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Professor Mark Nevitt Asks Four Questions About Capitol Hill Riot

Posted on Monday 1/11/2021
Mark P. Nevitt

Tragedy at the Capitol: Four Questions that Demand Answers

By Mark P. Nevitt 

(Just Security | Jan. 9, 2020) How can the U.S. Capitol, surrounded by one of the largest concentrations of law enforcement and national security personnel in the world, be so quickly overrun by Trump insurrectionists hell-bent on “stopping the steal,” halting our cherished democratic processes, and potentially harming lawmakers?

This tragedy and breach of the Capitol Building on Wednesday is a failure of leadership and planning at the highest levels. A full and comprehensive investigation will be conducted. And it is important not to jump too quickly to conclusions without having a full understanding of the events and decisions that took place that day and the days leading up to it. 

Nevertheless, several key questions and themes are beginning to emerge. These must be addressed prior to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. 

These questions center around the difficulty in swiftly coordinating a response across overlapping federal, state, and local jurisdictions. Despite being surrounded by the nation’s vast national security and law enforcement apparatus, the U.S. Capitol response appears to have been plagued by and not taking the threat of right-wing extremism seriously. This was further exacerbated by different chains of command, overlapping legal authorities, and complex jurisdictional issue.

I highlight four initial questions to focus on:

  1. Was the District of Columbia National Guard properly deployed and resourced?
  2. What prevented other state National Guards from being expeditiously deployed?
  3. What role do other federal law enforcement have and why did the DC police have to play such a critical role in the Capitol’s defense?
  4. What other assets may have assisted?

Read the full article.