WASHINGTON — The appendix to the Jan. 6 committee report on intelligence and law enforcement failures prior to the Jan. 6 attack highlights new information about missed warning signs but stops short of reaching any definitive conclusions or detailed recommendations about what experts have called the worst intelligence failure since Sept. 11.
The appendix contains new information about how much intelligence there was pointing to possible violence at and around the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and how poorly coordinated the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the military, the United States Capitol Police, and the Washington, D.C., government were in preparing for it.
The appendix also states what is widely known: a lot of information was publicly available indicating that Jan. 6 would be violent, and law enforcement was unprepared for the violence they encountered.
“Federal and local law enforcement authorities were in possession of multiple streams of intelligence predicting violence directed at the Capitol prior to January 6th,” the appendix stated. “Although some of that intelligence was fragmentary, it should have been sufficient to warrant far more vigorous preparations for the security of the joint session. The failure to share and act on that intelligence adequately jeopardised the lives of the police officers defending the Capitol and everyone inside.”
A major component of the committee’s work was supposed to be an investigation into how law enforcement missed so many warning signs of violence prior to the Capitol attack, leaving the Capitol underprotected. Instead, as NBC News first reported, staffers on various teams, including the “blue” team investigating law enforcement failures, were informed that the chapters they were preparing would be cut. According to sources familiar with the project, some of the information gathered was relegated to an appendix, while others were left out entirely. The final report focuses on former President Donald Trump and what the committee believes is his criminal responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack.
The appendix concludes by stating that “the best defence” against a president inciting an attack on his own government “will not come from law enforcement, but from an informed and active citizenry.”
According to the report, the FBI was collecting alarming reports from across the country but did not begin closely scrutinising them until January 5. On Jan. 6, a special tag called “CERTUNREST2021” was created inside FBI databases related to intelligence from all field offices about possible violence, but “unified monitoring” of the tagged material did not begin until Jan. 5.
While the FBI was aware that extremists were discussing the tunnels leading to the Capitol on social media, it claimed that its hands were tied. According to the appendix, the FBI special agent in charge of the intelligence division at the Washington Field Office, Jennifer Moore, said there was nothing illegal about discussing the tunnels and that without a very specific discussion of violence, the FBI could only inform appropriate law enforcement partner agencies about the online discussions.
There was also confusion about who was in charge of federal security coordination: the Defense Department thought the Justice Department was in charge, and the Justice Department thought the Defense Department was in charge.
In a nod to the decades-old Sept. 11 report, the Jan. 6 report recommends that federal agencies with intelligence and security missions “move forward on whole-of-government strategies” against extremism and “review their intelligence sharing protocols.” However, it offers little in the way of specific policies or reforms that could prevent a future failure.
As NBC News reported this week, one of the FBI’s own confidential human sources told the bureau on the same day Trump sent his Dec. 19, 2020, tweet summoning his supporters to Washington on Jan. 6 that the far right saw it as a “call to arms.”
Trump had an extensive, publicly available record of saying inflammatory things in front of supporters, such as when he told supporters to “knock the crap out of” protesters during a rally, and had summoned tens of thousands of people who believed his lies about the election to the capital after his other efforts to overturn the results had failed.
The appendix, on the other hand, suggests that nobody could have predicted Trump inflaming the crowd.
“While the threat posed to the Capitol by an armed and angry crowd was predictable, the fact that the President of the United States would be the catalyst of their rage and facilitate the attack was unprecedented in American history,” the appendix reads. “If we lacked the imagination to believe that a President would incite an attack on his own government, urging his supporters to ‘fight like hell,’ we no longer do.”