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Comprehensive After-Action Review Mandatory In Wake of Attack on Nation’s Capitol Building

In the course of my career in law enforcement, I have had the opportunity to work with many of the individuals who protect our nation’s capital and spent considerable time working with the agencies in the Capitol Building itself.  I hold that building – and all that it represents – in great reverence.  So to suddenly have to shift from planning vaccination site protection to joining the rest of America watching a once-unimaginable attack on our nation’s Capitol Building on January 6 was jarring, poignant, and sobering.

Like so many others, I was repulsed as I watched rioters desecrate the majesty of the rotunda and its sacred paintings and statues that chronicle our nation’s centuries-long history. I was horrified watching elected officials lying prone on the floor of the building, taking cover as the officers there to protect them warned of the potential crossfire. And, also, like so many, I was enraged to see the deficient numbers of law enforcement personnel who were being tasked with staving off the thousands of rioters who literally scaled the Capitol’s walls and stormed the building.

For those of us watching it unfold, it seems unfathomable that the Capitol Police did not have adequate numbers in place to effectively repel this attack on democracy. Those front line officers were failed by police or political leadership who handicapped pre-planning and effective personnel deployment that could have mitigated the actions of these anarchists. It was a failure of security, but it was absolutely a failure of crisis and risk management.

Make no mistake: these terrorists did not target the White House, where the leader of their zealotry was in residence. They targeted our government, the building where historic democracy was in play, and where they hoped to disrupt the electoral process, neutralizing both the elected body and the physical votes and records themselves.

Multiple Reviews Needed

Immediately, and without political interference, there needs to be a thorough criminal investigation and review conducted by law enforcement entities, comprised of representatives from the Capitol Police, the FBI, and the Justice Department.  Just from the video coverage shown on media coverage, there is abundant evidence of a significant number of crimes committed and an intensive investigation needs to hold accountable all who stormed the building, broke into the property, and damaged the federal building.  Some of these crimes are felonies.  The investigation must also include a focus on any individuals who incited public unrest by fomenting aggressive tactics with volatile rhetoric. These anarchists need to be fully investigated, infiltrated, and arrested, because they are not going to just disappear after their strike against our nation on Wednesday.

Simultaneously, there also needs to be an administrative high-level review of the events that led up to this failure and the reasons behind it.  This review is something our Executive Branch or Legislative Branch must commission immediately so that we can uncover exactly how this attack played out.  The review should include the crimes that occurred both in the lead-up to the breach of the Capitol and in the actions once the siege was underway.  We need answers to the lack of planning and the failures that occurred that resulted in insufficient personnel being present to combat a threat to our democracy that was widely anticipated before the first door was even breached.

We owe it to our democracy to not turn a blind eye to these actions, regardless of political affiliation. There absolutely must be appropriate ramifications to the insurrection activity and the arrogant conduct of these homegrown anarchists must be dealt with swiftly and decisively.