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Capitol Rioters’ Own Footage Powers ​New York Times​ ‘Day Of Rage’ Report

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

While some professional journalists faced hostility and attack while covering the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the grand irony is that so many people involved in the insurrection were doing their jobs for them.

That's evident with The New York Times' release of "Day of Rage," a 40-minute video investigation that painstakingly examines the events of the day. The Times' team collected thousands of videos, starting the afternoon of January 6, many of them posted on social media by the rioters themselves, said Malachy Browne, senior producer on the Times' visual investigations team.

"As the realization set in among many of the participants about what they had done, and the implications of it, much of it was deleted," Browne said.

Too late. The Times had already protected its own copies.

The day had been tough for some of the journalists who covered the attack. Photojournalists for The Associated Press and Times were roughed up, and some AP equipment used to document the event was damaged.

In "Day of Rage," the newspaper used the collected footage, as well as other material like police bodycam film and archived audio from police communications, to recreate the event from many angles. Through the use of time stamps and knowledge of where people were located, for example, the Times tracked down footage from a freelance videographer who hadn't realized he had captured the attack that led to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick's death, Browne said. Sicknick collapsed and later died after engaging with the protesters. He was sprayed with chemical irritants, but a medical examiner determined he died of natural causes.

The Times was able to determine that rioters breached the Capitol at eight separate locations.

Elsewhere, the footage laid bare the intent of many rioters, like when former President Donald Trump's speech at the pre-riot rally were juxtaposed with what was said in his audience as he spoke.

The Times' probe concludes that the House's delay in shutting off debate on election certification until rioters had appeared outside the chamber contributed to the shooting by police of Ashli Babbitt, a California woman who had joined the crowd that breached the building.

The project depicts law enforcement as overwhelmed, partly due to lack of preparation by their superiors. The footage, some of it seen in other venues over the past months, contains startling moments: a police officer goading a rioter to move in one direction while senators slip to safety in the background, a House employee barricaded in an office whispering to a colleague while a door is being pounded from the outside.

While the footage spots efforts by members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, showing their body armor, weapons, radio communication and organized movements, the Times concludes that the majority of rioters were Trump supporters caught up in the frenzy of the action.

"For many in the crowd, they felt they were carrying out some duty to defend democracy as they see it," Browne said.

The Times' story had nine bylines, but Browne estimated some 15 to 20 journalists participated in its preparation. Even before the documentary's release late Wednesday, the findings contributed to the newspaper's reporting about the incident over the past few months.

Browne, who also narrates the video, minces no words in telling viewers what was concluded.

"Our reconstruction shows the Capitol riot for what it was — a violent assault, encouraged by the president, on a seat of democracy that he vowed to protect," he says in the documentary.

The film also shows a congressman likening the rioters to tourists. "A tourist visit this was not," Browne narrates, "and the proof is in the footage."

The Times' investigation could take on added importance given the stalled government effort to thoroughly investigate what happened that day.

"I think recent events have made a presentation like this more valuable," he said. "Maybe it will create pressure for the investigation. I don't know. Our intention is not to influence policy or politicians, but to really show the public what happened in the fullest way possible."

Feds Arrest Two Capitol Rioters Accused Of Assaulting Officer Who Later Died

Federal authorities have arrested a pair of men charged with attacking U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick with toxic bear spray at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. But the spraying incident, documented on video, has not yet been established as the cause of Officer Sicknick's collapse and death hours after the insurrection on January 7.

Arrested yesterday, the alleged assailants are George Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, West Virginia, and Julian Elie Khater, 32, of State College, Pennsylvania,. Prosecutors were expected to arraign them in federal court on Monday. While Sicknick was initially believed to have died as the result of injuries sustained from a blow to the head with a fire extinguisher, investigators now think that poisoning with a chemical substance may be a more likely cause of death.

While these are the first arrests in Sicknick's death, numerous rioters now face charges of assaulting the scores of police officers who were badly injured on January 6.

According to court documents, Khater was captured in a video, obtained by the FBI, that shows him spraying Sicknick and other officers with bear spray.

"Give me that bear shit," he says to Tanios on the video, the documents allege, as Sicknick and other officers stood guard outside the Capitol. Khater, who appears to be holding "a can of chemical spray," then says, "They just fucking sprayed me."

After Khater directs the spray at the officers, he and Tanios "immediately retreat from the line, bring their hands to their faces and rush to find water to wash out their eyes," the documents allege.

Both suspects are in custody.

The FBI has circulated over 200 images of suspects sought by law enforcement for assaulting officers during the insurrection, some of whom already have been arrested. The Justice Department reported that prosecutors have charged about 300 alleged rioters with federal offenses to date. Authorities estimate that as many as 800 people entered the Capitol violently during the January 6 riot.


Six Major Questions Still Unanswered After Capitol Riot Hearings

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

After two weeks of congressional hearings, it remains unclear how a rampaging mob of rioters managed to breach one of the most sacred bastions of American democracy on January 6.

During more than 15 hours of testimony, lawmakers listened to a cacophony of competing explanations as officials stumbled over themselves to explain how America's national security, defense, intelligence and law enforcement agencies allowed a homegrown enemy to put an entire branch of government in danger during the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The continuing questions surrounding the attack have prompted calls for a more sustained inquiry than has so far taken place. House Democrats have proposed setting up an outside commission to investigate, similar to what followed the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, but so far Republicans have held up the proposal. Among the key questions yet to be answered:

1. Why did national security officials respond differently to Black Lives Matter protesters than to Trump supporters?

Last week, deputy assistant defense secretary Robert G. Salesses was sent to explain to Congress the Defense Department's decision-making on January 6.

Salesses said the National Guard had been criticized for being too aggressive during the Black Lives Matter protests last year, and that played into the more restrained response to the insurrection.

But his personal involvement in the insurrection response was limited. Much to the frustration of the senators questioning him, he wasn't able to provide details on why the guard took so long to arrive on Capitol grounds that day. This leaves some of the most alarming blunders of the day unexplained.

Last June in Washington, demonstrations calling for police reform following the death of George Floyd became a priority for top Defense Department officials. District of Columbia National Guard commander Maj. Gen. William Walker told Congress on March 3 that the head of the Army, Ryan McCarthy, spent almost a week by his side at the D.C. Armory to facilitate the guard's response to those protests.

Nothing similar happened for the planned protests on January 6.

Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund had to plead for guard support during a series of phone calls during the insurrection. Walker said McCarthy was "not available" for one crucial conference call at about 2:30 p.m. Rioters were minutes from the House chamber at that point, but the defense officials on the call were still skeptical. Walker said they were worried about how it might look to send troops to the Capitol and whether it might further "inflame" the crowd.

"I was frustrated," Walker said. "I was just as stunned as everybody else on the call."

It took more than three hours for the Pentagon to approve the request. During the Black Lives Matter protests, Walker said such approval was given immediately.

Salesses told Congress that McCarthy wanted to know more about how exactly the guard would be used at the Capitol.

An Army spokesperson did not answer specific questions about McCarthy's decision-making during the Black Lives Matter protests or on January. 6, but said the guard's posture on January 6 was based on a request from the mayor of Washington.

"The Department of Defense Inspector General is now reviewing the details of the preparation for and response to the January 6 protest and attack on the U.S. Capitol," she said. "We intend to allow that process to proceed independently."

2. Did lawmakers, particularly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, play a role in security decisions?

Both the House and the Senate have a position known as a sergeant-at-arms, an official responsible for protecting the lawmakers. These officials oversee the Capitol Police chief, and while staff in lawmakers' offices frequently maintain contact with the sergeants-at-arms about security plans and briefings, there are still questions about the details of consultations held before or during the January 6 attack. Paul Irving, the House sergeant-at-arms, and Michael Stenger, his equivalent in the Senate, resigned along with Sund following the riot.

The pair reported to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, respectively. Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, told ProPublica that prior to January 6, the speaker's staff asked Irving questions about security and were assured on January 5 that the Capitol complex had "comprehensive security and there was no intelligence that groups would become violent." McConnell's spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about whether the senator was involved in any security preparations before January 6. Staffers for both lawmakers told ProPublica they did not learn of the request for the guard until the day of the attack.

Sund has said that he began asking his superiors for guard assistance on January 4.

Irving and Stenger dispute that. In their congressional testimony, they said Sund merely relayed an offer from the National Guard to dispatch a unit of unarmed troops to help with traffic control. They said the three of them together decided against it.

Irving and Stenger also said they did not discuss the guard with Pelosi or McConnell's staff until January 6, when the riot was well under way. But the details of those conversations remain vague.

Sund said he called Irving and Stenger to ask them to declare an emergency and call in the guard at 1:09 p.m. that day. In his written testimony, he said that Irving told him he would need to "run it up the chain of command" first.

Irving disputed that too. He said he granted the request as soon as Sund made it and Irving simply told congressional "leadership" they "might" be calling in the guard.

Sund also said in his written testimony that as they were waiting for the guard, Stenger offered to ask McConnell to "call the Secretary of the Army to expedite the request."

Asked about his conversations with Congress, Stenger said only that he "mentioned it to Leader McConnell's staff" on January 6. No one asked him to elaborate.

In an emailed response to questions, Hammill said that at approximately 1:40 p.m. on January 6, Irving approached Pelosi's staff near the House chamber, asking for permission to call in the guard. Pelosi approved the request and was told they needed McConnell's approval, too. Pelosi's chief of staff then went to Stenger's office, where McConnell's staff was already meeting with the sergeants-at-arms.

Hammill said there was shared frustration at the meeting. "It was made clear to make the request immediately," he said. "Security professionals are expected to make security decisions."

A spokesman for McConnell did not answer questions about whether he was in fact asked to call the Army secretary, as Sund's written testimony suggested. He referred ProPublica to an article in The New York Times. The story describes McConnell's staff learning of the guard request for the first time at the meeting with Stenger and staffers being confused and frustrated that it was not made sooner.

3. Was law enforcement unprepared for the attack because of an intelligence failure?

Last week, FBI leaders told Congress that the bureau provided intelligence on the threat to both the Capitol Police and local D.C. police. They also referenced more general warnings they've issued for years about the rise of right-wing extremism.

Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the bureau's counterterrorism division, told Congress that leading up to the riot, the FBI had made January 6 a priority for all 56 of its field offices.

But acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman told Congress on February 25 that the agency had received no actionable intelligence.

"No credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol," Pittman said, echoing a common position among law enforcement on the lack of persuasive intelligence going into January 6. As a result, she said, her department was ready for isolated violence, not a coordinated attack.

A Jan. 5 intelligence bulletin from an FBI field office in Norfolk, Virginia, has generated significant attention. First reported by The Washington Post, it described individuals sharing a map of tunnels beneath the Capitol complex and locations of potential rally points, and quoted an online thread calling for war: "Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in .... Get violent." But the FBI itself has emphasized that the intelligence had not been fully vetted.

Pittman, who helped oversee the Capitol Police intelligence division at the time but was not yet the acting chief, also downplayed the memo. She said that while her department received the bulletin the evening before the riot, it never reached anyone in leadership. Reviewing the document later, though, she said the information was consistent with what the department already knew and that the memo specifically requested that agencies receiving it not "take action" based on its contents. "We do not believe that based on the information in that document, we would have changed our posture," Pittman said.

4. Or was it a security failure?

Congress has not focused as much on the culpability of Capitol Police leadership.

Last month, ProPublica published an investigation drawing on interviews with 19 current and former members of the Capitol Police. The officers described how internal failures put hundreds of Capitol cops at risk and allowed rioters to get dangerously close to members of Congress.

"We went to work like it was a normal fucking day," said one officer. Another said his main instruction was to be on the lookout for counterprotesters.

On February 25, Pittman acknowledged that the department's communication system became overwhelmed during the riot. But fending off a mob of thousands would have required "physical infrastructure or a regiment of soldiers," she said, and no law enforcement agency could have handled the crowd on its own.

She said that on January 6, the department had roughly 1,200 officers on duty out of a total of over 1,800. On a normal Wednesday, she said, there are more than 1,000 officers on duty.

5. Was the National Guard ready?

Last week, Walker, the National Guard commander, offered startling testimony on what he called "unusual" restrictions limiting what he could do on January 6.

He said that on January 4 and 5, he was told he would need approval from top defense officials to issue body armor to his troops, use a "quick reaction force" of 40 guardsmen, or move troops stationed at traffic posts around the city.

In his testimony, Walker said he had never experienced anything like it in his nearly four decades in the guard.

At one point, the Metropolitan Police, D.C.'s police force, asked Walker to move three unarmed guardsmen one block to help with traffic control. To do it, he had to get permission from McCarthy, the man running the entire U.S. Army.

More frustrating, Walker said, was that he could have sent roughly 150 National Guard members to the Capitol within 20 minutes if he had received immediate approval. That "could have made a difference," he said. "Seconds mattered. Minutes mattered."

So far, the only Pentagon official who has testified publicly is Salesses, who had little direct involvement in the January 6 response.

"I was not on the calls, any of the calls," Salesses said.

Instead, Salesses stated that acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller was at the top of the chain of command and "wanted to make the decisions."

"Clearly he wanted to," Sen. Rob Portman said. "The question is why."

6. How did officer Brian Sicknick die?

Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died the day after the insurrection. That evening, the Capitol Police released a statement saying he had died from injuries sustained in the riot. Law enforcement officials initially said Sicknick had been hit in the head with a fire extinguisher. Several Capitol Police officers told ProPublica the same. ProPublica also spoke with members of Sicknick's family shortly after he died. They said Sicknick texted them after fending off the mob to tell them he had been hit with pepper spray. The family told ProPublica that Sicknick later suffered a blood clot and a stroke. "This political climate got my brother killed," his eldest brother said.

But the exact cause of Sicknick's death remains unclear. On February 2, CNN published a report citing an anonymous law enforcement official who told the news outlet that medical examiners did not find signs of blunt force trauma, reportedly leading investigators to believe he was not fatally struck by a fire extinguisher. On February 26, The New York Times reported that the FBI has "homed in on the potential role of an irritant as a primary factor in his death" and has identified a suspected assailant who attacked several officers, including Sicknick, with bear spray. The D.C. medical examiner has yet to conclude its investigation into the exact cause of Sicknick's death.

On March 2, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), asked FBI Director Christopher Wray if a cause of death had been determined and if there was a homicide investigation.

Wray said there is an active investigation into Sicknick's death, but the bureau was "not at a point where we can disclose or confirm the cause of death." He did not specify whether it was a homicide investigation.

Pittman was also questioned about Sicknick.

"I just want to be absolutely clear for the record," said Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Virginia Democrat. "Do you acknowledge that the death of officer Brian Sicknick was a line-of-duty death?"

"Yes ma'am, I do," Pittman responded.

Kirsten Berg contributed reporting.

FBI Tracking Suspect In Death Of Capitol Police Officer Sicknick

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now zeroing in on one suspect who may have been involved in the disturbing death of U.S. Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed amid the deadly riots that unfolded on Capitol Hill on January 6.

According to The New York Times, an FBI official has confirmed that the bureau has managed to identify a suspect seen in footage of the Capitol riots who allegedly attacked several Capitol police officers with "bear spray."

Sicknick was reportedly one of the officers he attacked. Amid the investigation into Sicknick's death, investigators began to speculate that the late officer's death "was related to an irritant, like mace or bear spray, that he had inhaled during the riot." Now, footage from the riots appears to coincide with that theory.

In a significant breakthrough in the case, investigators have now pinpointed a person seen on video of the riot who attacked several officers with bear spray, including Officer Sicknick, according to the officials. And video evidence shows that the assailant discussed attacking officers with the bear spray beforehand, one of the officials said.

On Friday, February 26, the U.S. Capitol police released a statement with an update about the case. "We are awaiting toxicology results and continue to work with other government agencies regarding the death investigation," the statement read.

It added, "Officer Sicknick's family has asked for privacy during this difficult time and that the spreading of misinformation stop regarding the cause of his death," the statement said. "The Department and the Sicknick family appreciate the outpouring of support for our fallen officer."

The latest announcement follows the FBI's decision to open a homicide investigation into Sicknick's death. Since the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol, the FBI has arrested more than 200 individuals who stormed the building to hinder the Electoral College certification.

America Goes To War: A Military Spouse On The Capitol Riot

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

"Are you okay?" asked a friend and military spouse in the voicemail she left me on the afternoon the mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol so violently. At home with a new baby, her Navy reservist husband stationed in Germany, the thoughts running through her head that day would prove remarkably similar to mine. As she said when we spoke, "It's as if the U.S. has become a war zone."

Do a Google search and you'll find very little suggesting that the January 6th attack on the Capitol in any way resembled a war. A notable exception: a Washington Post op-ed by former Missouri secretary of state and Afghanistan combat veteran Jason Kander. He saw that day's violence for the combat it was and urged congressional representatives and others who bore the brunt of those "armed insurrectionists" to seek help (as, to his regret, he hadn't done after his tours of duty in combat zones).

Now, take a look back at that "riot" and tell me how it differs from a military attack: President Trump asked his supporters to "fight like hell" or "you're not going to have a country anymore." He swore he would go with them, though he didn't, of course, just as those who launched and continued our "forever wars" of the last almost 20 years sent Americans to fight abroad without ever doing so themselves. Trump's small army destroyed property with their metal baseball bats and other implements of aggression, in one case even planted pipe bombs near Republican and Democratic party headquarters (that didn't go off), and looted congressional chambers, including carrying away House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern.

The rioters used intimidation against those in the Capitol. Some screamed insults like "traitor" and the n-word (reserved, of course, for the black police officers protecting Congress). One rioter wore a sweatshirt emblazed with the words "Camp Auschwitz," a reference to the Nazi death camp. Make no mistake: the America these rioters envisioned was one full of hate and disdain for difference.

In their disregard for pandemic safety protocols, they employed the equivalent of biological warfare against lawmakers and the Capitol police, breaking into the building, screaming and largely unmasked during a pandemic, forcing lawmakers to jam into enclosed spaces to save (but also endanger) their own lives. The rioters smeared blood on walls and on the busts of former presidents. Their purpose was clear: to overturn democratic processes by brute force in the name of what they saw as an existential threat to their country, the certification of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president and vice president.

Among those aggressors were veterans and some active-duty personnel from elite U.S. combat forces (as well as from police departments) who brought years of expertise to bear on orchestrating an attempted takeover of our government, based — much like the costliest of our still-ongoing wars, the one in Iraq — on lies told by their commander in chief ("Stop the steal!").

My Own Personal War

To fight wars, you need to summon a mix of rage, adrenaline, and disregard for the humanity of those whose project you seek to annihilate. That seemed evident in the mob of the supposedly pro-law-and-order president that attacked Congress, their acts leading to five deaths – including that of Capitol Hill police officer Brian Sicknick, a former New Jersey Air National Guard member. More than 140 police officers who tried to protect lawmakers sustained injuries: Some, who were not given helmets prior to that day, are now living with brain injuries (which, as a therapist, I can assure are likely to come with debilitating lifelong implications). Another officer has two cracked ribs and smashed spinal disks. Yet another was stabbed by a rioter with a metal fence stake. Still another lost his eye.

These deaths and injuries will have ripple effects for the spouses, children, friends, employers, and others in the communities where those officers live. And they do not include the countless invisible injuries (such as post-traumatic stress disorder) that result from such war-like scenarios. In this respect, the cost of armed violence to human life is incalculable.

While that attack on the Capitol was underway, at the tiny community mental health clinic where I work as a therapist, I was speaking to clients who had migrated here from countries plagued by armed conflict. I listened to concerns that the far-right nationalist attack on the Capitol would, sooner or later, inspire violence against their own families. After all, those storming the Capitol backed a president who had referred to immigrants as "animals" and whose administration had put the children of undocumented migrants in cages – or sub-prison like conditions with zero-provision for their care. In the days after the attack, an acquaintance of mine, an African American man, was indeed pursued by a carful of people wearing Trump hats and shouting racial slurs. (They slowed their vehicle and followed him down the road towards his Maryland apartment.)

The day of the riots, I arrived home from my job to find my husband, a Naval officer, in front of the television news, tears in his eyes and sweat dripping down his face. My children, unprepared for bed (as they should have been), were staring at him in confusion. That night, he and I bolted awake at every sound, as we had in the weeks after Trump was first elected.

Of course, given our incomes and our home in the countryside outside Washington, D.C., we were about as far from danger as one could imagine. Still, our sense of distress was acute. After the riot was over, my husband, gritting his teeth, wondered: "Why aren't the Capitol floors covered in rioters in zip ties right now?" We noted that, if there had been Black Lives Matter slogans and black fists on the flags and banners those rioters were carrying, the National Guard would have arrived quickly.

As time wore on, my husband and I attempted to comfort each another and explain those televised scenes of violence to our two children, four and five, who had been stunned both by glimpses of what grownups could do and by how visibly upset their father had become. And we weren't alone. I soon found myself scrolling through texts and voicemails from other military spouses with similar fears who wanted to know if my husband and I were okay and if the violence in the Capitol had made it anywhere near our home.

In our minds, fearful scenarios were playing out about what January 6th might mean for military families like ours — and little wonder, since in those tense two weeks before Joe Biden's inauguration, the military still answered to a commander in chief who had visibly incited the possible takeover of our government. What would the military members of our families be asked to do in the days to come, we wondered, and by whom? What would have happened if those rioters had actually succeeded in hanging Mike Pence or slaughtering other members of Congress?

Preparing For War

In truth, in Donald Trump's America, my spouse and I had been conjuring up scenarios of violence for months. We had found ourselves obsessed with the fears of rising political violence in what, during wartime, used to be known as the home front in the country with the most heavily armed civilian population on Earth. (I had even written about that very subject in those very months.) No wonder then that, before November 3rd, I was so focused not just on dispelling Trumpian disinformation about the election to come, but on helping voters locate their polling stations and finding transportation to them.

As it happens, my husband's jobs in recent years have often involved anticipating war and what our military would do if Americans ever faced it on our own soil. He's served as an officer on a battleship and three nuclear and ballistic-missile armed submarines. He's had to collect intelligence under the leadership of presidents with very different levels of impulse control. Most recently, he's worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff thinking through scenarios in which the United States might be engaged in nuclear war — and what the costs might be.

Together, we have been amazed at how few Americans, other than our fellow military families, have been preoccupied with the violence beginning to unfold on our nation's streets and the way, in some strange fashion, America's distant, never-ending wars of these last nearly 20 years were threatening to come home.

One lesson of these years, in an America with an "all-volunteer" military, is that wars essentially don't exist unless you're directly or indirectly involved in fighting them. At no time did that seem more evident to me than on January 6th, in the divergent responses of my own family and those we know who aren't in the military. If you're interested (as I am as a co-founder of Brown University's Costs of War Project) in how, during these years, voters and their representatives have justified (or simply ignored) the decision to "solve" our global problems with unending war, then you might frame what happened on January 6th in these terms: some 74 million Americans voted for a president who portrayed those who disagreed with him as existential threats to America.

In the meantime, for almost two decades our government has invested staggering, almost unimaginable sums in this country's military machine (and the war-making industries linked to it), while diverting funds from key social services, ranging from healthcare to domestic job creation. Meanwhile, it has consistently "retired" military-grade weaponry from our war zones into the hands of police departments across the country and so onto our city streets. I mean, given such a formula, what could possibly go wrong? Why would anyone connected to the military be worried?

Of course, why wouldn't we worry, since we — or our loved ones — are the people who are ordered to participate when wars of any kind happen?

The Isolation Of Military Service

There are about two million Americans who serve in the U.S. military and 2.6 million more who are military spouses and dependents. Altogether that's just a little more than 1% of our entire population. We are, believe me, in another world of fears and worries than the rest of you. We've been involved, directly or indirectly, in fighting those godforsaken wars launched after 9/11 for almost two decades now. You haven't. You've generally thanked us religiously for our "service" and otherwise forgotten about those wars and gone about your business. We haven't. Our sense of the world, our fears, are different than yours.

We military spouses are charged with comforting and caring for those who serve, especially (but not exclusively) when they are sent to one of the many countries where that never-ending "war on terror" continues to be fought into the Biden years. Caring for those who serve is no small task in a country where the very act of trying to get mental-health care could be a career-ending move for a soldier. Families are often their only recourse.

Military spouses also care for children in mourning, temporarily or in some cases permanently, over the loss of a parent. In an anemic military healthcare system, we are often left to marshal the necessary care for ourselves and our children, even as many of us struggle with depression, anxiety, and trauma thanks to the multiple, often unpredictable deployments of those very loved ones and being left alone to imagine what they're going through. According to a recent op-ed by my colleague and military spouse Aleha Landry, approximately 25% of us are unemployed in this Covid-19 moment. On average, we also earn 27% less than our counterparts in the civilian world, not least of all because the burden of childcare and frequent redeployments prevent us from moving up in our chosen fields of work.

In this pandemic-stricken, distinctly over-armed world of ours, in which nationalist militia groups (often with veterans among them) backing the former president continue to talk about war right here in what, after 9/11, we came to call "the homeland," it's not surprising how increasingly anxious people like me have come to feel. Personally, what January 6th brought home was this: as a military spouse, I was living in a community that didn't know my family, while my husband, in his own personal hell of hypothetical nuclear wars, could be called upon at any time to represent a president who had incited an assault on the Capitol, leaving my children and me alone. And that, believe me, was scary.

I was struck, for instance, that a military spouse I became friends with and who occupied a very different part of the political spectrum from me nonetheless feared that, in the event of conflict, she would be vulnerable — and it wasn't just foreign conflicts that she was worrying about after Trump was elected. At one point, her husband had told her, "If you see a flash in the sky, then take the kids and drive in this direction," indicating a spot on the map where he felt, based on wind patterns, nuclear fallout was less likely to blow. After the Charlottesville Unite the Right riot of 2017, she stocked up on food, water, and extra gas so she could head for Canada if armed conflict broke out among Americans. "We'd be alone," she told me, "because obviously, he'd be gone."

Stopping Our Endless Wars

These, then, are the sorts of fears that arise in my militarized world on this careening planet of ours. Yes, Joe Biden is now president, but this country is still on edge. And the military that's been fighting those hopeless, bloody wars in distant lands for so long is on edge, too. After all, military personnel were present in significant numbers in that mob on January 6th. Almost one in five members of Trump's invading crew were reportedly veterans or active military personnel.

Sometimes, the people I feel closest to (when I do my work for the Costs of War Project) are the women who must mother and maintain households in the places my country has had such a hand in turning into constant war zones. Right now, there exist millions of people living in just such places where the anticipation of air raids, drone attacks, suicide bombings, snipers, or sophisticated roadside IEDs is a daily reality. Already, over 335,000 civilians (and counting) have been killed in those foreign war zones of ours. Mothers and their children in such lands are often cut off from hospitals, reliable food, clean water, or the infrastructure that would help them get to school, work, or the doctor. Unlike most Americans, they don't have the luxury of forgetting about war. Their spouses and children are in constant danger.

Democrat or Republican, the presidents of the past 20 years are responsible for the violence that continues in those war zones and for the (not unrelated) violence that has begun to unfold at home — and even, thank you very much, for my own family's fears and fantasies about war, up close and personal. It's about time that all of us in this disturbed country of ours at least bear witness to what such violence means for those living it and start thinking about what the United States should do to stop it. It can't just be the most vulnerable and directly involved among us who lose sleep — not to speak of lives, limbs, mental stability, and livelihoods — due to the cloistered decisions of our public leaders.

Believe this at least: if we can't stop fighting those wars across significant parts of the planet, this country won't remain immune to them either. It hasn't, in fact. It's just that so many of us have yet to fully take that in.

Copyright 2021 Andrea Mazzarino

Andrea Mazzarino, a TomDispatch regular, co-founded Brown University's Costs of War Project. She has held various clinical, research, and advocacy positions, including at a Veterans Affairs PTSD Outpatient Clinic, with Human Rights Watch, and at a community mental health agency. She is the co-editor of War and Health: The Medical Consequences of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Right-Wing Media Pushing Conspiracy Theories About Ofc. Sicknick's Death

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News' Tucker Carlson, and other right-wing commentators like Patrick Howley and Steve Bannon are using the cloudy circumstances of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick's death to shift attention away from former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial and to paint a narrative that Democrats and the media are concocting lies to punish Trump and his supporters.

Since Sicknick's death the day after the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, right-wing media have seized on inconsistencies in reporting on the cause of his death. Initial reports from The New York Times, citing law enforcement sources, claimed Sicknick had succumbed to injuries inflicted by the mob, which allegedly struck the officer with a fire extinguisher. Subsequent reporting by ProPublica and other media, however, cast doubt on the nature of the injuries and revealed that the officer had texted his brother that evening and had told him that although he had been pepper sprayed twice, he was feeling fine.

In response to these inconsistencies, right-wing reporter Patrick Howley led the charge casting doubt on the story surrounding Sicknick. On January 14, he published an article in the National File claiming that a "pre-existing medical condition" had contributed to Sicknick's death. That piece was printed the next day on Infowars' website.

"The media is trying to forge resentment against Trump and conservative activists in the eyes of Middle America, using the fallen officer as a cause celebre," Howley wrote. "But even the officer's family is pleading with the public not to politicize his death as narrative-busting details emerge."

Politicizing his death is exactly what happened, however, especially after CNN reported on February 2 that investigators were having trouble building a murder case because of a lack of evidence as to what, and who, actually caused his death. Breitbart breathlessly claimed the case illustrated "once again… that everything the establishment media report eventually ends up being exposed as a big fat lie." The National File and The National Pulse's Raheem Kassam also ran stories focusing on the media's supposed lies, as did the YouTube conspiracy theorist "Mr. Obvious" (whose channel has a quarter million subscribers).

When House impeachment managers included details about an officer having been attacked with a fire extinguisher in their trial brief, the controversy picked up momentum. On February 9, fringe investigative site Revolver News published an "exclusive" on Sicknick's case laden with conspiracy theories and titled "MAGA Blood Libel: Why Are They Hiding The Medical Report?"

The article claimed that a renegade media and the Democratic Party are unfairly blaming Trump supporters for Sicknick's death. "As the Washington Uniparty mulls domestic terror laws over a MAGA Bloodbath, it increasingly looks like MAGA may have been Bloodbathed," author Darren Beattie wrote.

The article painted a web of inconsistencies, pointing to premature media reports that Sicknick had died, confusion over the nature of his injuries and when exactly he had collapsed, as well as a lack of transparency in the case. It is correct, as Revolver said, that the media made mistakes in covering the case, and law enforcement's communication has been spotty and inconsistent. Revolver News drew an absurd conclusion, however, that a conspiracy is afoot, citing the fact that Sicknick's body was cremated.

"That means no further forensic analysis can be done to establish the cause or time of Sicknick's death. Why, one must wonder, would a family still searching for answers, who has no autopsy results, no death certificate, and no medical report, authorize a cremation? Did they?" Revolver asked (emphasis original).

The next day, the story's author Beattie went on Steve Bannon's podcast War Room: Pandemic, calling it "the most important story Revolver has ever run." The segment video on Rumble has been viewed more than 100,000 times as of February 11. The Revolver story got another boost that evening when it was featured by Fox's Tucker Carlson, who called it an "exhaustive and fascinating new analysis" and used it to attack the left.



Carlson claimed that Sicknick's death by violence is the basis of a "myth" Democrats have spun surrounding the January 6 events. None of the five people who died as a result of the events at the Capitol, he said, did so because of violence by the mob, while emphasizing that only Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt was killed from "intentional violence." While this may be true in the most literal sense, Carlson did not mention the harrowing videos presented earlier that day by House representatives showing Trump supporters, some of whom wore tactical armor, violently storming the Capitol building, attacking officers, and narrowly missing confronting the politicians they had been threatening.

"Whatever happened to Brian Sicknick was tragic, obviously, but it was also very different from what they have told us. They have lied about how he died. They have lied about a lot," Carlson said, before shifting the narrative to other alleged lies, such as how the riots started and who participated in them.

"Why would they lie about this?" he asked. "For an answer, think back to last Spring." The Black Lives Matter movement, conservative media's favorite boogeyman, took to the streets to protest the police killing of George Floyd. According to Carlson, the media, BLM and corporate America teamed up to force a narrative about Floyd's death. Like in Sicknick's case, the left lied about the cause of his death, Carlson said, repeating a right-wing talking point used to undermine the BLM movement that Floyd died from drug use, rather than from an officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

"Democratic partisans used a carefully concocted myth, a lie, to bumrush America into overturning the old order and handing them more power," he said. "It worked flawlessly. So why wouldn't they do it again?"


New Capitol Riot Videos Pulled From Far-Right Parler Site

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

The man's smartphone camera pans the crowd on the east side of the U.S. Capitol. It's smaller than what had amassed on the west side, but still an impressive sight. As he pans from atop the steps, he gives a front-line dispatch at 2:10 p.m., an hour after President Donald Trump had finished his remarks goading on the thousands of supporters who had come to Washington to protest the official certification of his electoral defeat.

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The Police Officer Murdered By Trump’s ‘Law And Order Patriots’

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

The grieving family of a slain Capitol Police officer says he was a private man whose death shouldn't be politicized. But now it is forced to make sense of the reality that he is a victim of political violence, his legacy forever linked to an insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.

"He spent his life trying to help other people," the officer's eldest brother told ProPublica. "This political climate got my brother killed."

Brian David Sicknick, 42, died Thursday of injuries he sustained while trying to protect the Capitol from a mob of violent rioters supporting President Donald Trump who rushed the building to disrupt the certification of the presidential election.

Before the officer's death had officially been announced late Thursday, the Sicknick family was rushing from its home in New Jersey to see him in a Washington-area hospital as word circulated on social media that a Capitol Police officer had succumbed to grave injuries.

Last they had heard, Sicknick was in critical condition on a ventilator, according to family members who spoke to ProPublica. While some news reports had said an unnamed officer was in critical condition after being bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher, family members did not have details of his injuries. They say Sicknick had texted them Wednesday night to say that while he had been pepper-sprayed, he was in good spirits. The text arrived hours after a mob's assault on the Capitol had left more than 50 officers injured and five people dead.

"He texted me last night and said, 'I got pepper-sprayed twice,' and he was in good shape," said Ken Sicknick, his brother, as the family drove toward Washington. "Apparently he collapsed in the Capitol and they resuscitated him using CPR."

But the day after that text exchange, the family got word that Brian Sicknick had a blood clot and had had a stroke; a respirator was keeping him alive.

"We weren't expecting it," his brother said.

As apparently premature news of Sicknick's death spread in law enforcement circles, the U.S. Capitol Police Department remained silent, including no response to an early request for confirmation from ProPublica on Thursday evening. The family learned from reporter phone calls that something was wrong.

"We have not gotten any calls," Ken Sicknick said when first contacted. Brian Sicknick was the youngest of three siblings, all boys. "We're kind of overwhelmed right now. You guys are getting reports of his death before I even got anything."

Nearly an hour later, the department issued a statement rebutting news reports that an officer had died. The department finally reported that Sicknick had died at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, adding that this was the result of injuries sustained during the attack the previous day.

By the time family members reached the hospital, they say, Sicknick was dead.

In separate interviews with ProPublica, family members say they are still waiting to learn exactly what happened. They described Sicknick as the kindest of the three siblings. They said he went to a technical school to study electronics but ditched it to follow his dream of becoming a police officer. They couldn't confirm the time of death.

The family's grief and confusion comes amid serious questions about how a secretive police department that is well-funded and highly trained at quelling violent protests and protecting members of Congress had failed to protect one of its own from an attack that had been planned out in plain sight.

In a press release, the department said: "The entire USCP Department expresses its deepest sympathies to Officer Sicknick's family and friends on their loss, and mourns the loss of a friend and colleague."

The Sicknick family issued its own press release Friday, urging the public and reporters to not politicize Sicknick's death.

"Please honor Brian's life and service and respect our privacy while we move forward in doing the same. Brian is a hero and that is what we would like people to remember," the statement said.

Still in shock, one family member, who agreed to talk but asked not to be named, said Sicknick had sometimes expressed frustrations with his job.

"Occasionally he would mention that they were very understaffed and they worked a lot of hours," the family member said. "And morale could be low."

Larry Schaefer, who spent 34 years on the force before retiring last year and knew Sicknick, said Wednesday's breach of the Capitol was unfathomable until he saw it on his TV screen.

"We handle demonstrations on a regular basis," Schaefer said. "We're prepared for this kind of stuff. We hold people back in a perimeter. We're set up for mass arrests, to load buses of people away."

He said he blames department leaders for the tragedy. Under pressure from congressional leaders, Chief Steven Sund of the Capitol Police and two other security officials have resigned.

After Sicknick struggled to find a policing job early on, his family said, in 1997 he joined the New Jersey National Guard "as a means to that end." He was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was honorably discharged in 2003, according to a Guard spokesman.

He subsequently trained to be a Capitol Police officer, graduating in 2008. The family came down to see the graduation ceremony, in "one of those big fancy buildings," one family member said.

One of his first assignments was working the inauguration of former President Barack Obama, a moment that filled Sicknick and the family with pride.

Twelve years later, Sicknick was a member of the department's First Responder Unit when Trump, in the final days of a presidency that fomented anger and division, held a rally that precipitated the Capitol attack.

In a press release Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said, "The violent and deadly act of insurrection targeting the Capitol, our temple of American Democracy, and its workers was a profound tragedy and stain on our nation's history."

"I send our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Officer Brian Sicknick," Pelosi said. "The perpetrators of Officer Sicknick's death must be brought to justice."

After a forced hiatus from Twitter, Trump returned to his favorite platform on Friday to honor his supporters, whom he called "patriots," and to announce he will not attend the inauguration of Joe Biden.

In a statement, Trump's deputy press secretary Judd Deere said: "Anytime a member of law enforcement dies in the line of duty it is a solemn reminder to us all that they run toward danger to maintain peace. The President and the entire Administration extend our prayers to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick's family as we all grieve the loss of this American hero."

Mollie Simon contributed reporting.