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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Marjorie Taylor Greene accidentally HUMILIATED by guest at hearing

Opinion | Five Years Ago, I Wrote a Fictional Disaster That Is Now Playing Out in Real Time - The New York Times

Five Years Ago, I Wrote a Fictional Disaster That Is Now Playing Out in Real Time

A makeshift memorial for Manuel Esteban Paez Terán in the forest.

By Richard Powers

Photographs by Joshua Dudley Greer

Mr. Powers is the author, most recently, of the novel “Bewilderment.” Mr. Greer is an artist and educator based in Atlanta.

What could make a person die for trees?

About five years ago, I published a novel called “The Overstory,” the tale of several characters who come together to protect an old-growth forest. The book follows these characters as they put their lives on the line in increasingly aggressive confrontations against powerful interests in the hope of saving trees. In the story, decent and principled people cross over the edge into retaliatory violence while trying to defend the living world.

Now a similar story is playing out just a four-hour drive from where I live. Atlanta has been shaken by an apparent shootout that occurred two weeks ago when law enforcement officers tried to clear protesters from South River Forest, a wooded area just outside of the city that has been designated as the site for a controversial new police and firefighter training center. A Georgia state trooper has been hospitalized with a bullet in the belly. A 26-year-old protester, Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, is dead, gunned down by law enforcement in what they are calling an act of self-defense.

Three men wearing dark uniforms standing with their backs to the camera at the edge of the forest.
Officers standing on the edge of the forest.

South River Forest is one of Atlanta’s largest, richest and most enjoyable urban woodlands. It borders a predominantly Black, underprivileged neighborhood. The battle for its future erupted over a year ago when the City Council, in a decision met by much public resistance, approved plans for a $90 million, 85-acre training center in the middle of the woods. It would be one of the biggest centers of its kind anywhere in the country, containing not only a shooting range and driving course for practicing high-speed chases, but also an entire simulated village where police would train to conduct raids.

City Hall calls it the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. On the street it’s known as Cop City.

The choice of site could not be more politically charged. The Indigenous Muscogee people, from whom the land was taken 200 years ago, revere that forest, which they know as the Weelaunee. The training center is slated to be built over the Old Atlanta Prison Farm, in operation for much of the 20th century, where decades of human rights abuses took place. And the forest has long been part of an ambitious plan to piece together an ecologically rich greenbelt of protected parkland stretching across southeastern Atlanta and neighboring southwestern DeKalb County, a project that would provide numerous environmental benefits to an increasingly heat-stressed city.

South River Forest is one of Atlanta’s largest, richest and most enjoyable urban woodlands.
Remnants of the old prison farm.

After the City Council approved the project, local environmental and social justice groups joined forces to oppose the decision. Destroying part of South River Forest, they rightly argued, would harm Atlanta’s residents, especially those in the mostly Black neighborhoods nearby. The lush tree cover of South River Forest helps clean and filter Atlanta’s air and water. It provides defense against storm water surges. The trees cool the concrete and buildings that make Atlanta hotter than its surroundings, and they raise the value of surrounding real estate. The diversity of wildlife and the ancient quiet of the groves improve the health of city dwellers in profound ways.

These local activists, joined by protesters from around the country, then took action. Over the past year, they have mounted a largely successful defense of South River Forest, resisting the proposed training center through tree-sitting, blockades, demonstrations and direct confrontation that at times has caused property damage. Two weeks ago, increasingly frustrated law enforcement agencies swept into the woods and tried to shut down the forest defenders. Predictably, the violence spiraled into tragedy.

The kind of fictional disaster I wrote about in “The Overstory” is playing out in fact.

Following the shooting of the state trooper and the death of the protester, the atmosphere in Atlanta is tense. Property in the downtown area stands damaged and dozens of people have been arrested, some held without bond. Idealistic young people building barricades and living in tree houses face charges of domestic terrorism, with the possibility of spending decades in prison. Last Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia declared a state of emergency, empowering him to bring in a thousand National Guard troops who could further escalate the crisis.

Activists gathered on Tuesday outside City Hall in downtown Atlanta, awaiting news on the fate of the forest.

The battle over South River Forest is our national crisis in microcosm: environmental anxiety, racial tension and ethnic animosity, the growing gap between rich and poor, concern for public safety, suspicion of the police, the reckoning with our symbols of historical injustice. The issues are complex and do not lend themselves to easy answers.

But there is a solution to the city’s immediate crisis: put the issue of the training center to a public vote. In the short term, a referendum would allow both sides to cool the conflict. In the long term, it offers the best hope for restoring trust in the city. Those who breathe Atlanta’s air and walk its public spaces must decide whether the southeast of their city should remain a living greenbelt or become a state-of-the-art training center.

A citywide vote might seem like an obvious answer to the citywide turmoil. But it could be a hard pill to swallow for both sides. Would a passionate, loosely organized protest movement really stand down if a majority of voters were to decide that they don’t care about the fate of the forest? Could City Hall, keenly aware of the vast amount of outside money committed to the training center, be big enough to walk back its prior decision and accept the wishes of Atlanta at large?

The issue of a police training center in the South River Forest could be put to a public vote. 

A referendum is a risky approach for all parties. And the practical challenges would be considerable: Not only would the City Council have to suspend its approval of the plan, but the referendum also would have to bridge two counties — DeKalb, where the forest and the neighborhood bordering it are, and Fulton, home to most of Atlanta. But in a city divided by fatal confrontation, only the will of the majority has the moral force to resolve the showdown.

A character in my novel “The Overstory” comes to realize that nothing in this living world has an independent existence. As she puts it, “Everything in the forest is the forest.” Atlanta will always be a wild mix of people whose interests could not be more different. And yet everyone in Atlanta is Atlanta. All those whose city is at stake should be allowed to choose what happens to South River Forest. As with America at large, the only way forward is into that tangled woods we call democracy. It’s still alive. Use it."

Opinion | Five Years Ago, I Wrote a Fictional Disaster That Is Now Playing Out in Real Time - The New York Times

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Seniors are getting ripped off’: progressive congressman Mark Pocan on overhauling Medicare

‘Seniors are getting ripped off’: progressive congressman Mark Pocan on overhauling Medicare

Mark Pocan.

“Democrats may not control the House of Representatives anymore, but congressman Mark Pocan is not giving up on his legislative agenda. Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat and the former co-chair of the congressional progressive caucus (CPC), instead focuses on playing “the long game” of policymaking.

Pocan’s commitment to promoting progressive policies will be on display Wednesday, as he reintroduces the Save Medicare Act. The congressman points to his advocacy for the legislation as just one example of how progressives can keep advancing their ideals in a Republican-controlled House and ensure that Democrats will be ready to act when they regain full control of Congress.

“I’ve been in local, state and federal government. Each time, you can impact more people’s lives, but it takes exponentially longer to get things done,” Pocan told the Guardian. “You’re always in the long game.”

Pocan’s legislative to-do list is extensive. When he chaired the CPC, Pocan called for a new kind of American foreign policy, suggesting that portions of the Pentagon’s budget should be reallocated to other services. He has demanded that the nation’s wealthiest citizens and corporations pay fair taxes to help cover the cost of the climate crisis and increasingly expensive childcare.

He has also been an original cosponsor of the Medicare for All bill since he joined the House in 2013, and used his perch as CPC co-chair to rally support for a single-payer national health insurance system.

Over his decade in the House, Pocan has seen progressive proposals like Medicare for All gain steam within the Democratic caucus and across the country. If progressives can continue to make the case for such policy changes, Pocan said, then Democrats will be better positioned to regain control of Congress in 2024. Right now, he feels confident that they will.

“I think we can then finally respond to the issues that the public is asking for,” Pocan said. “The more we can build that support and awareness on our issues, the better off we are in two years to make sure that they become a reality.”

Pocan views actions like the reintroduction of the Save Medicare Act as a small step in that years-long effort to build a federal government that better responds to the needs of average Americans. The bill that he will reintroduce on Wednesday is aimed at fortifying the traditional Medicare system, which provides health insurance coverage to older Americans. The Save Medicare Act, which will be introduced by Pocan and fellow progressive members Ro Khanna of California and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, was originally brought up for consideration late last year, but Democrats failed to pass the legislation before Republicans officially took control of the House last month.

The bill targets Medicare Advantage plans, which Pocan and his allies say the plans have turned into a cash grab for insurance companies. The program, in which healthcare coverage options from private insurance companies serve as an alternative to traditional Medicare, was initially designed as a cost-cutting measure to encourage insurance companies to provide seniors with healthcare coverage at a competitive price. Nearly half of Medicare-eligible Americans are now enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

But multiple lawsuits have documented how private insurance companies seek to overdiagnose Medicare Advantage enrollees to receive more money from the federal government, according to a recent New York Times analysis. The Times found that eight of the ten biggest Medicare Advantage providers have submitted inflated bills to the government. Estimates of the cost of Medicare Advantage overbilling in 2020 alone range from $12bn to $25bn.

The wasteful spending infuriates progressives like Pocan, who have campaigned to expand traditional Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing coverage. Congressional Budget Office estimates indicate that the cost of Medicare Advantage overbilling could cover the expense of expanding Medicare.

“This has become an additional profit center for these companies, when that could have actually gone towards enhancing Medicare,” Pocan said. “This is a program that doesn’t benefit most seniors.”

The Save Medicare Act would prohibit insurance companies from using the word “Medicare” in plan titles, helping seniors to distinguish between traditional Medicare and private offerings. The bill would also fine companies who attempt to engage in the marketing practice.

Pocan’s own mother, in her early 90s and not especially mobile, was once unable to receive care because her Medicare Advantage plan required her to travel to a doctor’s office in her local community. Traditional Medicare would have allowed a medical provider to come directly to her assisted living facility.

Young female physician leaning forward to smiling elderly lady.
Elderly Americans face marketing gambits from insurance companies misusing the name ‘Medicare’, Pacon says. Photograph: fizkes/Shutterstock

“Many seniors don’t know the difference between Medicare and Medicare Advantage. They don’t understand that it’s not really the government program they paid into,” Pocan said. “I think a lot of seniors are getting ripped off.”

Pocan acknowledged the many hurdles that the Save Medicare Act will face before it can become law. Private insurance companies have a heavy lobbying presence in Washington. But there could be an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation on the bill, Pocan said – particularly if more seniors like his mother share their stories about the program.

“If we can get public awareness up, I think there’s potential for [bipartisan] buy-in,” Pocan said. “I do think this can transcend partisanship in that so many constituents are affected.”

Even if the Save Medicare Act can make it to Biden’s desk, the bill’s success would be the exception rather than the rule for this session of Congress, Pocan predicted. He said he does not expect House Republicans to be particularly productive when it comes to passing legislation. That impression grew stronger after witnessing the bitter battle over the House speakership last month, which ended with Kevin McCarthy winning the gavel on the 15th ballot following a days-long revolt staged by 20 members of the Republican conference.

“The majority is too small with too many extreme members,” Pocan said of his Republican colleagues. “I think what they’re going to put most of their time and effort into are investigations – imaginary ones and real ones.”

But Pocan argued that congressional progressives can still make the most of the next two years. Although Democrats lost the House in November, progressives actually grew their ranks with the addition of new members like Maxwell Frost of Florida, Greg Casar of Texas and Summer Lee of Pennsylvania. Pocan took the victories of those candidates as an encouraging sign that progressives’ message is resonating with voters across the country.

“The American people agree with us on the issues,” Pocan said. “I think this has been a long-term project that we’re having success on.”

California police kill double amputee who was fleeing: ‘Scared for his life’

We have to hire more intelligent and better educated cops. A 104 IQ is not enough.   California police kill double amputee who was fleeing: ‘Scared for his life’

people protest after lowe’s death - sign says ‘no justice no peace’ with picture of Lowe
Family and friends of Anthony Lowe hold a news conference to demand an investigation into his death. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

“A southern California police department is facing national backlash after footage revealed that officers fatally shot a double amputee and wheelchair user who appeared to be hobbling away on the ground before he was killed.

Anthony Lowe, 36, was killed by officers in Huntington Park, a city in southern Los Angeles county, last Thursday. Cellphone footage captured part of the incident, showing Lowe on a sidewalk next to his wheelchair appearing to try to flee as two officers approach him with weapons drawn. More police cars arrived as the officers followed Lowe, who seemed to be limping away, but the video did not capture the shooting.

Now, Lowe’s family is calling for officers to be terminated and face murder charges.

“I’m heartbroken, and filled with anger and rage,” Tatiana Jackson, his younger sister, told the Guardian on Tuesday. “I just can’t understand why they would do that to someone in a wheelchair. I want somebody to explain to me what was the reason that you had to gun down a guy who has no legs.”

Lowe was a father of two and one of eight siblings in a tight-knit family, and he’d been struggling recently after he had to have both legs amputated, his family said.

Anthony Lowe with his daughter.
Anthony Lowe with his daughter. Photograph: Courtesy of Tatiana Jackson

The circumstances preceding the killing are unclear, and officials have faced scrutiny as their narrative has appeared to shift. The Huntington Park police department said in a statement that officers were responding to reports of a stabbing allegedly committed by someone in a wheelchair at around 3.40pm on Thursday, and that they encountered Lowe, who was in a wheelchair and who they believed was the suspect.

The department claimed that officers attempted to detain him, alleging he ignored commands and “threatened to advance or throw the knife at the officers”, although the limited witness footage did not capture this. The department further said that officers “deployed two separate Tasers in an attempt to subdue the suspect”, but when “the Tasers were ineffective”, they shot him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The LA sheriff’s department, which is investigating the killing, said in an initial statement that Lowe attempted to “throw the knife at the officers”, but a spokesperson later told the LA Times that Lowe “did not throw the knife ultimately, but he made the motion multiple times over his head like he was going to throw the knife”. The spokesperson also said that two officers had fired roughly 10 rounds at Lowe, who was hit in the torso. The Huntington Park department does not use body cameras.

The case comes amid national protests over police violence in the US following the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, 29, in Memphis. In Los Angeles, there have also been demonstrations this month over a string of killings by the LA police department, including the Tasing of Keenan Anderson, the cousin of a Black Lives Matter co-founder.

‘He was scared’

Advocates and Lowe’s family said the Huntington Park case illustrated how quickly police escalate situations and resort to lethal force. The video does not show any civilians near Lowe as he tries to hobble away, and he also appears to be at a distance from the officers.

Police have said that they found a stabbing victim who was taken to the hospital, but Lowe’s family said they were skeptical of law enforcement’s story.

“He was running away from them as if he was scared for his life,” said Ebonique Simon, the mother of Anthony’s son, who said that he might have had a knife on him for protection. “This could have been handled in any other way. But they chose gunfire as the resolution to the problem. That is insane … The police are supposed to be upholding the law, and we’re supposed to trust them with our lives, but how can we, if they do something like this?”

She said it seemed as if police were trying to present him as a violent and dangerous person so there would be less outrage: “They thought this man had no family and that they could sweep this story under the rug. But I’m not going to let it go until there is justice for my son.” Their son, who is 15, has been devastated by the footage, Simon said: “How is a child going to feel about police now that you’ve gunned their father down?”

Sylvester Ani, an LA activist who has helped families of people killed by police, said the case was a reminder that officers can create danger instead of protecting people: “The way they are trained to do the job is to kill people. That is not about safety. This man was a double amputee, but they felt the need to shoot him. They didn’t do that because they had to, they did that because they didn’t care about his life. Anthony should still be alive.”

people gather behind microphone
Advocates and Lowe’s family said the killing showed how quickly police resort to lethal force.Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

The spokesperson for the LA sheriff’s agency, which has its own track record of police violence and misconduct scandalstold the LA Times that the officers who fired at Lowe were on leave “for a few days”, would undergo a psychological evaluation and would be assigned to administrative duties until they were approved to return to fieldwork.

Cliff Smith, an organizer supporting Lowe’s family, said that statement suggested the sheriff’s agency had already exonerated the officers: “There can be no confidence in the sheriff’s department investigating any other police agency, because their own house is a mess.”

The sheriff’s department declined to comment, referring questions to the Huntington department, which did not respond to an inquiry on Tuesday.

‘He brightened your day’

Jackson, Lowe’s sister, who is 34, said that even though they were two years apart, they often felt like twins: “You could be having the worst day ever, but as soon as you come across him, he’d brighten your day. He was a family man who cared for all of his family and treated his friends like family.”

Jackson said her four-year-old daughter adored Lowe and didn’t understand that he was gone. Her daughter had noticed that her mother was in pain and had suggested she talk to Uncle Anthony to feel better: “She doesn’t understand why I’m crying. Anytime we’re going through something, my brother and I would call each other. And my daughter keeps saying, ‘Call Uncle Anthony.’ But he can’t fix this.”

The killing would have a ripple effect in the community, she added: “If we’re in danger, do you think these kids will call 911? They’re not going to, because they’re afraid.”

Lowe’s family said he had been living in Texas when his legs were amputated, but they did not know the specific circumstances. He had come back to California in recent months.

Simon said Lowe had been proud of their son’s success in football and had helped him stay motivated, and that she was struggling to process that he wouldn’t be there for graduation. She said Lowe had also loved to dance, and she believed he had been facing mental health challenges and depression due to the amputations. But she had hoped his life would soon start to improve.

He had recently been approved for prosthetics, she said, and had an appointment scheduled for February“

Hide your books to avoid felony charges, Fla. schools tell teachers

Jim Crow is back - Hide your books to avoid felony charges, Fla. schools tell teachers

“Unsure what titles violate new state rules, two school districts tell educators to conceal every book for now

A teacher in Manatee County, Fla., shared with a parent a photo of a classroom where books have been covered with sheets of paper. (Courtesy of Tamara Solum)

Students arrived in some Florida public school classrooms this month to find their teachers’ bookshelves wrapped in paper — or entirely barren of books — after district officials launched a review of the texts’ appropriateness under a new state law.

School officials in at least two counties, Manatee and Duval, have directed teachers this month to remove or wrap up their classroom libraries, according to records obtained by The Washington Post. The removals come in response to fresh guidance issued by the Florida Department of Education in mid-January, after the State Board of Education ruled that a law restricting the books a district may possess applies not only to schoolwide libraries but to teachers’ classroom collections, too.

House Bill 1467, which took effect as law in July, mandates that schools’ books be age-appropriate, free from pornography and “suited to student needs.” Books must be approved by a qualified school media specialist, who must undergo a state retraining on book collection. The Education Department did not publish that training until January, leaving school librarians across Florida unable to order books for more than a year.

The new law comes atop an older one that makes distributing “harmful materials” to minors, including obscene and pornographic materials, a third-degree felony — meaning that a teacher could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, a spokeswoman from the Florida Department of Education said Tuesday. She suggested violating House Bill 1467 might yield “penalties against” an educator’s teaching certificate. Still, because of uncertainties around enforcement and around what titles might become outlawed, school officials have warned teachers that their classroom libraries may expose them to the stiffest punishments.

The efforts to conceal titles in Manatee and Duval have stirred outrage from educators and parents, many of whom shared images of bare wooden shelves or books veiled behind sheets of colored paper. Teachers wrote in Facebook posts and text messages that they are angry and disheartened. District officials in both counties have emphasized that the removals are temporary and will last only until staff can determine whether the titles meet the standards imposed by Florida law.

Michelle Jarrett, president of the Florida Association of Supervisors of Media, which assists school library administrators and programs statewide, said that “closing and covering up classroom libraries does nothing to ensure Florida’s students remain on track for reading success.”

And Marie Masferrer, a board member of the Florida Association for Media in Education and a school librarian who used to work in the Manatee County system and remains in close touch with former colleagues in that district, said they have told her that students are struggling.

At one school, “the kids began crying and writing letters to the principal, saying, ‘Please don’t take my books, please don’t do this,’” Masferrer said.

A spokesman for the School District of Manatee County said in a statement Monday that the district “is abiding by all applicable laws and statutes of the state of Florida, and adhering to the guidance of the Florida Department of Education.”

A spokeswoman for Duval County Public Schools wrote in a statement Monday that “we are taking the steps required to comply with Florida law,” adding that “there are almost 800 titles currently approved, and the list grows each day as books are reviewed.”

The department’s new rule, published and approved Jan. 18, “clarifies that library materials, including classroom libraries, must be approved and selected by a media specialist.” This goes against precedent: Classroom libraries have historically been overseen by no one but teachers, who simply selected and stocked books they believed might be intriguing to students. Often, teachers bought these texts with their own money or by fundraising online.

During a televised hearing before the Florida House Education Quality Subcommittee on Jan. 25, Education Department Chancellor Paul Burns was asked by Rep. Christopher Benjamin (D-Miami Gardens) whether the department’s guidance and training on book collection could yield “unintended consequences.”

Burns said he was unaware of any, but “if there’s any changes that need to be made ... we’re certainly open to that.” The Florida Education Department did not respond to several questions, including one about whether the latest developments might constitute unintended consequences.

Manatee County’s January directive, obtained by The Post, says teachers who maintain elementary and secondary classroom libraries must “remove or cover all materials that have not been vetted” in accordance with state law. Going forward, any classroom library books must be “reviewed by a media specialist using the FDOE guidelines” before they are “presented and approved” at a special school meeting and finally “signed off by the principal.”

When one teacher emailed Manatee Superintendent Cynthia Saunders with questions and concerns about the directive, Saunders replied that violating the state law on book collection could lead to “a felony of the third degree,” according to a copy of the superintendent’s email obtained by The Post.

“We are seeking volunteers to assist with vetting and compiling [a] website list so books can be returned to classroom libraries,” Saunders wrote.

The district declined to comment on Saunders’s email or to answer a question about when school officials might complete their reconsideration of classroom library books.

In Duval County, the district published a brief blog post on Jan. 23 announcing that, after “recent training and direction from the state, Duval County Public schools will now conduct a formal review of classroom libraries.”

Two days later, the district shared with staffers a private, unlisted YouTube video titled “Classroom Libraries.” In the seven-minute video, obtained by The Post, Chief Academic Officer Paula Renfro announced that “classroom libraries will be temporarily reduced to only include ... books that have been approved by certified media specialists and books on the state-approved” list.

“In the meantime, books not on the district-approved list or not approved by a certified media specialist need to be covered or stored and paused for student use,” Renfro said. “As a reminder, though, this is temporary.”

She said that school officials are working to get classroom books “back to students’ hands as quickly as possible,” and that the district is considering giving teachers free time to vet books, as well as reemploying retired school library media specialists to help with the process.

Manatee Education Association President Pat Barber said in an interview that she has received many confused and concerned questions from teacher members about the district’s new policy on classroom libraries. She said educators are “distressed” by the idea of possibly receiving a third-degree felony conviction for providing books to children.

“And if they are required to vet all the books in their classroom libraries, where the time will come from?” Barber said. “We’re talking about, for some people, thousands of books because they have developed these libraries over years.”

Although teachers in Manatee and Duval have aired their frustration in private social media posts, employees in both districts declined interview requests, citing school policies and fear of losing their jobs.

“I have over 800 books so it’s been a huge mess,” wrote one in a text message provided to The Post by Masferrer. “The kids don’t understand it’s just so sad.”


After this story was published, a Florida Department of Education spokeswoman responded to questions, sharing some details about which violations would incur which penalties. Those details have been added.“

Bias and Human Error Played Parts in F.B.I.’s Jan. 6 Failure, Documents Suggest

Bias and Human Error Played Parts in F.B.I.’s Jan. 6 Failure, Documents Suggest

“The F.B.I. appeared to be blinded by a lack of imagination, a narrow focus on “lone wolf” offenders and a misguided belief that the threat from the far left was as great as that from the far right, new congressional documents show.

Protests outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Supporters of President Donald J. Trump protest outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. Both the F.B.I. and the Justice Department’s inspector general are reviewing what happened on Jan. 6.Alex Edelman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Days before the end of the 2020 presidential race, a team of F.B.I. analysts tried to game out the worst potential outcomes of a disputed election.

But of all the scenarios they envisioned, the one they never thought of was the one that came to pass: a violent mob mobilizing in support of former President Donald J. Trump.

The team’s work, which has never been reported, is just the latest example of how the Federal Bureau of Investigation was unable to predict — or prevent — the chaos that erupted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Apparently blinded by a narrow focus on “lone wolf” offenders and a misguided belief that the threat from the far left was as great as that from the far right, the analysis and other new documents suggest, officials at the bureau did not anticipate or adequately prepare for the attack.

The story of the F.B.I.’s missteps in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 was touched upon, but not fully explored, by the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 and may involve a mix of legal hurdles, institutional biases and simple human error.

The analysis conducted by the F.B.I., an exercise often known as a “red cell,” was included in the select committee’s investigation examining structural failures at the bureau and the Homeland Security Department. The committee did not publish a report on those findings, but The New York Times reviewed a draft document containing preliminary conclusions.

There was no single failure. Agents ignored warning signs flashing in the open on social media and relied on confidential sources who either knew little or failed to sound the alarm. Still, even recently, bureau officials have played down not preventing the worst assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812.

“If everybody knew and all the public knew that they were going to storm Congress, I don’t know why one person didn’t tell us,” Jennifer L. Moore, the top intelligence official at the F.B.I.’s Washington field office at the time, told congressional investigators. “Why didn’t we have one source come forward and tell me that?”

Other agencies, like the Homeland Security Department, the Secret Service, and in particular, the Capitol Police, also had major roles in analyzing intelligence and protecting the Capitol in advance of Jan. 6 — and all failed to secure top officials. But the F.B.I. had a unique part to play given its superior investigative reach and mandate to prevent acts of terror.

Now, the F.B.I. is conducting an internal review of what happened on Jan. 6 tassess what it describes as lessons learned and to “make improvements in communication and in the collection, analysis and sharing of information.” The Justice Department’s inspector general is also scrutinizing the bureau’s preparation and response.

Congressional investigators who examined the F.B.I.’s response never received from the bureau many key documents they requested. The bureau provided about 2,000 documents in total; the Secret Service by comparison offered more than a million electronic communications.

Moreover, the F.B.I. only did two transcribed interviews with top bureau officials: one with Ms. Moore and another with David Bowdich, the former F.B.I. deputy director. The committee staff also received a dozen briefings, including from Steven Jensen, who ran the bureau’s domestic terrorism operations on Jan. 6.

Committee investigators were, however, able to obtain emails that illustrated the bureau’s belief that there were no credible threats to Washington before Jan. 6. Those emails were written even as agents tracked domestic terrorism suspects who were planning trips to the city for Mr. Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally and opened dozens of new cases related to unrest surrounding the election.

The draft document cites two major problems that essentially blinded the F.B.I.

For years, the bureau has highlighted what are known as lone wolves or individuals acting on their own, a threat that is extremely hard to detect and thwart. Last year, the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, testified before Congress that “the greatest terrorism threat to our homeland is posed by lone actors or small cells of individuals who typically radicalize to violence online.”

That particular focus obscured its ability to see a “broad-right wing movement come together” and created a cognitive bias that hampered critical thinking, according to the draft document.

The unclassified “red cell” analysis — dated Oct. 27, 2020 — discussed four potential situations that involved lone offenders, but “none suggested the rise of a mass movement that might support an aggrieved losing candidate,” the draft document said. And none specifically addressed actors such as militia groups or white supremacists, who took a leading role in the Capitol attack.

As early as 2019, Attorney General William P. Barr and then Mr. Trump wanted the bureau to focus on leftist groups like the antifa movement, claiming they were the real threat. This occurred even after a spate of mass shootings that year targeted places like synagogues and the F.B.I. made combating racially motivated extremists a top threat.

In 2021, both the Justice Department and the F.B.I. made investigating far-left extremists a top priority along with militias and other anti-government groups. But in more than two decades, there had been only one killing by someone the bureau had classified as an “anarchist violent extremist.”

National Guard soldiers outside the Capitol in 2021.
National Guard soldiers outside the Capitol in 2021. Two years after the Capitol was stormed, the story of how the F.B.I. managed to miss the ball in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 is still emerging.Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The committee’s draft document said this decision by the F.B.I. was an exercise in false equivalency, noting that the lethal threats posed by far-right violent extremists in recent years far outpaced the threats from the left. Officials at the F.B.I. and Justice Department have repeatedly said white supremacist extremists were the top domestic terrorism threat and the most lethal one.

The F.B.I. said in a statement that it sought to counter all types of threats, saying it would “continue to work to prevent acts of violence and mitigate threats, without fear or favor, regardless of the underlying motivation or socio-politico goal.” From 2020 to 2021, it said, the bureau “saw a rise in violence and criminal activity, to include lethal attacks, by anti-government or anti-authority violent extremists — specifically anarchist violent extremists and militia violent extremists.”

It added that “while lone actors pose a serious and persistent threat, the F.B.I. maintains a broad perspective, constantly gathering information and evaluating intelligence.”

The F.B.I. has long kept tabs on extremist groups through the use of confidential sources. And in the sensitive months leading up to Jan. 6, the bureau was well positioned to know what was happening inside the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers militia, two far-right groups whose leaders were later charged with seditious conspiracy in the storming of the Capitol.

Federal agents had managed to recruit a star informant at the highest levels of the Oath Keepers: Greg McWhirter, the organization’s No. 2 man at the time and a confidant of its leader, Stewart Rhodes. The F.B.I. had also developed relationships with at least eight members of the Proud Boys.

And yet before Jan. 6, none of these informants sounded an alarm about a pending attack, according to lawyers associated with both the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Even after the Capitol was stormed, the lawyers have said, the informants repeatedly told their handlers in the F.B.I. that they knew nothing about plans to initiate an assault against lawmakers on Jan. 6.

The experience of Matthew Walter, who once ran a Proud Boys chapter in Tennessee, is instructive.

In a recent interview, Mr. Walter said the F.B.I. approached him in the summer of 2020 seeking answers about the violent unrest that had erupted during racial justice protests nationwide. Playing on his patriotism, he said, the agents asked about the Proud Boys’ adversaries in antifa.

Mr. Walter agreed to help on one condition: that the agents not question him about the Proud Boys.

“They told me, ‘You guys have never caused any problems in this state, so we don’t have any reason to be looking into you,’” Mr. Walter said.

Still, Mr. Walter was skeptical enough about the agents’ motives that he sought advice from the leader of the Proud Boys at the time, Enrique Tarrio, who is now on trial in Washington in connection with the Capitol attack. He said that Mr. Tarrio, a former F.B.I. informant himself, told him to cooperate. As many as 20 members of the group, Mr. Walter claimed, had also worked with the bureau, by Mr. Tarrio’s account.

Eventually, when it became clear that a large group of Proud Boys intended to go to Washington on Jan. 6 to support Mr. Trump, the agents asked Mr. Walter if he was joining and how many others were also thinking of attending.

“‘If you go, just don’t be an idiot,’ is what my guy told me,” Mr. Walter said.

In the end, Mr. Walter failed to meet up with his fellow Proud Boys and spent much of the afternoon following Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and Infowars host, in a mass march toward the Capitol. About a week later, the F.B.I. finally called him, he said.

The agents asked if he had been with any Proud Boys as the Capitol was stormed. And when he informed them that he had not, they moved on to other subjects.

Mr. Walter said he had recently been subpoenaed by defense lawyers in the Proud Boys sedition trial to appear as a witness.

Robert Reilly, a former F.B.I. agent who handled domestic terrorism informants, said that First Amendment concerns about free speech and free assembly precluded the bureau from targeting groups such as the Proud Boys without evidence of a crime. While the F.B.I. has targeted white supremacist groups that have displayed a penchant for violence, the Proud Boys have never been among them.

Mr. Reilly noted that agents could have tapped those Proud Boys who already had a relationship with the F.B.I. — among them, Mr. Tarrio. Mr. Reilly said that if he had been handling Mr. Tarrio, “I would have asked him, given his position of influence in the group, if anybody was planning violent acts.”

There may have been a disconnect among the agents handling informants, Mr. Reilly said. 

But lawyers for the Proud Boys say there was no disconnect. When informants in the Proud Boys were pressed for information after the attack, they said they had no knowledge of any premeditated plans.

In her interview with congressional investigators, Ms. Moore, the F.B.I. intelligence official, could not fully explain why the bureau did not identify Congress as the target on Jan. 6 even as the Capitol Police managed to, despite being unprepared to secure the building. Both were examining what was essentially the same intelligence.

“I didn’t have a crystal ball,” she said.“