Yesterday, I wrote this story: “Why weren’t there mass arrests of the terrorists who rioted their way into the Capitol?” Many of you didn’t even read the post and just yelled “because they were white!” And I get that. Of course race played such a massive role in all of this – the terrorist attack on the Capitol was about white supremacy, white aggrievement and white privilege at a very fundamental level. But! There was a ton of other sh-t going on too, and all of it was terrible. We should not discount the anecdotal reports of Proud Boys and neo-Nazis infiltrating police departments, including Capitol Police. We should also not discount the fact that Donald Trump and his White House and Pentagon minions consciously made a choice to leave Capitol Police unsupported for hours during the siege, and that they had made arrangements for weeks, planning out the terrorist attack on the Capitol.
The Pentagon placed tight limits on the D.C. National Guard ahead of pro-Trump protests this week, trying to ensure the use of military force remained constrained, as the Guard carried out a narrow, unarmed mission requested by the city’s mayor to help handle traffic ahead of planned protests. In memos issued Monday and Tuesday in response to a request from the D.C. mayor, the Pentagon prohibited the District’s guardsmen from receiving ammunition or riot gear, interacting with protesters unless necessary for self-defense, sharing equipment with local law enforcement, or using Guard surveillance and air assets without the defense secretary’s explicit sign-off, according to officials familiar with the orders. The limits were established because the Guard hadn’t been asked to assist with crowd or riot control.
The D.C. Guard was also told it would be allowed to deploy a quick-reaction force only as a measure of last resort, the officials said. Then the mission abruptly changed — and the Pentagon is now facing criticism from governors and local officials who say it moved too slowly to send National Guard troops to respond, a charge that its leaders denied Thursday.
The Capitol Police, the law enforcement force that reports to Congress and protects the House and Senate, hadn’t requested help from the Guard ahead of Wednesday’s events. But early Wednesday afternoon, its chief made an urgent plea for backup from 200 troops during a call with top Pentagon and city officials, according to officials familiar with the call.
On the call, Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund was asked whether he wanted help from the National Guard. “There was a pause,” one of the D.C. officials said. And Sund said yes. “Then there was another pause, and an official from the [office of the] secretary of the Army said that wasn’t going to be possible.”
I know that this is insanely complicated and it will likely take months to uncover exactly what went down in the planning of the terrorist attack and how the attack unfolded in real time, especially since a lot of people, at a lot of different levels, f–ked up completely. The Pentagon was clearly given the order to leave Capitol Police unsupported on January 6th, even as it was clear that white supremacist terrorists would be descending on Washington and incited by Donald Trump. It’s also clear that Capitol Police were willfully unprepared. So unprepared, it had to be a conscious choice by leadership.
Speaking of, Speaker Pelosi was, as they say, incandescent with rage at the structural failures in and around the Capitol siege. In short order yesterday, she demanded and received the resignation of the Sergeant at Arms AND the chief of the Capitol Police, Steven Sund. I assume there will be more resignations and firings in the days to come, as there should be. Meanwhile, Capitol Police – as an organization – still haven’t done a press conference.
Photos courtesy of Getty.