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The more that we know, the more the original narrative of the riot in the US Capitol is not matching with later reporting.
For instance, we were originally led to believe that once Trump finished his speech, the crowd listening to him set off down Pennsylvania Avenue, breached police barricades, and forced their way into the Capitol.
According to the timeline assembled by the New York Times (this, like their Kenosha timeline, has not received anywhere near the attention it deserves because it runs contrary to the meta-narrative the media is using to explain events)
About 20 minutes before Trump’s speech ends, some people in the Capitol crowd harass officers posted at the barricades and start to get physical. Others follow suit, until they violently overwhelm the police and breach the building’s outer perimeter.
To add further context, the speech was at the opposite end of the National Mall from the US Capitol. The distance is about 1.25 miles or a walk of about a half-hour. By the time President Trump had finished his speech, and his audience arrived, the effort to get inside the Capitol was well underway.
Via some exceptional, on-the-ground reporting from J. Michael Waller from the Center for Security Policy, we have a better idea of what went on. It stands the conventional wisdom on its ear.
This is the top line:
A small number of cadre used the cover of a huge rally to stage its attack. Before it began, I saw from my vantage point on the West Front of the Capitol, what appeared to be four separate cells or units:
- Plainclothes militants. Militant, aggressive men in Trump and MAGA gear at a front police line at the base of the temporary presidential inaugural platform;
- Agents-provocateurs. Scattered groups of men exhorting the marchers to gather closely and tightly toward the center of the outside of the Capitol building and prevent them from leaving;
- Fake Trump protesters. A few young men wearing Trump or MAGA hats backwards and who did not fit in with the rest of the crowd in terms of their actions and demeanor, whom I presumed to be Antifa or other leftist agitators; and
- Disciplined, uniformed column of attackers. A column of organized, disciplined men, wearing similar but not identical camouflage uniforms and black gear, some with helmets and GoPro cameras or wearing subdued Punisher skull patches.
All of these cells or groups stood out from the very large crowd by their behavior and overall demeanor. However, they did not all appear at the same time. Not until the very end did it become apparent there was a prearranged plan to storm the Capitol building, and to manipulate the unsuspecting crowd as cover and as a follow-on force.
More from the story:
Although the crowd represented a broad cross-section of Americans – mostly working class by their appearance and manner of speech (the Deplorables from Flyover Country, as an old politician once called them) – some people stood out.
A very few didn’t share the jovial, friendly, earnest demeanor of the great majority. Some obviously didn’t fit in. Among them were younger twentysomethings wearing new Trump or MAGA hats, often with the visor in the back, showing no enthusiasm and either looking at the ground, or glowering, or holding out their phones with outstretched arms to make videos of as many faces as possible in the crowd. Some appeared awkward, the way someone’s body language inadvertently shows the world that he feel like he doesn’t fit in. A few seemed to be nursing a deep, churning rage.
They generally covered their faces with cloth masks, as opposed to the pro-Trump people, few of whom wore masks at all. They walked, often hands in pockets, in clusters of perhaps four to six with at least one of them frequently looking behind. These outliers group looked like trouble. I presumed that these fake Trump protesters were Antifa or something similar. However, that entire afternoon I saw none of them act aggressively or cause any problems. At least, not from my vantage point.
A second outlier group also stood out. While many marchers wore military camouflage shirts, jackets, or pants of various patterns and states of wear and in all shapes and sizes, here and there one would see people of a different type: Wiry young men in good physical condition dressed neatly in what looked like newer camouflage uniforms with black gear, subdued patches including Punisher skulls, and helmets.
They showed tidiness and discipline. They strode instead of walked, moving at a more rapid pace than most of the people, sometimes breaking into a short jog, and generally keeping to the left side of Constitution Avenue in pairs of two or small groups of three. Unlike others in old military clothes who tended to be affable and talkative, these sullen men seemed not to speak to anyone at all. As we would see, they were the disciplined, uniformed column of attackers.
Then something happened at the front of the crowd, as if a champagne cork popped to release pent-up human energy. It seemed like a scuffle, but from forty feet back, I couldn’t see. People started chanting “USA, USA,” and other slogans. Some burst with streams of profanity about Biden, Pelosi, and “the steal.” For a few seconds I saw what looked like police in a tussle with some of the marchers up front – what appeared to be an organized group in civilian clothes.
This organized group are the cell I call the “plainclothes militants.” They fit right in with the MAGA people.
If you were writing a script, this would be the climax.
Suddenly energy surged from the front of the crowd as the anti-riot police, above on the inaugural platform, visibly tensed up. Some sighted their pepper ball weapons toward the densely packed people. One fired a teargas canister – not at the plainclothes militants at the front line, but into the crowd itself. Then another. Flash grenades went off in the middle of the crowd.
The tear gas changed the crowd’s demeanor. There was an air of disbelief as people realized that the police whom they supported were firing on them. “What are you doing to us – we support you,” someone yelled. Tear gas wafted through the crowd, a low-grade irritant, fortunately, as if to send a warning to disperse. But nobody could disperse; some tried to leave the area, but more kept flowing in from Constitution Avenue, making evacuation impossible.
All of a sudden, pro-police people felt that the police were attacking them, and they didn’t know why. Instead of running away, the people stood their ground. Something seemed to break loose a second time toward the front, but we couldn’t tell what it was. Younger members of the crowd climbed the scaffolding inside the north façade of the inaugural platform and waved flags from the top. The crowd cheered.
At this point, the story takes a twist.
Then, a loud, bellowing shout from behind: “Forward! Do not retreat! Forward!”
Retreat? Nobody was retreating. They were trying to escape the tear gas. But the man kept yelling not to “retreat,” as if this were a military operation. In a powerful voice he exhorted the crowd to remain on the plaza and not to disperse on the lawn or depart down the steps to the footpath. Thousands more people continued pouring in from Constitution Avenue.
Then two other men, standing across from one another on the high granite curbs on either side of the footpath, bellowed variations of, “Forward! Don’t you dare retreat!” Some made direct eye contact at people and pointed directly at them, as if trying to psyche them to submit.
These agents-provocateurs placed hundreds of unsuspecting supporters of the president in physical danger. They attempted to block exits for people seeking to escape tear gas. They endangered vulnerable people, including children, the frail, and the elderly, They funneled and pushed hundreds if not thousands of innocent people into a crush toward the Capitol. They did so with the goal of forcing those people into a confrontation with federal police defending Congress.
And the finale:
Then, from the north, a column of uniformed, agile younger men walked briskly, single-file, toward the inaugural stand. They came within two feet of me. The camouflage uniforms were clean, neat, and with a pattern I couldn’t identify. Some had helmets and GoPro cameras. Some uniforms bore subdued insignia, including the Punisher skull. These were the disciplined, uniformed column of attackers. I had seen them in groups of two or three among the marchers on Connecticut Avenue from the Ellipse.
Now there were a good three dozen of them, moving in a single, snakelike formation. They were organized. They were disciplined. They were prepared.
I don’t want to blockquote any more of the story, but if true, then what happened here was a well-executed operation carried out by folks who knew what they were doing. They weren’t Antifa. They weren’t any of the militia types. There was a mix of ages, skills, and abilities that suggest something else entirely.
I have to admit that when I read this, my first thought was of the technique used to overthrow Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953:
Soon, massive popular protests, aided by Roosevelt’s team, took place across the city and elsewhere with tribesmen at the ready to assist the coup. Anti- and pro-monarchy protesters, both paid by Roosevelt, violently clashed in the streets, looting and burning mosques and newspapers, leaving almost 300 dead. The pro-monarchy leadership, chosen, hidden and finally unleashed at the right moment by the CIA team, led by retired army General and former Minister of Interior in Mosaddegh’s cabinet, Fazlollah Zahedi joined with underground figures such as the Rashidian brothers and local strongman Shaban Jafari, to gain the upper hand on 19 August 1953 (28 Mordad). The military joined on cue: pro-Shah tank regiments stormed the capital and bombarded the prime minister’s official residence, on Roosevelt’s cue, according to his book.
There are claims that all this was planned in the open on social media weeks before the event.
NEW from me + @BrandyZadrozny:
Extremists planned to ‘occupy’ Capitol on Instagram, 8kun in weeks before attackhttps://t.co/uhcv6aEWCI
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) January 8, 2021
My view is that if Waller is even close to being accurate, then this is incorrect to the point of misleading. If this were true, it screams that the FBI and our intelligence services are incompetent beyond all comprehension. I would contend that all the online planning did was allow another group to manipulate an online bullsh** session and use it as cover for a completely different operation. It explains how a very sophisticated operation was able to be disguised as an extemporaneous event.
Catherine Herridge reports that the FBI is placing its top priority on identifying what Waller calls the “disciplined attackers.”
tactics (trained to military + law enforcement) drew immediate scrutiny from investigators. CBS News has learned these tactics were witnessed both OUTSIDE + INSIDE the Capitol Building. NOTE: These tactics are commonly used in hostile, unknown environments to clear rooms + reach
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) January 14, 2021
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) January 14, 2021
This is very true. If you are trained in a skill, you can pick out people who are similarly trained. Watching people execute tactical evolutions, you can tell who has been trained to do it and who is LARPing. It really isn’t difficult.
Herridge’s reporting seems to say that the FBI may follow the same observations made by Waller in his story.
This was not an “insurrection,” only clowns make that claim. No one was armed (no, actually, zip ties are not weapons). There was no plan to install a new government or keep Joe Biden from being declared president. The purpose seems to be nothing more than an outlet of rage. A rage, if Waller is correct, that did not reach critical mass until a member of the Capitol Police riot squad thought it was a good idea to gas a peaceful crowd. Somehow agitators and leaders and a direct action group just happened to be on the scene as the crowd was gassed.
If Waller’s assessment is correct and if Herridge’s reporting is correct, then all of this leads one to wonder cui bono? Who benefits? It also requires an answer to the “why did it happen?” question. Hopefully, the FBI will rely on something besides the next Christopher Steele dossier in pursuing their investigation. I expect this to hit a dead end. There will be the arrest and public shaming of people who penetrated the Capitol. We aren’t going to see anything more of the provocateurs or the assault teams unless one of them breaks cover and talks. Not that they’ll get a chance to say much before ending up in Fort Marcy Park or being bundled off to the Manhattan Correctional Center.