February 24, 2021

Yesterday, we heard former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund insist he couldn't have known how bad it was going to be during the Capitol attack, dismissing an FBI warning. In fact, he claimed the entire intelligence community missed the threat! Let's take that with a large grain of salt -- if he didn't know, he should have known, because his own department warned of extremist violence three days before it happened. (Hell, everyone on Twitter knew!) Sen. Jeff Merkley brought this memo to his attention during yesterday's hearing.

Via the Washington Post:

Three days before thousands of rioters converged on the U.S. Capitol, an internal Capitol Police intelligence report warned of a violent scenario in which “Congress itself” could be the target of angry supporters of President Trump on Jan. 6, laying out a stark alert that deepens questions about the security failures that day.

In a 12-page report on Jan. 3, the intelligence unit of the congressional police force described how thousands of enraged protesters, egged on by Trump and flanked by white supremacists and extreme militia groups, were likely to stream into Washington armed for battle.

This time, the focus of their ire would be members of Congress, the report said.

“Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” according to the memo, portions of which were obtained by The Washington Post. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

What about this part from the unredacted memo?

The Stop the Steal protest in particular does not have a permit, but several high profile speakers, including Members of Congress are expected to speak at the event. This combined with Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence, may lead to significantly dangerous situations for law enforcement and the general public alike.

As journalist Dan Froomkin contends in his Press Watchers newsletter, it seems much more likely that Sund and his upper ranks didn't take the threat seriously because... white people.

He points out this story from Pro Publica:

The interviews… revealed officers’ concerns about disparities in the way the force prepared for Black Lives Matter demonstrations versus the pro-Trump protests on Jan. 6. Officers said the Capitol Police force usually plans intensively for protests, even if they are deemed unlikely to grow violent. Officers said they spent weeks working 12- or 16-hour days, poised to fight off a riot, after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police — even though intelligence suggested there was not much danger from protesters.

“We had intel that nothing was going to happen — literally nothing,” said one former official with direct knowledge of planning for the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. “The response was, ‘We don’t trust the intel.’”

We don't trust Black protesters to be non-violent, but conspiracy-crazed Trump-supporting QAnon nut jobs? No problem. Sounds like an advanced case of "White Like Me." Black protesters = WWIII. White protesters? Protected First Amendment activity!

Go read the entire Froomkin report.

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