The police commanders of the Capitol take the floor: “Those criminals came prepared for war”

Senator Josh Hawley hears testimony from former arms sergeant Paul Irving this Tuesday in the US Congress.
Senator Josh Hawley hears testimony from former arms sergeant Paul Irving this Tuesday in the US Congress.Andrew Harnik / AP

The United States Congress has given the floor this Tuesday, for the first time since the assault on the Capitol on January 6, to the security officers in charge of protecting the building. They have blamed the disastrous failure to prevent insurgents’ violence on the deficient intelligence available to them, which left them unprepared for what ended up being a threat they had never faced before. They have also agreed that the assault was more planned and coordinated than some Republican legislators have wanted to suggest.

“None of the intelligence information we received predicted what ended up happening,” explained the former head of the Capitol Police Force, Steven Sund, who resigned just after the assault that this Tuesday has described as “the worst attack on the forces of security and democracy ”that he has seen in his 30 years of police experience. “They were not acting like any group of protesters I have ever seen, those criminals came prepared for war.”

Sund and two other former Capitol Police commanders, as well as the Washington Police Chief, have been called to a joint hearing before two Senate committees, investigating security flaws that allowed a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters break in and become strong in the United States Congress to try to prevent the official certification of the Joe Biden’s election win. “We need to see what went wrong and what changes can be made to make the Capitol safe,” Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Rules and Administration Committee, said at the start of the session. “We must know the facts, and the answers are in this room,” he added, referring to the police officers called to testify, three of whom resigned immediately after the attack on the Capitol.

Many Republicans have tried to downplay the severity of the attack by Trump supporters, calling it spontaneous and lacking in plan. But the police commanders this Tuesday have agreed that the assault was coordinated. They have spoken of two explosive devices placed next to the Capitol to distract the attention of the authorities, and they have explained that there is evidence that the assailants used hand signals and coordinated the use of irritating gases. “Not a single civilian security body, and certainly not the Capitol Police, is trained or equipped to repel, without significant military assistance, an insurrection of thousands of armed, violent, and coordinated individuals, determined to break into a building at any rate. cost, ”Sund summarized.

Sund and Paul Irving, a former House of Representatives sergeant at arms, were the highest-ranking security officers present on Capitol Hill during the assault. Both have come under fire, following reports that they did not act quickly enough to ask the National Guard for help. Before the senators, Sund has accused Irving of having advised against the activation of the National Guard, concerned about the image that the military deployed in the Capitol would have given. Irving has called it “categorically false”, saying that his position was based on security and not on image. Robert Contee, chief of the Washington Metropolitan Police, has blamed the slow deployment of the National Guard on the Department of Defense. “I was stunned by the response from the Department of the Army,” he said.

But they have all agreed on something. “We all agreed that intelligence did not support the dispatch of troops and collectively we decided to let it be,” summarized Michael Stenger, a former Senate sergeant at arms. Neither Stenger nor Irving, they say, had seen an FBI report warning of an imminent threat of violence in the Capitol. Sund, for his part, said that after the attack he learned that the report had reached the Capitol Police the day before, but that he had not had the opportunity to see it either.

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