This isn’t on the level of “Bin Ladin determined to strike in U.S.,” which was part of Bush’s Presidential Daily Brief, not a raw intelligence memo at an FBI field office. But the feds have said that they had no reason to think Congress might be in danger on January 6.
That was a lie, it turns out. Perhaps there are other lies still to be uncovered.
It’d be great if someone could ask Chris Wray or acting AG Jeff Rosen or whoever’s in charge of DHS right now about all this, but there have been no press briefings about the Capitol attack from any law enforcement authority. Not a one, unless I missed it. We narrowly avoided having members of Congress mass-murdered last week and the vice president lynched, and the people in charge of internal U.S. security just … aren’t providing information about it to the public.
Or they weren’t until this afternoon. After about a thousand reporters noted on social media that the feds had gone dark about a matter of immense public interest, the FBI and DOJ are holding a presser today at 3 p.m. ET. I wonder if this scoop lit a fire under their asses:
A day before rioters stormed Congress, an FBI office in Virginia issued an explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war,” according to an internal document reviewed by The Washington Post that contradicts a senior official’s declaration the bureau had no intelligence indicating anyone at last week’s pro-Trump protest planned to do harm…
“As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington. D.C.,” the document says. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”…
Multiple law enforcement officials have said privately in recent days that the level of violence exhibited at the Capitol has led to difficult discussions within the FBI and other agencies about race, terrorism, and whether investigators failed to register the degree of danger because the overwhelming majority of the participants at the rally were White conservatives fiercely loyal to the President Trump…
On Friday, the head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Steven D’Antuono, told reporters “there was no indication” of anything planned for the day of Trump’s rally “other than First Amendment-protected activity.”
One excuse being made for not taking the memo more seriously is that it was based on nothing more than online chatter. The feds assumed it was just pro-Trump keyboard warriors spouting off about insurrection, as they’re wont to do, and that they’d show up outside Congress on the 6th and limit themselves to protesting. Apparently federal agents even visited some “suspected extremists” in the weeks before January 6, although it’s unclear what information was gleaned from them.
I guess they, and we, found out the hard way that we’re in a “new phase” of cultish online activism.
Also unclear is why they and the Capitol Police didn’t err on the side of caution and plan for violence even if they expected something less. “Capitol Police did not take the kind of extra precautions, such as frozen zones and hardened barriers, that are typically used in major events around the Capitol,” WaPo notes without explanation, with one source stressing that the failure here had to do with not acting on available intelligence rather than failing to gather that intelligence in the first place. Were they … not checking the president’s Twitter feed in the weeks before the rally, as every other government official and reporter in America routinely did? It’s darkly funny that this story about the memo is being treated as a bombshell when Trump was tweeting things for weeks like “Stolen election will be stopped on Jan 6, will be wild! Everyone come!”
What did they think would happen? When the president is publicly encouraging fans to gather outside Congress after feeding them propaganda for months about a rigged vote, one should probably expand one’s Overton window of possible eventualities.
Nicholas Grossman warns MAGA that their long-desired rendezvous with the “deep state” is finally at hand. So long as the feds thought QAnoners and their fellow travelers were mostly harmless kooks, they could afford to ignore them. As I say, new phase:
But now that QAnon was involved in violent sedition, the national security state is paying attention. Arrests of people caught on camera storming the Capitol have already begun. Prosecutions will follow. Big tech companies — who, while powerful, are weaker than, and have a healthy fear of the government — are now treating QAnon almost like how they treat ISIS. A giant federal apparatus built to fight al Qaeda will shift some capacity to fighting you, especially the white nationalist and anti-government militias in your orbit.
You cheered on lawyers who said they’d release the Kraken. But now you’ve poked Leviathan.
This is what you need to absorb: QAnon and “stop the steal” are forever associated with a violent attack against the United States. Maybe that’s not what it’s meant to you, maybe you think that’s a misread of last week’s events, but that’s how the real Deep State, a lot of elected officials, and much of the public sees it.
The Al Qaeda analogy is already proving true:
For the inauguration, there will be at least four times as many National Guardsmen in the US capital as troops in all of Afghanistan. Where is the greatest terror threat to the US today?
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) January 12, 2021
I think this is true too, and also indicative of a new phase:
This would be so much worse if the tech companies had not flipped the kill switch. The insurrection's capacity to organize has been degraded.
I think it's crystal clear now that they did not flip the switch because they were mad, but because of overwhelming, actual threats.
— Fred, Who Told You So (@LesserFrederick) January 12, 2021
Depending upon how bad things get, Biden’s administration will have no choice but to build out the DOJ’s domestic counterterror capabilities to cope with the threat. Some civil libertarians in Congress will resist that, but many congressional Republicans will sign on for the simple reason that they themselves are at risk of being murdered. Big Tech will also come under pressure to police much more rigorously for disinformation and extremist rhetoric than it has before The narrative this week in populist media is that Twitter banned Trump because they hate right-wingers generally, but in reality Twitter banned Trump — and purged 70,000 QAnon accounts — because they’ve woken up to the fact that not everyone screaming about murdering Democrats and RINOs is a keyboard warrior. They know that Trump’s apt to incite further attacks, just like they know that the aftermath of those attacks could include bad headlines for them like “Plotters organized openly on Twitter.” And they know that the new Democratic administration will be more eager to regulate Silicon Valley if Silicon Valley isn’t aggressively trying to purge dangerous propaganda from its platforms. The new zero-tolerance policies will certainly lead to some peaceful polemicists being deplatformed unfairly, but for the moment I think Twitter and Facebook are scrambling to address a real and serious threat. Not all of the fallout will be good, but not all of it will be bad either.