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These inquiries are needed

Editor of the Reformer:

About the egregiously inadequate law enforcement response to Wednesday's attack on the Capitol.

I don't know a lot. But I expect that three main inquiries are needed:

• Into enforcement failure by the Capitol Police

It seems that the force on duty that afternoon was much too small to maintain order. And, as a result, officers in charge may have feared for their people's lives, especially if they split up to try to deal with the huge crowd. They apparently also were slow to admit their need for help. And it's clear that enforcement efforts they made were less vigorous than recent actions against Black Lives Matter protesters. Why?

• Into the slowness of response from back-up forces

I don't know exactly when help was requested from whom. But it's clear that the help provided was way too late getting there. As best I could see on the television, the worst of the assault on the Capitol was over by the time reinforcements appeared. In the aftermath there was lots of buck passing: both the Defense Department and the FBI say they'd offered before Wednesday to provide help and been turned down by the Capitol Police. But, if Defense and the FBI understood the kind of violence that was likely (as D.C.'s Mayor Muriel Bowser clearly did), they might have worked together ahead of time to persuade or overrule the Capitol Police. In the end they and other security forces put aside protocol and sent reinforcements. Too late.

• Into what seems a failure of intelligence about the violence that was going to happen

The Capitol Police, the Metropolitan Police Department, the FBI and Homeland Security all have intelligence capabilities and responsibility. While the majority of the people who gathered that afternoon probably intended no violence, there clearly were many anticipating and prepared for attack. It was not spontaneous. The FBI in particular has a history of expertly infiltrating and monitoring suspect groups. But those have usually been left-leaning groups. Was everyone really unaware of the kind of violence the Proud Boys and other Trump troops might commit? If they were aware and failed to prepare, that needs to be investigated. If they were unaware, that, equally, needs to be investigated.

I've explored here only the failure to prevent the attack on the Capitol. Much else obviously needs investigating.

Byron Stookey

Brattleboro, January 8

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