Probe confirms Capitol Police, feds had intel on Jan. 6 threat but failed to adapt security

"Capitol Police did not share threat products with its frontline officers," the GAO found.

Published: March 1, 2023 2:22pm

Updated: March 2, 2023 6:25am

The Capitol Police, FBI and eight other federal agencies gathered intelligence that extremists were planning to commit violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 but failed to adequately adapt security or get threat assessments to key decision-makers and frontline officers, the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress concludes in a stinging report that confirmed months of reporting by Just the News. 

"Some agencies did not fully process information or share it, preventing critical information from reaching key federal entities responsible for securing the National Capital Region against threats," the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report this week that immediately renewed questions inside Congress about whether the riot was a preventable attack and why the leadership under then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer did not accept the Trump Pentagon's offer of National Guard troops for reinforcements.

While GAO faulted all 10 agencies it reviewed, it saved its harshest assessment for the Capitol Police, the lead agency securing the Capitol, and its supervisory Capitol Police Board, for leaving frontline officers unaware of the threat they faced when they went to work on Jan. 6.

"Capitol Police did not share threat products with its frontline officers," the watchdog concluded, imploring Congress to press those agencies to change failed practices and procedures to avoid a repeat tragedy inside the home of America's constitutional republic.

"The Capitol Police and Park Police did not process threat products to include all relevant information, which resulted in incomplete assessments and conclusions in the products. Both agencies, in addition to the Capitol Police Board, also did not share all relevant information internally.

"As agencies continue to uncover lessons learned from the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, it is important that they establish processes to ensure that failures in communicating and sharing important information with those who need it do not happen again."

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), told Just the News on Wednesday night that the GAO aired the sort of meaningful information that the House Democrat-led Jan. 6 committee did not last year and that the Republicans now in the majority intend to force changes to the Capitol security apparatus.

"Some of the police were involved," Norman said during an interview on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show. "Unfortunately, some of the FBI agents were involved. The information they had, they had a blueprint for what was going to happen, and they didn't think about it and look at the consequences."

Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said in the immediate aftermath he was given information by police that there were intelligence and security failures but Democrats under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi suffocated the release of such information publicly.

"There's no secrets in Washington when you do something really stupid, like they did, like Pelosi did," he said.

"It looks like, at least from first glance, [the GAO] actually are telling the truth for once, which is great," said Nunes, now the CEO of former President Trump's Truth Social platform.

The FBI also was singled out for improvement by the GAO report. "While the FBI identified and shared threat information, it did not process certain referrals from social media platforms according to policies and procedures and, as a result, it failed to share critical information with all relevant partners," the report determined.

The FBI said in a response included in the report that it was not aware of "actionable intelligence" that the Capitol would be subject to a mob attack but that its 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."

The GAO also raised concerns that the Homeland Security Department's Intelligence and Analysis unit may have withheld or mishandled intelligence reporting because of prior criticism of its efforts to assist law enforcement during the summer 2020 Black Lives Matter riots.

"Specifically, after DHS I&A came under scrutiny for compiling intelligence on journalists and non-violent demonstrators in Portland, Oregon in summer 2020, it changed how it identified and reported open source threat information," the report stated.

"Within Open Source Collection Operations, 22 of 24 staff told the DHS Office of Inspector General that the scrutiny they received following the summer of 2020 affected their approach to reporting on the potential violence on January 6. According to the DHS Office of the Inspector General, even though collectors reported seeing violent threats related to January 6, they were hesitant to report the information. One collector stated that collectors were afraid to do their jobs because of the fear of being reprimanded by I&A leadership and concerns about congressional scrutiny."

The report validated months of reporting by Just the News about the details that law enforcement forwarded to Capitol Police as early as a month before Jan. 6, citing several instances surfaced by Just the News stories, including, for example, a tip the Capitol Police received on Jan. 5, 2021, regarding plans to block and confront Democratic members of Congress from entering the Capitol through the tunnel system via the basement of the Library of Congress.

Here are just a few of those Just the News stories:

"Bloody War": Capitol Police warned about violence two weeks before Jan. 6 riot

Internal Capitol Police review found sweeping intelligence, security failures during Jan. 6

Capitol Police whistleblower sent scathing letter days after Jan. 6 identifying failures

Capitol Police report cites security, intelligence failures under Pelosi leading up to Jan. 6

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