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December 07, 2021

January 6th a “Failure of Imagination” and Intelligence Sharing, Says Senator King

Senator King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, urged Capitol Police leadership to “think the unthinkable” in protecting facility

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today stressed the urgent need for the United States Capitol Police to “think the unthinkable” and improve their intelligence coordination to prevent future threats against the Capitol. During a Senate Committee on Rules and Administration hearing focused on the work of the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) leading up to and during the January 6th attack on the Capitol, King asked USCP Inspector General Michael Bolton to create red teams that would envision the most extreme possible security threats upon the Capitol complex and make sure the Capitol Police receive all necessary information from the Intelligence Community. Later in his questioning, King highlighted how silos within jurisdictions continue to hinder Capitol security.

“I recall the 9/11 commission, one of their conclusions [was] there was a failure of imagination. Security people had not thought about what could happen – the use of an airplane as a bomb. In this case, the U.S. Capitol would be attacked. So I think part of the recommendation is not a specific one, but there should be red teams. There should be people in the Capitol Police who think the unthinkable, who think about what could happen in the mind of a malefactor, and it might be a domestic terrorist or international terrorist or some combination,” said Senator King. “So I hope that that's something that you can recommend. Again, it's not as specific as saying “okay, let's fix the K-9 corps” or those things, but there should be a conscious and deliberate policy of trying to think the unthinkable, and therefore be ready for it.”

“There should be very vigorous discussions with the overall Intelligence Community, the Director of National Intelligence, to be sure the Capitol Police are part of their disbursal, their distribution of information,” Senator King concluded. “Again, the tragedy is to have intelligence, but it doesn't get to the people that need it. That may not be a failure of the Capitol Police. It may be a failure of some other intelligence agency within the federal government. It's a question of coordination, and that we need our intelligence gathering agencies, which are very good, to be sure that that information is being shared in with the appropriate entities, one of which is the Capitol Police. The best intelligence of the world is no good if the people that need it don't have it.”


Later in his questioning, while asking about improvements to the Capitol’s physical security infrastructure, Senator King highlighted how silos within Capitol jurisdiction continue to hinder Capitol security.

“I have been surprised there hasn't been more discussion of physical security,” continued Senator King. “It's pretty easy to secure a building these days. Why do we have windows that can be broken on the first floor of the Capitol? Why don't we have an automated system that when a button is pushed, metal doors shut on all the entrances? Is that part of your analysis?

Not specifically,” replied Inspector General Bolton. “Those type of issues really almost fall under the Architect of the Capitol.”

Here's another silo, Madame Chair – I mean, come on!” Senator King exclaimed.

On January 6th, Senator King condemned the insurrectionists’ violent actions, and emphasized that they must be “arrested, prosecuted, and held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.” The following day, he spoke with CBS’s 60 Minutes about the tragedy of that day and how we can work to “repair the tattered fabric of both the United States Senate and the country at large” as we move forward.

Since the insurrection, through his roles on the Senate’s Rules and Administration Committee, the Intelligence Committee, and the Armed Services Committee, Senator King has pushed for accountability and improvements from U.S. Capitol and military leadership. In a hearing just over a month after January 6th, King questioned former and current top law enforcement officials on their failures. A few weeks later, he questioned National Guard leadership on the specific failures that led to the U.S. Capitol Police being left without the backup of the D.C. National Guard for 3 hours and 19 minutes

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