On Jan. 11, Congressman Jason Crow (CO-06), joined by 107 members, which included Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett, sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) demanding an investigation into the security failure in the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. The full text of the letter follows:
The Honorable Gene L. Dodaro
Comptroller General of the United States
Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20548
Dear Comptroller General Dodaro:
We write to you today with grave urgency over the acts of insurrection that occurred yesterday at the United States Capitol complex and the unprecedented incitement and security failures that directly led to the overrun of government offices by terrorists.
In the months leading up to January 6, 2021, there was an online movement to organize a large gathering of protestors to descend on Washington, D.C., to dispute the outcome of the election, consistent with the President’s baseless claims of fraud and at his urging. Among those that may have had peaceful intentions, there is robust reporting that indicated detailed preparations for seditious or violent confrontation were being made on social media. In the past several days, as supporters of the President traveled to Washington, there were numerous documented antagonistic confrontations of public officials, instances of intimidation and seizure of weaponry that forebode conflict. On the morning of January 6, 2021, the planned large gathering began with an event in front of the White House where numerous individuals, including the President of the United States and his associates, spoke in a clear and deliberate fashion about confrontation at the Capitol, the illegitimacy of the electoral process and “trial by combat.” In doing so, the President created the tinder box of conditions for uncontrollable confrontation, added accelerant with his rhetoric and lit the match.
Immediately following the President’s remarks, the newly-incited mob outside of the White House moved to the Capitol Complex and joined with protestors outside of the Capitol. Shortly thereafter, the mob moved on the Capitol building and the congressional office buildings and, despite valiant efforts from some law enforcement personnel, swiftly broke through barricades and overran the Capitol. The terrorists broke windows and doors, ransacked offices, threatened the safety of Members and staff and ultimately gained unfettered control of the Senate floor. After seizing control of the Capitol, the terrorists were able to maintain control for hours before exiting at their own accord and without arrest.
In addition to the destruction at the Capitol, Members and staff located in the office complex were forced to shelter in place – many forced to use furniture to reinforce office doors. Nearby residences and offices were forced to evacuate due to the uncontrolled security situation and a number of improvised explosive device threats – both confirmed and reported. Public safety became so compromised that many felt compelled to call loved ones in the event that the mob broke through the remaining barricades.
Finally, and most seriously for the continuity of government operations, the chaos compromised our national security at the highest levels by endangering the presidential line of succession beginning with the Vice President of the United States and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. With hundreds of thousands of American service members, diplomats and aid workers deployed overseas, many in dangerous locations, any threat that calls into question the continuity of the United States government to respond to threats jeopardizes the security of all Americans.
In light of the unprecedented attack on the U.S. Capitol and the surrounding area, the threat posed to Congress and the grave risk posed to our national security, we ask that you conduct an urgent investigation into the events leading up to and on January 6, 2021, including, but not limited to, the following:
1) Scale and adequacy of security preparations by relevant law enforcement and defense entities, including the U.S. Capitol Police, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Department of Defense and Secret Service.
2) Extent of coordination between federal and local entities for security and emergency support.
3) Impact of rhetoric by government and elected officials that contributed to or led to the insurrection.
4) Effectiveness of the federal response and coordination with local authorities throughout the course of events.
5) Inappropriate conduct by law enforcement to include taking pictures and opening security barriers.
6) Difference in preparation, coordination and response compared to other large gatherings in Washington, D.C., in the past four years.
7) Efforts by government and/or elected officials to limit preparation, coordination or response, particularly regarding the use of force and arrests.
8) Impact on national security critical operations, including command and control.
We also ask that you provide thorough support to any commissions, or similar entities, established by Congress to investigate the failed insurrection on January 6, 2021.
In the aftermath of one of the darkest days in our nation’s history, we are forced to reconcile with difficult truths about failures of leadership and preparation. The failures of security are far more easily corrected than the failure to lead and the abuse of the public trust. Now we must seek the facts and follow them to their clear conclusion, regardless of how difficult that end may be. Your comprehensive and independent investigation into these matters is essential to ensuring that the events of yesterday will never again be allowed to occur in America.
Thank you for your urgent attention to this request and for your service to the country.
Editor’s note: The Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office works in a nonpartisan and nonideological manner with congressional clients and external parties. GAO supports Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and in helping to improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. The agency carries out audit, evaluative and investigative assignments and provides legal analyses to Congress. GAO performs work at the request of Congress and under the Comptroller General’s authority.