FBI, DHS didn’t produce formal threat assessments ahead of Capitol riot
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security did not compile formal threat assessments ahead of last week’s deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol, NPR reported Thursday.
Both the FBI and DHS confirmed to NPR that no such assessment was produced outlining the potential for violence, even though the Jan. 6 gatherings were expected to draw far-right participants such as the Proud Boys, who were involved in violent clashes in Washington, D.C., weeks before. President Trump heavily promoted last Wednesday’s demonstration in the nation’s capital, saying it would be “wild.”
A DHS spokesperson told NPR that instead of a formal assessment, the agency opted instead for a more generalized report about the “heightened threat environment during the 2020-2021 election season, including the extent to which the political transition and political polarization are contributing to the mobilization of individuals to commit violence.”
Mike Sena, president of the National Fusion Center Association, told the outlet he was “surprised” by the lack of detailed advance information.
“We received a number of reports, but they were all regarding events all around the election cycle, you know, information sharing,” he said.
Some security officials told NPR they were concerned that issuing a formal threat assessment would have First Amendment implications and a chilling effect on peaceful assembly. However, three law enforcement officials said DHS and FBI had issued full intelligence bulletins ahead of Black Lives Matter protests in Washington in June and ahead of the Islamic Society of North America’s annual convention.
Another official told NPR that FBI personnel in Norfolk, Va., had identified specific threats to Congress and people sharing maps of the tunnel system beneath the Capitol, as first reported by The Washington Post.
The Hill has reached out to DHS and the FBI for comment.
The preparation and response by the Capitol Police and congressional sergeants-at-arms has also come under scrutiny. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund announced last week that he will resign on Jan. 16 after congressional leaders asked for him to step down. Both Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger and House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving will also resign after requests from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), respectively.