Why did the security plan fail that day?
Law enforcement officials at the highest levels of office admitted that the security plan failed to protect members of Congress from aggressors. Although Washington D.C. has many agencies to uphold the law, they were overwhelmed by a group of mostly unarmed rioters.
The fact that this attack occurred - at all - is evidence of negligence on several fronts - from the time it took for the National Guard to be deployed to disperse the rioters to the carelessness of intelligence officials who disregarded online posts referring a potentional coup.
Officers who were interviewed admitted they were 'mostly on their own' when the throngs of rioters overwhelmed them. Not only was this a case of gross negligence, but also a clear indication of how the police command structure completely collapsed.
The Capitol Police, which is a well-equipped body of some 2500 trained officers, failed to send enough officers. Those who did reach the scene were woefully underequipped and weren't wearing adequate riot gear.
Furthermore, interagency communication and coordination between the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department completely fell apart.
However, a detailed account of the many intelligence shortcomings from the FBI and DHS would reveal that both didn't consider online posts calling for violence to be credible.News reports also reveal that Parler, the mostly conservative-leaning social media network, warned the FBI about threats to the Capitol.
The Department of Homeland Security had 'some' inclinations of a possible riot and held an online meeting with various local law enforcement agencies - just one day before the riots. But that was too little too late.
In light of all the above evidence, it's clear that the biggest security lapse on January 6 was the lack of seriousness displayed by law enforcement agencies. No one prepared for a violent riot because no one anticipated it. The threat of a violent mob breaching the Capitol was, until recently, unthinkable.
What was done correctly?
Now that the Capitol building was breached and the unruly mob was vocally calling for violence towards Vice President Mike Pence, it was time to ramp up security. However, officers on duty were ordered to use less lethal riot-prevention equipment instead of tools like stun grenades.
At around 2:26 PM, then Capitol Police Chief Steven Sundmade an urgent request for the National Guard.
It took several hours for the police to retake control of the Capitol with the help of riot gear, shield, and batons. It took another eight hours for the police to clear the Capitol and its grounds. The Capitol Police were assisted by the D.C.Metropolitan Police, which sent 850 officers to the Capitol during the event, with another 250 officers to the Capitolgrounds.
In addition, smoke grenades were used to clear rioters from the building. At around 4:30, officials from the FBI and DHS entered the Senate Office Building wearing riot gear. The immediate priority was to evacuate congressional leaders from the premises to an army base, which was done shortly before 5:00.
It is worth noting that throughout this entire ordeal, multiple requests for assistance from the National Guard were denied by Paul Irving. This is a major security lapse in any counter-terrorism initiative.
What should have been done differently?
Security officials should have emphasized threat intelligence by collecting data from social media and then formulating an appropriate response. Threat intelligence is mostly rooted in data and provides the LEA with a more contextual picture such as - who is attacking you, why they are attacking you, and what measures you can take to prevent them from attacking you.
This can allow security officials to make more informeddecisions. For obvious reasons, the FBI and DHS do not haveenough resources to analyze every single online chat, but they can utilize machine learning to automate data collection. This information will be integrated with their existing solutions to provide further insights that help decide an appropriate course ofaction.
In addition, it is clear from numerous reports that the chain of command was conflicted about how to deploy the National Guard. For example, Walter E. Piatt, the director of the Army Staff, said that he did not have the authority to send troops.
Multiple requests from the United States Capitol Police for the National Guard were denied. Finally, General Miller decided to deploy all 1,100 National Guard soldiers that were available. But help arrived several hours after the fact.
Now that details are emerging about the January 6 attack on Capitol gear, it is clear that some rioters were planning for more violent acts that national security officials were not ready to repel. The immediate task now is to prevent further bloodshed.
Here are a few changes that should be made to the security plan at the Capitol.
Once aggressors breach barricades, there is a set amount of time before they can enter the facility. This should give security officials enough time to roll out remedial measures such as securing access points and alerting forces.
Automatic lockdown systems will stop most aggressors from breaching the facility
Next, you should immediately call in the National Guard. However, lessons from January 6 teach us that requests can be denied by the Secretary at Arms if they deem the 'optics' wouldn't look good. This means that the chain of command must be sorted out at the earliest to prevent such conflicts in the future.
The aggressors should be arrested, prosecuted, and charged for their crimes in court. The charge should fit the crime, and no leniencies should be given to perpetrators. Without accountability and due process, no one would respect the law and the presence of CCTV systems.
What additional measures are necessary for a security plan?
The goal should be to prevent a breach in the first place.
Social media posts and CCTV footage revealed how easily accessible the Capitol was through various public access points. These public access points include exterior doors and windows - basically, any entry point in the facility. Most aggressors rushed the Capitol through the front entrance and gained access to the exterior windows.
The most obvious course of action is to secure these entry points to prevent unauthorized personnel from entering.
As a second line of defense, the police should create a securityzone with heavy fencing and prevent aggressors who try to enter. In addition, they should establish multiple lines of defense, so a breach of a single line wouldn't break things apart.
Keep a clear chain of command to prevent police officers from arguing over who's in charge.
Once inside, they were able to breach the offices of electedofficials such as Nancy Pelosi. Counter measures such as secure locking systems and protective windows are a few tools that can prevent aggressors from entering the area.
In addition, an automated lockdown system should be installed to prevent further attacks.
All officers should have easy access to riot gear to ensure they can address violent rioters. A cursory look at some of the most violent aggressors on January 6 shows they were better armed than the officers at the riot.
What training should be given to officers and members of Congress?
In order to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, Congress should consider training its officers and members. Here are a few ideas:
• Create a bipartisan group of security experts to prevent ideas rooted in partisanship.
• Integrate protective measures with Capitol police emergencyprocedures.
• Create a coordinated plan for communicating security status to provide the media with reliable information.
• Create a risk assessment to establish standard protocols that the Capitol Police should consider to address operationalsecurity vulnerabilities.
• Archive CCTV recordings for analysis.
• Identify and prosecute all involved.
• Put forth the necessary legislations to prevent such incidentsfrom happening again.
• Police officials should be trained not to be impartial to protestors. It was revealed that many officers went to the riot thinking that the aggressors who were wearing blue lives matter flags would not engage in violence. This assumption got many police officers into trouble.
• Use machine learning processes to analyze threats made on public forums such as social media and provide risk scores to generate predictive models.
• The predictive models generated above should be sent immediately to security officials for review to help them decide if it would be necessary to ramp up securitymeasures.
Why will your plan be more successful than the one in place on January 6, 2021?
This plan is designed to be impartial to politics, regardless of the party that aggressors subscribe to.
The plan also places a lot more importance on accountability, which means that necessary arrests should be made, convictions,and heavy-handed punishments such as a prison sentence.
When people realize that perpetrators would get punished, regardless of their political views, it would automatically discourage them.
In addition, this plan will also utilize social media to monitor possible threats. Digital technology lies at the heart of securityin any industry today. Although it can be difficult to manually gather good intelligence from data-intensive platforms such as social media, the use of A.I. and machine learning can resolve several issues and design intelligence systems for threat detection.