Senate report blasts FBI, DHS for not acting on Jan. 6 intel

Senate Democrats say it was not a failure to obtain intel, but rather a failure to act on it that led to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.
Insurrectionists scale the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
Posted at 9:08 AM, Jun 27, 2023

A report prepared by Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security Committee slammed multiple federal agencies, claiming officials should have been better prepared for the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs released the findings on Tuesday after spending nearly two years gathering evidence. 

The committee said it made seven key findings: 

- The Federal Bureau of Investigations and Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) received numerous early warnings, tips and other intelligence about plans for violence on Jan. 6. 

- The FBI produced only two limited raw intelligence documents related to Jan. 6, both issued the night before the attack.

- The I&A did not issue any intelligence products specific to Jan. 6, and instead provided only general information on nationwide threats.

- Despite claims by some agency officials and analysts, FBI and I&A have authority to monitor open-source intelligence, including social media — and agency guidelines require them to report certain online threats.

- The FBI had a contract with a third-party software provider to search and flag potential threats online that expired Dec. 31, 2020, undermining their efforts days before Jan. 6, 2021.

- The FBI and I&A failed to follow agency guidelines on the use of open-source intelligence.

- The Department of Homeland Security did not designate Jan. 6 as a National Special Security Event (NSSE).

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The report said the issue was not a failure to obtain intelligence, but rather a failure to "fully and accurately assess the severity of the threat identified by that intelligence, and formally disseminate guidance to their law enforcement partners with sufficient urgency and alarm to enable those partners to prepare for the violence that ultimately occurred."

According to the Department of Justice, over 1,000 people have been criminally charged in connection to the insurrection as of earlier this month. Of those, about 350 have been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees. 

The criminal charges have led to 587 plea bargains and 85 convictions at trial. 

Over 29 months later, the Department of Justice continues to issue indictments tied to the insurrection. On Monday, the DOJ announced that an Ohio man and a North Carolina man face various charges stemming from the Capitol breach.

"Despite the high volume of tips and online traffic about the potential for violence – some of which the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Intelligence and Analysis were aware of as early as December 2020 – these agencies failed to sound the alarm and share critical intelligence information that could have helped law enforcement better prepare for the events of January 6th, 2021,” said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan. “My report shows there was a shocking failure of imagination from these intelligence agencies to take these threats seriously, and there is no question that their failures to effectively analyze and share the threat information contributed to the failures to prevent and respond to the horrific attack that unfolded at the Capitol."