Weeks before the attack on the Capitol, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) analysts issued a threat assessment for “a high potential for individuals to incite civil unrest” on January 6 due to a history of violence at MAGA marches, according to never before seen documents obtained by CREW via a FOIA lawsuit. In addition to the “Million MAGA March,” USPIS warned of a potentially violent “Million Militia March” which sought to stop President Biden’s inauguration.

Citing the two previous MAGA marches in November and December 2020, which both resulted in violence, a USPIS Intelligence Summary dated December 22, 2020 laid out the possible potential for civil unrest at the “Million MAGA March – Round III” on January 6, 2021.

The threat assessment outlined a number of rally points where participants were planning to meet before heading to Washington, DC, as well as a number of posts on Parler in support of the march and calling for violence. The posts included in the summary had incredibly inflammatory language, including: “Hang EVERY TRAITOR ON JAN 6Th!”, “When Antifa Communists and the Bolsheviks Leninists and Marxists show up, stomp them into oblivion” and “NO MORE MARCHING ACTION TIME”.

The second USPIS Intelligence Summary, dated December 30, 2020, focuses on an “uncensored social media platform” called Wimkin, which had quickly become a “hub for publicizing militia groups.” iCOP analysts found that Wimkin, which was removed from the Apple App store and the Google Play store in the days after the insurrection, was being used to organize a “Million Militia March” planned for January 20, 2021. The march’s page was being run by a user who was also the founder of a private military company, “1st Regiment of the Restored American Republic (1R3)”. “The founder and its members are not advocating for a peaceful demonstration,” analysts wrote. Comments on the event page included calls for violence”there will be blood”and members also discussed attending the Million MAGA March on January 6.

Postal inspectors circulated both assessments far and wide. Recipients included officials at the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, US Capitol Police, Maryland and Virginia state governments, New York State troopers, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the Air Force, the Navy and even Amtrak. Yet, despite weeks of notice of serious threats of violence, many of these same agencies failed to adequately respond. CREW previously reported that Trump’s DOJ chose not to brief Congress ahead of January 6, DHS Federal Protective Services and the Secret Service downplayed warning signs of violence and Park Police was overwhelmed hours before the attack on the Capitol began. A Senate investigation similarly found evidence of poor communication and planning.

Previous reporting confirms that iCOP kept law enforcement agencies informed in the days after the attack on the Capitol, and has continued to monitor inflammatory social media posts. The assessments reviewed by CREW provide the first example of iCOP’s involvement ahead of the insurrection, and add to a disturbing reality: federal agencies, state governments and elected officials knew our democracy could face a violent attack and failed to adequately act to protect it. 

Header photo by Tyler Merbler under a Creative Commons license.

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