First and foremost, I oppose political violence in all its forms.
Politics is supposed to be what happens when violence isn't the only option yet.
If you're going to make any manner of call to the tune of "But it's OK when it's OUR angry mobs!", feel free to shut up. Do so somewhere I don't control, if you must.
This is going to be more questions than answers, to be perfectly honest. I'm not a part of any team investigating the storming, nor am I actively talking to anyone who is. And I'm damn sure not about to teach some sort of build a better insurrection class. This is more or less going to be a collection of thoughts without conclusions.
Two things keep popping into my head as I look over the storming of capitol hill.
The first is a memory. In my younger days, when I still thought the security field was going to be my life's work, I had the chance to pick the brain of a veteran bodyguard. Once I'd gotten a couple of drinks in him, he told me that the ugly truth of executive protection is that there's really nothing you can do about a trained professional that doesn't care if they survive so long as they take out their target.
The silver lining of that ugly truth is that the vast majority of trained professionals prefer to live to spend their fee, and that the ones who don't care if they survive usually don't care to put in the needed training and experience either.
The second thing that came to mind is the learning curve of infantry leadership. Being a grunt isn't that difficult. While there's some physical rigor involved, most of the work involves maintaining skills and equipment. If you can play a team sport of any kind, you can figure out being a grunt.
The learning curve for LEADING grunts, on the other hand, is so steep it might as well be a cliff. By the time someone is effectively leading a dozen people, they're more or less a chess player's mind in a pro athlete's body. It's a big part of why most grunts muster out after their first enlistment or two.
And that's with time, resources, support, and sanctions. Trying to do so clandestinely with volunteers off the radar just makes it more difficult.
Put pins in both of those, they'll be important later.
The next thing that came to mind is that an event like the Storming of the Capitol has been building up for some time.
(Pay very close attention to discussing what the Storming WAS as opposed to what the storming COULD HAVE BEEN. People are already shuffling between them to suit their own narratives. I'll try to make the differences as blatant as possible).
I was overseas during the 2008 inauguration, but the SPLC's report shows a lot of scattered individual incidents of violence and crime around the country centered around hatred and/or opposition to President Obama.
Inauguration day of 2017, I mentioned news reports claiming that protests in D.C. alone had 200 arrested, 6 cops hospitalized, with a burning limo and smashed businesses on K street.
What with the Women's March being the day afterwards, further talk of damage was subsumed by the news cycle.
We all saw what happened this summer, starting with the death of George Floyd, so I'm not going to review that too much.
The current known damage from the Storming is 4 rioters (1 shot by an officer, 1 trampled by the crowd, 1 heart attack, and 1 stroke) and 1 police officer dead, 56 DC officers injured, and 60 Capitol officers injured, 15 of them hospitalized.
IED's were found on the Capitol grounds, DNC and RNC offices, and a case of Molotov cocktails were in one guy's truck.
Next, a brief (HA!) history of right-wing militias.
From a certain point of view, they really didn't come into prominence until federal law enforcement needed a new villain in the late 80's. Vietnam was over. The left-wing bombing campaigns of the 70's were over. The Iron curtain was crumbling. And these agencies, particularly the FBI and ATF, needed to justify their funding fast.
There's more to it than that, but in hindsight, it's not hard to see Ruby Ridge and Waco as tragic fuckups by feds too eager to justify their budgets and ROE's. Both Weaver and Koresh could have easily been arrested in nearby towns with no loss of life. Instead, sieges and unnecessary deaths happened.
Then the Oklahoma City bombing happened, and all the attention given to various militias now had the deadliest terror attack on US soil to justify it.
The weird thing about militias themselves is that although they may spawn lone wolves that go on to commit deadly attacks, a militia attacking as a group is rather unlikely. Since Oklahoma city (planned by 4 people, tops), the right-wing attacks that have successfully occurred have been by ones and twos as opposed to organized groups (The Rudolph bombings, the Charleston shooting, Charlottesville, the list goes on).
There have been a few standoffs with law enforcement (two by the Bundy family in Nevada and Oregon, once by the Montana Freemen back in the 90's) but nothing on the scale of Oklahoma City. Mostly for the same reason that we won't see another 9/11. For all the security theater, it's the exploited loopholes used by the attackers that are now forever closed that does the prevention. And no OIC wants to be in charge for the next Waco.
Another reason militias are unlikely to do much damage as groups is less obvious. While a lot of digital ink has been spilled lately about the white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement and the military, the reverse is also true. Right-wing movements are ridiculously easy to infiltrate. The FBI is a lot of things, but hurting for white dudes between 30 and 60 ain't one of them.
And infiltrate they do. The major reason we haven't heard about group attacks by militias is that they attract informants and get rolled up in the planning stages. it only hits the news a few times a year, and with no explosions or deaths to headline, they fade from memory quick.
Generally, any militia group bigger than a bowling team has at least one member reporting everything to the law. Hell, that's what got charges dropped against the Bundy family when they occupied a nature center in Oregon. When it came out that over a dozen members were federal informants, the judge threw it out. And I quote, "I am not presiding a conspiracy case with more informants than conspirators."
So, are militias capable of large-scale attacks?
But any wanting to encounters both the infiltration problem and the grunt leadership learning curve mentioned above.
FWIW, I do think there's some leaders at that level in right-wing militias somewhere. Some of them actively recruit veterans. And the Obama administration's downsizing of the military kicked a lot of career-minded NCO's to the curb.
But I don't think any have led or done major planning on an attack yet.
Which comes around to the storming of the capitol.
Without knowing what was planned, there's no idea of knowing what was successful.
Anything I can think of, from hostages to lynchings to electoral disruption, runs into two words:
Remember the dilemmas above? Being good but not suicidal and a huge leadership learning curve?
I keep running into those whenever I think about what the plan was.
It's entirely possible that someone planned one of those things, and when they found their targets gone, just aborted the mission and vanished into the crowd.
But again, unless some informant was in on it and submits their knowledge as evidence in a trial, we're not going to know.
About the only thing I can say about the trials is to be ready for disappointment.
I get being furious that a pack of howling shitgibbons invaded congress, assaulted cops, and trashed the place. The disgust, the fear, the rage, I absolutely get it.
Unfortunately, we've been setting some uncomfortable precedents when it comes to prosecuting people who do such things in the context of a protest.
It doesn't help that both parties are playing for political advantage, and Trump's impeachment trial is wrapped around the entire thing.
So I expect to see a lot of wrist slaps, fines, probations, and suspended sentences when hours of video show Qboy Mcdinglenuts joining the crowd, wandering around the chamber, and then leaving.
I expect to see political system-gaming all around.
But for now I also don't expect to see a convoy of the 15th Igloo division attacking government buildings either.
And given all the rest of the bullshit that's still possible this year, I can't help but be grateful that looks to be off the table.
Take care of yourselves out there.