Washington DC

Retired Head of Dallas FBI Field Office Weighs in on Capitol Breach

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With a curfew in place, a day of chaos at the Capitol is finally under control.

But in the calm, comes reflection.

“There needs to be questions asked how this can happen,” said retired FBI Special Agent Eric Jackson.

After years of working to protect the country from potential terrorist attacks, Jackson said he was saddened and angry watching a mob easily breach the Capitol.

He said the images alone don't explain how it happened, but they do raise concerns.

“Normally when there's this type of demonstration, assets are put on hold in different areas with the ability to be a quick reaction force or quick response force. I think the question needs to be asked, was that put in place? Were people prepared?" said Jackson.

The last time the Capitol was breached was more than 200 years ago when British troops set fire to the building in 1814.

Questions remain over how the mob was allowed to get as far as they did on Wednesday. Video showed Capitol police allowing rioters to gather very close to the building early on, with police appearing not to try and detain trespassers as their movement escalated on the property.

Law enforcement experts said it appears that U.S. Capitol police and other agencies underestimated the size of the crowd and were underprepared for their actions.

Many officials who spoke to NBC News condemned decisions made by supervisory officers when it came to preparation. Others wondered about levels of staffing at the Capitol, given that not only was a protest scheduled Wednesday, but so was the counting of the Electoral College vote. They said it appeared that the Capitol Police were completely understaffed.

Lawmakers are now vowing an investigation into how law enforcement handled the violent breach at the Capitol.

In a city used to crowd control, Jackson said Wednesday's scenes also paint a stark contrast to those seen during protests around the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“Would the level of response that we first saw back in the summer be used against these individuals? I hope that the questions are being asked to leadership in the D.C. area as to whether they were allowed to fully deploy all of the necessary assets,” said Jackson.

Most importantly, he said those who threatened democracy should be held accountable.

“Someone died today. Our Capitol was breached. Our Speaker of the House’s office and Senate were breached. I will tell you in my year's investigating international terrorism, that's all Al-Qaeda talked about was attacking our U.S. Capitol. Who would think us citizens would be the one to carry that out?" said Jackson.

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