Pentagon defends delay in halting Capitol assault
Washington, Jun 15 (EFE).- Two senior Pentagon officials defended on Tuesday their management of the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6, while a prominent congresswoman called the delay in responding to the attack a “shocking failure” and increased pressure for a thorough investigation.
During a nearly five-hour hearing, the Democratic majority in the US House of Representatives said that the Capitol Police, Washington Metropolitan Police and local officials made at least 12 urgent requests for support from the DC National Guard on Jan. 6, before Defense Secretary Chris Miller authorized it at 4.32 pm.
“That response took far too long,” House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said.
“After a series of delays, the National Guard did not arrive until 5.20 pm, more than four hours after the Capitol perimeter was breached. This is a shocking failure.”
The data provided by Maloney comes from an investigation by her committee into what happened on Jan. 6, when a mob of extremist supporters of then-president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol with the aim of interrupting a session to ratify the electoral victory of now-president Joe Biden, in an assault that ended in five deaths.
Two senior US army officials – staff director Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt and Gen. Charles Flynn, commanding general of US Army Pacific – testified at the hearing to defend the Pentagon’s response, claiming that it took them several hours to equip the National Guard and plan how they could clear the building of hundreds of rightwing extremists.
“We were not positioned to respond to that urgent request. We had to reprepare so we would send them in prepared for this new mission,” said Piatt.
However, he acknowledged that, a week before the assault on the Capitol, the Pentagon received a request from the mayor of Washington to support the local police with the National Guard during the protests in support of Trump that were scheduled for Jan.6, on the condition that the military were not armed.
Piatt said he never denied or had the authority to deny requests to deploy the National Guard, but was concerned about the optics of soldiers surrounding the building.
The National Guard did deploy and contained the rioters, including with tear gas, amid protests against racism and police violence in the summer of 2020, a fact that led to accusations of the Pentagon having double standards based on the race of the crowd in question.
FBI director Christopher Wray said he was not aware of referrals that the conservative social media site Parler had made to the FBI about prospects for violence.
The hearing coincided with mounting pressure from Democrats to create a select committee to investigate what happened on Jan. 6, after Republican opposition in the Senate vetoed the option of launching an independent inquiry.
Meanwhile, the committee led by Maloney continues her work, and on Tuesday revealed a series of emails showing that, days before the assault on the Capitol, Trump’s entourage was already pressuring the independent Justice Department to back his claim that the election had been stolen from him. EFE