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Jack DeVine / January 6, 2022

OK, Let’s Have a January 6 Investigation — a Real One

Let’s see the whole picture of the Capitol riot, not just the politically enticing scraps.

I give up. Uncle! Everything I see and read reminds me that the assault on the U.S. Capitol one year ago was one of the darkest days in American history, that the “insurrection” label is accurate, that we came perilously close to an authoritarian takeover of the U.S. Government — and that anyone who does not support full and unfettered investigation of that debacle is either in the pocket of Donald Trump or simply does not care about our nation.

I’ve been a critic of the House or Representatives January 6th investigation because it’s been so grossly politicized. But I concede. Clearly, the assertions above are sincerely held by many Americans, so it follows that they must be run to ground.

But on one condition. The investigation must look at every aspect of the January 6 event, not just the ones that appeal to the House leadership and the partisan stacked deck of congressional participants. Let’s have an investigation that exposes the whole picture, and then let the chips fall where they may.

Essential topics are:

  1. Why and under what circumstances was Ashli Babbitt killed? In the entire ugly riot, none of the intruders carried firearms; only one shot was fired, and that by the defending Capitol Police, killing at point-blank range an unarmed, petite woman who was climbing through a broken window. For months the circumstances surrounding that shooting were kept under wraps; then, when external video and witness accounts emerged, the shooter was identified as Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd, who then released a statement acknowledging his actions but defending them as necessary to protect those in danger. He was commended by his leadership and exonerated completely for any responsibility in what seems to be the wholly unnecessary death of an unarmed trespasser. Truly mind-boggling.

  2. At what point when Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s body was lying in state in the Capitol did executive and congressional leadership learn that the operative story of Officer Sicknick’s demise — that he’d been bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher by the rampaging insurgents — was a complete fabrication? As confirmed later, and surely known by some who’d arranged the macabre ceremonies commemorating his service, Officer Sicknick had gone home on the night of January 6th showing no ill-effects from the day’s events, had a good night’s sleep, and then died of natural causes the next morning.

  3. When will there be a full accounting of the many (reportedly over 700) January 6 participants arrested by the FBI, including the charges against them, their treatment while in custody, and the disposition of those cases? Given that their acts supposedly constituted insurrection, why have none been charged with sedition or treason? And why has it been necessary — or even constitutional — to hold dozens in jail, without bond, for a full year?

  4. What role did FBI agents or hired informants play in planning or executing the assault on the Capitol? There have been many seemingly credible reports — including some with corroborating video — of individuals leading and/or enthusiastically encouraging the violent intrusion, and no indication that these individuals were ever arrested in the nationwide FBI dragnet that followed. What’s up with that? Did our FBI take an active role in morphing an angry protest into an all-out mob assault?

  5. When will all — reportedly tens of thousands of hours — of video evidence collected by FBI that chronicle the minute-by-minute events in the Capitol that day be released to the public? We’ve seen plenty of selected snippets of violent encounters between police and intruders, and we’ve also seen snippets of nonviolent ‘tourist’ entries — individuals walking through the open doors, gawking at the surroundings, taking selfies; it’s been reported that some, perhaps all, of those identifiable but incidental trespassers have been arrested and charged. Is that justice?

The above questions are based on widely circulated conservative media reports. They may be factually sound — or they may be exaggerated, misinterpreted, or wholly inaccurate. But therein lies the problem with January 6 information flow: All of it is spoon fed by the administration, and it’s very difficult to get to the bottom of any of it.

The House investigation will certainly unearth every possible shred of malfeasance by the former president and his cronies that in planning, encouraging or tolerating the violent assault on our Capitol. The public deserves to see that, but also the rest of the story.

A meaningful investigation of January 6 must also reveal the broader picture — one that serves the interests of all who care for the country, not just the opportunists thrilled at the political mileage it may offer. As Perry Mason might say, “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

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