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Nat'l Security Officials to Testify    03/03 06:09

   Federal national security officials are set to testify in the second Senate 
hearing about what went wrong on Jan. 6, facing questions about missed 
intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that 
day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal national security officials are set to testify in 
the second Senate hearing about what went wrong on Jan. 6, facing questions 
about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard 
troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol.

   Senators are eager Wednesday to grill the officials from the Pentagon, the 
National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their 
preparations as supporters of then-President Donald Trump talked online, in 
some cases openly, about gathering in Washington and interrupting the electoral 
count.

   At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the 
Capitol blamed each other as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack 
of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily 
breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol itself. 
Five people died as a result of the rioting.

   So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts 
to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists' planning before 
Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call 
National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last 
week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting 
accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for 
the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was "stunned" over the 
delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy 
National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated.

   Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic 
senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview 
Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision 
was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by 
the rioters.

   "Any minute that we lost, I need to know why," Klobuchar said.

   The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling 
the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching 
investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on 
security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump's 
supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for 
lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, 
for now, abandoned any examination of Trump's role in the attack after the 
Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters 
that morning to "fight like hell" to overturn his defeat.

   As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief 
Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into 
how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she 
conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement 
failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the Jan. 6 insurrection.

   In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from 
Maj. Gen. William Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, 
who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters 
first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the 
call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops.

   "While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public 
perception --- the factors cited by the staff on the call --- these issues 
become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a 
mob, being physically assaulted," Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed 
his own officers and he was "shocked" that the National Guard "could not --- or 
would not --- do the same."

   Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but 
"did not like the optics of boots on the ground" at the Capitol.

   Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the 
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert 
Salesses of the Defense Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of 
Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee 
aspects of intelligence and security operations.

   Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence 
ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia 
that warned of online posts foreshadowing a "war" in Washington. Capitol Police 
leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the 
FBI had forwarded it to the department.

   Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director 
Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI's joint 
terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on 
an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies.

   Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in 
nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that "the smartest 
thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who 
needed to get it."

   "We did communicate that information in a timely fashion to the Capitol 
Police and (Metropolitan Police Department) in not one, not two, but three 
different ways," Wray said, though he added that since the violence that ensued 
was "not an acceptable result," the FBI was looking into what it could have 
done differently.




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