1. Given the FBI’s apparent relationship with Proud Boys sources, why did the FBI fail to detect the threat that the Proud Boys and similar militia violent extremists posed to the Capitol on January 6?
2. One member of the Proud Boys has indicated in court filings that he regularly informed FBI personnel about Proud Boys activities in Portland, Oregon, “to ask for advice on planned marches or demonstrations, i.e., what march routes to take … where to go, where not to go,” and that he had similar discussions with the FBI about Proud Boys events in other cities. Did the FBI ask its Proud Boys sources about their plans for January 6? If not, why not?
Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs, currently detained and awaiting trial for conspiracy relating to Jan. 6, has been an FBI source—on antifa, which is a much smaller threat than the group Biggs is a part of. He was one of at least four FBI sources in the Proud Boys, in fact. And the Proud Boys-law enforcement connection goes both ways, with too many police showing sympathy for the hate group, or even joining it. When it comes to far-right extremism, police are part of the problem. That has to be part of the assessment of intelligence failures on Jan. 6: How much did the FBI and other agencies miss out of incompetence and how much slipped through cracks that were intentionally left open by people sympathetic to the extremists?
The FBI was only one of the agencies that failed to see the insurrection coming, though. The Capitol Police knew “Congress itself is the target on the 6th,” yet also downplayed the threat as “remote.” On the day of the attack a deputy chief instructed officers to watch out for anti-Trump protesters.
All of the law enforcement agencies that failed to major conspiracy that brought some of the most dangerous extremists to the Capitol on Jan. 6, ready for violence, need to take a hard look at themselves and their own employees. Durbin is right to demand answers from Wray on the very specific issue of how the FBI’s known relationships with Proud Boys did not yield better intelligence.