Why Was Capitol Security Inadequate?

A large, well-trained police force was unprepared for a foreseeable crisis.

As we sort through the aftermath of Wednesday afternoon’s breaching of the Capitol as the Electoral Votes were being officially tallied, we’re still getting mixed reports as to why security was so lax.

Aside from conspiracy theories about sympathetic Capitol Hill police simply letting protestors storm the building, which is rather refuted by scores of injuries to said police, we’re seeing contradictory reporting as to whether adequate forces were asked for and whether the Federal government denied requests for said forces.

An Associated Press report late last evening claims “Capitol Police rejected offers of federal help to quell mob.”

Three days before supporters of President Donald Trump rioted at the Capitol, the Pentagon asked the U.S Capitol Police if it needed National Guard manpower. And as the mob descended on the building Wednesday, Justice Department leaders reached out to offer up FBI agents. The police turned them down both times, according to senior defense officials and two people familiar with the matter.

Despite plenty of warnings of a possible insurrection and ample resources and time to prepare, the Capitol Police planned only for a free speech demonstration.

Still stinging from the uproar over the violent response by law enforcement to protests last June near the White House, officials also were intent on avoiding any appearance that the federal government was deploying active duty or National Guard troops against Americans.

The result is the U.S. Capitol was overrun Wednesday and officers in a law enforcement agency with a large operating budget and experience in high-security events protecting lawmakers were overwhelmed for the world to see. Four protesters died, including one shot inside the building.

Given the rhetoric by politicians, including the President himself, and various prominent activists and talking heads—and what we now know was open organizing on various websites and social media platforms—it’s nuts that there wasn’t enhanced security.

And, I’m sorry, but this doesn’t cut it, either:

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said that as the rioting was underway, it became clear that the Capitol Police were overrun. But he said there was no contingency planning done in advance for what forces could do in case of a problem at the Capitol because Defense Department help was turned down. “They’ve got to ask us, the request has to come to us,” said McCarthy.

It’s absolutely true that the US military is used to augment law enforcement only under unusual circumstances and tight constraints. But that there was “no contingency planning” is just dereliction of duty. Hell, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau has a seat on the Joint Chiefs.

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, under pressure from Schumer, Pelosi and other congressional leaders, was forced to resign. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for and received the resignation of the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate, Michael Stenger, effective immediately. Paul Irving, the longtime Sergeant at Arms of the House, also resigned.

“There was a failure of leadership at the top,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

The firing of the people directly responsible for the security of the Capitol seems more than reasonable. Especially given their extraordinary resources.

It is not clear how many officers were on-duty Wednesday, but the complex is policed by a total of 2,300 officers for 16 acres of ground who protect the 435 House representatives, 100 U.S. senators and their staff. By comparison, the city of Minneapolis has about 840 uniformed officers policing a population of 425,000 in a 6,000-acre area.

This comparison is surely misleading. One imagines that figure excludes the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office and Minnesota state police. Then again, the Hill figure excludes the DC Metropolitan Police Department, US Park Police, and others who are presumably able to assist.

This, too, seems unfair:

Barricades were set up on the plaza in front of the building, but police retreated from the line and a mob of people broke through. Lawmakers, at first unaware of the security breach, continued their debate. Soon they were cowering under chairs. Eventually they were escorted from the House and Senate. Journalists were left alone in rooms for hours as the mob attempted to break into barricaded rooms.

All indications are that Members and their staff were quickly secured. Once the barricades were stormed, it made absolute sense for the officers to retreat.

While there is all manner of commentary that, if these people were Black they’d have been shot on sight, it’s just absurd. Police all across the country allowed statues to be torn down and whole city blocks burned down over months of protests. Well-trained police don’t use lethal force to protect property.

And I tend to side with David Ignatius here:

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both tried to avert a militarization of the response to protests, similar to what happened in D.C. and many other cities during the racial-justice protests that followed George Floyd’s death. Wanting to avoid overreaction, they probably underreacted. That carried costs, but also benefits.

[…]

Thinking about Wednesday’s events, it’s useful to indulge in what Harvard professor Ernest May liked to call “Applied History.” What if the situation had turned out differently — and force had been used more aggressively, as in past efforts to deal with civil strife? We can think of some obvious examples: Police brutality against Chicago street protests during the 1968 Democratic convention gave new energy to the Vietnam antiwar movement; so did the tear-gassing and mass arrests during the 1970 “May Day” protests. Police overreaction to unrest following Rodney King’s death left a permanent stain on Los Angeles.

The 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre is an extreme example. The Trump anarchists don’t deserve comparison to the brave Chinese pro-democracy activists. But they wanted similar images of a brutal government crackdown, even martyrdom, that could have energized their movement for years.

Trump’s fanatical followers didn’t get their wish. Instead, they got what they deserved — public revulsion and failure.

He also echoes numerous reports that security has vastly been stepped up in preparation for the inauguration.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Police
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    I had three thoughts watching this play out:
    1) The cops were vastly understaffed and underprepared.
    2) If the rioters had been black the steps would have run red.
    3) Nevertheless, given 1 and acknowledging 2, it was still better not to start shooting.

    Clearly the head of the Capitol Police had to resign. And just as clearly there will be hearings. Oh boy, will there be hearings because Congresspeople are rightfully scared and pissed off.

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  2. Jon says:

    Still stinging from the uproar over the violent response by law enforcement to protests last June near the White House, officials also were intent on avoiding any appearance that the federal government was deploying active duty or National Guard troops against Americans.

    What a strange coincidence that the first time they applied these lessons they learned was when it involved a right-wing mob full of white supremacists.

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  3. Kathy says:

    I’ll go with what the Coca Cola executive allegedly said after the New Coke flop and subsequent increased sales of Classic Coke: We weren’t that stupid, and we weren’t that smart.

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  4. Michael says:

    Armed military forces meant to quell protests lead to four dead at Kent State University.

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  5. mattbernius says:

    While there is all manner of commentary that, if these people were Black they’d have been shot on sight, it’s just absurd.

    While it is hyperbole, there is still some truth at the core. Take for example this from one of the original articles:

    Despite plenty of warnings of a possible insurrection and ample resources and time to prepare, the Capitol Police planned only for a free speech demonstration.

    And your response:

    Given the rhetoric by politicians, including the President himself, and various prominent activists and talking heads—and what we now know was open organizing on various websites and social media platforms—it’s nuts that there wasn’t enhanced security.

    Why exactly was it that when BLM protests took place–including at the capital–police showed up fully prepared for a riot and yet here they didn’t?

    That assumption of probable violence for one group versus the other speaks to a very real type of structural racism that is deeply engrained in our policing.

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  6. CSK says:

    I lay all blame at Trump’s feet. If he hadn’t told the mob to march on the Capitol–and assured them he’d be with them all the way and then skulking back to the safety of the White House–this wouldn’t have happened.

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  7. Mikey says:

    Thinking about Wednesday’s events, it’s useful to indulge in what Harvard professor Ernest May liked to call “Applied History.” What if the situation had turned out differently — and force had been used more aggressively, as in past efforts to deal with civil strife?

    This kind of misses the point that proper planning and preparation would have made escalation of force unnecessary.

    The 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre is an extreme example.

    An example Donald Trump has cited with considerable admiration, by the way.

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  8. mattbernius says:

    Addendum to what I wrote @here.

    To be clear, I’m not suggesting the performative police shows of force from many BLM protests this summer is necessarily the right approach. There is some evidence that in many cases the paramilitary approach helped escalate things. I’m honestly not sure what the right response would be–especially in a case where people attempt to overtake government buildings.

    However, the apparent assumption that this would be, and stay, a peaceful protest is a courtesy that hasn’t been extended to other groups in the past. And we really need to ask why. And, 100% I believe that race played an important (if not the defining) role in that.

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  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    What everyone seems to be missing is that, by-and-large, cops are charter members of the Trump Cult. Not all. Many. Most.
    Many of the Capitol Police were basically sympathetic to the cause of the insurrectionists.
    This sure the fuq wasn’t Sam Houston protecting the Alamo…more like Acme giving Wile E. Coyote the keys to the warehouse.

    “C’mon in boys, Pelosi’s office is down that hallway on the left…”

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  10. Jen says:

    I think that hubris, tied up in a thought that “a pro-law-enforcement crowd won’t give us trouble” mentality also probably played a role in this. If so, these folks need to go back to school to study mob/crowd psychology.

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  11. Lounsbury says:

    Second guessing and armchair generalship aside, in fact I believe these events are turning out to be a blessing in disguise.

    It ripped away any plausible deniability from Trump and Trumpism, it laid bare and obvious the dangers such that even the Wall Street Journal and the National Review are calling for Trump’s head, the slimey opportunists in your congress who sided with Trump and still continued that evening are suddenly finding themselves in quicksand…

    Had this not occured, I rather think that Trump and Trumpism would have gotten to 20 January in a rather more dangerous position.

    The Capitol Police’s restraint in effect deprived (as James cites and agrees with Ignatius on) Trump and Trumpism of visual excuses, of brutality and put their own buffoonish Reality TV Play Pretend Autogolpe on full display without mitigation (to any but their own true believers).

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  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Lounsbury:
    I said the same. Death rattles can be violent.

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  13. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Nobody said it better than Joe Scarborough, and every one of his questions must be answered: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-07yBK5NM4

    And James: that some police officers sustained injuries means jack sh*t. It was also police officers who have gone public saying there were cops who flashed their ID while they moved with the mob. Hell there were elected representatives from assorted states in the damn mob, why would police be so special?

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  14. JohnSF says:

    I wonder how the investigation into this will be handled.
    Public hearings should be pretty spectacular, to put it mildly.

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  15. CSK says:

    I just read that yesterday Rush Limbaugh compared the mob at the Capitol Building to Founding Fathers Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry.

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  16. JohnSF says:

    I should also imagine planning and staffing for Inauguration has just got somewhat intense.

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  17. Mikey says:

    @CSK:

    I just read that yesterday Rush Limbaugh compared the mob at the Capitol Building to Founding Fathers Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry.

    The world will be immeasurably better when the cancer finally wins.

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  18. owen says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Most events in DC (and pretty much anywhere else) require permits, which include an anticipated number of attendees. The local authorities then make their plans based on how many participants they expect based on additional assessments.

    I don’t know the answer to this, but it will likely come out that the planned for number was much lower than what showed up, but also the number that showed up was not large enough to draw concern earlier (I base this on the crowd that was shown being addressed before the “walk” to the Capitol started). I was struck by the significant number of doddering Trump supporters, who showed up early, then hobbled up to the Capitol, and wonder if that was by chance (further disinformation: conspiracy?). It doesn’t excuse the planning failures on the part Capitol Security personnel, but does go some way in explaining it.

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  19. reid says:

    Aside from conspiracy theories about sympathetic Capitol Hill police simply letting protestors storm the building, which is rather refuted by scores of injuries to said police

    It can be both. I’m sure there were good cops doing their best. We’ve probably all seen the video of the lone (black) cop with a baton trying to hold back several people as he retreated. On the other hand, we’ve also seen the video of cops taking selfies with the mob. We’ve seen the video of them moving aside the barriers as if inviting the mob in. (Even if retreating, why move the barriers?) As this was happening, I was shocked. Extremely poor preparation and planning, yes, but there seems to be more afoot. I wonder how high up the Trump-rot goes.

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  20. mistermix says:

    First, that article that James leads this post with does not clearly identify the Pentagon source.
    I’m guessing there’s a bit of a CYA mission going on here on the part of the Pentagon, and certainly the leadership there recently installed by Trump needs to have their actions investigated closely.

    Second, According to the Post’s tick tock of the occupation, the Capitol was saved by quick action of a force of Metro DC PD reinforced by Capitol PD, under leadership of a Metro PD Inspector. A few Metro DC PD and one leader who took action was all that stood between us and an occupation. Let that sink in for a while.

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  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @CSK:
    Yes, he did, and Sam Adams.
    Look…these people live in upside-down-world.
    The fact is that in the 18th century Rush and his ilk would have been called Loyalists. They were/are fine with an authoritarian leader (as long as it is their authoritarian leader).
    They talk about being for free and fair elections, but they are in fact attempting to overturn a free and fair election in order to install their guy. No state in which Trump won is being questioned. Seriously?
    And it is all based on the “big lie”. None of this is based upon any facts at all. None. 5 people died for a lie solely intended to assuage Trumps ego.
    Romney was dead-on…the way to respect the people is to tell them the truth.
    I know I’m preaching to the choir…just ranting….

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  22. Kathy says:

    Is there a Federal felony murder rule?

    If there is, all those arrested in the January 6th insurrection could face tough penalties, due to the death of officer Brian D. Sicknick.

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  23. JohnSF says:

    @mistermix:
    Got a link for the Post article?

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  24. MarkedMan says:

    Not offering this as evidence, merely anecdote: When I read Trump’s comments to Raffensperger and came across the comment, “We have another way if we have to use it but we don’t want to use it”, my mind immediately flashed to the post election replacement of the defense and security leadership as well as the decision to stop cooperating with the Biden administration. This should make any investigator properly suspicious

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  25. Sleeping Dog says:

    From the AM’s Times

    Aaron, the construction worker from Indianapolis, and his two friends had heard people talking about going to Ms. Pelosi’s office. So once inside they decided to instead find Senator Chuck Schumer’s office. Both are Democrats.

    “We wanted to have a few words” with Mr. Schumer, he said. “He’s probably the most corrupt guy up here. You don’t hear too much about him. But he’s slimy. You can just see it.”

    But they could not find Mr. Schumer’s office. He said they asked a Capitol Police officer, who tried to direct them. But they appeared to have gotten nowhere near the minority’s leader’s office. They ended up smoking a few cigarettes inside the building — “We can smoke in our house,” Aaron said — and one of his friends, who would not give his name, joked that he had gone to the bathroom and not flushed.

    Emphasis, mine

    These Are the Rioters Who Stormed the Nation’s Capitol

    Has you wondering which side the capitol police were on and undercuts the argument that police injuries were evidence that police weren’t sympathetic. It is most accurate to say that some officers attempted to do their duty and others weren’t.

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  26. Scott F. says:

    Police all across the country allowed statues to be torn down and whole city blocks burned down over months of protests.

    The family of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick would like to have a word with you about false equivalency.

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  27. Andy says:

    In my view, the biggest mistake was the lack of any apparent contingency planning.

    It’s almost always good for police forces to start without a militarized posture, but damn man, you’ve got to have a plan B. Maybe you didn’t need the DC Guard in riot gear at minute 1, but they should have been on standby or at least postured to react quickly.

    This is security 101. The lack of contingency planning goes way beyond a reasonable misjudgment or mistake – it’s gross incompetence and negligence. It’s not at all surprising the top people resigned so quickly and there will surely be more to follow.

    Frankly, it could have been much worse. Once inside the mob seemed mostly interested in stealing souvenirs and taking selfies. If some had been intent on murder or arson, there was no one to stop them.

    And this may highlight problems with security more generally. No one should have confidence at this point that the Capital police can adequately deal with other threats by people with real training, experience, and lethal motivation.

    @reid:

    We’ve seen the video of them moving aside the barriers as if inviting the mob in. (Even if retreating, why move the barriers?)

    I can’t say for sure the reasoning in this case, but in my youth I did some security for big events at stadiums and such. We were instructed to open gates and barriers in exigent circumstances to prevent people from getting crushed and/or trampled.

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  28. James Joyner says:

    @mattbernius:

    Why exactly was it that when BLM protests took place–including at the capital–police showed up fully prepared for a riot and yet here they didn’t?

    There had been repeated instances of actual rioting at (or at least adjacent to) other BLM protests. And BLM was at its root an anti-police movement, so police were naturally more afraid and hostile.

    But I also think it’s a mindset thing: the Capitol Police are a better trained, better screened force than most local police departments. Crowd control, in particular, is a specialty. Indeed, if memory serves me correctly, it was the strange, unmarked paramilitary forces that got violent with the BLM protestors.

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  29. CSK says:

    @Andy:
    I’m not sure they meant no harm to actual people. Why would they have been yelling: “Where’s Pence?”

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  30. Jim Brown 32 says:

    You need intel to plan and I guess no one in the Capitol Police Intel section had a Parler account ‍♂️

    The specific authority that allows DOD support of DHS is known as DSCA – Defense in Support of Civil Authorities. My experience is that DHS is somewhat lackadaisical about the bureaucratic process while DOD is anal retentive that every t is crossed and i dotted (rightfully so because if something goes bad and DOD is involved in a Civil matter heads will roll when Congress asked who asked DOD to participate)

    At any rate in scenarios like this, you really have to roll with what you have on hand which is neighboring police forces. Nation Guard is your mid to long term stabilize and security forces. A DSCA request pretty much outlines where in the Plan DOD support is needed and DOD manages its actions inside of the scope of the Civilian plan.

    The most capable and radical Trumpies are screwed in a sense now because they are on the FBI radar which exposes them to national-level intelligence collection.

    We wont be caught a quarter short for a dollar movie with these clowns again (for anything yuuge anyway). Wednesday was the High Water mark of the NeoConfederacy.

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  31. CSK says:

    Trump just tweeted that he won’t be attending Biden’s inauguration. I assumed months ago that he wouldn’t, but now I’m wondering if he wants to clear out of town before the Trump mobs descend.

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  32. KM says:

    @James Joyner:

    There had been repeated instances of actual rioting at (or at least adjacent to) other BLM protests.

    And there’s been violence at MAGA rallies and several of them have been arrested lately for things like, oh idk, attacking and kidnapping a sitting governor. One just blew up Nashville and several people have died due to MAGA violence in 2020 alone. There has been PLENTY of documented chatter about them planning to do this sort of thing. There’s been enough repeated instances that a toddler could have told you there weren’t enough cops if trouble happened.

    What is comes down to is plain and simple if one takes off the partisan blinders: BLM = full police presence, MAGA = our guys, don’t worry about it. This is painfully clear to the whole damn planet as other countries are pointing it out to us. They didn’t take the self-declared violence-craving folks at their word because they are white, conservative and claim to be on their side.

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  33. wr says:

    Of course the other possibility is that the reason the government responded so poorly to this attack was because the executive branch wanted it that way. There are serious questions to be asked about the response by DHS and the military — all now under the control of newly appointed, Trump-devotees with no real experience or knowledge. Trump and Don Jr and Guiliani told the mob to invade the capital, and when the mob got there, the capital police under Trump’s command stood down and let them in.

    As has been pointed out multiple times, if things had just gone a little bit worse, the entire line of succession — VP, speaker, president pro tem — could have been killed or kidnapped, and there were armed thugs in the capital with ziptie handcuffs.

    So I hope the hearings will go a little beyond questions of manpower deployment and rise to issues of exactly who issued what orders and when…

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  34. Not the IT Dept. says:

    @James Joyner: And BLM was at its root an anti-police movement, so police were naturally more afraid and hostile.

    Uh, no, James, it is a pro-justice-and-police-reform movement. If anyone is anti-police it’s because of police actions, not BLM’s. And police violence was a major part in those protests, as seen in many media videos. I refer you to anything written by Radley Balko and Greg Doucette. Both are white, and the cops are apparently just as afraid of them.

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  35. Andy says:

    @CSK:

    I’m not sure they meant no harm to actual people. Why would they have been yelling: “Where’s Pence?”

    It’s hard to say what people yelling “Where’s Pence” intended to actually do.

    I’m looking at what actually happened and comparing it to what very plausibly could have happened. Once the mob got inside, it seemed more like a party atmosphere. The violence that took place appears to be at the beginning and the first breach – clearing out the building doesn’t appear to have involved much if any violence.

    Consider how things would have been different if a portion of the mob were actually bent on destruction. They literally could have burned the place down. Those who were in the building who weren’t VIP enough to be evacuated could have been hunted, beaten, and killed. Instead, the mob seemed more interested in chanting slogans and taking selfies.

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  36. Mikey says:

    @wr:

    As has been pointed out multiple times, if things had just gone a little bit worse, the entire line of succession — VP, speaker, president pro tem — could have been killed or kidnapped, and there were armed thugs in the capital with ziptie handcuffs.

    We saw what happened when someone tried to get too close to those people. It was immediately clear there was a point beyond which lethal force was authorized. Fortunately nobody else felt like dying.

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  37. Kingdaddy says:

    Until a couple of years ago, I lived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in DC, only a few blocks away from the Capitol Building. I used to walk my dog Molly around the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Library of Congress. The Capitol Police were people whom I used to greet, and they were always friendly, especially to my Molly. I was grateful to live there, next to what many people have rightly called, in the last few days, the temple of democracy in the United States’ civic religion.

    Wednesday was more than a little upsetting to me. I’m still reeling from the Capitol insurrection. I want scalps, too, for this desecration. On the other hand, I know from past experience that the simple, immediate explanations for security failures like this are usually wrong. After Pearl Harbor, Americans wanted someone to fit into a neat frame of failure, and Admiral Kimmel occupied that space. Later, people studying the event with better information and time to reflect recognized the larger systemic failure that was really to blame. (See Eliot Cohen’s Military Misfortunes, which I cited in today’s general thread, for more discussion on Pearl Harbor and similar failures.)

    That’s not to say that there weren’t fellow travelers among the police, sympathetic to the protesters, or that leaders like the head of the Capitol Police didn’t make stupid decisions. I’m just saying, let’s take a little pause before we leap to conclusions like, it had to have been a conspiracy.

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  38. JohnSF says:

    @Mikey:
    I don’t know if this has been widely pointed out, but the person shot and killed was wearing a backpack.
    For any security types that is a MASSIVE red flag these days.

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  39. CSK says:

    @Andy:
    Well, since Pence had just “betrayed” Trump by certifying the votes, or beginning to do so, I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean to shake his hand in congratulation.

    And, to use your own formulation, it’s hard to tell how much damage they intended to do.

    I also think you’re far too intelligent to persist in defending these louts, or making excuses for their behavior.

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  40. James Joyner says:

    @wr:

    Of course the other possibility is that the reason the government responded so poorly to this attack was because the executive branch wanted it that way.

    Neither the Capitol Police nor MPD work for the White House or the Executive branch of the Federal government. But, yes, it’s distinctly possible that they would have at least done more planning under a normal administration.

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  41. gVOR08 says:

    As in all things, a number of factors are in play.

    Margaret Sullivan has a piece at WAPO placing the blame for this squarely where it belongs, on Rupert Murdoch. But I don’t know what to do about it. We should certainly stop identifying Brit Hume or whoever as one of the good ones, a newsman, not on the opinion side. Eff them all. Whatever shred of personal integrity they might, hypothetically, have is just providing cover for the rest of them. We cannot survive having 40% of the country living in cloud cuckoo land.

    We need to recognize that law enforcement people self select for proto-fascism. To some extent innocently in a need for order and certainty. In other cases as a desire to beat heads, particularly “others’” heads. And that applies up to the top, the highest reaches of DOJ. The FBI was notorious for it in the 60s and 70s and I’m not convinced they’ve changed all that much. James Comey once again demonstrated his fine sense of timing. Apparently the announcement of his new book got bigfooted Monday. In it he said Trump was guilty of all sorts of stuff, but shouldn’t be prosecuted because divisive or something. Short of racism, this “Don’t rock the boat” attitude would seem to explain Mueller’s lack of zeal, as well a Rosenstein and I forget the whole, careerist, cast of characters.

    I fear some in DC made the error I’m prone to myself, thinking of these Trumpskite Proud Boys and the rest as a clown act. Which they mostly are, but not all of them. There are the reports that a core of the Capitol invaders seemed to move with purpose. Avoiding confrontation was probably a valid tactic. But despite my contempt for these MAGAts and Proud Boys, I like to think I’d have had backup lined up and contingency plans. In fact, I’m surprised those arrangements aren’t SOP.

    Whatever happened here, I look to the future with fear. I suspect like most of the regulars here I think about politics a lot, maybe obsess. And I don’t know how to think about US politics with brownshirts. I have to worry that the Cruzes and Hawleys, not to mention the Mercers and DeVoses, are cultivating ties to the militia types. If you’re not scared now, give some though to Betsy’s brother, Erik Prince. Monday was mostly unplanned and chaotic. Next time may be different.

    These people need to be prosecuted to the full extent, down to spitting on the sidewalk. We need to send a message about what’s acceptable and what isn’t. If we’d slapped Cliven Bundy around the way he deserved we wouldn’t have had Monday. And what the hell do we do so that every whack job in the country doesn’t have two Glocks and three pretend assault rifles?

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  42. Jen says:

    It’s hard to say what people yelling “Where’s Pence” intended to actually do.

    In olden days, the way you found out was the Secret Service had you in for a long chat. There are things you just don’t do. You don’t, for example, joke about bombs in the airport or on a plane. You also don’t blithely threaten the VP while you’re in the midst of storming the Capitol building, where said VP is.

    We don’t know what they wanted to do, or how mentally stable these people are/were at the time. That’s precisely why you treat them as an immediate threat, not people there on holiday.

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  43. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy: This was f*cking mob! To ascribe benign motivations to them is ridiculous. Any mob could turn on a dime, hence the whole “mob mentality” thing. Look at what happens when a frickin’ sports team when’s a national championship in some cities. And of course, we know now that this mob of tourists kicked a cop to death

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  44. James Joyner says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: I’m familiar only in passing with Greg Doucette but have been touting Radley Balko’s excellent work here for years. I’m much, much more sympathetic to BLM than to MAGA. I’m simply seeking to analyze the mindset of the cops in response to both.

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  45. MarkedMan says:

    “When’s” instead of “wins”? For chrisssake, I need that edit button more than anyone…

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  46. Gustopher says:

    Aside from conspiracy theories about sympathetic Capitol Hill police simply letting protestors storm the building, which is rather refuted by scores of injuries to said police, we’re seeing contradictory reporting as to whether adequate forces were asked for and whether the Federal government denied requests for said forces

    Police aren’t magically immune from believing the presidents lies that the election is being stolen right then and there. It seems absurd to believe that there were no officers present that did not sympathize with the angry mob, and that did not do their jobs as vigorously as they would otherwise.

    As for the additional forces, check out Larry Hogan’s account of the how long it took for Maryland’s national guard to get approval.

    Was this incompetence? A desire to just watch things burn? Or the various Trump appointees burrowed into the Department of Defense at the last minute deliberately trying to prevent an adequate response, as part of a coup attempt?

    1. There was a plan to storm the capitol with an armed, angry mob. This has been all over Twitter, Parler, etc. They printed shirts for “civil war, January 6th 2021”

    2. Giuliani and Trump incited the mob

    3. Capitol Police were unprepared, and there were no reinforcements on standby despite #1.

    4. Efforts to call out the national guard once the Capitol was breached were delayed by the Department of Defense.

    Could this all be incompetence? Sure. Could this also be deliberate, with the expectation that The People will rise up and protect Their President? Also sure. Could it be any of the muddled states in between with some people underestimating threats, and others chuckling as the electoral vote count is being disrupted, and others hoping for Pelosi’s and Schumer’s heads on pikes in front of the capitol? Also sure.

    Incompetent defense against an angry mob incited by the sitting President is going to look a lot like an incompetent coup attempt that relies on The People to rise up. We shouldn’t assume either at this point.

    I will also add: every former Secretary of Defense signing the Op-Ed to say that the military shouldn’t be used to decide the election. Were they reacting to a specific threat that didn’t materialize (perhaps due to their warning), or did they inadvertently create a situation where no one was willing to authorize the national guard? I don’t know.

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  47. mistermix says:
  48. Joe says:

    Trump just tweeted that he won’t be attending Biden’s inauguration.

    I think we all know, CSK, that no one was saving a chair for him.

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  49. reid says:

    @Andy: The riot does symbolize the entire movement. 90% are idiots that are just kind of angry about things but mostly harmless. 10% are idiots that are malevolent and dangerous.

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  50. gVOR08 says:

    To be fair to the DC authorities, I believe chatter on Parler and 4chan (or is it 8chan or 12 chan now) and Twitter and Facebook has predicted about ten of the last one serious incidents in DC. There does seem to be a tendency to posture and bluster.

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  51. Andy says:

    @CSK:

    Well, since Pence had just “betrayed” Trump by certifying the votes, or beginning to do so, I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean to shake his hand in congratulation.

    And, to use your own formulation, it’s hard to tell how much damage they intended to do.

    I also think you’re far too intelligent to persist in defending these louts, or making excuses for their behavior.

    jesus fucking christ, I’m not defending their behavior. Read what I actually fucking write.

    I’m looking at the facts of what actually happened as we currently know them. Pointing out the fact that the mob had the opportunity to burn the place down and didn’t isn’t defending their behavior. Pointing out the fact that it very well could have been much worse is not defending their behavior.

    That you are “pretty sure” regarding their supposed intentions for Pence – by contrast – is pure speculation on your part. You don’t know what their intentions were regarding Pence and neither do I. By contrast, we know they didn’t intend to burn the place down because they had the opportunity to do that and they didn’t. Pointing that fact out is not defending them. FFS.

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  52. CSK says:

    @Joe:
    Sure. But it’s interesting he felt the need to tweet it. As I said, I knew months ago that he’d never attend the victor’s inauguration, no matter who it was.

    The Trumpkins are applauding this decision.

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  53. CSK says:

    @Andy:
    Oh, calm down. The fact that you’re so enraged by a fairly innocuous comment, followed by a compliment of sorts, does you little credit.

    I may have to retract what I said about your intelligence.

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  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Andy: Keep shoveling. With that much HS, there’s bound to be a pony in there somewhere.

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  55. Andy says:

    @CSK:

    Honestly, I don’t see how any reasonable person would interpret that response as a compliment, but if that was your intention, then I’m happy to accept that and move on.

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  56. de stijl says:

    I had an exchange yesterday with @dazedandconfused about this topic.

    He / she was arguing from a place of over-policing is a bad idea that leads to bad outcomes which I totally get and respond to. I grew up in S Mpls. I have witnessed bad cops doing bad things with my own eyes many times.

    But we have to secure our seat of government. Full stop. Have to.

    If it takes thousands ringing the capitol during protests, sure. You can do a lot with fencing and barricades, but bodies on the ground prevent an over-run and retreat like we saw Tuesday.

    That cannot happen again.

    I am all for raucous protests in front of the capitol. It is our right, but breaching security and occupation cannot happen.

    Well, cannot happen again. And we need to know how it happened on 1/6. Desperately need to know.

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  57. Andy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    @Andy: This was f*cking mob! To ascribe benign motivations to them is ridiculous. Any mob could turn on a dime, hence the whole “mob mentality” thing. Look at what happens when a frickin’ sports team when’s a national championship in some cities. And of course, we know now that this mob of tourists kicked a cop to death

    I’m not sure how that contradicts my point – which is that it could have been much worse. We are lucky the mob didn’t turn in that direction – as mobs easily can. We’re also lucky there didn’t appear to be any organized groups or individuals who planned to burn the place down or take other possible actions. What is inaccurate about that? Why is it bad to point out that it’s good that things weren’t worse?

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    @Andy: Keep shoveling. With that much HS, there’s bound to be a pony in there somewhere.

    If you think I’m shoveling HS, then feel free to actually dispute anything I’ve said here. If you can present facts that contradict my initial take here, I’m more than happy to reevaluate my position.

    But I suspect what has gotten into people’s craw here is something different.

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  58. Gustopher says:

    Does anyone have any doubt that Trump would have welcomed The People rising up to defend Their President, and overturning the count of the electoral votes?

    And does anyone have any other explanation for his incitement of the angry mob of his supporters that he had been encouraging to come?

    I think the only question is how far down this goes, and whether it involves enough planning to be considered a conspiracy.

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  59. CSK says:

    @Andy:
    I don’t agree with you all the time, but I don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re stupid. Quite the contrary. I will say that you seem to be grasping at straws in your estimation of the mob that invaded the Capitol Building on Wednesday.

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  60. Michael Reynolds says:

    It may have been simple incompetence. That’s the Occam’s go-to.

    Here’s the dog that isn’t barking: where is the law enforcement press conference? Where’s the line-up of Capitol Police, DC Police and FBI answering questions?

    Maybe incompetence, but it may also have been a deliberate decision by the Capitol Police hierarchy. It’s wrong to assume Chief Sund was corrupt, but it sure as hell bears investigating because this stinks like week-old Chinese take-out. Everyone in the CP chain of command should have their social media investigated thoroughly, because I guarantee you there were Q-Anon cops on that force and in the Capitol.

    And by the way, pleading that one of them was killed does nothing whatsoever to lessen the possibility that the Capitol Police had been corrupted.

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  61. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    That you are “pretty sure” regarding their supposed intentions for Pence – by contrast – is pure speculation on your part. You don’t know what their intentions were regarding Pence and neither do I.

    Sometimes you have to use common sense. We do not know with precision what their intent was, but the result was clearly was going to involve menacing and intimidation at the least — they were, after all, an armed, angry mob.

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  62. gVOR08 says:

    Most places I have lived complained about lack of coordination between the police agencies. Beyond city, county, state, there might be several counties overlapped by a metro, every suburb has their own cop shop, and often there were unincorporated townships, some with cop shops. Plus multiple overlapping fire and EMS agencies. It’s ridiculous that there isn’t some metro police organization rather than many dozen. A few years ago there seemed to be a push in many cities to at least set up shared communications.

    It’s many years since I visited DC. At the time I was struck by the heavy, and variegated, police presence. There were capitol police and DC police and park police and transit police and I think even Smithsonian police and gawd knows what. And, of course, suburban city, county, and state police. Plus a lot of Military Police wandering around. I checked WIKI once, the DC National Guard is mostly an MP unit. Anybody have any idea how many cop shops there are in the DC metro area? Is there any overarching command and control system?

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  63. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    You have to evaluate whether to engage or not with interlocutors based on good-faith and their willingness to not pre-set the rules.

    I know he presents as a smart person, but I have found it to be a best practice to not engage with that type.

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  64. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Incompetence and mental blindness to the possibility would be my Occam’s razor conclusion.

    I don’t believe any of the Trumpy aligned leaders actually believed that they’d have anything more than loud and intimidating rally outside – they did not understand what they were playing with

    It was all Reality TV to them, all façade and farce, all pretend.

    The behaviour of much of the crowd inside rather suggests even to the Insurrection mob, they were really not understanding their idiotic insurrection as anything more than play, than make believe.

    Which is not to excuse – rather it is to highlight how pathetic this all was, how utterly pathetic the Trumpist idiocy has been, playing as if they were in a Reality TV show without real world consequences.

    And now they have learned (or will be learning) otherwise.

    By the way, this video is impressive in its sheer idiocy: the Trump family selfie-videoing of partying for insurrection.. Empty heady light-weights not realising they were in something more than Reality TV.

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  65. gVOR08 says:

    @gVOR08: I have to tell an irrelevant true anecdote. Many years ago a friend and coworker walked in to work one morning with his face bruised and bandaged. The local park district had a budget surplus one year, which of course they had to spend. So although the sheriff patrolled the parks they set up a Park Police department. They set up a small office, bought two cop cars, and hired a handful of officers before the money ran out. Then they brought in volunteer citizen reserves. My friend signed on. He was riding shotgun with one of the real cops in the late evening. Note that this was before air bags and cops seldom wore seat belts because they got tangled with the gun and all the cop stuff on their belts. They pulled into a rural park after sunset closing and saw headlights down by the river. The officer said they were probably kids parking and turned off the headlights so he could sneak up on them. And promptly drove square into a tree. Fortunately they got help immediately. The car by the river was the other park cop car. I about ruptured myself not laughing as he recounted this.

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  66. gVOR08 says:

    @Lounsbury: How could they have known that inciting the Face Eating Leopard Party to eat faces might…

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  67. Jon says:

    @Lounsbury:

    The behaviour of much of the crowd inside rather suggests even to the Insurrection mob, they were really not understanding their idiotic insurrection as anything more than play, than make believe.

    They also understood, at least on a subconscious level, that due to their complexions and political leanings they were less likely to face consequences and would get the benefit of the doubt that a darker-hued crowd would not.

    “They’re shooting at us. They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots.”

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  68. gVOR08 says:

    @gVOR08: I forgot, Cincinnati also had a University of Cincinnati Police department. They disbanded it after a campus cop shot an unarmed Black guy off campus on dashcam. I suspect their insurance premiums were about to skyrocket.

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  69. de stijl says:

    @gVOR08:

    Intelligence coordination was not highly valued in that cop shop.

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  70. Andy says:

    @CSK:

    I will say that you seem to be grasping at straws in your estimation of the mob that invaded the Capitol Building on Wednesday.

    How, exactly, is pointing out the fact that the mob had the opportunity and ability to do more violence, arson, etc., and didn’t is “grasping at straws?” What is your specific objection to this point? How is that analysis wrong? Shouldn’t we be glad that things were not worse? Shouldn’t we be glad that the mob didn’t burn the place down or even try to burn the place down?

    We have the objective reality of what the mob actually did and didn’t do, which is what I’m basing my initial analysis on. Those are the facts we have a present. My analysis is always subject to change when the facts change. If you have facts, then present them. Vague statements about ‘grasping at straws’ doesn’t materially refute anything.

    You also seem to assume that by pointing out these facts I’m making some kind of value judgment. I’m not except to note that I’m glad that this incident wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

    From my perspective, it also appears that pointing these facts is problematic to you and others here because it somehow does not cast the mob in the very worst possible light, but you all are beating around the bush instead of precisely stating where I’m wrong or what the actual objection you have is. Is that accurate? You’ve accused me of defending the mob – explain to me the logic of how my arguments are a defense of their actions. After all, I’m on record here stating that the President should be impeached for inciting the mob and further that all illegal acts ought to be pursued and prosecuted.

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  71. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:

    How, exactly, is pointing out the fact that the mob had the opportunity and ability to do more violence, arson, etc., and didn’t is “grasping at straws?”

    Here’s how: you are assuming that they did not try to do worse, and did not intend to do worse. At least one of the rioters was carrying zip cuffs. Who do you think that was for? You don’t know that the mob had the opportunity to do worse, that’s an assumption. You don’t know that they didn’t try to do worse, another assumption. Both assumptions are favorable to the rioters.

    Look, I’m not trying to beat up on you, but had this been BLM I do not think you’d be proposing those two assumptions. I’m not saying you’re racist, but you need to take a more honest, less defensive look at yourself.

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  72. dazedandconfused says:

    As there isn’t a lot of history of the cops having to wrestle with Trump rally crowds I can see how the Chief might have brushed off the offers without thinking it through. Some counter-protesters might have showed up. Maybe a ton of them. Should have had everybody he could there or on standby. Still, it bothers me that a POTUS can incite a riot and the media wants to talk about the cop’s failure to completely control it.

    This is a deliberate defection tactic from the FOXy Neuz types, I suspect. From the left? They want to bitch about the unfairness of race in policing. However valid that point it’s not the wolf closest to the door. Not by a damn sight.

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  73. CSK says:

    @Andy:
    I was about to say that you’re making unwarranted assumptions, but I see that @Michael Reynolds: beat me to it.

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  74. charon says:

    @wr:

    As has been pointed out multiple times, if things had just gone a little bit worse, the entire line of succession — VP, speaker, president pro tem — could have been killed or kidnapped, and there were armed thugs in the capital with ziptie handcuffs.

    Like this guy?

    https://twitter.com/jsrailton/status/1347311311886151686

    Read the thread

    https://twitter.com/jimbourg/status/1347559078831284227

    I heard at least 3 different rioters at the Capitol say that they hoped to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor. It was a common line being repeated. Many more were just talking about how the VP should be

    executed.

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  75. Gustopher says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Some counter-protesters might have showed up. Maybe a ton of them.

    Where was antifa? This is literally the fa they are so anti to?

    I’m glad they weren’t there, but they seem to have fallen down on the job.

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  76. charon says:

    People thinking about this back on Dec 21:

    https://twitter.com/ariehkovler/status/1341016471795843080

    On January 6, armed Trumpist militias will be rallying in DC, at Trump’s orders. It’s highly likely that they’ll try to storm the Capitol after it certifies Joe Biden’s win. I don’t think this has sunk in yet.

    These people are angry at the Democrats. They’re angry at the GOP for not suspending democracy. They hate the media, and many consider police to be the enemy even as they fly the “blue lives” flag instead of the Stars and Stripes.

    People like Josh Hawley think it’s kayfabe, but the rubes sincerely believe their election was stolen.

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  77. PJ says:

    @CSK:

    Trump just tweeted that he won’t be attending Biden’s inauguration. I assumed months ago that he wouldn’t, but now I’m wondering if he wants to clear out of town before the Trump mobs descend.

    He’s going to set up his excile government so that it’s up and running at noon on Jan 20.

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  78. drj says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Here’s how: you are assuming that they did not try to do worse, and did not intend to do worse. At least one of the rioters was carrying zip cuffs.

    Don’t forget the pipe bombs. They brought fucking pipe bombs into the Capitol.

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  79. CSK says:

    @charon:
    On Friday, January 1, didn’t Lin Wood issue a call for Pence to be arrested for treason and then executed by firing squad?

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  80. PJ says:

    @CSK:

    Trump just tweeted that he won’t be attending Biden’s inauguration.

    No mask, no service.

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  81. Michael Reynolds says:

    @drj:
    Good point! I had forgotten.

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  82. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    For once they were smart.

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  83. CSK says:

    @drj:
    I was going to mention the pipe bombs, but I figured Andy’s riposte would be that the pipe bombs weren’t actually in the Capitol Building, but at DNC and RNC headquarters nearby, and they were found before the mob stormed the Capitol Building.

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  84. drj says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I just realized the bombs were actually left at the RNC and DNC rather than brought into the Capitol building itself. Still, it’s not exactly nothing.

    ETA: @CSK: Yeah, my bad.

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  85. CSK says:

    @PJ:
    I think we discussed the possibility/probability that Trump would have a replica of the Oval Office installed at Mar-a-Lago, or wherever he ends up.

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  86. charon says:

    @CSK:

    I’m sure Trump was on board.

    Let’s not forget Trump is a sadist who gets his kicks watching people get knocked around.

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  87. CSK says:

    @charon:
    Indeed. He’s been making his sadism clear for decades.

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  88. gVOR08 says:

    @PJ:

    He’s going to set up his excile government so that it’s up and running at noon on Jan 20.

    I’ve been discounting any idea Trump would go to Russia, or more accurately that Trump would be allowed in by Russia. What use is he to Putin once he’s out of power? But I’m forgetting 1) Trump gets his TV network as Russian sponsored Radio Free Amerika, 2) a long, subtle FSB debriefing, 3) Putin can extort every nickel he actually has, and 4) finally a far from subtle FSB debriefing.

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  89. Michael Reynolds says:

    @drj:

    That we know of. Again, we have had no news conference from LEO’s. So we don’t know whether bombs were found, we don’t know if guns were seized, we don’t know anything except that a violent mob, mostly middle-aged white men, invaded the Capitol in an attempt to stop the functioning of our democracy.

    A violent white mob acting on the lies of their cult leader. They got one of their own killed and contributed to the deaths of three others. And they killed a cop.

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  90. JohnSF says:

    @charon:
    I think you’re spot on with the “kayfabe”.
    Hawley is probably so contemptuous of his voter base that he thinks you can spout off about “fraud” and “stolen votes” and play nod and wink and grandmothers f’in’ footsteps with people who do not get ironic philosophical detachment and cool rational self interest.
    He thinks they’re just a howling mob like the old Romans at the Colosseum who may nominate their favourite for emperor.

    He cannot grasp, in his gut that for some, when you imply “treason” they actually take it seriously as a license for action.

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  91. Scott says:

    @PJ: St Helena is looking for economic development.

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  92. Michael Cain says:

    @James Joyner:

    But, yes, it’s distinctly possible that they would have at least done more planning under a normal administration.

    It is also distinctly possible that their planning would have been completely adequate under a normal administration. Do you plan for “the President is insane and will whip up a mob to go after the Capitol and Congress?”

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  93. Jon says:

    @drj: I think they did actually find a pipe bomb on the south side of the capital, in addition to the ones at the DNC and RNC.

    And, of course, there were the molotov cocktails.

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  94. CSK says:

    According to CNN, Richard Barnett, the guy from Alabama who was photographed at Nancy Pelosi’s desk, has been arrested.

    The pipe bomber, also from Alabama, has also been arrested. Eleven Molotov cocktails and “military-style weapons” were found in his pick-up truck.

    But I’m sure he meant no harm. After all, he didn’t throw the cocktails and fire the weapons, did he?

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  95. JohnSF says:

    @Scott:
    St Helena is British Overseas Territory if you don’t mind.
    Maybe we can do you a deal about radioactive waste?

    You could ask the Indian government about North Sentinel Island, perhaps?

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  96. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    Like Kramer’s recreation of the Merv Griffin Show when he stumbled across the set.

    Trump is going to hire Hannity to do his schtick like Patchface or Moon Boy. Dance for me, monkeyboy!

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  97. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael:

    This was not a protest. This was an armed attempt by motivated individuals to seize the seat of the US government and, from what we’re learning about how they were equipped, potentially hold members of Congress hostage. In other words, it was an attempted coup d’etat. You do not respond to that with deescalation. You respond to that with lethal force, preferably of the military variety.

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  98. mattbernius says:

    @Kathy:

    Is there a Federal felony murder rule?

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not suggest this. I get that people are pissed, but Felony Murder–aka Accessory Murder–is an awfully constructed concept that is used more often than not to overcharge (especially young minority folks). It’s why we have lots of people convicted of murder sitting in prisons now who were not directly involved with the act of murder itself.

    This is a prime example of why the US has a mass incarceration problem. The fact I’ve seen so many liberals suggesting charging folks who simply entered the Capitol building with Felony Murder is another great example that addition to overcharging and harsh sentences goes beyond party lines. It’s just that each side knows the people who “really deserve it” and they want that sweet sweet revenge.

    For more details on the issues with felony murder, here are some good places to start:
    https://theappeal.org/the-felony-murder-rule-as-a-representation-of-whats-wrong-in-our-criminal-legal-system/

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43673331

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  99. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You don’t know that the mob had the opportunity to do worse, that’s an assumption. You don’t know that they didn’t try to do worse, another assumption.

    The rioters gained full and complete access to, for one example, Pelosi’s office. They could have set it aflame, they didn’t. They could have done many other things that they didn’t do. That they didn’t do those things that they could have done is a fact, not an assumption.

    Let’s say someone breaks into my house and holds my family hostage, then leaves and doesn’t kill me. The fact that they didn’t kill me is not an assumption, it’s a fact. That they had the power to kill me and my family and chose not to is not an assumption, it is a fact, regardless of their motivations.

    The same applies here.

    That doesn’t excuse what they actually did do, which was very bad and indefensible. But it’s indisputable that they could have done even more because they had access and opportunity to commit worse acts than they actually did. There was ample opportunity for arson, as an obvious example, and as far as we know – no one actually attempted it. Absent facts or evidence to the contrary pointing that out does not involve assumptions.

    What’s ironic is that you and CSK are the ones making assumptions. Specifically assumptions about intentions. If you want to focus on that I have no problems with that, but I’m going to continue to prioritize facts and evidence.

    Look, I’m not trying to beat up on you, but had this been BLM I do not think you’d be proposing those two assumptions. I’m not saying you’re racist, but you need to take a more honest, less defensive look at yourself.

    Well, your perceptions of me have consistently been wrong and it is no different here. Once again, you purport to know what I would have done in a counterfactual. And once again you have zero evidence to support that counterfactual. And once again, you have to throw racist accusations around – again without evidence.

    Really you have no authority to lecture anyone about making assumptions.

    And once again I won’t respond in kind because, as imperfect as I am, I at least have sufficient introspection to know that I can’t reasonably make assumptions about what is rattling around in your brain nor can I divine what motivates you. I’ll continue to challenge your bad behavior, spurious allegations, and lack of skill at mind-reading via the internet, but won’t reciprocate.

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  100. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner:

    There had been repeated instances of actual rioting at (or at least adjacent to) other BLM protests. And BLM was at its root an anti-police movement, so police were naturally more afraid and hostile.

    James, I’m sorry, this doesn’t carry water.

    Perhaps if there wasn’t rioting and clashes at Charlottesville and multiple other Right Wing events over the last 4 years. Then, let’s not forget that we had the case of armed right-wing protestors forcing their way into Statehouses *checks notes* earlier this year? Or the attempt to kidnap the MI Governor *checks notes* earlier this year.

    Yeah, they were completely in their right minds to ONLY expect “First Amendment Friendly Activities” and NOT prepare for any other possibilities.

    Or do any intelligence work because it’s not like they were organizing in plain sight:

    https://www.propublica.org/article/capitol-rioters-planned-for-weeks-in-plain-sight-the-police-werent-ready

    The bottom line was that for some reason, despite those counterfactuals, this was seen as a crowd that couldn’t possibly be dangerous enough to do something like they did.

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  101. drj says:

    @Jon:

    The RNC and DNC offices are both located to the south of the Capitol.

    After taking a further look at recent news stories, I don’t thin there was a third bomb.

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  102. Scott says:

    @CSK: Apparently, the West Virginia delegate has been charged. A bright future in politics is envisioned.

    New W.Va. delegate who yelled ‘We’re in! We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!’ faces a federal charge reflecting that

    “I just received word that we have now a signed complaint also against a Delegate who serves in the West Virginia Legislature. He has been charged — and, I think, according to reports had recorded himself storming the Capitol — he is charged with entering restricted area and entering the United States Capitol. That report is also being released today as well. That defendant’s name is Derrick Evans. Derrick Evans.”

    A charge of entering restricted government buildings is a misdemeanor, punishable by fines and up to a year in prison. However, the punishment could increase significantly if “the offense results in significant bodily harm.”

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  103. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    That we know of. Again, we have had no news conference from LEO’s. So we don’t know whether bombs were found, we don’t know if guns were seized, we don’t know anything except that a violent mob, mostly middle-aged white men, invaded the Capitol in an attempt to stop the functioning of our democracy.

    A violent white mob acting on the lies of their cult leader. They got one of their own killed and contributed to the deaths of three others. And they killed a cop.

    I agree completely with all of that. I appreciate that you’re dealing in facts in that comment and characterizing knowns and unknowns instead of engaging in speculation. That’s what I’ve been trying to do. There’s more information to follow.

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  104. Kathy says:

    @JohnSF:

    It’s also Napoleon’s last exile.

    Think what you will about Bonaparte, he deserves better than Trump.

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  105. Jon says:

    @drj: Yah, I’m roughly familiar with where those offices are; I was going from memory thinking I’d heard there had been more than just those two by the RNC and DNC. If you’ve dug around looking for details then you have done more than I have, so I defer to you.

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  106. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott:

    Indeed. If the offense results in bodily harm or the person was armed during the event, the offense becomes a felony with a maximum term of 10 years.

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  107. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:

    Able was I ere I saw Elba.

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  108. CSK says:

    @Scott:
    Maybe he can serve in the W.Va. legislature while he’s serving his sentence in prison.

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  109. KM says:

    @Andy:
    Why is this the hill you’ve chosen to die on? So they didn’t burn down the Capitol and murder everyone inside – what, do you want us to give them a cookie? Oh, they only stole some stuff and confidential government data but hey, they only bashed one guy’s head in so we shouldn’t make assumptions about anything else terrible they did? Just because they didn’t set off the nukes doesn’t mean a damn thing. There’s pictures of them with gear to take hostages – fact. They built a gallows outside – fact. There’s numerous videos of them screaming threats of violence after breaking inside the damn building – fact. Assumptions based on those facts leading to conclusions of violent intent are WAY more reasonable than not assuming as such.

    You’re attempting to humanize them and dismiss how bad this was out of some misguided notion of “fair mindness”. Once when I was a counselor, I had someone come to pick up an abused wife who was trying to come to terms with what had just happened to her. Her ride “joked” that he didn’t know what the fuss was about -he didn’t break her arm now did he? Just gave her a black eye is all – could have been worse so she’s just being a drama queen with all this “he could have killed me” stuff. Wanna guess how well that went down with me and security? You’re being incredibly tone-deaf while trying to appear “reasonable”. That’s not being fair or logical; it’s dismissing valid concerns by downplaying them as too emotional or irrational by your standards.

    We don’t have the whole story yet. The more we learn, the more “it could have been worse” ages poorly. Perhaps this isn’t the best hill for your last stand…..

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  110. An Interested Party says:

    But I suspect what has gotten into people’s craw here is something different.

    I wonder what that “something” is…

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  111. Jen says:

    @drj: There was a pipe bomb found in the Capitol, an Alabama man has been arrested for that and for having eleven prepared Molotov cocktails in his vehicle.

    Via CNN:

    A resident of Alabama was also charged in connection with the pipe bomb found on the south side of the Capitol building. Eleven Molotov cocktails and military-style weapon were found in his pickup truck, officials said.

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  112. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy: Overall, I think we are mostly on the same page. I was objecting to the idea that the individuals making up the mob didn’t have evil intent when they joined it. It may even be true, but it is irrelevant. Joining a mob is an act of abandonment and acceptance of what that mob will do. Yes, we were lucky that they only stomped one cop to death. But that doesn’t lessen what these moronic thugs engaged upon.

    Like I said, I don’t think we are disagreeing so much as emphasizing different facets of the same thing.

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  113. Loviatar says:

    @James Joyner / @Andy

    A lot of back and forth on protest vs. riots, blame shifting, equivocations and excuse making, here is what I know as a fact.

    The leader of one branch of our government called up his brown shirts, his paramilitary goons and ordered them to attack another branch of our government as they were in the process of ratifying his replacement.

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  114. charon says:

    @JohnSF:

    Ezra Klein:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/07/opinion/trump-capitol-protests.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    On Wednesday, at the Capitol, those who took Trump seriously and those who took Trump literally collided in spectacular fashion. Inside the building, a rump of Republican senators, led by Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, were leading a feckless challenge to the Electoral College results. They had no pathway to overturning the results and they knew it. They had no evidence that the results should be overturned and they knew it. And they did not act or speak like they truly believed the election had been stolen. They were there to take Trump’s concerns seriously, not literally, in the hopes that his supporters might become their supporters in 2024.

    But at the same time, Trump was telling his supporters that the election had actually been stolen, and that it was up to them to resist. And they took him literally. They did not experience this as performative grievance; they experienced it as a profound assault. They stormed the Capitol, attacked police officers, shattered doors and barriers, looted congressional offices. One woman was shot in the mayhem and died.

    If their actions looked like lunacy to you, imagine it from their perspective, from within the epistemic structure in which they live. The president of the United States told them the election had been stolen by the Democratic Party, that they were being denied power and representation they had rightfully won. “I know your pain,” he said, in his video from the White house lawn later on Wednesday. “I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it.” More than a dozen Republican senators, more than 100 Republican House members, and countless conservative media figures had backed Trump’s claims.

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  115. charon says:

    @charon:

    more:

    If the self-styled revolutionaries were lawless, that was because their leaders told them that the law had already been broken, and in the most profound, irreversible way. If their response was extreme, so too was the crime. If landslide victories can fall to Democratic chicanery, then politics collapses into meaninglessness. How could the thieves be allowed to escape into the night, with full control of the federal government as their prize? A majority of Republicans now believe the election was stolen, and a plurality endorse insurrection as a response. A snap YouGov poll found that 45 percent of Republicans approved of the storming of the Capitol; 43 percent opposed it.

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  116. Mu Yixiao says:

    @gVOR08:

    Is there any overarching command and control system?

    From what I’ve been able to determine, no. But that’s mostly because each of the forces has very specific and well-defined jurisdictions (e.g., if it’s on the Capitol grounds, it’s only the Capitol Police who deal with it).

    As for coordination, there was some. The mayor said that the entire DC Metro force was out enforcing a vehicular cordon of the area–which had been enlarged beyond what had originally been planned. They were on the defense against car bombs and such. They were a first, coarse filter, and weren’t concerned about people on foot waving flags–that was supposed to be the job of the CP.

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  117. SKI says:

    @mattbernius: Agree that we shouldn’t charge them all with felony murder.

    I do think we should charge them with Seditious Conspiracy though. They planned to interfere with, and actually did interrupt and delay, Congress carrying out its obligations to receive and accept the electoral college votes. Straight forward case for pretty much that entire crowd…

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  118. charon says:

    @charon:

    The whole piece very much worth a read.

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  119. Barry says:

    @wr: “…and there were armed thugs in the capital with ziptie handcuffs.”

    There was at least one coordinated group with armored vests, helmets and back-packs; one of them had a large number of zip ties.

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  120. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: I think you’re being unreasonable. After all, it’s absolutely possible that they brought zip ties with them because they were concerned about loose computer cabling that might need reorganizing and simply brought the wrong size, for example. 😉

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  121. mattbernius says:

    FWIW, I do think that this actually has a number of legitimate parallels to Benghazi which was at once a protest and a coordinated attack.

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  122. Kathy says:

    An article at 538 claims the Putsch was all about white supremacy.

    Well, isn’t that what trump’s term was about?

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  123. Kathy says:

    @mattbernius:

    I don’t disagree, but I’ll tell you the same thing I said when McVeigh was sentenced to death: I don’t favor that kind of sentence, but this is not the case in which to draw the line.

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  124. Lounsbury says:

    @mattbernius: It certainly carries water – your Lefty perceptions not being one that would one call accurate as the perception of anti-police broadly (with the rhetoric really not in fact being at all very distinguishable, an analysis post-election that the non-far-Left Democrats have in fact shared up to and including Biden).

    The reality of a real basis of perception does not mean to say the BLM itself of a necessity or in broad reality need be anti-Police or anti-order but the partisan never-admit-error and white washing denials (as yours) of the component underly the political incompetence of the Left.

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  125. JohnMcC says:

    @Andy: Back in MY day…. I recall very clearly the period of campus administration buildings being seized and occupied by anti-war protesters. Columbia is the university usually thought of first when this is brought up but it happened many places. When the door was opened and unescorted ‘occupiers’ were free to roam the offices, that is just what they did usually. They sat at desks. They used executive bathrooms. They hung out windows waving at their colleagues below. It was celebratory.

    Among them were more hard-core ‘activists’ who would go through files and steal material hoping it would ‘expose’ the military-industrial-complex infiltrating the university. Those folks came prepared and knew where to go when they broke into the President’s office.

    Andy, the actions we saw the greater mass of insurrectionists taking when they found that the Capital was theirs seemed remarkably like that pattern.

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  126. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @PJ: I’m not sure that I can buy this whole “set up a government in exile” thing. It would cost money to do that and 1) Trump is not likely to spend HIS OWN (no fx buttons, sorry 🙁 ) money on such a project and 2) he MAY NOT ACTUALLY HAVE any money to spend on it. I’m assuming that the current grift is for expenses related to moving to Mar al Lago and bribes to try to get Palm Beach to let him live there.

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  127. Sleeping Dog says:

    Video of the Ashli Babbit shooting

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2021/01/08/ashli-babbitt-shooting-video-capitol/

    They all seem to be such nice folks taking a tour of the capitol

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  128. charon says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    She will be their Horst Wessel.

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  129. Gustopher says:

    @mattbernius:

    I get that people are pissed, but Felony Murder–aka Accessory Murder–is an awfully constructed concept that is used more often than not to overcharge (especially young minority folks).

    Agreed.

    But, are we onboard with additional charges and penalties for having a gun while committing another crime? Because this seems like exactly the moment for those laws.

    There’s a world of difference between the folks storming the Capitol with guns, tactical gear, zip-cuffs and mace, and the little old lady doddering about waving her flag — to pick to example photos I have seen on twitter today.

    Also, if you have a gun with you, you have to be aware of the effects of your actions in a way that someone who is unarmed doesn’t — the unarmed person does not carry an implied threat.

    Plus, there is zero doubt in my mind that in a crowd of that size, there are at least a few people intent on killing, even if there isn’t a plot to kidnap anyone, give them a show trial and hang them in the Capitol. If all we can get them on are gun charges, I’ll take it.

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  130. Andy says:

    @KM:

    Why is this the hill you’ve chosen to die on?

    This isn’t the hill I chose to die on. Go back and look at my first comment in this thread. Among it was this one line, which I thought was just a pretty obvious and banal observation and not even my main point:

    Frankly, it could have been much worse. Once inside the mob seemed mostly interested in stealing souvenirs and taking selfies. If some had been intent on murder or arson, there was no one to stop them.

    It’s the pushback against that line that started this ball rolling and created the hill with several here quickly descending into personal attacks. I didn’t choose to fight on that hill, but if people respond that way, I’m not going to be silent about it.

    Note that no one has come out and said that what I wrote is factually or analytically wrong, rather people seem to be complaining because they’ve interpreted the subtext in a particularly uncharitable and fact/evidence-free way.

    You’re attempting to humanize them and dismiss how bad this was out of some misguided notion of “fair mindness”.

    No I’m not. You don’t know my intentions. You are assuming my intentions and I think you are doing so either in ignorance or bad faith. If you want to know what I think or why I wrote what I did, or why I made a certain argument, then ASK, don’t assume.

    I don’t try to tell you or anyone else here what your intentions or motivations are when you write something here, I would appreciate the same courtesy.

    @MarkedMan:

    Overall, I think we are mostly on the same page. I was objecting to the idea that the individuals making up the mob didn’t have evil intent when they joined it. It may even be true, but it is irrelevant. Joining a mob is an act of abandonment and acceptance of what that mob will do. Yes, we were lucky that they only stomped one cop to death. But that doesn’t lessen what these moronic thugs engaged upon.

    Like I said, I don’t think we are disagreeing so much as emphasizing different facets of the same thing.

    Thanks for the fair response. I largely agree.

    I never intended or wanted to go down a rabbit hole to adjudicate individual or even collective mob motivations. Whatever motivated the mob or whatever mob members intended to do is less important, in my view than what they actually did. And I, for one, am not at all shy about stating that I’m glad they didn’t do more harm when they clearly had the opportunity to do so.

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  131. Andy says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Andy, the actions we saw the greater mass of insurrectionists taking when they found that the Capital was theirs seemed remarkably like that pattern.

    I agree with your entire comment. I do think it fits a well-established historical pattern. Mobs are not unitary, they range from the hard-core to people just there for the lolz.

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  132. CSK says:

    @Andy:
    Just so you know…multiple sources, including a Reuters photographer, are reporting that they heard at least three people yelling that they wanted to find Mike Pence and hang him from the gallows they’d erected outside the Capitol.

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  133. mattbernius says:

    @Gustopher:

    But, are we onboard with additional charges and penalties for having a gun while committing another crime? Because this seems like exactly the moment for those laws.

    Honestly, I cannot say I’m a huge fan of these types of laws either. I think (especially when combined with mandatory minimums) they are another example of a double-dip that ends up feeding into Mass Incarceration as well (which gets to the uncomfortable truth that we really need to think through our response to “violent” crime here in the US).

    Again, not trying to defend folks (or get into a broader discussion about firearm control). I just really have come to see enhanced sentencing laws like that as deeply flawed.

    I also think that, for example, carrying zip ties and a gun are definitely evidence of intent that should lead to higher charging.

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  134. Andy says:

    @CSK:

    Just so you know…multiple sources, including a Reuters photographer, are reporting that they heard at least three people yelling that they wanted to find Mike Pence and hang him from the gallows they’d erected outside the Capitol.

    I have no reason or desire to dispute that or doubt that it’s true. I don’t see how it’s relevant to our debate, such as it is, nor do I think it contradicts anything I’ve said. In fact, it supports what I’ve said from the beginning which is that things could have been a lot worse – which is the only point I wanted to make until you and others decided to dig your nails in.

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  135. CSK says:

    @Andy:
    It’s relevant because you said: “It’s hard to say what people yelling ‘Where’s Pence?’ intended to actually do.”

    I think it’s pretty clear from what I quoted.

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  136. Jax says:

    Twitter has also permanently banned @realDonaldTrump.

    FINALLY!!!!

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  137. Kathy says:

    For those who like to indulge in Schadenfreude, or who can’t resist doing so, think that many of the participants of the Putsch of January 6th will spend time in prison for absolutely no gain whatsoever.

    Ok. I know I said the same thing about Trump when he got impeached, when it looked like the democratic nominee wouldn’t be Biden. I’m more confident this time.

    And perhaps this time it will also be true for El Cheeto

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  138. Jax says:

    Crap. Meant to put that in the Open Forum. 😉

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  139. Kathy says:

    @Jax:

    this is good.

    But it comes five years and untold suffering too late.

    I think this reply to Twitter’s announcement summarizes it well.

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  140. de stijl says:

    @Scott:

    I am glad he was arrested.

    Rioting and treason, sure, is a bad thing on his resume, but referring to yourself in the third person while filming yourself is inexcusable.

    “Derrick Evans is in the holding cell!” might not get as many likes.

    Effing moron.

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  141. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Scott:
    @de stijl:

    Saw something yesterday that the R, speaker of the WVA House was furious with Evans for his actions and likely would face an ethics complaint. Now will likely be forced to resign.

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  142. de stijl says:

    @mattbernius:

    That Pro Publica link was awesome. Thanks!

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  143. Jax says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I love the irony of him being forced to resign before he was even sworn in. 😉

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  144. Andy says:

    @CSK:

    I think it’s pretty clear from what I quoted.

    Fair point. Your follow-up information does provide important context regarding their intentions. I apologize for my uncharitable reply to you.

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  145. wr says:

    @JohnSF: “Hawley is probably so contemptuous of his voter base that he thinks you can spout off about “fraud” and “stolen votes” ”

    Considering that he is so contemptuous of his base that he constantly runs against the “elites” after getting degrees from Stanford and Yale and teaching at Oxford, that seems like a safe bet.

    And the fact that his base cheers on his cries against the “elites” definitely suggests they deserve that contempt.

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