We Need Answers About January 6th

By: Margaret Henoch

The Steady State National Security veterans support an investigation of the events of January 6, 2021.

The Republican minority defeated the bipartisan bill (which gave the GOP everything it asked for) to investigate the attempted coup at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The Democrats should move ahead and the Speaker of the House should establish a select committee so all Americans can understand what happened and the GOP Big Lie can be further exposed.

In the last 20 years there have been inquiries established to understand events that had complex backstories, shadowy players, and officials whose assessments were flawed. Many members of the Steady State have been briefers, many have testified in front of these commissions, many have had experiences with similar inquiries and some have been pressured by lawmakers and or senior policymakers to say things that are simply untrue. Too often, publicly available commission reports are incomplete, because much of the substance is classified. Too often, analytic judgments which supported particular courses of action were wrong, but punishing the analysts was counterproductive. Too often commissions were flawed, set up to support a political outcome.

An inquiry into the January 6 attempted coup would not be hindered by those problems, because so many of the key questions can be answered using publicly available information. The people who did their jobs poorly — information not passed, troops not approved — were not working with incomplete or sensitive information, and they should be identified and called to account. The planning, incitement and invitation to the coup were all in the open. From November 7 until January 6, we saw the daily denial of the 2020 election on Twitter, Facebook and in public statements, lawsuits and phone calls by and on behalf of then-President Trump. We watched the “rally” encourage violence and combat against Congress in real time on television. We watched Trump supporters raise fists to the mob. We saw Trump followers parade from the Trump rally to the Capitol — in full Trump regalia — where they erected a gallows, chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” and sought to attack our elected representatives. We watched on TV as Trump, his family and supporters cheered the mob as it attacked the Capitol.

Evidence of wrongdoing from the lie about the election to the attack on the Capitol is public. Answers to the backstory of January 6 must come from the investigation, and must clarify exactly what led up to the coup attempt. Among those issues are: What did the attackers and their backers hope to achieve? Who initiated and coordinated the attack? How did the instigators communicate with the attackers? Did anyone from the legislative, executive, or judicial branches assist the rioters in any way? Do any federal, state, or local government institutions continue to shield extremists who participated in the January 6 attack? Why was information about this attack not shared among all relevant organizations? Why did the Capitol Police not have enough officers on hand, or get additional forces when requested? Was any foreign player, nation-state or otherwise, in any way, involved in the January 6 attack?

Republicans’ stated objections to a commission would have been alleviated by the bill they rejected. There are still questions about the backstory of the coup attempt; the country needs answers to those. All House and Senate Democrats, and 35 House Republicans and 6 Senate Republicans know this and supported an investigation. Since The GOP will not support an investigation, the Speaker can and must establish a select committee instead. That committee should include Democrats and Republicans, but there is no need to give the GOP members veto or subpoena power, control over the witness list, questions to be asked, a particular number of seats, or power to drive the direction of the inquiry; the GOP forfeited those privileges when they tried to scuttle any investigation at all. All Republican members on the committee must reject the Big Lie.

The Democrats must take this opportunity to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation, to highlight the implications of the January 6 attack, and underscore the dangers presented by those who will not condemn it.

Ms. Henoch retired as a Senior Intelligence Officer from the CIA. She is a member of The Steady State. The group was formed in March of 2020 by former US national security professionals who have served throughout our country’s national security infrastructure, as intelligence officers, defense policymakers, diplomats, and Congressional staffers. The members come from the Republican and Democratic Party; some are Independents, and all have served our country during Democratic and Republican administrations. Steady State members advocate for issues that reinforce strong national security and representative democracy, including rule of law, and free and fair elections. All members expect truth from the current and former members of all three branches of the US government and will work against dishonesty and a drive toward autocracy.

We are veterans of the U.S. National Security Community who believe that President Trump presents a clear and present danger to America’s safety and security.