Top U.S. Capitol security officials blamed intelligence failures for the deadly January 6 insurrection as they were questioned Tuesday by lawmakers. This is former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund.
Steven Sund: “No entity, including the FBI, provided any new intelligence regarding January 6th. It should be also noted that the secretary of homeland security did not issue an elevated or imminent alert in reference to the events at the United States Capitol on January 6th. We properly planned for a mass demonstration with possible violence, but what we got was a military-style coordinated assault.”
Sund resigned after the January 6 attack, as did House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, who all said Tuesday they did not see a warning sent by the FBI on January 5 that violent extremists were calling for “war” against Congress. The report quoted an online thread which read, “Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die.” The Capitol Police issued its own intelligence report warning of a possible attack three days before January 6. Meanwhile, Robert Contee, acting Washington, D.C., police chief, said the Defense Department was to blame for the slow deployment of National Guard members.
Robert Contee: “There was not an immediate 'Yes, the National Guard is responding. Yes, the National Guard is on the way.' … The response was more focused on, in addition to the plan, the optics, you know, about how this looks with boots on the ground on the Capitol. And my response to that was simply I was just stunned that, you know, I have officers that were out there literally fighting for their lives.”
The Senate confirmed Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be the ambassador to the United Nations and Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary Tuesday. Environmental and labor activists say they will pressure Vilsack to enact better policies than in his previous tenure at the USDA. Food & Water Watch said, “This administration needs to drastically shift course … by supporting sustainable, independent farming, halting the toxic expansion of polluting factory farms, and ultimately prioritizing consumer health and worker safety.”
Meanwhile, interior secretary nominee Deb Haaland faced harsh questioning from Republican senators Tuesday, who questioned her about her opposition to fracking, pipelines and fossil fuel development. This is Congressmember Haaland.
Rep. Deb Haaland: “There’s no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come. I know how important oil and gas revenues are to critical services. But we must also recognize that the energy industry is innovating, and our climate challenge must be addressed.”
If confirmed, Deb Haaland will be the first Native American to serve in a cabinet position.
In other Cabinet news, health and human services secretary nominee Xavier Becerra faced questions from Republicans over his support of reproductive rights. He responded to a question by Indiana Senator Mike Braun on whether he would use taxpayer money to fund abortion services.
Xavier Becerra: “While we probably will not agree on all the issues, I can say to you that we will definitely follow the law when it comes to the use of federal resources. And so, there, I can make that commitment that we will follow the law.”
Becerra was also questioned about his support over the Affordable Care Act. He’s the former attorney general of California.
The House will vote Friday to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The bill’s inclusion of a $15-an-hour minimum wage increase remains at risk in the Senate as Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema oppose the move. Manchin instead proposed an increase to just $11 an hour.
Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen is calling on the U.S. to agree to a temporary waiver on intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines. The U.S. is blocking an international move to waive World Trade Organization rules, which require countries guarantee drug companies’ monopoly control, and contribute to vaccine nationalism. As of last week, 130 countries had not yet received a single vaccine dose.
In Lebanon, scandal has erupted, and the World Bank threatened to suspend financing for the country’s vaccination program, after a group of lawmakers received shots inside the Parliament building ahead of people who were registered on priority lists.
Over 200 members of the rabbinical human rights organization T’ruah are calling on the Israeli government to distribute coronavirus vaccines to Palestinians, citing the moral and legal imperative to vaccinate all residents of the Occupied Territories.
In New York, a grand jury has decided not to file charges against the Rochester police officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude. Prude died last March from asphyxiation after officers handcuffed him while he was naked, put a hood over his head and then pushed his face into the freezing cold ground for two minutes while kneeling on his back. New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office led the investigation, denounced the decision, saying her office had presented “the most comprehensive case possible.” In a statement, James said Tuesday, “Daniel Prude was in the throes of a mental health crisis and what he needed was compassion, care, and help from trained professionals. Tragically, he received none of those things.”
In Georgia, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black man who was chased down and shot to death while out for a jog, has filed a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit against the white men who killed her son. The lawsuit also accuses law enforcement officials and local prosecutors of attempting to cover up evidence during the investigation. The suit was filed on the first anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery’s killing, as people around the country marked his memory by going on a run and using the hashtag #RunWithMaud.
In California, a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Angelo Quinto, a 30-year-old Filipino American Navy veteran who died in December after police officers kneeled on his neck, has revealed gruesome details about his death. Quinto was reportedly suffering a mental health crisis when his family called 911 for help. Antioch police officers who arrived at the scene restrained Quinto by the legs and kneeled on the back of his neck for nearly five minutes while he was handcuffed. His mother said he pleaded, “Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me.” Quinto lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital, where he died three days later. The Antioch Police Department revealed few details of Quinto’s death for weeks, but his family launched their own investigation.
In Niger, Mohamed Bazoum was declared the winner of the presidential election. The former interior minister beat out ex-President Mahamane Ousmane, who alleged fraud but did not provide any evidence. At least eight election officials have been killed since polling day, Sunday, from explosive devices. Bazoum’s presidency will mark the first-ever transfer of power between two democratically elected governments in Niger.
In Malta, a man has pleaded guilty in the 2017 car bomb assassination of anti-corruption reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia and will receive a 15-year prison sentence. Vincent Muscat is one of three men charged with planning and executing her murder. Malta police arrested three other men this week suspected of supplying the bomb that killed Caruana Galizia.
In Algeria, thousands took to the streets Monday, despite heavy police presence, to mark the second anniversary of mass demonstrations which led to the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2019.
Abdou: “We stopped protesting for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but we have returned to resume the journey of the February 22nd protests and continue until our goals are achieved, God willing. The students will not stop and will return to the streets. Long live Algeria.”
A group of Democratic senators has introduced legislation proposing sanctions for Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and blocking financial aid and ammunition sales to Honduran law enforcement over human rights violations and corruption. Hernández has been linked to drug trafficking in at least three major U.S. cases. He is a key U.S. ally.
Immigrant justice advocates are denouncing the Biden administration’s decision to reopen a Texas detention facility for unaccompanied migrant teenagers that was briefly used in 2019 under Trump. The first group of teens arrived at the tent facility Monday. Officials say the camp is needed to avoid overcrowding in other facilities during the pandemic. The facility is located in the city of Carrizo Springs. The camp has been widely condemned by immigrant rights advocates over its conditions and lack of transparency in how it operates.
Five out-of-state board members of Texas’s power grid operator ERCOT have resigned in the wake of last week’s widespread power outages that plunged millions into darkness in freezing temperatures after deadly winter storms engulfed the state. Meanwhile, Texas electricity company Griddy has been hit with a $1 billion class-action lawsuit over price gouging during the storm. President Joe Biden says he plans to travel to Houston on Friday.
Legendary Beat Generation poet, artist and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti has died at the age of 101. Ferlinghetti co-created the country’s first all-paperback bookstore in 1953, the iconic City Lights Books in San Francisco. His 1958 collection, “A Coney Island of the Mind,” remains one of the most popular poetry books in the U.S. Democracy Now! spoke with Ferlinghetti in 2007. He read an excerpt from his book, “Poetry as Insurgent Art.”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti: “Be subversive, constantly questioning reality and the status quo. Strive to change the world in such a way that there’s no further need to be a dissident. Read between the lives, and write between the lines. Be committed to something outside yourself. Be passionate about it. But don’t destroy the world, unless you have something better to replace it.”