January 6’s Intelligence Failures

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election certification. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

Late last month, the majority staff of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee issued a 106-page report on the intelligence failures leading up to the January 6 “surprise” attack on the U.S. Capitol. Reading through the report, one can’t help but be gobsmacked by the amount of available, open-source information officials had about Trump supporters coming to Washington armed and threatening violence. Nor was there a shortage of online discussion and tips about attendees directing their ire toward the Capitol, Congress, and the final tallying of the Electoral College votes. 

Nevertheless, neither the FBI nor the intelligence arm of the Department of Homeland Security assessed that there was a “credible” threat of civil disobedience, let alone actual violence. There were no official warnings given to the police and security officials responsible for protecting the Capitol or congressional proceedings. 

Why the failure? 

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