U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI properly identified “credible threats” to the Capitol but did not adequately share information about those threats in the time leading up to the January 6 insurrection, impeding the response to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, a report from the Government Accountability Office found.
The 10 federal agencies responsible for protecting the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection, did not “fully process” or share critical information about threats to the nation’s capital with one another, including that militia groups were arming themselves in preparation for the Capitol riot, according to the report from the GAO, a nonpartisan agency commonly known as the “congressional watchdog.”
The report specifically names the FBI as an agency that did not follow policies for processing some tips—which included information related to potential violence on January 6—preventing that information from being developed into reports shared with other agencies.
Some agencies did not have policies that enabled threat information to be shared, while others, like the Capitol Police, failed to inform some of their own members of impending threats, the report said.
The GAO said most agencies used the same methods to identify January 6 related threats as they did for other demonstrations in the nation’s capital, including previous Make America Great Again rallies and the racial justice demonstrations in the summer of 2020—and Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis officials said they were hesitant to report on January 6 threats due to scrutiny of reporting previous events in 2020.
The GAO recommended most agencies implement plans to improve internal or external communications to better respond to future threats—said it will update its website with actions each agency takes.
Federal agency response to the attack on the U.S. Capitol was questioned throughout the January 6 congressional committee’s year-and-a-half-long investigation into the Capitol riot. During those hearings, some congressional members asked the GAO to issue reports examining “federal efforts to prepare for January 6 events, gather intelligence, coordinate, and later respond to the attack,” the GAO said. Initial information released by the GAO in August included a survey of U.S. Capitol Police officers who were at the Capitol on January 6. Of the 315 officers who responded to the survey, 209 officers said that crowd control guidance was less than very clear and in some instances officers said guidance was not provided, a claim backed up by Tuesday’s GAO report.