The FBI and Department of Homeland Security intelligence agencies failed to adequately assess the severity of threats leading up to Jan. 6 and often failed to formally warn others of the dangers ahead of time, according to a report released Tuesday by the Senate Committee. for homeland security.
“At a fundamental level, the agencies failed to fulfill their mission and to connect the public and non-public information they received,” the report states.
The Democratic-led Senate panel found that both the FBI and the DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis “had not issued sufficient warnings based on the information available, suggesting that January 6 could turn violent.”
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According to the report, which uses information from the House’s past Jan. 6 committee, the FBI and DHS office received early tips and warnings, as well as other information about the chaos that would eventually unfold on Jan. 6.
A tip in December 2020, about the risk from the far-right Proud Boys group, urged authorities to “please take this tip seriously and investigate further”.
Instead, however, the new Senate report accuses the agencies of downplaying known dangers, hesitating in their techniques based on past issues, and being averse to sharing more widely what was known.
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images, FILE
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One of the other problems was a tendency to issue warnings informally rather than in writing — with the FBI only releasing two Jan. 6-specific documents, both the night before, even though large pro-Trump demonstrations had long been expected on that date. would take place. in Washington.
As an example, the report states: “The special agent in charge of the intelligence division of the FBI Washington Field Office on Jan. 6 mixed up the Bureau’s standards for what kind of information is useful for further investigation (a higher standard) versus reporting only to partner agencies (a lower standard), and as a result the FBI withheld certain tips and intelligence on January 6.”
The FBI also did not develop certain tips around Jan. 6 because they were not deemed credible, in violation of FBI policy requiring that any tip received be recorded so long as it meets an ‘authorized purpose’ for investigation, regardless of the credibility,” the report said. goes on to say.
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Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., Senate President for Homeland Security, told reporters Monday that Jan. 6 was “scheduled in plain sight and yet it seemed like our intelligence agencies completely dropped the ball.”
The FBI viewed some of the threats signaled to them by outside sources as credible, the report found.
Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images, FILE
The committee’s findings are consistent with previous reports from the Government Accountability Office and the DHS Inspector General on the Jan. 6 intelligence failure.
Peters said the “constant finger-pointing” by those at both the FBI and DHS made it difficult to say who was responsible for determining which agency was in charge of coordinating the response to the insurgency.
According to conversations detailed in the Senate report, the FBI was unconcerned about the prospect of violence even hours before the attack, despite evidence of people gathering in body armor and with radio equipment. And a senior DHS official wrote that morning: “There is no indication of civil disobedience.”
On the day of the attack, Peters said DHS intelligence analysts were watching the events on TV and “wondering, is this a reportable threat?”