Susan Zakin and David Weir
Blanche Boyd, whose 2019 novel Tomb of the Unknown Racist predicted an armed insurrection by armed white supremacists, says that at first she was depressed when the January 6th invasion of the U.S. Capitol occurred.
“But now I’m electrified. Fear will really wake you up.”
Boyd is asking the same question as the rest of us: “How scared should we be?”
In the wake of the attack on the Capitol, with around 100 people arrested, dozens of police officers injured, and numerous guns, pipe bombs, and Molotov cocktails confiscated, we asked our sources in the national security establishment, aka the Deep State, how concerned we should be about the safety of president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris at the inauguration ceremony scheduled to take place next Wednesday.
Most of our contacts spoke to us on deep background, but one of them—let’s call him The Walrus—was willing to be quoted.
JOTPY: So what went wrong on Jan. 6?
WALRUS: Very simple, the president of the United States who was in charge of security for the capitol didn’t want to stop [the insurrection]. Trump wanted the thing to go forward. He wanted [the Capitol] understaffed, he wanted it undefended. It was his last desperate attempt to stay in power.
Nobody’s pointed out that Mike Pence did not have the authority to call out the National Guard. He overstepped his authority when he did that. Thank God he did.
JOTPY: Why did Chad Wolf resign from his post as acting head of the Department of Homeland Security?
WALRUS: Disgust with the president’s inability in the last few days to come to the realization that he’s lost the election.
JOTPY: It seems like nobody’s in charge.
WALRUS: Nobody’s in charge.
JOTPY: Is the country undefended now?
WALRUS: Pretty much.
JOTPY: I see that Israel just mounted its most significant attack in a decade on Iranian forces in Syria. This has been linked to a power vacuum in the U.S. A more insular question: Is the U.S.itself in danger?
WALRUS: Most people will still defend against foreign attacks. That happens automatically without presidential intervention.
JOTPY: That's something. What about domestic attacks? Let's start with the threatened attacks on the state capitols.
WALRUS: The problems in D.C. are unique to the federal government; the states are run by the governors, so they can call out the National Guard.
JOTPY: So that's reassuring. Now to the big one: Will Joe Biden and Kamala Harris be adequately protected?
WALRUS: I think that the pros in terms of securing the White House and the other key buildings do a very good job. Obama was never shot, never killed.
The danger is if somebody comes in, and they’ve acquired weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East someplace. If somebody were going to try to coordinate with Al Qaeda or the Taliban, these people are trained terrorists. They have access to toxic chemical weapons or a dirty bomb. Who knows what happened to the nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union?
JOTPY: Can’t they just cancel the inauguration ceremony? Why have it at the Capitol?
WALRUS: They may have already decided to move it and they just haven’t told us.
Right now, there’s 20,000 National Guardsman guarding the capitol. You don’t want the Boogaloos going somewhere else. You want them to try to take out 20,000 National Guardsmen.
That’s how it works with covert operations: classic misdirection. You don’t telegraph the punch.
JOTPY: But as you pointed out, all you need is one person on the inside. Our sources are warning us that there are people in the middle level of the military and in various police forces who were sympathetic to the rioters. Two off-duty cops from Virginia got a slap on the wrist for participating in the attack. One,Thomas Robertson, is an Army veteran and trained sniper. The other is a member of the Virginia National Guard. There were Seattle police officers, and a Philadelphia police detective and even more disturbingly, a number of ex-military folks. And we all saw the infamous “selfie” one Capitol police officer took with the rioters.
WALRUS: Everybody’s pissed off. A few military people are defending it and a few cops. But the true pros are all over it. There was the letter from the 10 former members of joint chiefs, saying we’re not going to follow illegal orders of the president. And Liz Cheney telling the world that she was ready to vote for impeachment.
JOTPY: Which is pretty much the military saying it.
WALRUS: In some ways—I hate to say this—there really is kind of a “deep state.” They’re not trying to take over anything. They’re trying to maintain the status quo. They’re rounding up the bad actors.
JOTPY: Who’s the lead agency? The FBI?
WALRUS: The FBI, Secret Service on specific things.
JOTPY: This threat isn’t going away anytime soon. Do you get a sense of how enforcement will be ongoing?
WALRUS: One person I communicated with was a former U.S. district atty for the D.C. court. He thinks it’s gonna take two years to build the cases against all these people.
There will be long-term Justice Department and FBI engagement.
JOTPY: There’s a mad shuffle now going on, from Facebook’s stunningly inept attempts to control “political speech” to the shutdown of platforms like Parler. Does the U.S. government have enough cyber resources to track domestic terrorists?
The NSA (National Security Agency) was feeding information to the FBI.
But we don’t know what we’ve missed. We’re watching the Proud Boys, the Boogaloos, the 3 Percenters, all the people in the Southern Poverty Law Center database. We’re seeing where they’re going. We’re quietly keeping an eye on ‘em. But I think that there will be people there we don’t know about.
We have 20,000 National Guard, three times as many people as we have in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. They’ve shut down all the roads. D.C. is in lockdown.
We haven’t seen anything like this since 9/11. It just tells you, assuming they’re not playing psychological warfare, they don’t have specificity of targets. It’s macro defense. They’re massed around the capitol, they’re extending the perimeter around D.C., and they don’t want anyone coming into the city.
They’ve flooded the zone, because they’re acutely aware that before the Capitol attack the government wasn’t prepared.
JOTPY: That’s almost comforting.
Susan Zakin is an editor of Journal of the Plague Year. David Weir has worked at Rolling Stone, Wired, Salon, and many other publications. He is the co-founder of the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Civil War Playlist by Brian Cullman
Riot Squad :: Bad Brains
Waves of Fear ::: Lou Reed
Life During Wartime :: Talking Heads
Burnin’ And Looting ::: Bob Marley & The Wailers
Everything Is Broken ::: RL Burnside
American Eagle Tragedy :: Earth Opera
In A Lonely Place ::: Joy Divison
Gimme Shelter :: Angelique Kidjo and Diane Reeves
Banned In DC ::: Bad Brains
Kill For Peace ::: The Fugs
Black Night ::: Charles Brown