By Jason Garber.
At what point does the frog notice the boiling water?
Over the past several days, reporting has established the terrorist attack of the Capitol was far worse than early reporting understood, and frankly, worse than most could comprehend that such an attack was occurring at THE Capitol, OUR Capitol. The magnitude of the situation is only now being meaningfully appreciated. The dizzying effects caused by reporting on events out of sequence, exacerbated by the volume of reporting, adds even more confusion. Yet, there is clarity once the puzzle pieces fall into place.
First, this was not a simple protest, a mere gathering of aggrieved citizens only wishing to have their voices heard, and some just got carried away. True, some may have been cosplay terrorists, along for the ride and/or along for social media likes and attention. One person, presumably unsure what to do with his time in the Capitol, reportedly tried to steal a portrait of former Speaker Tip O’Neill, and in doing so, the taser in his pants pocket accidentally zapped his testicles, which triggered a heart attack. There are so many unanswered questions from this mini-event that it can be spun off into its own prequel.
Others, however, had other ideas with far more sinister intent. Photographs alone reveal the presence of multiple people with flex cuffs/zip ties ready to assist in taking hostages. There were many in military tactical gear. Police reportedly have charged some for illegal possession of handguns without a license and others for possessing weapons including assault rifles, blackjacks, metal knuckles, pepper spray or other chemical irritants. Officer Brian Sicknick was reportedly killed by being hit with a fire extinguisher. Others reported being hit by metal pipes. Videos show the terrorists used anything and everything to attack.
Two functional pipe bombs were found, one at the Republican National Committee headquarters, and another at the Democratic National Committee headquarters. The pipe bombs were taken care of by the police before detonation. Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned from his position in the aftermath, believes the pipe bombs were intended to serve as a distraction to draw away police personnel and resources from the Capitol. Moreover, one person reportedly mixed melted Styrofoam with gasoline, and then brought 11 Molotov cocktails containing his homemade Napalm to the Capitol.
Even more disturbing, at least two terrorists erected a life-size and fully-functional hanging gallows on the West Lawn of the Capitol. One might be tempted to give the benefit of the doubt and suggest it was only to serve as a symbol. To be clear, these terrorists had the foresight to bring lumber to build a platform and gallows framing, which to erect would presumably require saws, drills, a framing nailer, air compressor, a generator, and of course a rope, to the Capitol. As someone who has some experience with those materials and equipment, I can assure you that’s a lot of time and work for a “symbol” for a short protest. On the other hand, there are also the reports of numerous individuals asking for the whereabouts of Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Chuck Schumer, and yet other screaming things like “Kill Mike Pence.” If listened to carefully, one might hear echoes of the terrorist plot to kidnap and execute Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on live television.
Ample reporting, plus a Gov. Hogan press conference, establishes that a minimal and delayed law enforcement presence at the Capitol was an intentional decision made by leadership at the White House and Dept. of Defense and perhaps even the Capitol Police, who turned down offers of backup and help at least once before the terrorist attack and once during. The specific role of the Capitol Police in decision-making is not as clear at this point. Clearly though, there were heroes, like Officer Sicknick, who gave his life defending the Capitol, and Officer Eugene Goodman, who distracted the terrorists away from the Senate floor where several Senators were located.
There is reporting that one or more people at the White House were in touch with some of the terrorists. One of the event organizers stated, in advance, he was working with Representatives Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Mo Brooks (R-AL). Rudy Giuliani, who called for “trial by combat” from the terrorists before the attack, was coordinating with senators and representatives to delay and stop the certification vote.
It’s now easy to start connecting other dots, such as the post-election firing of the Secretary of Defense and installation of Trump loyalists at the Dept. of Defense, the sudden resignation of Attorney General Bill Barr, and perhaps other resignations, including the recent sudden resignation of the US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. The Department of Defense and others’ refusal to brief President-Elect Biden and his transition team makes more sense.
Make no mistake — this was a brazen coup attempt, a seditious conspiracy that started close in time to Election Day. The talk about election fraud, etc. was designed to keep people angry, engaged, and scared, to be able to have supporters identify their enemy and focus their anger. Then there are others who believe that a civil war or revolution is imminent or needs a spark to start, and yet others who simply cannot accept a country with others based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and/or beliefs. The last two groups are terrorists. They seek to impose their political will and beliefs by intimidation and violence.
At all times, Trump has sought to overturn the election results. Others have volunteered to be part of the cause and Trump has tried to recruit more into his seditious orbit.
The fact is if one or more of —
- Trump finding sympathetic judges to take his (including those on his behalf) at least a handful of his 64 absurd, false, and factually-starved cases;
- Trump convincing state legislatures and governors to refuse to certify results or send competing electors;
- Terrorists getting a hold of the electoral college certificates; and/or
- Terrorists taking hostages or worse,
we may not be looking at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Inauguration Day.
So, yes, this was a real coup attempt, an actual seditious conspiracy to try to void the results of the election. Numerous terrorists and their supporters communicated on January 6, 2021 that day was 1776, the reference to which was presumably to commemorate some historical event other than the publication year of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.
Still, even after the attack, up to eight senators and 130+ congressmen/women objected to the election results. They and others continue to attack the election and echo propaganda that drove the terrorist attack. They plea for unity and reject accountability. In other words, this is one continuing conspiracy and hideous attack on America.
The only way to move past this and reunify is to have accountability for the terrorists, the inciters, and conspirators in this sedition and insurrection. Impeach now. Censure and expel now. Indict, arrest, and convict now. There must be consequences for those who attacked us. We have to communicate to this country and to the world what we stand for and what we stand against. All of us must stand up together against this hideous terror attack, its conspirators, and enablers. Otherwise, the Capitol attack further erodes democracy, weakens America as a county and as an ideal, and frankly, heralds future terror plots and attacks. The water is well past boiling.
Jason Garber is a committed Towson-based community activist, and a member of the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee.