Capitol Police, FBI Failed To Share “Credible Threats” Before Jan. 6 Breach: Watchdog
Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times,
FBI agents and U.S. Capitol Police officers identified “credible threats” ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, electoral vote certification but did not properly disseminate the intelligence, a watchdog says in a new report.
The FBI obtained information from human informants, social media, and other agencies and tracked suspected domestic terrorists traveling to Washington, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report (pdf).
Capitol Police officials examined information developed from arrests and investigations, as well as open sources, and distributed a document three days before Jan. 6 that conveyed a subject of an investigation had said militia members planned to attend a Jan. 6 demonstration while armed, which would violate Washington law.
Both agencies assessed threats for credibility and reported that some of the threats were deemed credible.
But both failed to properly adhere to policies for processing or sharing information, the watchdog found.
FBI agents in San Antonio, Texas, for instance, received tips from the social media company Parler but did not develop reports based on the tips, as required.
“FBI officials noted that the FBI San Antonio Field Office did not develop any related reports on January 6 events as required by policy, such as Guardians, situational information reports, or intelligence information reports but did not indicate why not,” GAO said.
Such reports are distributed to state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners.
A U.S. Capitol Police officer monitors the crowd atop the east Rotunda steps on Jan. 6, 2021. (Bobby Powell/Special to The Epoch Times)
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said on “Just the News, No Noise” that the FBI “had a blueprint for what was going to happen, and they didn’t think about it and look at the consequences.”
The FBI did develop some reports, which it shared with partners, the GAO report noted.
‘Relevant Threat Information’ Omitted
Capitol Police officials, meanwhile, left out “relevant threat information” it received from other agencies in documents developed for Jan. 6, according to GAO.
“Capitol Police identified potential violence that could occur on January 6 in Washington, D.C. in advance of planned events. However, it did not consistently incorporate complete information into assessments of threats in its threat products, such as information obtained from other agencies regarding an individual traveling to Washington, D.C. to engage in violence at January 6 events,” the report said.
One example of information left out was a suspicious activity report from Washington Homeland Security officials that indicated an individual planned to travel to the nation’s capitol to engage in violence during Jan. 6 protests.
Capitol Police officials also failed to update a threat product to include important information, including information indicating violence might occur during the demonstrations, and did not consistently share relevant details across its agency, “resulting in some officers, agents and intelligence staff not having complete information,” the report stated.
Eight other agencies, including the National Park Service and the Secret Service, examined by GAO received information, but they either did not assess threats for credibility or did not identify any of the threats as credible.
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence & Analysis (DHS I&A) did not assess any reports or identify any credible threats before the department’s team charged with collecting information from open sources “did not share reports on January 6 open source threats with other DHS I&A divisions until after the Capitol attack occurred,” according to the watchdog.
Police officers set up barricades outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
DHS I&A also failed to share information with the Capitol Police “in a timely manner,” GAO said.
GAO made 10 recommendations, including advising FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, to assess why personnel did not adhere to policy in processing information related to Jan. 6 and, after an assessment, implement a plan for fixing what went wrong.
FBI Takes Note
Many of the agencies, including the FBI, agreed with the recommendations.
“We appreciate the GAO’s extensive fact gathering and thorough analysis in the report,” adding that “we will incorporate GAO’s conclusion that, despite collecting and sharing significant pieces of threat reporting, the FBI did not process all relevant information related to potential violence on January 6,” Larissa Knapp, an FBI official, said in a response to GAO.
“Our goal is always to disrupt and stay ahead of the threat, and we are constantly trying to learn and evaluate what we could have done better or differently, this is especially true of the attack on the Capitol,” Knapp also said.
The FBI declined to comment beyond Knapp’s letter. The Capitol Police and DHS did not respond to requests for comment.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger told GAO that it is taking steps to implement the watchdog’s recommendation that the Capitol Police Board should establish policies for sharing information on possible threats across the agency.
Manger said the department is drafting policy that “will provide guidance for sharing threat-related information agency-wide.”
GAO previously concluded that DHS should have designated the Jan. 6 demonstrations as special, which would have triggered heightened security.
Another previous report found that many agencies were aware of open source, or publicly available, information on potential violence planned for Jan. 6.
Sun, 03/05/2023 – 21:30
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