According to a bombshell report by The Intercept, officials inside the Department of Homeland Security expected violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2001, but decided to keep it to themselves.
Within the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the sole component of the federal government authorized to disseminate threat information to state and local law enforcement agencies, anxious analysts watched how maps of the Capitol were being circulated on social media amid talk of “hanging Democrats, murdering protesters, and dying in a blaze of glory.”
The Intercept reported that “homeland Security officials warned each other to be vigilant going to and from work as the “Stop the Steal” rally to protest the results of the 2020 election approached.”
Expecting violence, some officials planned to stay home when the day finally came, the report says. Despite the measures they planned to take for their own safety, however, and the overwhelming evidence that January 6 was a powder keg waiting to blow, the federal office responsible for warning the rest of the government about dangerous events decided to keep its concerns to itself.
FROM THE INTERCEPT:
The report presents a series of messages that two “collectors,” officials responsible for trawling through open-source information to identify domestic security threats, exchanged late on the night of January 2, after one of the officials noticed that people were sharing a map of the Capitol online.
“I feel like people are actually going to try and hurt politicians,” the official who came across the map wrote. “Jan 6th is gonna be crazy, not to mention the inauguration.”
The official suspected that their supervisors would order extra shifts for the event, writing, “Watch us get surged for that lol.”
The second official had a similar feeling, adding that the Proud Boys — a right-wing street-fighting gang — were in town the night before. A few hours later, the first official wrote again.
“Like there’s these people talking about hanging Democrats from ropes like wtf,” they said.
“They’d need alot of rope,” the second official replied. “I think DC is pretty much all democrat haha.”
“I feel like people are actually going to try and hurt politicians.”
By 2:53 a.m., the first official had arrived at a succinct description of the threats they were seeing: “I mean people are talking about storming Congress, bringing guns, willing to die for the cause, hanging politicians with ropes,” they wrote.
According to the inspector general, neither official considered filing a report describing what they were seeing. “When reviewing threats pertaining to January 6 events, the collectors generally concluded that the statements online were hyperbole, and not true threats or incitement, because they thought storming the U.S. Capitol and other threats were unlikely or not possible,” the report said.
One collector who spoke to the oversight investigators recalled describing to a colleague how “nervous” they were after seeing a group of people who looked “like they are going to battle” post about their arrival in Washington. “Yet, these collectors did not draft any intelligence products reflecting possible safety concerns in the area,” the report states.
The collector said “people were afraid to do their jobs because of the fear of being reprimanded by I&A leadership and concerns about congressional scrutiny.”