Ted Williams: FBI response to Capitol riot was ‘lukewarm cow manure’
Former Washington D.C. homicide detective Ted Williams slams bureau on ‘Your World’
Former law enforcement agents are sounding off in the wake of news that the FBI received information there would be a potential “war” in Washington Jan. 6 – the day thousands stormed the U.S. Capitol building.
Just one day after a Washington Post report revealed some police agencies were aware of the threats, former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, and former detective with the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Ted Williams, told Fox News in separate interviews they believe scrutiny of preparations for the Jan. 6 rally-turned-riot is warranted and necessary.
“There was a failure from the federal and state and local government,” Williams told Fox News on Wednesday. “This should have never happened.”
The U.S. Capitol Police employs more than 2,300 officers. A spokesperson did not respond to Fox News’ question about how many officers were on duty during last week’s Capitol siege. Thousands of Trump supporters – some armed with guns, zip-ties and flag poles – pushed their way into the halls of the U.S. Capitol and wreaked havoc on the building.
The Post reported Tuesday that a Jan. 5 report from the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, Va., forecast, in detail, the chances that extremists could commit “war” in Washington the following day. Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, said later that day that once he received the Jan. 5 warning, the information was quickly shared with other law enforcement agencies through the joint terrorism task force.
Nonetheless, Williams said, “from all indications, the Capitol Police were very, very unprepared for the attack on the Capitol.”
“When you look at it all, clearly, if they had some knowledge that that many people were going to attack the Capitol, it would have been an all- hands-on-deck operation,” he continued.
Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who stepped down following the insurrection, told the Post he was not notified of the FBI’s bulletin, or the department would have been better prepared. A spokesperson for the agency did not respond to Fox News’ request seeking comment.
“The information, from all indications and for all we know, did not disseminate itself to the Capitol Police to be prepared,” Williams said. “But on the other hand, even if you take the Norfolk office out of the quagmire here, and I can tell you all they had to do in law enforcement was to go on the Internet.”
D’Antuono was among the officials who initially suggested law enforcement simply was caught off guard, saying Friday: “There was no indication that there was anything other than First Amendment protected activity.”
He suggested Tuesday that the Norfolk warning was based on nonspecific information, characterizing it as a “thread on a message board” that was not attributable to any specific person.
In a statement Tuesday night, the FBI said the report’s author had warned the “FBI might be encroaching on free speech rights” in pursuing further action, and that the document itself did not necessarily associate the comments with a national security threat or crime. It highlighted D’Antuono’s remarks at the news conference suggesting that without knowing the identity of the people whose words were cited in the report, not much could be done with the information.
Swecker, a former FBI assistant director who retired with 24 years on the job, told Fox News on Wednesday the memo could have been missed because of the delivery method.
“What I read and heard the assistant director say was that they pumped it into their system; what I believe he’s referring to is the eGuardian system, out to all the joint terrorism task forces,” Swecker told Fox News. “But I was fuzzy on whether they had briefed verbally or over the phone any particular component of the Capitol Police or the sergeant-at-arms or the local police department.”
Swecker, who now practices law, has not personally been involved in the ongoing investigation. The FBI declined to provide additional details regarding how the memo was disseminated.
“I suspect what they did was they just simply put it into the system for those that are interested to read, which I would take issue with. I mean, in this instance, this was very specific and it was very incendiary. And it was a call to arms, basically,” he said. “That was the type of thing that should have been triaged and then someone should have talked to — live people should have spoken to each other about it.”
Swecker said he believed the system was “clogged up with noise in the lead-up to” Jan. 6, and there did not appear to be a unified command to oversee preparations and day-of security.
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Violent protesters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. It’s been a stunning day as a number of lawmakers and then the mob of protesters tried to overturn America’s presidential election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Democrat Joe Biden from replacing Trump in the White House. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: Protesters enter the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation’s capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, Trump supporters gesture to U.S. Capitol Police in the hallway outside of the Senate chamber at the Capitol in Washington. Doug Jensen, an Iowa man at center, was jailed early Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021 on federal charges, including trespassing and disorderly conduct counts, for his alleged role in the Capitol riot. Jensen, 41, of Des Moines, was being held without bond at the Polk County Jail and county sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Evans said he didn’t know if Jensen had an attorney. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
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FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington. Jacob Anthony Chansley, the Arizona man with the painted face and wearing a horned, fur hat, was taken into custody Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021 and charged with counts that include violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, file)
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Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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Capitol police officers in riot gear push back demonstrators who try to break a door of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A pro-Trump protester carries the lectern of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi through the Roturnda of the U.S. Capitol Building after a pro-Trump mob stormed the building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)(Getty Images)
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Supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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WASHINGTON DC, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES – 2021/01/06: Protesters seen all over Capitol building where pro-Trump supporters riot and breached the Capitol. Rioters broke windows and breached the Capitol building in an attempt to overthrow the results of the 2020 election. Police used batons and tear gas grenades to eventually disperse the crowd. Rioters used metal bars and tear gas as well against the police. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)((Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images))
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Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
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U.S. Capitol Police hold protesters at gun-point near the House Chamber inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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Demonstrators attempt to breach a door of the U.S. Capitol after they earlier stormed the building in Washington, DC, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. The U.S. Capitol was placed under lockdown and Vice President Mike Pence left the floor of Congress as hundreds of protesters swarmed past barricades surrounding the building where lawmakers were debating Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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Demonstators loyal to President Donald Trump, are sprayed by police, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, during a day of rioting at the Capitol. It’s been a stunning day as a number of lawmakers and then the mob of protesters tried to overturn America’s presidential election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Democrat Joe Biden from replacing Trump in the White House. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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Richard Barnett, a supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, sits inside the office of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6. (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)(Getty Images)
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Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
If there was actually a unified command system established, he said: “It sure did misfire.”
“I’ve heard the mayor say before – this is before the rally and the riots – that the police department is in charge of security. I heard the Capitol Police chief say he was in charge. I’ve heard the sergeant-at-arms, who I know … say that they were in charge. When everybody is in charge, nobody’s in charge.”
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Five people, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, died during or in connection with Wednesday’s events. In addition, the historic building was damaged, property was stolen and lawmakers’ lives were at risk.
Officials have made dozens of arrests so far and are pursuing further charges. The FBI said it has received more than 100,000 digital tips from the public in connection with the Capitol siege.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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