WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Senators on Tuesday grilled former top U.S. Capitol security officials, demanding they explain failures that allowed a deadly riot on Jan. 6.
Lawmakers on both sides said it was their duty to get to the bottom of the security failure that threatened their lives and led to the deaths of five people.
“The American people deserve answers on why their Capitol was breached,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said.
“I acknowledge that under the pressure of an unprecedented attack, a number of systems broke down,” Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said. “These criminals came prepared for war. … I am sickened by what I witnessed that day.”
He and former U.S. Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving, both of whom resigned shortly after the riot, blamed failures to prepare on a lack of information.
“Based on the intelligence, we all believed that the plan met the threat and that we were prepared,” Irving said. “We now know that we had the wrong plan.”
“There was a significant coordination with this attack,” Sund said.
Peters argued they knew enough to do better, declaring that “the warning signs were there.”
Washington, D.C., police Chief Robert Contee said he also saw problems with the response.
“I was surprised at the reluctance to immediately send the National Guard to the Capitol grounds,” Contee said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle pointed to that as a key security disaster, with Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., wondering why it took an hour to approve the deployment of National Guardsmen. Sund and Irving pointed the finger at each other.
In the end, lawmakers agreed security reforms are needed to prevent future attacks.
Peters said the Tuesday hearing only scratched the surface of the inquiry into the riot, promising “it will not be our last.” Blunt said the next hearing will look at the Department of Defense’s role and why it took so long to roll out the National Guard.