U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released a new report detailing the results of his investigation examining intelligence failures by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) in the lead-up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The report found that FBI and I&A received numerous tips and were aware of significant online posts threatening violence at the Capitol, yet they failed to accurately assess this intelligence and share the information with law enforcement partners. Peters’ investigation found that these missteps contributed to the security planning failures that left frontline officers unprepared for the violent mob that breached the Capitol and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power. The findings build on a bipartisan investigation and report Peters led in 2021 detailing security, planning and response failures related to the attack. The report released by Peters today addresses previously unanswered questions about how the FBI and I&A severely misjudged the threat level.

“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 Senator Peters. “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. I’ll continue pressing for our national security apparatus and intelligence agencies to learn from their missteps so that an attack of this nature never happens again.”

READ THE FULL REPORT: “Planned in Plain Sight: A Review of the Intelligence Failures in Advance of January 6th, 2021”

READ THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The report’s key findings include:

  • FBI and I&A received numerous early warnings, tips, and other intelligence about plans for violence on January 6th;
  • FBI produced only two limited raw intelligence documents related to January 6th, both issued the night before the attack, and I&A did not issue any intelligence products specific to January 6th;
  • 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; and
  • FBI and I&A failed to follow agency guidelines on the use of open-source intelligence. 

The report’s key recommendations include:

  • Conduct internal after-action reviews on the intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination processes in the lead-up to January 6th;
  • Improve FBI and I&A policies, guidelines, and procedures for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating intelligence to partner agencies;
  • Improve inter-agency coordination for significant events and consider designating a lead federal agency; and
  • Responsibly reassert Congressional oversight authorities over the Executive Branch. 

While public reporting and previous congressional investigations have shown that the FBI and I&A had intelligence about plans for violence on January 6th, Peters’ report provides new information about the sheer volume of warnings these agencies received that indicated the potential for violence. The investigation also shows that despite having this information, agencies repeatedly downplayed the threat level and failed to effectively share the intelligence with law enforcement partners. The report also shows that FBI and I&A struggled to use open source intelligence – with appropriate restrictions to protect Constitutional rights – such as social media posts to monitor and assess threats to lawmakers and the Capitol. For example, the Committee obtained internal emails from I&A where – even after rioters breached the Capitol – analysts had difficulty deciding whether online posts calling for violence at the Capitol indicated that there was a reportable threat. Finally, the investigation found that multiple federal agencies failed to coordinate to ensure frontline security personnel were prepared to defend the Capitol. The report makes several recommendations to ensure that the FBI and I&A address their failures in the days and weeks leading up to the Capitol attack.

As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has long pressed the federal government to do more to combat domestic terrorism, including white supremacist and anti-government violence. Last Congress, he released an investigative report that found while independent experts and national security officials call white supremacist and anti-government extremist violence the most significant terrorist threat facing our nation today, counterterrorism agencies like the FBI and DHS are still not taking adequate steps to effectively address this growing threat.

Originally published by Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs. Click HERE for source. 

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