The GOP whitewash of the Capitol attack shows the need for a January 6 commission

“As CNN and other outlets have reported previously — and pro-impeachment Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) confirmed in a statement in February — McCarthy spoke with Trump while the riots were still ongoing and pleaded with Trump to call his supporters off.

According to Herrera Beutler, Trump “initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol” on the call with McCarthy.

Subsequently, Herrera Beutler said in her February statement, “McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’”

Other Republicans have corroborated Trump’s state of mind as the attack was unfolding. According to Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), “Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building.”

If McCarthy is called upon to substantiate Herrera Beutler’s account of the McCarthy-Trump call for the commission, however, it would likely also put McCarthy in an awkward position politically.

That’s because McCarthy’s call with Trump — which reportedly took place as rioters were attempting to break through the minority leader’s office windows — is a reminder of the true severity of the January 6 attacks, and of Trump’s support for the mob, who he described as “very special” in a video later the same day. It’s also increasingly out of step with a Republican conference eager to downplay the insurrection and a former president who is hypersensitive to criticism — and it’s hard to imagine McCarthy looking forward to giving a faithful retelling of January 6 to a potential commission.”

Democrats barely passed a bill to increase security at the US Capitol

“A $1.9 billion emergency funding bill to boost security at the US Capitol in the wake of the January 6 insurrection barely passed the House on Thursday. The measure, which would also provide additional personal security for lawmakers facing an intensifying wave of threats and harassment in Washington and their home districts, received no Republican support, and exposed fissures within the Democratic Party over the issue of increasing funding for any police force.

The bill ultimately passed on Thursday, following last-minute negotiations led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with 213 votes for the bill and 212 against.

Every voting Republican voted no on the bill, claiming that it cost too much money and that there was no guarantee the funding would be properly spent enhancing security. Those votes followed recent statements from Republicans that downplayed or outright fabricated facts about the violence that transpired at the Capitol on January 6.

More strikingly, Democrats were not unified among themselves. Left-wing members of the House, including the members of the so-called Squad, broke from the party out of what could be described as a defund-the-police rationale.”

Leniency for defendants in Portland clashes could affect Capitol riot cases

“Federal prosecutors’ show of leniency for some defendants charged in the long-running unrest in the streets of Portland could have an impact on similar criminal cases stemming from the Capitol riot, lawyers say.

In recent weeks, prosecutors have approved deals in at least half a dozen federal felony cases arising from clashes between protesters and law enforcement in Oregon last summer. The arrangements — known as deferred resolution agreements — will leave the defendants with a clean criminal record if they stay out of trouble for a period of time and complete a modest amount of community service, according to defense attorneys and court records.”

“prosecutors in D.C. can argue that what happened there is more serious even if the physical actions of the defendants were comparable.

“Attacking the Capitol is sui generis — it’s in a category of its own,” Levenson said. “One is the seat of government and the other is not.””

There’s a Big Gap in Our Cyber Defenses. Here’s How to Close It.

“The foreign hackers behind the massive cybersecurity failures dominating recent headlines had one critical strategy in common — they leased computers in the United States to burrow into their victim’s networks. Because U.S. cybersecurity systems don’t regard domestic connections as inherently suspect, the attackers were able to hide in plain sight. Like secretive investors deploying a series of shell companies and trusts to mask true ownership, Russia, China and other sophisticated nations effect cyber-maliciousness through a series of intermediary, innocuous-looking internet servers.”

“No government agency — even our powerful spy agencies — currently has a sufficiently agile legal authority to catch foreign cyber malefactors in the act of co-opting U.S. computer networks. The National Security Agency is allowed to surveil only foreign actors; pursuing them on the home front is the job of the FBI. But by the time the NSA notices suspicious foreign activity and hands the case off to the FBI, it’s often too late. The foreign malware might well have been injected into American networks, and the FBI investigation simply confirms that now-dormant internet servers in the U.S. were used by foreigners to stage their attacks.”

“The difficulty lies in resolving deeply felt concerns over any increase in government surveillance authority, no matter how important the purpose. We are also paralyzed by a sense of fatalism that cyber vulnerabilities are simply the price we pay for being online, and an erroneous belief that the Constitution stands in the way of any solution.
Most cybersecurity experts agree an effective public-private cyber information-sharing system is essential in stopping foreign cyber maliciousness before it causes too much damage. But information sharing isn’t enough; it would be hamstrung from the start if the government cannot seamlessly and quickly track malicious cyber activity from its foreign source to its intended domestic victims. If some government agency had that legal power, then it could, for example, quickly check out a domestic IP address after an alert from the NSA that the address was communicating with a suspicious overseas server. If that IP address showed questionable activity, the government and the private sector jointly could take steps to reconfigure firewalls or otherwise curtail the hack. Admittedly, this wouldn’t prevent hacks and attacks that were based on previously unknown software bugs (so called zero-day exploits). But the reality is that most large-scale hacks by foreign countries rely on already known software imperfections and hardware deficiencies.”

Why progressives are lining up against new criminal penalties for domestic terrorism

“There are existing federal laws that criminalize domestic terrorism. The Patriot Act, which was enacted in the wake of 9/11, defined domestic terrorism as criminal acts that are “dangerous to human life” and are “intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion” or “to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.” Experts say that the storming of the Capitol fits that definition.

But no existing laws make domestic terrorism a “chargeable offense on its own” with attached criminal penalties, as the Congressional Research Service recently noted. It can, however, be an element of other federal crimes, such as assault and firearms offenses, and result in an enhanced sentence.

Some have argued that’s not enough to effectively prosecute domestic terrorism. Richard Zabel, a former deputy US attorney overseeing terrorism prosecutions in New York, wrote in the Washington Post that current law “limits our societal condemnation of the defendants and their dangerous ideologies.” The threat of domestic terrorism — which was not prioritized by former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly refused to denounce white nationalists and told those who stormed the Capitol, “We love you” — would be taken more seriously if it were easier for prosecutors to charge people as domestic terrorists, Zabel and others have argued.

But civil rights groups, including the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, are raising concerns that the harms of enacting those legal authorities outweigh the benefits: They argue it would enable law enforcement to target political dissidents, and those in marginalized communities who are frequently the victims of domestic terrorism, in violation of their constitutional rights.

“Such a law is not needed given the broad reach of existing criminal statutes,” Mara Rudman, executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress, said in a statement. “It will not solve the problem of domestic extremism and is likely to lead to unintended harms. … As lawmakers explore options for cracking down on these lawless and hateful acts, they should take care to ensure that the solutions do not create new risks for the communities they are trying to protect.””

Labeling groups like the Proud Boys “domestic terrorists” won’t fix anything

“Canada recently designated the Proud Boys, a far-right hate group, as a terrorist organization, a move that has put pressure on President Joe Biden’s administration to take similar punitive action against the group and others who participated in January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

The Congressional Research Service has asserted that the Capitol insurrection was an act of domestic terrorism, as defined by federal regulations and law. The FBI has identified the criminal activity by the Proud Boys as a domestic terrorism threat.

But while the federal government maintains a list of foreign terrorist organizations, it does not have a mechanism to formally designate domestic terrorist organizations. National security experts argue that creating one would not only invite legal challenges, but would do little to improve law enforcement’s response to the nascent threat of domestic terrorism.

Creating such a list would raise legitimate First Amendment concerns because it could potentially be used to target political dissidents on both the left and the right. Experts also say it’s ill-suited to address the kind of domestic terrorist attacks and plots that the US is facing, which according to the Department of Homeland Security, primarily come from right-wing extremists acting as individuals, rather than as organized groups.

The best way forward, they say, is for the federal government to better employ existing tools to combat domestic terrorism — a threat that was not prioritized by former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly refused to denounce white nationalists and told those who stormed the Capitol, “We love you.”

“Violent white supremacists are not a new problem,” Faiza Patel, the director of liberty and national security at the Brennan Center for Justice, said. “Law enforcement has dealt with them before and can do so again. The FBI’s robust response to the attack on the Capitol shows that these groups can be investigated and prosecuted under existing law, undercutting any argument for new tools.””

“I Don’t Trust the People Above Me”: Riot Squad Cops Open Up About Disastrous Response to Capitol Insurrection

“The riot squad defending the embattled entrance to the west side of the U.S. Capitol was surrounded by violence. Rioters had clambered up the scaffolding by the stage erected for the inauguration of President Joseph Biden. They hurled everything they could get their hands on at the cops beneath: rebar, plywood, power tools, even cans of food they had frozen for extra damage.

In front of the cops, a mob was mounting a frontal assault. Its members hit officers with fists and baseball bats. They grabbed at weapons slung from the officers’ waists. They unleashed a barrage of M-80 firecrackers. Soaked in never-ending streams of bright orange bear spray, the officers choked on plumes of acrid smoke that singed their nostrils and obscured their vision.

One officer in the middle of the scrum, a combat veteran, thought the rioters were so vicious, so relentless, that they seemed fueled by methamphetamine. To his left, he watched a chunk of steel strike a fellow officer above the eye, setting off a geyser of blood. A pepper ball tore through the air over his shoulder and exploded against the jaw of a man in front of him. The round, filled with chemical irritant, ripped the rioter’s face open. His teeth were now visible through a hole in his cheek. Blood poured out, puddling on the pavement surrounding the building. But the man kept coming.

The combat veteran was hit with bear spray eight times. His experience overseas “was nothing like this,” he said. “Nothing at all.”

Over the last several weeks, ProPublica has interviewed 19 current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers about the assault on the Capitol. Following on the dramatic video of officers defending the building that House lawmakers showed during the first day of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, the interviews provide the most detailed account to date of a most extraordinary battle.”

“The interviews also revealed officers’ concerns about disparities in the way the force prepared for Black Lives Matter demonstrations versus the pro-Trump protests on Jan. 6. Officers said the Capitol Police force usually plans intensively for protests, even if they are deemed unlikely to grow violent. Officers said they spent weeks working 12- or 16-hour days, poised to fight off a riot, after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police — even though intelligence suggested there was not much danger from protesters.

“We had intel that nothing was going to happen — literally nothing,” said one former official with direct knowledge of planning for the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. “The response was, ‘We don’t trust the intel.’”

By contrast, for much of the force, Jan. 6 began like any other day.”

“At 7 a.m. on Jan. 6, an officer on the department’s midnight shift finished work and got into his car near the Capitol. Already, swarms of people were walking past, waving Trump flags. He sat in the driver’s seat for a minute, watching. He called up an old colleague and marveled at the crowd.

The officer was surprised his superiors were letting him off duty. During the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, the night shift had often been held over to help. But he hadn’t heard anything from his bosses, so he drove home”

The Problem Isn’t Just One Insurrection. It’s Mass Radicalization.

“Unlike other recent spasms of American violence, this was not the work of a lone wolf nor of a small cell of radicals. The pathway to an attempted government overthrow unfolded in public, out loud on the internet, in a process that experts call mass radicalization.

The protest was likely just the tip of an iceberg; nobody knows how many Americans—tens of thousands? more?—would willingly have joined them if they’d been in Washington that day. It’s a new challenge for America, and a serious one: At times and places when large groups of people have been inspired to embrace violence, it often leads to long-term unrest, if not outright civil war. And right now, experts think, it’s happening faster than ever.”

“over the past roughly 15 years, the average time span of radicalization in the U.S. has shrunk from 18 months to 7 months, largely because of how much of our lives have shifted online.”

“Typically, when we talk about radicalization, we’re talking about it at an individual or small-group level. We talk about how Person X came to adopt an extremist viewpoint and act on it. We highlight things like personal grievances, their identity ambitions—perhaps they were seeking some thrill or meaning in their life, and got excited about the promises being made by an extremist ideology, and that if they participated, they would be revered as a hero. With small groups, we tend to talk about group cohesion. Individuals tend to isolate themselves among like-minded people—it’s just a natural human instinct. That tends to form echo chambers, where you hear the same ideas over and over, and they’re never challenged.
Mass radicalization is a much larger phenomenon in which you have tens of thousands—if not millions—of individuals who are vulnerable to [extremist] messages they receive from really influential people. And then, there might be movement towards mobilizing those individuals. They still talk about personal grievances, but there’s a broader national political message there, [where] this is a battle between good and evil, where the other side is looking to undermine us and our way of life, and we all have a responsibility to challenge and confront the other side.”

“over the past 4½ years, we have had a very influential political leader [President Donald Trump] pushing a narrative that is not only polarizing—not only highlighting that the right and left are far apart on policy issues and disagree on discretionary spending—it’s a narrative of “othering.” It’s a narrative that casts the other side as evil, as “enemies,” as individuals you have to fight at all costs in order to preserve your way of life. We saw this, whether [Trump’s “others”] were Democrats, the news media or the scientific community.”

“Our reality now is one in which a radicalizing message can be broadcast to hundreds of millions of people in a matter of seconds. And if it catches on, you’re virtually guaranteed that millions of people will [believe] that narrative. We’ve seen this in the more traditional forms of media, with outlets like Fox News pushing some of these conspiratorial views, but we’ve also seen it with social media companies not cracking down on this rhetoric early, and instead letting it fester.”

“Think about somebody in the 1980s or 1990s radicalizing into the “white power” movement. You had to know somebody in your real-world life who was involved in it. They had to recruit you in or introduce you to the ideas. That tended to be a pretty slow process—a process that, for a lot of individuals, didn’t happen. Now, it’s a click away.”

“there’s not an equal [threat] level across those ideologies. Our data suggest that far-right extremist views are the most prevalent of the extremist views in this country.”

“The “Unite the Right” rally [in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017] was all about bringing these different groups together against a common cause and common enemy. To date, we’ve really only seen that manifest in online rhetorical collaboration, and then that’s spilling offline in terms of marches and demonstrations. To some extent, January 6 was these groups coming together. You saw everyone from neo-Nazis to QAnon supporters to Proud Boys marching on the Capitol that day.”

“Look, I don’t think it’s good for the social fabric of our country for individuals to believe conspiracy theories and extremist views. But it’s not illegal. Individuals can hold those beliefs if they want to. What is illegal is when they mobilize on behalf of them and hurt someone else, or commit some other crime on behalf of those views. That’s really what we have the legal authority to do something about. When we’re talking about policies that we can reasonably enact in this country, then we’re talking about stopping people from engaging in illegal behaviors.

For the social good of our country, I hope that we promote more mainstream rhetoric over the next few years. I hope that we elevate science and evidence and fact to the position that it used to have, and that these narratives are not as prevalent, because it is bad for our democracy and our communities.”

FBI arrests Kentucky militia members connected with Boogaloo Bois

“John Subleski, 32, is accused of inciting a riot in downtown Louisville on Jan. 6, the same day a mob egged on by former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. Subleski was allegedly part of a militia group that identified with the Boogaloo Bois — an extremist movement that centers on planning for an overthrow of the U.S. government.

Federal prosecutors allege that Subleski used social media to encourage others to take part in the riot. Subleski posted that it was “Time to storm” the Louisville Police Department, according to a criminal complaint.

Another Louisville man, Adam Turner, 35, allegedly menaced a Kentucky police officer during a protest caravan through St. Matthews, Ky., on Dec. 25. Turner was carrying an AR-pistol and resisted arrest, according to a Justice Department news release. He later posted threatening messages against police on his social media.”