The FBI and other US government agencies failed “at a fundamental level” to assess the potential for violence ahead of the Capitol riot on 6 January 2021, a new report claims.
Democrats on a Senate panel found the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “downplayed” the risks and so did not properly prepare.
The 105-page report, titled Planned in Plain Sight, was released on Tuesday.
It criticises officials for misjudging and reacting slowly to tip-offs.
“At a fundamental level, the agencies failed to fulfil their mission and connect the public and non-public information they received,” the report reads.
It adds that officials from the agencies failed to “formally disseminate guidance to their law enforcement partners with sufficient urgency and alarm to enable those partners to prepare for the violence that ultimately occurred”.
The report offers specific examples of the type of warnings the FBI received, including flagged online extremist activity, public tip-offs and alerts from its own field offices around the country.
One example the report highlights is a social media post on the Parler platform directed at the FBI four days before the riot. “This is a final stand where we are drawing the red line at Capitol Hill,” it reads. “Don’t be surprised if we take the #capital building.”
Many other posts alluded to a potential violent attack on the Capitol, the report by Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee suggests.
The document also includes a previously unknown warning from the FBI’s New Orleans office which was issued on 5 January 2021. It said some people who were planning to attend the protest in Washington the following day were planning to be armed.
“What was shocking is that this attack was essentially planned in plain sight in social media,” the committee’s Democratic chair, Gary Peters, said. “And yet it seemed as if our intelligence agencies completely dropped the ball.”
In a statement, an FBI spokesperson said the bureau was “constantly trying to learn and evaluate what we can do better or differently, and this is especially true of the attack on the US Capitol”.
The spokesman added that, since the attack, the bureau had centralised the flow of information to ensure timely threat notifications to all field offices.
Separately, a spokesperson for the DHS told the Washington Post that the agency had been conducting a “comprehensive organisational review” which would soon develop recommendations.
The 6 January riot saw more than 2,000 people enter the US Capitol as lawmakers certified the results of the 2020 election, in which President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump.
The mob stormed the Capitol following a speech from Mr Trump, who was speaking at a rally not far from the Capitol grounds. In his speech, Mr Trump claimed election fraud and called on then-Vice-President Mike Pence to overturn the results.
The riot led to the biggest police investigation in US history with hundreds of people accused of criminal offences.
Source : BBC