Security officials to answer for Jan. 6 failures at Capitol
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress will hear from the former United States.
For the first time, on January 6, Capitol safety authorities lay siege to the house on the day a militant crowd halted the presidential election count, concerning the major law enforcement deficiencies.
Three of the four set to appear Tuesday before two Senate panels, including the former Capitol Police Chief, resigned under pressure after a deadly assault.
Many about what happened before and after the attack is unclear, and senators are likely to vigorously challenge the former officials about what went wrong.
How much were law enforcement officials aware of aggression plans that day, many of which were public?
How did the agencies exchange this information?
And how could the Capitol Police have been so badly trained for a violent cyber insurrection?
The rioters were quickly overwhelmed by protective walls outside Capitol, clashed hand-to-hand with police officers, injured hundreds of them, smashed down numerous doors and windows, sent law-makers fleeing the Chambers of the House and the Senate and stopping the presidential election certification for 2020.
The shooting killed five people, including one Capitol Police Officer and one woman shot by the police while attempting to bust through the doors of the house with legislators still inside.
Former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger and ex-House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving will meet for the first time since the resignation of the Senate Defense and Governmental Rules Committee, which was part of a joint inquiry.
They will be accompanied by former Capitol Police Chef Steven Sund and Robert Contee, the Metropolitan Police Department's acting police chief who sent backers to the scene following the disturbances.
The audience is supposed to be the first of several tests of what took place that day, nearly seven weeks since the attack and over a week after the Senate, to acquit former President Donald Trump of triggering the uprising by urging his followers to 'fight like hell' to reverse his electoral loss.
Thousands of troops of the National Guard now surround the Capitol in large perimeters and block off roads and streets, usually full of vehicles, peaters and visitors.
Congress is also considering an official joint commission to investigate the errors, and numerous legislative panels have said they would look into various facets of the siege.
More than 230 suspects were detained by government law enforcement officers suspected of engaging in the attack. In his confirmation hearing on Monday, President Joe Biden's candidate for the Attorney General, Judge Merrick Garland, confirmed that an investigation into the protests would be a top priority.
Congress wants to immediately know how failing security plans and delays in responding led to "a faded and angry mob invading that temple of our democracy," said Amy Klobuchar, Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, in an interview with The Associated Press.
Klobuchar, D-Minn., said senators would reflect particularly on the time of the mobilization of the National Guard, which ultimately helped overwhelmed the police, how security forces exchanged intelligence prior to the attack, and whether the Capitol Police Board's command system, which included sergeants at the Senate and the House of Representatives, led to these shortcomings.
She said the regulations might be in effect to fix any shortcomings.
"We're on a fast track here, simply because the Capitol must be decided," Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar said that the Tuesday hearing is the first of at least two public assessments of what went wrong that day when the Senate committees pursue a joint security inquiry.
A second hearing in the next few weeks is set to discuss the response from the Defense Department, the Homeland Security Department and the FBI.
Although it was generally accepted that security precautions were insufficient that day, officials pointed out the reasons to each other and questioned the obligations of each other.
One day after the riot, Sund said his force had "established a strong plan for dealing with anticipated First Amendment activities." It soon became apparent that while the Capitol Police had prepared themselves for protests, they were not very prepared for a violent insurrection—and many were beaten while attempting vainly to stop the rioters.
Temporary Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, briefly replacing Sund, apologised last month for not planning after threats that white nationalists and far-right extremists were likely to threaten Congress.
But she said that Sund requested the department's supervising Capitol Police Board to declare a state of emergency in advance and authorize the national guard to seek assistance, but the board refused.
The Department of Defense has reported that it asked the Capitol Police if it wanted the Guard.
A third member of the Capitol Police Board refuted Pittman the allegation for hours after the publication of her testimony.
Brett Blanton, who serves as Capitol architect, said that Sund did not seek assistance from him and that "the request for an emergency declaration was not recorded."
Lawmakers expect to overcome some of these gaps by interrogating together the witnesses on Tuesday.
Klobuchar said she was grateful that both of them attended willingly and hoped that the hearing would be "constructive."
"What happened was horror, we all know," she said.