Honoré says Jan. 6 stemmed from ‘propaganda’ that gave people ‘a little BS’

Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who led a review of the security failures leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection, said Tuesday that the attack was the result of “propaganda” that gave people “a little BS about what they want to hear.”

Honoré compared former President Trump’s false claims of election fraud, which were echoed by his GOP allies in Congress, to a “guy who keeps lying about having a horse. He keeps telling people he has a horse and somebody will give him a saddle.” 

“And people who are wanting to believe that message that the election was stolen, they rode with it. And they continue to ride with it,” Honoré said during a virtual discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council. 

“I think we’ve been had by little propaganda and a superb use of information operation, which is an offensive weapon to shape people’s minds. And again, just tell them a little BS about what they want to hear, a sliver of truth and have them act on it,” Honoré said.

Honoré’s remarks came as law enforcement and the military are grappling with how to spot extremists within their ranks given that a number of people arrested in connection with the riot at the Capitol previously served in some capacity.

Honoré said the military has given the outcome it wants “to expunge and control extremism” without offering sufficient training on how to do so.

“We do things best when we describe what we want the soldier to do … when we give him the task, the condition and the standard. I don’t think we’ve done that,” he said.

The team led by Honoré issued a series of recommendations in a report last month, including the installation of a retractable fence around the Capitol that can go up in emergencies, hiring hundreds more Capitol Police officers and conducting background checks on people with access to the Capitol. 

Mary McCord, a former acting assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice, said some institutions have not been as aggressive in addressing extremism, believing that doing so could violate soldiers’ or police officers’ First Amendment rights. 

“There’s more leeway there when it comes to extremist propaganda than I think some people believe there is,” said McCord, who is now a professor at Georgetown Law School, suggesting that even comments posted on someone’s personal social media pages could be grounds for reprimand.

“There are certain infringements on First Amendment rights that are permissible because it’s such an important mission,” she said. 

“The mission of protecting and defending the U.S. from all enemies foreign and domestic requires there to be a unity of effort, a unity of command, and not having those who would not be able to work together toward the common mission, even within police departments.”

Honoré acknowledged that the military should enact better training to identify extremism while also ensuring it doesn’t infringe upon First Amendment rights.

“We need to do better training. We need to identify the standards. We need to respect people’s First Amendment rights. We must respect people’s right to think about what they want to think. I mean, my God, we put a uniform on you, we borrow you for two years or 20 years or in my case 37. You’re still an American citizen. We can’t expunge what people think. The problem is when they act,” Honoré said.

Lawmakers have yet to pass additional funding to enact security reforms in the wake of Jan. 6 as well as the latest attack on the Capitol grounds on Friday, when a man crashed his vehicle into two Capitol Police officers and a barricade at a security checkpoint along the remaining fence. 

One of the officers, William Evans, died, while the other was injured and has since been released from the hospital.

Five people died as a result of the Jan. 6 insurrection: Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, an insurrectionist shot by police while trying to break into the House chamber and three others who died of medical emergencies. More than 100 police officers on the scene were also injured. 

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said that lawmakers are working to improve intelligence operations, boost the Capitol Police’s capacity and make physical enhancements to the Capitol complex. Both the House and Senate are currently on a spring recess and aren’t scheduled to return to session until next week. 

“When Congress returns to Washington, we will act to ensure the safety of the Capitol and everyone who works there,” DeLauro said in a statement late Monday. 

While the mob of Trump’s supporters broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6 to try to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election results, the precise motive of the suspect in Friday’s attack is not yet clear.

Friends and family of the suspect, Noah Green, who was killed in the attack, told The Washington Post that he had shown signs of paranoia and delusions, suggesting that his actions stemmed from mental health issues.

Tags Capitol breach Capitol police domestic terrorism Donald Trump Rosa DeLauro USPC

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