The "Live-to-Serve" Meditations: DC Insurgency Timeline as a Renewed Call to Interagency Cohesion
2 days ago, the Wall Street Journal Published an article titled "In Capitol Riot, Communication Between Agencies Hampered Response," which details the chain of communications from the time Mayor Muriel Bowser first contacted Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, requesting DC National Guard to be deployed on the Capitol (1:34pm) to the moment the DC Guard showed up (5:40pm). The insurrectionists had been on the premises from 12:45pm until 3:37pm, according to the timeline, which is nearly three hours. They had been cleared from the inside of the Capitol for two hours.
With 9/11 nearly 20 years ago, it seems mindboggling to think that after the single-worst terrorist event in US history, we are not implementing seamless intercommunication between federal agencies in a time of crisis without fail. Communication breakdown, after all, was viewed in hindsight as one of the prime failings that allowed 9/11 to happen. Even more worrisome is the awareness of our Capitol's vulnerability and the rhetorical demand, "How is this possible?" Our core federal functions should be impenetrable, especially to an on-foot assault. These vulnerabilities being laid bare on the international stage is not merely embarrassing, it's is a significant security threat. Aside from our socio-political issues making us appear susceptible to attack, structural issues like this makes us appear naïve; naïve enough to not have measures in place and to have such a glacial response to protect the Capitol steps and beyond.
The intricacies that caused this insurrection to be possible are many, as are what it will take to ensure security going forward, but in the immediate future we need to have a full-scale evaluation and reconstruction of security measures in our Capitol that includes a specific deadline for implementation. There should be absolutely no delay in deployment of security forces when it comes to protecting the core functions of our Capitol. If a person can call 911 and have a police officer at their house within minutes, the Mayor of Washington DC should be able to call all law enforcement services, local, state, and federal, in the metropolitan area to be enroute by the end of the phone call.
In the long term, our leadership needs a significant overhaul. Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio Cortes recently stated that if a legislator is too weak to make definitive decisions to protect our nation, they are too weak to represent their congressional district or their state. The criteria for giving individuals the privilege to represent the people in our highest offices in the nation have traditionally been light so as to make running for office easily accessed to most of our nation. We do not need to change the path to entry, but we do need to change the way we educate our nation about the necessary character for a public servant. Improvement in civics education for school age youth is a first step, but we need continuing education for all citizens, including adults. I have heard conversations in my peer circles about requiring civics testing to register to vote, similar to getting a driver's license. While this is a start, it still creates holes of equity, so we need to make sure the proper educational infrastructure is in place.
In addition, the mindset of those pursuing a career representing the people needs to undergo a radical shift. Colleges and universities with political science, government, security studies, etc, need to include deep core requirements about ethics, philosophy, and anthropology. Congressional and Senatorial internships universally need to be paid and paid well, so as not to be limited to young people that come from wealthy families willing to supplement their income (or, in this case, lack thereof). Unpaid internships continues a cycle of pipelining the wealthy into federal leadership roles and it is fundamentally unamerican; most people in the United States are not wealthy, therefore it is not representative government to only have the wealthy in representative roles. Why does this matter? For a comprehensive security regime, we need all viewpoints possible, all contingencies accounted for, all variables taken into consideration. This is done by hiring the widest variety of life experience possible. Consistent diversified representation in the House and the Senate enables a higher likelihood that all scenarios would be explored in security roleplaying.
In terms of Permission Culture, giving small permissions over time culminates to having no control over larger scale demonstrations of power and dominance. This could be referred to as "The Character Flaw that Broke the Camel's Back." Interagency communication is not just hampered by logistical constraints: it is hampered by ego, as is those who win political office, as is the lack of civics training in most schools and universities. Structural change is going to have to occur out and within. The out is relatively easy to accomplish; it is the within that will take some doing.