Examining the U.S. Capitol Attack

A Review of the Security, Planning, and Response Failures on January 6

On June 8, 2021, the Senate Committees on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and on Rules and Administration released their bipartisan report on the insurrection of January 6, 2021 at the Capitol of the United States of America.

The following is the first of a series of excerpts from the report. Several other sections will be highlighted in future posts.

  1. Executive Summary

    On January 6, 2021, the world witnessed a violent and unprecedented attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Vice President, Members of Congress, and the democratic process. Rioters, attempting to disrupt the Joint Session of Congress, broke into the Capitol building, vandalized and stole property, and ransacked offices. They attacked members of law enforcement and threatened the safety and lives of our nation’s elected leaders. Tragically, seven individuals, including three law enforcement officers, ultimately lost their lives.

    Rioters were intent on disrupting the Joint Session, during which Members of Congress were scheduled to perform their constitutional obligation to count the electoral votes for President and Vice President of the United States and announce the official results of the 2020 election. Due to the heroism of United States Capitol Police (“USCP”) officers, along with their federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, the rioters failed to prevent Congress from fulfilling its constitutional duty. In the early hours of January 7, the President of the Senate, Vice President Pence, announced Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris as the President-elect and Vice President-elect of the United States.

    This report addresses the security, planning, and response failures of the entities directly responsible for Capitol security—USCP and the Capitol Police Board, which is comprised of the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol as voting members, and the USCP Chief as a non-voting member—along with critical breakdowns involving several federal agencies, particularly the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), and Department of Defense (“DOD”). The Committees also made a series of recommendations for the Capitol Police Board, USCP, federal intelligence agencies, DOD, and other Capital region law enforcement agencies to address the intelligence and security failures.

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