U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who was among a bipartisan group that assessed the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, says the panel’s report lays out reforms to address failures and strengthen security to prevent similar attacks in the future.
Klobuchar, D-Minn., was among a group of four senators — two Democrats and two Republicans — who led the analysis, the results of which were released to the public early Tuesday, June 8.
“On Jan. 6, brave law enforcement officers were left to defend not only those in the Capitol, but our democracy itself — and they performed heroically under unimaginable circumstances,” Klobuchar said in a statement sent to the media Tuesday. “At our first bipartisan hearing, I announced that our purpose was to find solutions and issue timely recommendations so it never happens again. This report lays out necessary reforms including passing a law to change Capitol Police Board procedures and improving intelligence sharing. I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to implement the recommendations in this report that are needed to protect the Capitol and, in turn, our nation.”
Leading the analysis were Klobuchar; Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.; and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
The report suggested giving the chief of the Capitol Police the ability to directly seek help from the National Guard in times of emergency, rather than the current process of requiring the chief to first get an emergency declaration and then approval from the Pentagon. Klobuchar, who chairs the Rules Committee, said she plans to introduce — along with Blunt — legislation to make the change.
The senators were critical of what they consider intelligence failures and lack of training, communication and preparation by Capitol Police in the days leading up to the attack. National Guard troops didn’t arrive at the Capitol until some three hours after the initial request went out. Five people died that day.
In a CBS News report Tuesday morning, Klobuchar said the mission of the panel “was not just to say ‘oh, what a mess this was and we disagree.’”
She reasserted that she believes a commission should be appointed, similar to the group that investigated the 9/11 attacks in 2001. However, that proposal died last month after failing to get enough votes in the Senate. She acknowledged on CBS that Portman doesn’t agree with her about a 9/11-style commission, but “our mission right now was to protect the Capitol going forward.”
During the CBS interview, Portman said “part of the message here is we can figure this out together.”
In a statement provided by Klobuchar’s office, Blunt noted the bipartisan effort of the committee.
“Over the past five months, our committees have worked together in a bipartisan way to thoroughly investigate the intelligence and security failures prior to and on Jan. 6, and to develop recommendations to address them,” Blunt said. “These recommendations are based on an extensive fact-finding effort that included interviews with key decision-makers, firsthand accounts from law enforcement personnel, and the review of thousands of documents. Our focus now should be on immediately implementing these recommendations.”
Altogether, the panel makes 20 recommendations. A few examples:
- Appoint a new chief of the Capitol Police.
- Require a department-wide operational plan for special events.
- Establish the Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU) as a formal, permanent component of the Capitol Police.
- Consolidate and elevate all Capitol Police intelligence units into an intelligence bureau.
- Update the Incident Command System Directive to address how incident commanders are to communicate priorities, strategies, tactics and threat assessments.
- Review and evaluate handling of open-source information, such as social media, containing threats of violence.
- Develop standing “concept of operation” scenarios and contingency plans for responding quickly to civil disturbance and terrorism incidents.
- Enhance communications prior to and during an event.
- Practice for the mobilization of additional National Guard members from neighboring jurisdictions.
- Develop protocols for communicating with members of Congress, staff and other employees during emergencies.