Oklahoma's Delegation Weighs In On US Capitol Protection

Friday, February 26th 2021, 5:19 pm
By: Alex Cameron


In the aftermath of 9/11, a bipartisan commission conducted a thorough after-action review that has become the gold standard for investigations into events of significant controversy and consequence.

Leaders in Congress have been talking about the need for a '9'11-style' commission to study the January 6 insurrection, its causes, related intelligence failures, and lessons for the future.

So far, however, no commission has been created, despite the insistence of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that such a review will take place. In the meantime, committees in Congress are beginning to hold their own hearings on the riots, revealing varying concerns about how things played out that day, as well as, how to move forward.

A focal point of hearings this week has been the roles police agencies and the National Guard played in preparing for the pro-Trump crowd and then responding when the crowd assaulted the Capitol.

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee which held the first hearing on the insurrection on Tuesday, said it's become clear to him that layers of bureaucracy hindered the response of the National Guard. He feels too much is being made of the fact that it took the Guard four hours to respond to the Capitol.

"They are not a SWAT team that's running rapidly into a situation," Lankford said in an interview on Wednesday, "so for them to take four hours to get here is actually not that slow."

Lankford was frustrated that very little was said at Tuesday's hearing about the National Guard's continued presence at the Capitol.

"We’ve got to deal with how we are going to handle our perimeter for the future," Lankford said. "That’s still an unanswered question.

"This is the place that needs to be open to guests, open to the public," Lankford said. "It’s a museum, it’s an office, it’s a functioning location...there’s a reason we call this the People’s house."

Sen. Jim Inhofe is also concerned that the Capitol is still under guard and surrounded by seven-foot high fencing and razor wire, and said authorities have provided no justification for it.

"They didn’t come up with any reason that we should still have our Guard here in Washington and have barbed wire up," Inhofe said in an interview on Thursday, "and I’m going to do everything I can to get that out -- this is America, not some Third World country."

As far as creating a bipartisan commission to conduct a thorough review of the Capitol breach, Pelosi said she was disappointed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, seemed to be backing away from the idea.

"I had the impression that he wanted to have a January 6 -- similar to 9/11 -- commission, but what he said on the floor was really a departure from that," Pelosi said at her weekly news conference.

What McConnell said was that such a commission, if it were to be given broad authority to look into white supremacists and other groups involved in the insurrection, should also look at last summer's racial justice protests, some of which turned violent. He also balked at what he said seemed to be a partisan make-up of the speaker's proposed commission.

Inhofe said he was content to leave it to leadership to work out the details.

"As long as it's treated -- both sides are treated equally, I'd say fine," Inhofe said.