A coalition of 140 national security leaders who served under Democratic and Republican administrations is urging congressional leaders to form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot on the Capitol.
“The events of January 6th exposed severe vulnerabilities in the nation’s preparedness for preventing and responding to domestic terrorist attacks. The immediate security failings that permitted a lethal breach of the Capitol Complex by armed extremists raise serious questions and demand immediate solutions,” they wrote.
The attack showed “coordinated disinformation campaigns, nontransparent financing of extremist networks, potential foreign influences, and white supremacist violent extremism,” they added.
“Understanding how these forces culminated in an attack on the infrastructure of our democracy is critical to preventing future attacks,” they wrote.
The letter was signed by national security leaders including former Secretaries of Defense Chuck Hagel and William Cohen; former Secretaries of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Jeh Johnson and Michael Chertoff; and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
The Jan. 6 attack left five people dead and has led to more than 300 arrests.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appointed retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré to lead an investigation into the attack and has said she would assemble a 9/11-style commission as well.
But those plans have been in limbo since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and others criticized the format of her proposed commission for allowing Democrats to make more appointments than Republicans.
Under Pelosi’s draft bill, Republicans would appoint four members of the commission, while Democrats would appoint seven. None of the members would be lawmakers or government officials.
The former national security officials argued the event calls for a full nonpartisan panel to review the event and how the country can be better prepared.
“Commissions — properly empowered, resourced, and led — can establish a full picture of events and an analysis of their causes, from which nonpartisan recommendations can authoritatively flow,” they wrote.
“Given the gravity of January 6th as a national security matter — the violent disruption to the transition of power and the continuing threat of future attacks — a national commission examining the lead up to the January 6th assault, and the attendant security lapses, is not only appropriate, but a critical component of the national response,” they added.