WASHINGTON—Nearly two months after the wild insurrection which overran the U.S. Capitol, leaving five people dead in its wake, 9-foot-tall fences with razor-wire on top still surround the complex, while fear and uncertainty reign within.
In the first congressional hearings since the rampage which was provoked by former President Donald J. Trump in an effort to overturn his defeat in the November election, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said her forces were not properly warned of the impending attack Jan. 6, and she revealed that there is intelligence that militia members are plotting more violence and mayhem to come.
The conspirators intended to see Mr. Trump installed as president fulfilling an abandoned tradition of presidential inaugurations on March 4 instead of Jan. 20, while others still intend to blow up the U.S. Capitol during President Joe Biden’s unscheduled first address to a joint session of Congress—i.e., the State of the Union Address—where all House, Senate, Cabinet and Supreme Court members are present.
“We’re actively working with a scaled-down approach so we can make sure that we address three primary variables,” Chief Pittman said Feb. 25 in response to a question from Rep. Mark Amodel (R-Nev.) about the fencing around the building, about who’s in charge of the nearly 5,000 National Guard troops at the Capitol complex and if she is aware of the exact number of insurrectionists on Jan. 6.
“One is the known threat to the environment,” the first Black person and first female Capitol Police Chief said. “Two is the infrastructure vulnerabilities. And then that third variable being the limitations that U.S. Capitol Police knows that it has as it relates to human capital and technology resources. With that said, we know that the insurrectionists that attacked the Capitol weren’t only interested in attacking members of Congress and officers. They wanted to send a symbolic message to the nation as to who was in charge of that legislative process.”
Curiously, Ms. Pittman said that she has seen no evidence of discrepancies in policing based on the race of those demonstrating, despite the clearly inadequate preparations for the White mob which breeched the building’s perimeter, ransacked the Senate and House chambers and the offices of congressional leaders, compared to thousands of tactical squad officers in full riot gear who surrounded the building during a recent, peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protest.
“It is clear just from viewing the scene of protests that occurred after the murder of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests in general, and the amount of guards that were there and active and ready and waiting, despite no hints whatsoever there was going to be any such violence, especially nothing on the level that we saw on Jan. 6,” author Karim Zidan told this writer in an interview for “Monday Morning QB,” heard on WPFW-FM, Pacifica Radio in Washington.
“And then come Jan. 6 and you see crowds and mobs overwhelmed the Capitol Police in the scene that few ever expected would occur. And it’s something that hasn’t occurred in well over a hundred years. It’s unprecedented in modern American history, basically,” he continued.
“It goes to show you that, of course, there was a discrepancy. It was not about footing. It was very clear that they were under-prepared for Jan. 6. It was very clear, truly, from what I understand and what I gather, is that they did not see Trump protestors and MAGA supporters as the same kind of threat as they perceived Black Lives Matter protesters would be,” said Mr. Zidan, an Egyptian national living in Canada. “Now that speaks to many, many things, including racial issues and tensions within the United States, all of which I think is at the root and heart of the situation.”
“Former FBI anti-terrorism agent Mike German tells us that the federal government is far behind on tracking and prosecuting White supremacist terrorism. This should be one of our top national security priorities,” Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, said of the insurrection via Twitter.
A frequent complaint in the days after the attack, which led to the resignations of the former Capitol Police chief as well as the Sergeants-at-Arms of both the House and Senate who supervise the chief, was the unprepared and at times seemingly lax posture of police members on the day of the Capitol attack.
There were pictures of police officers taking selfies with the mob members, or helping them down the steps. A total of six Capitol Police officers have been suspended, and 29 others are being investigated for possible collaboration with the rioters. This, in stark contrast to the aggressive reaction to peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters last summer.
Now, approximately 4,900 National Guard troops are expected to remain in Washington until mid-March due, in part, to concerns of potential violence from adherents of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, who insisted that Mr. Trump would be sworn back into office on March 4, 2021.
The conspiracy dates back to an obscure law, which QAnon insists illegally changed the U.S. form of government from a democratic republic to a corporation, and illegally changed the date of the presidential inauguration.
“Some of these people have figured out that apparently 75 years ago, the president used to be inaugurated on March 4,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said during a hearing on Feb. 24. “OK, now why that’s relevant? God knows. At any rate, now they are thinking maybe we should gather again and storm the Capitol on March 4 … that is circulating online.”
The March 4 date, and beyond, is QAnon followers’ latest attempt to keep the theory alive of a continuing Trump presidency, Mr. Zidan wrote for Right Wing Watch.
The latest conspiracy theory is rooted in the belief that an obscure 1871 act that QAnon adherents believe transformed the U.S. from a federal government into a corporation. While there is no evidence for these claims, Right Wing Watch reports that QAnon adherents claim the act effectively means that laws passed after 1871 do not apply to U.S. citizens and that any president elected after 1871 has been illegitimate.
Some QAnon adherents believe that on March 4, or sometime soon after that date the United States will revert back to its original form as a federal government, and Mr. Trump will reemerge as president.
For example, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando—the largest group of conservative activists in the country—where Mr. Trump spoke Feb. 28, for the first time since leaving the White House, a golden effigy of the twice-impeached, one-term officeholder was wheeled into the staging area. Attendees were photographed literally bowing down to it, while Republican office holders lined up to pledge their allegiance to a 2024 Trump re-election attempt.
QAnon conspiracists believe there is a real person with an ultra-secret “Q” security clearance, lurking inside the federal bureaucracy, who will one day soon give the order which will overthrow the U.S. government. Along with others, known as the “Oath Keepers,” and the “Three Percenters”—who say only three percent of the residents of the 13 colonies participated in the rebellion to overthrow British authority—they all constitute a grave security threat, some government authorities warn.
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security told CNN recently that the “most significant terrorism-related threat currently facing the nation comes from lone offenders and small groups of individuals inspired by domestic extremist ideological beliefs, including those based on false narratives spread over social media and other online platforms.” They are right wing, White nationalists, and they are sheltered by Republican members of both the House and the Senate.
For example, during the Senate hearing Feb. 23, looking at the Jan. 6 uprising, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) used his time to read a firsthand account of the riot, in which the author―J. Michael Waller, a right wing security analyst who was protesting with the crowd―blamed “provocateurs” and Capitol Police for the attacks on the Capitol.
“Not one appeared angry or incited to riot,” Sen. Johnson said, reading from Mr. Waller’s account of the protesters. “Many of the marchers were families with small children; many were elderly, overweight, or just plain tired or frail—traits not typically attributed to the riot-prone.” He continued that “many wore pro-police shirts or carried pro-police ‘Back the Blue’ flags.”