by MARGARET BARNETT - February 5, 2020 - A simple breakdown of the Capitol breach of January 6 and how the U.S. could see major security changes in the upcoming weeks.
As the views of each political party become more and more polarized in the United States, the more the country seems to be divided. But no matter the political stance one might take, the riots at the Capitol can be considered an attack on the nation’s democracy.
Government buildings are generally extremely secure places. The U.S. Capitol has its own 2,000-officer department for security. Prior to the January 6 breach, the National Guard was called and tall barriers were placed around the perimeter of the grounds.
How a mob of pro-Trump supporters was able to enter the U.S. Capitol building is under an ongoing, close investigation. While there are many opinions about how this happened, the events of January 6 pose crucial questions of how security is going to change for the United States.
Days leading up to the riots, several security organizations, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, released bulletins to law enforcement across the country to warn of possible violence towards legislatures. The threat warnings had been placed after filtering through suspicious and threatening keywords on social media. Some of these posts directly expressed plans to breach the Capitol.
Starting as an organized rally called “The March to Save America,” the outward purpose of the event was organized by the Women for America First. The group was pushing to overturn the election.
Rioters are reported to have started chanting “Hang Pence,” in reference to his acceptance of the electoral vote count, which he did not have the constitutional power to reject. From here, the degree of force picked up.
As the mob began scaling walls and breaking windows, the Maryland, D.C., and the Virginia National Guard were called to the riot. It then took several hours to secure the Capitol and clear the area of any threats.
Following the event, police recovered six firearms, two pipe bombs, and a cooler filled with Molotov cocktails.
Not only was this a physical security breach, but personal belongings were taken from offices. Photos show rioters posing in congressional offices, filing through papers, and looking at laptops. Several members reported missing laptops, posing a security threat.
Previously, there was a threat that this jeopardized the information on the stolen laptops, giving outsiders access to the federal network. Luckily, most lawmakers do not have regular access to classified materials, so there is no current threat of these classified systems being breeched.
There will likely be a reevaluation of cybersecurity throughout the U.S. government following this scare.
In addition, the role that President Trump played in the riot is being investigated. At the “March to Save America”, Trump gave a speech that did not directly incite violence, but he called for an overturn, used violent imagery, and suggested that his supporters could change the election results.
Several social media platforms banned President Trump from using their websites during and after the events. It has been verified that this ban was attributed to his mass spreading of false information.
On January 13th, Trump was impeached for the second time since the start of his term. Allegations of his incitement of violence on the Capitol was a contributor to the impeachment.
The breach also caused heightened security surrounding the Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on January 20. While a few arrests were made, no serious threats were presented.