• Fables Of An "Insurrection"

    January 7, 2024
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    Todd Watkins

    January 6, 2024

    Image by Y2kcrazyjoker4. Jan 6th

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    On this, the third anniversary of our nation’s fabled “insurrection,” I’d like to share my own observations and experiences from that fateful day, January 6, 2021. I was there. In fact, I worked in DC at that time. I was an Assistant Chief with the US Border Patrol assigned as a staff officer at our national headquarters in the Ronald Reagan Building.

    First, some assumed truths and underlying facts:

    • J6 was not the worst day in American history and came nowhere near the catastrophe of 9/11. I, along with 80 other Border Patrol agents from the San Diego Sector, were in NYC within two days of the attacks. That was the worst disaster any of us had ever seen hopefully ever will see. Nothing on American soil comes anywhere near 9/11.
    • The only people who died as a result of J6 were four civilians. Although USCP Officer Brian Sicknick’s death the following day (January 7, 2021) was handled as a line of duty death, he succumbed to a stroke. Many subjects were arrested and charged with assault on a Federal Officer, but none has been held accountable for Sicknick’s death. It is unfortunate that Congressional Democrats politicized and sensationalized his death, but it is difficult to tie it to J6, much less any particular assailants.
    • In order for a Federal Officer (or any law enforcement officer) to use lethal force against another, there must be a clearly articulable, imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm to the officer or someone else. Generally speaking, the subject against whom that lethal force is used ought to be armed with some sort of instrument that could cause death or grievous injury.
    • In order for a Federal Officer (or any law enforcement officer) to employ less than lethal force against another, the subject or subjects must be (in most cases) assaultive or (in certain other cases) actively resisting arrest; depending on the type of force used by the officers.
    • Washington, DC has the largest law enforcement presence of anywhere in the US, mostly due to the fact that every federal law enforcement agency has its headquarters located there in addition to the US Capitol Police, US Park Police, and US Secret Service who have regular enforcement operations in their respective areas of responsibility (like the US Capitol, National Mall, White House, etc.).

    My “insurrection” story begins on May 29, 2020, about three months before I arrived in Washington, DC. The George Floyd “Summer of Love” was felt all around DC. On the last days of May into early June, BLM and Antifa rioters burned, vandalized, and looted across the city. On May 31, 2020, the White House was surrounded by BLM and Antifa rioters who clashed with US Secret Service officers as well as Washington DC Metro Police who prevented the rioters from breaching the White House grounds1. The riots continued into the first days of June and by the time they subsided, several statues and monuments were vandalized, especially in Lafayette Square and on the National Mall. Many shops and business in DC were vandalized and looted, and the basement of St John’s Episcopal Church was set on fire. In response to this rampant lawlessness, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser dedicated 16th Street between K St NW and H St NW as BLM PLAZA; painting the roadway with “BLACK LIVES MATTER” and closing it to vehicle traffic.

    During the first several days of June, Border Patrol agents from the US Border Patrol HQ at the Ronald Reagan Building were called to service as extra security around the White House. These were ad hoc requests able to be filled very quickly because Border Patrol agents are federal agents who have authority throughout the US and the locations to which they were assigned were US Government property.

    The widespread unrest in DC that summer prompted the US Border Patrol and its “parent organization,” Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to stand up a Mobile Field Force2 that could respond to such incidents as a trained unit with full kit.

    When I arrived in DC in September of 2020, I was assigned to the Special Operations Headquarters with oversight of emergency management and incident response. My partner and I had the task of ordering the protective gear for the Border Patrol agents who would be trained and equipped, including the two of us. Our sister component, Office of Field Operations, also provided officers to this effort. In all, there were about 160 who were trained and equipped, roughly 80 personnel from each component (USBP and OFO). All training and equipping of this CBP Mobile Field Force was completed by mid-October. An important part of this training was the use of chemical and impact munitions in crowd control situations.

    It is important for my story that the audience understands that CBP did all of this because of the civil unrest incidents that were rampant around DC and there was every reason to believe this would continue, if not worsen, due to the November elections. Although we were never deployed to an active incident, we were called in to the Ronald Reagan Building or placed on standby at least seven times between the end of October and the end of the year. It is also important that the audience knows that the Ronald Reagan Building is located at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW (two blocks form the White House and approximately a mile and a quarter walk to the US Capitol) and it is the headquarters for all CBP components (including the US Border Patrol) where one will find around 500 federal agents and officers assigned, including the 160 Mobile Field Force members.

    Since the summer civil disturbances began, an intelligence and operations fusion and coordination center was established to coordinate information and response among the various federal and local agencies and emergency services in the DC area. The fact that rallies in support of President Trump were scheduled for January 5 and 6 was well known and the number of people attending these rallies was expected to be massive. It was logical to expect similar responses from BLM and Antifa groups to disrupt the Trump rallies. So, in preparation for what was sure to be significant unrest, the CBP Commissioner (Mark Morgan), through the various component chiefs of staff, instructed that CBP personnel to not come in to the Ronald Reagan Building and stay out of the District of Columbia. This included the 160 Mobile Field Force members. So rather than having what would have been the largest contingent of uniformed federal law enforcement available to assist with disturbances, CBP stayed home...by order of the Commissioner.

    It should cause one to wonder why that many federal law enforcement would be told to stay away from their own headquarters rather than be available to assist with what Nancy Pelosi would describe as the greatest threat to national security in American history. National security is, after all, job one for DHS and CBP is the largest part of DHS. Generally, when there is trouble and lawlessness, law enforcement are expected go into that environment rather than hide. Had CBP been available for duty that day, we probably could have changed the outcome of January 6. Imagine 160 personnel in full riot gear with another 300-or-so uniformed agents behind them at the Capitol.

    Calling CBP for assistance that day would have been far less administratively tedious and politically uncomfortable than summoning military personnel – CBP are civilian law enforcement who already have federal authority – there are no issues with posse comitatus or problematic optics of soldiers at the Capitol. Even a last-minute call out could have gotten that whole headquarters building to the Capitol in a little more than an hour from the word “go.” It is simply odd and troubling that CBP was told to stand down when there was every indication there would be trouble, at least from BLM and Antifa.

    As I mentioned above, we were trained to use chemical and impact munitions in a crowd control situation. That training included, most importantly, when and how those munitions could lawfully be employed. In nearly every footage I have seen of Capitol Police and DC Metro Police firing munitions into the J6 crowd at the Capitol, few if any were employed lawfully. While there was justification to use force at the few skirmishes (hand to hand engagements), there was no legal reason to use force on members of the crowds who were 50-100+ yards behind the skirmishes. Firing pepper balls, stinger grenades and other munitions at people who were not actively assaultive should actually be viewed as assault committed by the officers firing those munitions. There is one incident that is particularly disturbing, that of the Arkansas man who was struck in the face with a pepperball. The weapon was fired directly at his head and the pepperball became lodged in his cheek. While pepperballs can be used as direct impact weapons, they are never to be fired at someone’s head, and the someone at whom they are directly fired must be actively assaultive. This particular man, although near where a skirmish was taking place, was not assaulting anyone and should not have been targeted at all.

    The shooting of 5’2”, 115 lbs., Ashli Babbit is nothing short of despicable. There was no reason to think that, even had she made it through the broken window, she could not have been immediately placed under arrest by the several armed USCP officers waiting for her on the other side of the window. There is no way that she posed any sort of imminent danger to anyone; she was not assaultive, she had not threatened anyone, and she was clearly unarmed. Using lethal force against her actually amounted to 2nd degree murder. That was not an accidental shooting, and it is hard to call it a bad decision made in the heat of a fight. It was very obviously deliberate. Michael Byrd, the USCP officer who killed her, had been holding his pistol aimed at her the entire time she was trying to climb through the broken window and he took up a better shooting position when she climbed into the window. He fired one well-aimed shot into her throat, killing her for no reason. It was simply murder.

    Not only did the law enforcement officers who were present at the Capitol on J6 conduct themselves poorly in several instances using often times massively excessive force, but the lack of additional resources seemed to be deliberate. The addition of a few hundred law enforcement personnel likely would have produced a different, less violent, outcome. It seems as though the desperation of that day was goaded by allowing the USCP to be woefully outnumbered. This fact alone conjures the notion that the violence was facilitated because it was needed for a grander, more malicious purpose…like creating a narrative about an insurrection to use against a political opponent. And it needed to be caught on camera so it could be pointed at to say, “Look how awful these people are! Look how dangerous they are! This was a threat to our democracy! And it’s all Trump’s fault!”

    It's an easy and almost unavoidable conclusion for me to reach since I know that my whole headquarters organization had been a go-to solution for added presence during unrest in the very recent past and we trained and equipped 160 personnel for this exact scenario. The order to “stay home” was unusual, out of place. Even if those personnel who were not part of the Mobile Field Force were instructed to stay away, there was every reason to call in those 160 who were…it had been done before several times. The whole posture of the USCP that day seemed to deliberately invite the unrest so it could be captured on camera, like some sort of quasi-scripted reality show.

    However bad that day was, the truth is that there were very few people in that crowd who were violent and it sure looks like those who were acted on a plan that the other several-hundred-thousand were following or even knew about. The fact that some unknown number of FBI undercovers and paid informants, and known Antifa agitators were present among the first groups to enter the Capitol adds credence to my suspicions. It would have spoiled the Democrat narrative if CBP arrested a bunch of them.

    The additional manpower that CBP could have provided would have made J6 less of the spectacle the Democrats needed and would have spoiled their “insurrection.” Having another few hundred law enforcement witnesses for the J6 committee to ignore and not call as witnesses would have made the whole event more suspicious and made the Select Committee more laughable than it has already become. With the onslaught of attempts to remove Trump from primary ballots across the country, it makes sense now that “they” knew that stealing the election wasn’t enough. “They” needed to create another way to keep Trump out of the White House, so “they” manufactured an insurrection in order to bring about some tortured interpretations of an obscure section of a troubled constitutional amendment. J6 was the bedrock foundation of the Democrat manufactured constitutional crisis.

    1. Although this violent mob sent President Trump into a security bunker, disrupting the orderly conduct of the US Constitution, it was not branded as an insurrection.
    2. Mobile Field Force is synonymous with crow control or riot squad.

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