The commander of the D.C. National Guard said the Pentagon restricted his authority ahead of the riot at the U.S. Capitol, requiring higher-level sign-off to respond that cost time as the events that day spiraled out of control.
Local commanders typically have the power to take military action on their own to save lives or prevent significant property damage in an urgent situation when there isn’t enough time to obtain approval from headquarters.
But Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, said the Pentagon essentially took that power and other authorities away from him ahead of the short-lived insurrection on Jan. 6. That meant he couldn’t immediately roll out troops when he received a panicked phone call from the Capitol Police chief warning that rioters were about to enter the U.S. Capitol.
It’s unclear how much of this is incompetence and how much is something worse, but it’s clear that the response of the Capitol Police was also a complete disaster:
The Capitol Police department on Tuesday delivered to Congress its first after-action report since the deadly pro-Trump assault on the Capitol, laying out a dismal picture of failure to prepare adequately despite knowing days ahead of time that right-wing extremists could target lawmakers.
Testifying by videoconference to a closed session of a House committee, the acting chief of the Capitol Police, Yogananda D. Pittman, acknowledged that the department knew there was a “strong potential for violence” but failed to take necessary steps to prevent what she described as a “terrorist attack.”
Officers were outmanned, had poor communications, lacked sufficient supplies and struggled to carry out orders like locking down the building, she said.
Her comments were the fullest account to date from the department about its preparations for and response to the events of Jan. 6, when thousands of angry protesters, believing false claims that the election had been stolen, marched on the Capitol, urged on by President Donald J. Trump.
I suspect the investigations will reveal a picture even worse than we know now.