminality or a threat to national security, or to infer that such protected activity itself violates federal law.
“However,” it continues, “based on known intelligence and/or specific historical observations, it is possible the protected activity could invite a violent reaction towards the subject individual or others in retaliation or with the goal of stopping the protected activity from occurring in the first instance. In the event no violent reaction occurs, FBI policy and federal law dictates that no further record to be made of the protected activity.”
The document notes that one online comment advised, “if Antifa or BLM get violent, leave them dead in the street,” while another said they need “people on standby to provide supplies, including water and medical, to the front lines. The individual also discussed the need to evacuate noncombatants and wounded to medical care.”
On Jan. 6, a large, angry crowd of people who had attended a nearby rally marched to the Capitol, smashing windows and breaking down doors to get inside. One woman in the mob was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer; officials said three others in the crowd died from medical emergencies. Another Capitol police officer died after suffering injuries.
On Friday, the head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Steven D’Antuono, told reporters “there was no indication” of anything planned for the day of Trump’s rally “other than First Amendment-protected activity.” D’Antuono added, “we worked diligently with our partners on this.”