Domestic Terrorism

Capitol Police Say They Were Hung Out to Dry

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

Former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund testified in front of Congress today where he more or less said that forces under his command had virtually no chance to adequately respond to the attack on the capitol on January 6th.

Sund testified that accurate intelligence never reached authorities above him and that the National Guard was unresponsive when he asked for help.

In his opening statement, Sund also blamed the now former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger for the sluggish response.

Sund said he had tried to enlist the National Guard for help in the days before the riot, but "Irving stated that he was concerned about the 'optics' of having National Guard present and didn’t feel that the intelligence supported it."

Sund also asked Stenger for help ahead of time. "Instead of approving the use of the National Guard, however, Mr. Stenger suggested I ask them how quickly we could get support if needed and to 'lean forward' in case we had to request assistance on January 6," he said.

In his own testimony, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving denied that he spoke to Sund. And that seems implausible, but if that's true it tells us those in charge of capitol security weren't even communicating.

Washington D.C. police chief Robert Contee also testified that when local authorities reached out to the National Guard for help, they were collectively rejected.

"At 2:22 p.m., a call was convened with, among others, myself, leadership of the Capitol Police, the D.C. National Guard, and the Department of the Army," Contee said. "I was stunned at the response from Department of the Army, which was reluctant to send the D.C. National Guard to the Capitol. While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception – the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted."

Further investigation may reveal malicious intent on the part of security officials, but I think the most plausible explanation for all of this is that they simply didn't take the threat seriously.

Authorities are far too willing to take the Red Hats at their word. Threats of right wing violence have to be taken both literally and seriously. It's not metaphorical or figurative.

The steady escalation of right wing rhetoric over the last 12 years -- roughly since the inauguration of President Obama -- has made it more difficult to spot the actual threats when virtually right wing actor is saying the same things. There's just not a whole lot of distance between the rhetoric of your average elected Republican and their most batshit supporters. There are several Republican freshmen in Congress who are arguably worse than their supporters.