The attack on the U.S. Capitol during a rally hosted by President Trump raises questions about the safety of the upcoming inauguration. The security breaches experienced on that day brought some disturbing realizations to the surface leading to the resignations of the head of the U.S. Capitol Police and two other senior security officials.
On the latest edition of Skimm This hosted by Justine Davie, thousands of National Guard troops are in Washington D.C. this week as the world prepares for a transition of power. Jytte Klausen, professor of politics, Brandeis University, discusses the security breaches that led to the riots at the Capitol building.
Klaussen saidthat ever since several members of a Michigan militia were arrested after plotting to kidnap the state’s governor last year, she has anticipated more political violence. “The minute I was watching the footage of the storming of the Capitol building and noticed people carrying zip ties that is what I thought about.”
Another that became apparent during that fateful day was the lack of information sharing going on between the several law enforcement agencies that patrol the area around the Capitol. Reports indicate that there was plenty of intelligence that was available in the weeks leading up to the riots.
“The lack of information sharing, the usual threat assessment mechanisms, police were not engaged, they were not meeting prior to the events,” Klaussen said. “I think we just need to say that this was a situation where all the information was there, but no upper hand picture ended up forming.”
Days after the Capitol was attacked, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steve Sund resigned amid pressure that he could have prepared his force better in the days before the attack. Sund pushed back against that assessment saying that he requested the D.C. National Guard to be placed on standby in case his forces were overwhelmed by protestors.
“If we would have had the National Guard, we could have held them at bay longer until more officers from our partner agencies arrived,” Sund said to the Washington Post. Sund said that six calls for backup during the riots were rejected or delayed.
To prevent further violence, law enforcement officials are considering designating groups that participated in last week’s attack, domestic terrorist organizations. The challenge in taking that step is that domestic terrorism is not a federal crime, according to Brette Steele, director of prevention and national security, McCain Institute.
“Here in the United States the Secretary of State is authorized to designate an organization as a foreign terrorist organization,” Steele said. “The charges for domestic terrorism in the United States are incredibly limited. For instance, if you use certain types of mechanisms like explosives, there may be a terrorism charge.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said they are seeing a lot of online chatter about several events centered on the inauguration. A rehearsal of the inauguration was cancelled Sunday because of security concerns.
If the federal government is going to designated certain groups as domestic terrorist organizations ahead of the inauguration, there are some advantages and disadvantages that are particularly noteworthy.
“The advantage is that once you designate a group as a terrorist organization, then being a member of that group and providing support for that group becomes a criminal offense,” Klaussen said. “The disadvantage is that sometimes it makes it harder to identify the groups because they go underground. This type of criminalization is particularly useless.”
The U.S. Secret Service is the lead agency responsible for inauguration security. The Defense Department will deploy up to 25,000 service members in Washington.
The Transportation Security Administration is on high alert following the events at the Capitol with several airlines implementing new rules.
Skimm This podcast breaks down the most complicated stories of the week and gives you the context for why they matter. You can find the podcast by clicking this link.
PODCAST REVIEW: Colors: A Dialogue on Race in America
Hosts JJ Green and Chris Core deliver a candid discussion on race in America by sharing the stories of those who are on the frontlines of the struggle.
A podcast produced by WTOP Radio in Washington D.C. discusses the plight of Black farmers in the United States. Colors: A Dialogue of Race in America, hosted by WTOP National Security Correspondent JJ Green and former WTOP contributor Chris Core, delivers a candid discussion on race in America by sharing the stories of those who are on the frontlines of the struggle.
Joining Green and Core for episode 38 is Dr. John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers Association. Boyd believes that black farmers are facing extinction because of the act of discrimination. Boyd’s organization represents 109,000 farmers in 42 states.
A report published in 2019 by the U.S. Government Accountability office supports Boyd’s claims that minority farmers may not be on an even level playing field with their white counterparts. The report discovered that minorities have a difficult time obtaining loans and credit from private lenders and banks regulated by the United State Department of Agriculture.
“The USDA has done an awful thing by taking land away from Black farmers,” Boyd said. “During the peaks of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s we lost millions of acres of land. When we first started organizing and protesting and rallying around this issue in the mid 90’s the USDA had 1.5 million acres of land in its federal inventory that came from Black farmers like me.”
In addition to his work with the National Black Farmers Association, Boyd runs a Virginia farm where he manages 1500 acres. Two years ago, he was denied a farm operating loan for the first time in nearly two decades.
In 1999, he and 400 other Black farmers sued the USDA in a case known as Pigford v. Glickman where the USDA admitted to discriminating against thousands of Black farmers. The lawsuit was settled two years later when the government compensated Black farmers left out of USDA loan and assistance programs.
More than 13,000 farmers able to provide proof of their claims of discrimination were awarded $50,000 each and given debt relief in a package worth than $1 billion. On the other hand, tens of thousands of claims were denied for missing the filing deadline.
“When we started making progress in the courts, the USDA immediately began to sell and lease this land to white farmers who were on the county committee,” Boyd said. “That discrimination has led to a drastic decrease in numbers.”
The total number of Black farmers in this country has steadily been on the decline since the early 1900’s. As of 2017, there were only 50,000 Black farmers nationwide. The reason, without loans or access to USDA support programs, Black farmland has become vulnerable to sale or foreclosure.
“We would only receive a fraction of the loans we applied for to borrow,” said Boyd after being asked about systemic racism in the Black farming community. “I don’t think I have ever received a farm operating loan from the government for more than $5,000.
Colors: A Dialogue of Race in America is a revival of a similar radio show in 1993 at WMAL called Black and White. Their show aired following the beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.
PODCAST REVIEW: Deconstructed by The Intercept
The Deconstructed podcast by The Intercept dives into the controversy that has emerged in the days following the winter storm in Texas and subsequent power failure.
Millions of Texans are dealing with the aftermath of a relentless winter storm that knocked out power and left some without running water. The storm is also being blamed for at least 26 deaths. Unfortunately, politics have taken center stage following the catastrophic failure of the state’s power grid.
The state is rich in fossil fuels and renewable power, so the power grid has been free from federal oversight for decades. The Deconstructed podcast by The Intercept dives into the controversy that has emerged in the days following the storm and subsequent power failure.
Host Ryan Grim spoke to former congressional candidate Mike Siegel and former Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, about how the state’s power grid collapsed and whether this event could have been prevented.
The episode seeks to blame state Republicans who gained control of the Texas House of Representatives in the early part of the century. The show suggests the party devised a gerrymandering scheme that ultimately resulted in an experiment in deregulation that led to the great energy collapse of 2021.
O’Rourke blasted the state’s Republican party saying that there are some politicians in the state government who are “in the highest positions of public trust who just fundamentally don’t believe in government.” While O’Rourke believes the state’s GOP party is to blame, those on the other side feel the Green New Deal is the culprit.
The argument may be flawed given the fact the deal has not become federal law yet. Fox and other Right-wing networks spent a majority of last week blaming frozen wind turbines for the state’s power failure.
“Unbeknownst to most people, the Green New Deal came to Texas, the power grid in the state became totally reliant on windmills,” said Tucker Carlson during his Feb. 16 show. “Then it got cold and the windmills broke, because that’s what happens in the Green New Deal.”
During a two-day period, windmills or wind turbines were mentioned more than 100 times on Fox News and Fox Business, according to TVEyes, a media monitoring service.
“The windmills failed, like the silly fashion accessories they are, and people in Texas died,” Carlson continued. “Green energy inevitably means blackouts.”
The State of Texas is not immune from major winter storms. According to data gathered by the National Weather Service, most of Texas gets less than an inch of snow per year on average. West Texas, places like Amarillo and El Paso, gets more snow than the rest of the state.
“It wasn’t as if Texas didn’t know cold winters were possible,” Grimm said. “In 1989 a cold snap crashed below zero and caused major power outages. “In 2011, it happened again which forced rolling power blackouts across the state. Politics got us into this mess, and only politics will get us out.”
Mike Siegel, a teacher, and civil rights attorney came up short in his first run for a Texas congressional seat in 2018 and 2020 claims state Republicans have sold residents out by controlling big oil and big gas.
“This is a catastrophic failure of Republican governance,” Siegel said. “Going back 20 years or more when they supported deregulation, allowing for an electrical system that’s basically on-demand spot bidding, these energy providers are basically buying energy on the market and so the price goes up ten-thousand percent. That is just business as usual in Texas.”
Siegel said 10 years ago the state had a major freeze where the recommendation that came out of that was that the state need to weatherize the grid and the facilities and Republican leaders never followed through on that plan.
“We have frozen wells, frozen lines, and that’s a big part of our electrical grid here in Texas,” he said. “Most of our reserve energy that is supposed to come through for us at a time like this, didn’t come online. They (Republicans) would never look at themselves in the mirror. Governor Abbott would never admit to failure.”
Siegel said the GOP’S cover-up was to blanket right-wing news outlets and create the narrative that the Green New Deal.
Each week the Intercept’s Washington D.C. bureau brings you one important or overlooked story from the political world. Bureau Chief Ryan Grimes and a rotating cast of journalists, politicians, academics, and historians tell you what the media is missing.
PODCAST REVIEW: The DeMaio Report
Host Carl DeMaio spoke to supervisor Joel Anderson who supported police officers receiving the vaccine. The vote to not vaccinate police officers came after the local law enforcement community urged officials to consider the danger officers face responding to calls.
The debate about who should be vaccinated first rages on in San Diego, California where the county board of supervisors has voted against police officers getting the shot. Currently, law enforcement is included in Phase 1B – Tier.
The DeMaio Report podcast hosted by former city council member and NewsRadio 600 KOGO host Carl DeMaio spoke to supervisor Joel Anderson who supported police officers receiving the vaccine. The vote to not vaccinate police officers came after the local law enforcement community urged officials to consider the danger officers face responding to calls.
“How can we possibly exclude our law enforcement when they are critical to many parts in the county?” said Anderson. “If they’re struck down by COVID, yes like firefighters and other young people they’re not likely to die but others may because they weren’t there to protect them.”
The county has already vaccinated firefighters, many of whom are cross trained as paramedics. Most police officers do not function as paramedics, but the Governor Newsome said counties can adjust the phases and tiers as they see fit.
Anderson said there are more than 20 counties that vaccinate law enforcement, including several in Southern California. Another obstacle to getting police officers vaccinated is the face that they only make up 0.2% of all COVID cases in San Diego County.
“We have lost two enforcement officers to this virus that I am aware of,” Anderson said. “The push for them to be moved ahead in the vaccination process is not because I am concerned that they are more susceptible, it’s the nature of their job, they are first responders.”
The county’s public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten said she would not support changing the tiers because she wanted to make sure senior citizens received the vaccine and others who might have preexisting health conditions.
The board voted 3-2 against making the item. Even if it had passed, it was only a recommendation. The final decision would have rested with Wooten, as public health officer.
“Last year, over 10,000 people’s lives were saved by police officers gave CPR,” Anderson said. “Now, you can imagine, somebody is giving CPR, they don’t know that they have COVID, they share it with all of their fellow employees and those employees go home and share it with their family members.”
Anderson said one of his main concerns is the availability of the vaccine and if an outbreak occurs at the police department, the availability of police in the county to handle the volume of calls necessary to protect the public.
Like all issues that have to do with the coronavirus, the question about who should get vaccinated first seems like a partisan issue. All three Democrats, Nathan Fletcher, Nora Varags, and Terra Lawson-Remer voted against allowing police officers to receive the vaccine.
“To do it today would be taking a vaccine away from a senior,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who opposed the item. “For that senior, COVID can be a death sentence.”
The DeMaio Report offers candid discussion on the latest in local and national political headlines. The show also features input and commentary from listeners, fueling political engagement in the San Diego community.