A supporter of President Donald Trump carries a Confederate flag on the second floor of the US Capitol near the entrance to the Senate after breaching security defences, in Washington, DC, the US, January 6 2021. Picture: REUTERS/MIKE THEILER
A supporter of President Donald Trump carries a Confederate flag on the second floor of the US Capitol near the entrance to the Senate after breaching security defences, in Washington, DC, the US, January 6 2021. Picture: REUTERS/MIKE THEILER

The hostile invasion and occupation of the US Capitol by a riotous pro-Trump mob served as public notice to every American, every nervous ally, every plotting terrorist and every foreign adversary, that the US was incapable of safeguarding its most hallowed temple of democracy at its most sensitive moments, despite two decades of supposed security improvements since the 9/11 attacks.

With the January 20 inauguration of Joe Biden looming, there must be a full but swift accounting of the multiple failures — in intelligence, leadership, planning and co-ordination — followed by an overhaul of the security operation to protect the peaceful transition of democratic government. It will not be enough to fire the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms or for the US Capitol police chief to resign. The nation’s people — and its enemies, both foreign and domestic — must know that we are willing and able to defend ourselves.

The failure to adequately prepare is inexcusable. Many outraged commenters argue that Capitol police acted far differently than their counterparts in cities around the nation last summer in the midst of anti-police actions, and that the overwhelmingly white Trump mob was treated gingerly and with deference not accorded to more racially diverse protesters. It may instead be the case that Capitol police were outnumbered and had little choice, but the charge cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Images of invaders desecrating the Capitol with Confederate flags and other images of previous insurrections and white supremacy were sickening. Yet it’s startling to realise how lucky we were. The crowd was largely unarmed and appeared stunned to have got as far as it did. There was little indication that they had any plan other than to take selfies sitting at Congress members’ desks. They were ultimately cleared out of the building with little resistance. Still, at least four people died, and police say two pipe bombs were found on the grounds of the Capitol complex, along with 11 Molotov cocktails.

The post-Trump to-do list to repair damage to the nation and its institutions is long. ⁄Los Angeles, January 7

LA Times

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