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US Capitol Police watchdog slams 'deficiencies' before January 6 attack

Members of the National Guard wear protective masks on duty outside of the US Capitol on March 4, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

The watchdog for the US Capitol Police has censured "deficiencies" in the agency’s handling of intelligence that led to the deadly January 6 attack on the Congress.

According to a report obtained by CBS News, Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton said officials from the US Capitol Police failed to act on intelligence that suggested supporters of former President Donald Trump coming to rally that day could be armed and had planned to "target" Congress.

Bolton also found that Capitol Police “did not prepare a comprehensive, Department-wide plan for demonstrations planned for January 6, 2021.”

The report documented the department's failure to pass along "relevant information obtained from outside sources," including a memo from the FBI's Norfolk division on the eve of the attack, which warned of the "potential for violence…in connection with a planned 'Stop the Steal' protest on 6 January 2021."

It also said that late in the evening on January 5, a Capitol Police intelligence officer had pulled the memo from the FBI system and emailed it around internally. Former Capitol Police Chief Steve Sund told lawmakers in late February that he had not received a copy of the report.

The report said the department disseminated “conflicting intelligence information” leading up to the assault, as well as “inconsistencies” in Capitol Police’s planning for the event.

Capitol Police said in a statement after the report that it had made “significant” improvements to its security posture prior to January 6 but acknowledged that it had “internal challenges” with communication, which it is correcting.

“The USCP acknowledges it had internal challenges including communication issues and inadequate training, which it is correcting,” it said. “The Department has also taken significant steps to facilitate the flow of intelligence to all of its sworn personnel, its law enforcement partners and stakeholders.”

On the day of the attack, and before the raid was carried out, Trump told his loyalists in Washington, DC to show their support for him and asked them to "stop the steal" as lawmakers were in the process of confirming his defeat. Trump has been claiming to this day that he won the election and that it was stolen from him.

Trump was impeached by the US House of Representatives a historic second time for the instigation of the attack.

Five people were killed in the raid, including a police officer who reportedly died after inhaling bear spray used against him by one Trump supporter.

So far, more than 300 individuals from the mob have been charged on criminal counts ranging from conspiracy to attacking police and obstructing Congress.

At least 18 people associated with the far-right "Proud Boys" group have been charged, and nine people tied to the anti-government militia known as the Oath Keepers are facing charges that they conspired as far back as November to storm the Capitol and block Congress from certifying Trump's defeat.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin has blamed the US government for doing too little too late to fight the far-right extremists.

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