The FBI and Homeland Security had ‘a massive amount’ of warnings about Jan. 6, a Senate report finds

Jun 27, 2023, 2:52 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security downplayed or ignored “a massive amount of intelligence information” ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S Capitol, according to the chairman of a Senate panel that on Tuesday is releasing a new report on the intelligence failures ahead of the insurrection.

The report details how the agencies failed to recognize and warn of the potential for violence as some of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters openly planned the siege in messages and forums online.

Among the multitude of intelligence that was overlooked was a December 2020 tip to the FBI that members of the far-right extremist group Proud Boys planned to be in Washington, D.C., for the certification of Joe Biden’s victory and their “plan is to literally kill people,” the report said. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said the agencies were also aware of many social media posts that foreshadowed violence, some calling on Trump’s supporters to “come armed” and storm the Capitol, kill lawmakers or “burn the place to the ground.”

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, the Democratic chairman of the Homeland panel, said the breakdown was “largely a failure of imagination to see threats that the Capitol could be breached as credible,” echoing the findings of the Sept. 11 commission about intelligence failures ahead of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The report by the panel’s majority staff says the intelligence community has not entirely recalibrated to focus on the threats of domestic, rather than international, terrorism. And government intelligence leaders failed to sound the alarm “in part because they could not conceive that the U.S. Capitol Building would be overrun by rioters.”

Still, Peters said, the reasons for dismissing what he called a “massive” amount of intelligence “defies an easy explanation.”

While several other reports have examined the internal assessments by the Capitol Police and other government agencies — the latest investigation is the first congressional report to focus solely on the actions of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

In the wake of the attack, Peters said the committee interviewed officials at both agencies and found what was “pretty constant finger pointing” at each other.

“Everybody should be accountable because everybody failed,” Peters said.

Using emails and interviews collected by the Senate committee and others, including from the House Jan. 6 panel, the report lays out in detail the intelligence the agencies received in the weeks ahead of the attack.

There was not a failure to obtain evidence, the report says, but the agencies “failed to fully and accurately assess the severity of the threat identified by that intelligence, and formally disseminate guidance to their law enforcement partners.”

As Trump, a Republican, falsely claimed he had won the 2020 election and tried to overturn his election defeat, telling his supporters to “ fight like hell ” in a speech in front of the White House that day, thousands of them marched to the Capitol. More than 2,000 rioters overran law enforcement, assaulted police officers, and caused more than $2.7 billion in damage to the Capitol, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report earlier this year.

Breaking through windows and doors, the rioters sent lawmakers running for their lives and temporarily interrupted the certification of the election victory by Biden, a Democrat.

Even as the attack was happening, the new report found, the FBI and Homeland Security downplayed the threat. As the Capitol Police struggled to clear the building, Homeland Security “was still struggling to assess the credibility of threats against the Capitol and to report out its intelligence.”

And at a 10 a.m. briefing as protesters gathered at Trump’s speech and near the Capitol were “wearing ballistic helmets, body armor, carrying radio equipment and military grade backpacks,” the FBI briefed that there were “no credible threats at this time.”

The lack of sufficient warnings meant that law enforcement were not adequately prepared and there was not a hardened perimeter established around the Capitol, as there is during events like the annual State of the Union address.

The report contains dozens of tips about violence on Jan. 6 that the agencies received and dismissed either due to lack of coordination, bureaucratic delays or trepidation on the part of those who were collecting it. The FBI, for example, was unexpectedly hindered in its attempt to find social media posts planning for Jan. 6 protests when the contract for its third-party social media monitoring tool expired. At Homeland Security, analysts were hesitant to report open-source intelligence after criticism in 2020 for collecting intelligence on American citizens during racial justice demonstrations.

One tip received by the FBI ahead of the Jan. 6 attack was from a former Justice Department official who sent screenshots of online posts from members of the Oath Keepers extremist group: “There is only one way in. It is not signs. It’s not rallies. It’s f—— bullets!”

The social media company Parler, a favored platform for Trump’s supporters, directly sent the FBI several posts it found alarming, adding that there was “more where this came from” and that they were concerned about what would happen on Jan. 6.

”(T)his is not a rally and it’s no longer a protest,” read one of the Parler posts sent to the FBI, according to the report. “This is a final stand where we are drawing the red line at Capitol Hill. (…) don’t be surprised if we take the #capital (sic) building.”

But even as it received the warnings, the Senate panel found, the agency said over and over again that there were no credible threats.

“Our nation is still reckoning with the fallout from January 6th, but what is clear is the need for a reevaluation of the federal government’s domestic intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination processes,” the new report says.

In a statement, Homeland Security spokesperson Angelo Fernandez said that the department has made many of those changes two and a half years later. The department “has strengthened intelligence analysis, information sharing, and operational preparedness to help prevent acts of violence and keep our communities safe.”

The FBI said in a separate response that since the attack it has increased focus on “swift information sharing” and centralized the flow of information to ensure more timely notification to other entities. “The FBI is determined to aggressively fight the danger posed by all domestic violent extremists, regardless of their motivations,” the statement said.

FBI Director Christopher Wray has defended the FBI’s handling of intelligence in the run-up to Jan. 6, including a report from its Norfolk field office on Jan. 5 that cited online posts foreshadowing the possibility of a “war” in Washington the following day. The Senate report noted that the memo “did not note the multitude of other warnings” the agency had received.

The faultfinding with the FBI and Homeland Security Department echoes the blistering criticism directed at U.S. Capitol Police in a bipartisan report issued by the Senate Homeland and Rules committees two years ago. That report found that the police intelligence unit knew about social media posts calling for violence, as well, but did not inform top leadership what they had found.

Peters says he asked for the probe of the intelligence agencies after other reports, such as the House panel’s investigation last year, focused on other aspects of the attack. The Jan. 6 panel was more focused on Trump’s actions, and concluded in its report that the former president criminally engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 presidential election and failed to act to stop his supporters from attacking the Capitol.

“It’s important for us to realize these failures to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Peters said.


Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Rebecca Santana contributed to this report.

United States News


KSL Podcasts/Ben Kuebrich

FBI investigates family friend ‘Uncle Hilty’ in kidnapping case

The FBI turns its focus on family friend 'Uncle Hilty' in a high-stakes kidnapping case after uncovering inconsistencies and crucial evidence.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

The Latest | Trump’s hush money trial enters its final leg with closing arguments set to begin

NEW YORK (AP) — Closing arguments in Donald Trump ‘s historic hush money trial are set to begin Tuesday morning, giving prosecutors and defense attorneys one final opportunity to convince the jury of their respective cases before deliberations begin. Jurors will undertake the unprecedented task of deciding whether to convict the former U.S. president of […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

In Trump’s hush money trial, prosecutors and defense lawyers are poised to make final pitch to jury

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors and defense lawyers in Donald Trump’s hush money trial are set to deliver closing arguments to the jury Tuesday, each side looking to score final points with the panel before it starts deliberating the fate of the first former American president to be charged with felony crimes. The arguments, expected […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Nobody hurt after plane’s engine catches fire at Chicago O’Hare airport

CHICAGO (AP) — A commercial airliner’s engine caught fire Monday at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said. United flight 2091 to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport aborted takeoff after flames were reported around 2 p.m. while the aircraft was still on the taxiway, the FAA said. The airline said the plane, an Airbus A320, […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

81-year-old arrested after police say he terrorized a California neighborhood with a slingshot

AZUSA, Calif. (AP) — An 81-year-old man who investigators say terrorized a Southern California neighborhood for years with a slingshot has been arrested, police said. While conducting an investigation, detectives “learned that during the course of 9-10 years, dozens of citizens were being victimized by a serial slingshot shooter,” the Azusa Police Department said in […]

18 hours ago

Associated Press

Man convicted of Chicago murder based on blind witness’ testimony sues city, police

CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man convicted of murder based in part on testimony from a legally blind eyewitness is suing the city and the police department. A judge convicted Darien Harris in 2014 in connection with a fatal shooting at a South Side gas station in 2011. He was 12 years into a 76-year […]

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

The FBI and Homeland Security had ‘a massive amount’ of warnings about Jan. 6, a Senate report finds