While “one-six” does not have the numeric cachet of “nine-eleven”, the two events have a number of commonalities.
By Anatole d’Ecotopia
To begin with the obvious, both 09/11 and 01/06 are events that draw very clear lines between “before” and “after” in American history — much like the Kennedy Assassination and the Pearl Harbor attack before them. These are days that “live in infamy”, that “changed everything”. Ineluctable fixed moments of time, setting inescapable destinies.
They are also, at least in the cases of 09/11 and 01/06, inside jobs.
This statement is not to be taken as an endorsement of conspiracy theory. The exact reasons why the Bush Administration chose to ignore warnings of an impending terrorist attack have been debated for twenty years. The fact that it happened is beyond dispute. There is equal debate over the reasons why normal security precautions that might have prevented or mitigated the events of 09/11 were conspicuously absent on that day — but again, the facts themselves are irrefutable.
Equally damning facts are beginning to emerge in the aftermath of 01/06 (it needs a name, damn it. “Traitor Day” has a certain cachet. So does “The Great Hillbilly Riot”). Let’s start with the conspicuous absence of the National Guard, until long after insurrectionist riot was well underway. Now-resigned Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund has claimed, in a Washington Post interview, that he did indeed reach out in advance to both House and Senate security officials for permission to place the D.C. National Guard on stand-by — and was turned out, for fear of “bad optics” (apparently this is only acceptable if the protesters are black).
This is somewhat at variance with reports that the Department of Defense had already reached out to Capitol Police with an offer of assistance — but with the exception of 300 unarmed troops, provided to assist with traffic direction, such assistance was deemed “unnecessary”.
Over the weekend, director Michael Moore offered his own perspective on this. As a filmmaker who has shot on location on the ground of the Capitol on multiple occasions, his is an informed — and, in this case, fairly apolitic — perspective:
“I have filmed numerous times in the United States Capitol Building and in the congressional offices for both the House and Senate. I’ve done this for over 30 years. I can tell you first of all that it is impossible to get into these buildings — don’t think I haven’t tried.”
“There’s about 2,300 police on the Capitol Police Force. Last Wednesday, less than 500 were called into work.”
Moore is of the opinion that the events of 01/06 were merely the beginning of a planned insurrection that will continue to unfold, in both Washington and in state capitals across the country, as Joe Biden’s inauguration proceeds (he is not alone in this). As one of the few people who correctly called Trump’s 2016 electoral victory, Moore’s stated opinion that this was indeed an “inside job” is not one to be discounted. The video deserves watching.
Again, this is not to suggest the sort of overarching conspiracy so well loved by conspiracy theorists. But 9/11 did not occur in a vacuum. It occurred in the center of a perfect storm of complacency, missed signals, and willful misdirection. It also occurred on the watch of a chief executive with less than democratic intentions and an agenda of his own.
The Trump agenda makes the Bush/Cheney agenda look almost honorable, if you squint and look past the war crimes and atrocities. It is highly doubtful that any future president can make Trump look good by comparison. If we are all horribly unlucky, some future Trump equivalent may cause nostalgia for the days of an incompetent would-be dictator.
Meanwhile, we have the lessons of other “inside jobs” and other threats to the fundamental principles of American Democracy to guide us. This one needs to be quashed. It also needs to be punished.