WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today pressed senior officials from national security, law enforcement and defense agencies about breakdowns in intelligence gathering, security preparations and the delayed response on January 6, 2021 when domestic terrorists attacked the U.S. Capitol. Peters pushed for information on how our nation’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies misjudged the likelihood of violence and why a response from the National Guard was delayed once the building was breached. Peters also continued to raise the alarm about domestic terrorism and how our national security apparatus has not effectively focused on this growing and deadly threat.
Peters convened the bipartisan oversight hearing jointly with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Rules and Administration Committee, to examine the security and intelligence failures that led to a breach of the U.S. Capitol and ensure such an attack never happens again. This was the second joint hearing examining the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The previous hearing featured testimony from current and former officials responsible for securing the area surrounding the U.S. Capitol on the preparations and response efforts on January 6, 2021.
Testifying before the committee were: Melissa Smislova, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Department of Homeland Security; Jill Sanborn, Assistant Director, Counterterrorism Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Robert Salesses, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Homeland Defense and Global Security, Department of Defense; and Major General William J. Walker, Commanding General of the District of Columbia National Guard.
“The January 6th attack must mark a turning point. There can be no question that the domestic terrorist threat – including violence driven by white supremacists and anti-government groups – is the gravest terrorist threat to our homeland security,” said Peters, in part during his opening statement. “Today’s witnesses are uniquely qualified to discuss what intelligence was produced in the days leading up to the attack – what officials missed as they assessed the likelihood of violence that day – and why our intelligence community failed to heed the crystal clear warnings that were broadcast on social media and publicly reported in the days leading up to the 6th – that a violent attack on the Capitol was imminent.”
Peters continued: “The January 6th attack on the citadel of our democracy remains a dark stain on our nation’s history. Our committees have a responsibility to continue that each of us have a responsibility to carry out our oversight duties in a serious and nonpartisan way.”
To watch video of Senator Peters’ opening remarks, click here. For text of Peters’ opening remarks as prepared, click here.
To watch video of Senator Peters questioning officials responsible for security of the U.S. Capitol complex, click here.
To watch video of Senator Peters’ closing remarks, click here.
The joint oversight hearing is part of a broader bipartisan effort Peters is leading to examine the security and intelligence failures on January 6th and determine if reforms are needed to prevent a similar attack in the future. The hearing follows a bipartisan request from Senate Committee leaders, led by Peters, pressing 22 agencies and departments to provide information related to the preparations for and response to the January 6, 2021 Joint Session of Congress and the subsequent security failures.