I have updated three of the five parts of the intelligence analysis of the Single Envelopment Three Transient Attack model. I have updated and revised Part 1, on key findings and overview; Part 4’s analysis of the Oath Keepers actions on Transient 3 and the interactions between Proud Boys’ actions and Oath Keepers’ communications and/or actions; and Part 5’s analysis of the joint planning and coordination between the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.
These updated articles can be found here:
January 6 Attack: Revised Updated: Part 1: Key Findings and Overview
January 6 Attack: Revised Updated: Part 4: Transient 3 East Plaza
January 6 Attack: Revised
Updated: Part 5: Planning and Coordination
The key findings have not changed because none of the factual corrections contradicted or disproved the key findings. In fact, in one case, the key finding that the Oath Keepers’ actions on Transient 3 strongly suggest that they were executing a joint plan with the Proud Boys was strengthened. And this factual timeline correction was given by the evidence provided in the DOJ’s “Fourth Superseding Indictment” of the Oath Keepers.
After the revision and updating process, a second look at the model suggested some critical areas that I should have emphasized even more than I did during the revision. This more critical look is incorporated in this update.
But first I want to provide two apologies, one to Marcy Wheeler and the other to Christiaan Triebert personally, but also the New York Times team he was part of.
With regard to Marcy Wheeler, I had “misunderstood” her descriptive legal analysis. She pointed out that “when I map out the conspiracies we’re seeing in January 6, I’m not talking about the overarching conspiracy that made it successful, how the entire event was planned.” I apologize for the misunderstanding. My current understanding is that she provides a descriptive legal analysis.
I do apologize to Christiaan Triebert and the New York Times for stating that their analysis putting the Oath Keepers at 1406H walking on Pennsylvania Avenue was “misinformation.” It was not misinformation. They were correct that the Oath Keepers were indeed walking at that time. I apologize for my error.
Oath Keepers Timeline
I do want to thank Benny Bryant for providing via Twitter a photograph, metadata for the photograph, and a Google Map showing the time and location of the Oath Keepers at exactly 1406H in the vicinity of the Newseum Residence. I want to thank Bryant for pointing out that I had made the incorrect assumption that leaving the Trump speech at the Ellipse meant departing the Ellipse. That was indeed the wrong assumption. An analysis would have to determine their estimated preparation time, their estimated departure time, and their estimated arrival time.
Two things happened after I received the data from Benny Bryant.
First, I was recalculated the Oath Keepers timeline with the hard time-location data point of 1406H in the vicinity of the Newseum Residence. I constructed 9 transit models based on three total distances (Ellipse to Capitol East) and three rates of speed.
That yielded the following results. The overall elapsed time between leaving the Trump speech at 1253H and arriving at the east side of the Capitol was 86 minutes. They departed the Ellipse an estimated average time of 1342H and arrived at Capitol Plaza East at an average estimated time of 1419H.
The second thing that happened was federal prosecutors released the unredacted “Fourth Superseding Indictment” (pdf via DOJ). In that filing, federal prosecutors stated that the Oath Keepers arrived at Capitol East at 1428H—just 7 minutes before Meggs put the Oath Keepers into a column or stack formation and began walking up the central steps towards the Columbus Doors where Ken Harrelson and Jason Dolan were guiding them.
Again, because I was not certain of the total distance between the Ellipse and the east side of the Capitol building, I calculated 9 transit models. The estimated average departure time from the Ellipse is 1324H. They spent 95 total elapsed minutes and arrived at 1428H. They spent 31 minutes preparing to depart. They spent 64 minutes walking. All those estimates are based on the DOJ filing that they arrived at 1428H and that they departed the Trump speech at 1253H (New York Times). Everything else is basic math and bath physics andnd should not be controversial.
However, the late arrival time—1428H—no matter how long it took them to prepare and what they did to put on their tactical costumes, strongly suggests that the Oath Keepers were totally dependent upon the Proud Boys to open the Columbus Doors.
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, had been ranting since at least September on the need to stop an “illegitimate” Joe Biden, a “puppet” of Communist China, from taking office. Given that level of attention and stating how important keeping Trump as president was, it is surprising to learn that the Oath Keepers main attack arrived at the east side of the Capitol on Transient 3 only 7 minutes before the stack is formed and 13 minutes before they enter the Capitol. Not bad for having no plan and depending upon no one else to get them into the building.
But perhaps the most interesting part of the Oath Keepers movement is that they left the Trump speech at 1253H. The New York Times states, “at the same time that rioters across town first break through the Capitol’s perimeter fence—one of the 10 Oath Keepers we tracked is seen leading several others from that group out of the rally, including Ms. Watkins.”
Christiaan Triebert’s tweet is even more specific than the article he helped write. Triebert’s tweet reads: “At 12:53 p.m., twenty minutes before Trump speech ends—the same minute that rioters first breach through the Capitol’s perimeter fence—a large group of self-identified Oath Keepers is led out of the rally…” (emphasis in original).
This is the first strong correlation between a Proud Boys action and an Oath Keepers communication and/or action. The revised and updated Part 4 documents five more strong correlations.
The transit alone—from the time they get up from the Trump speech and the late arrival at 1428H at the Capitol East Plaza—strongly suggests the two groups had a joint plan and were executing the plan jointly. It also strongly suggests that there was some mechanism for the two groups to share operational intelligence.
And then there is the strong correlation between the time the Oath Keepers’ stack formation is formed at 1435H and the time (1435H) that a “large crowd” of apparent MAGA rioters arrived at the anteroom to the Columbus Doors. Within four minutes, they would open the Columbus Doors from the inside. The Oath Keepers would enter just as the 1440H minute was ending and 1441H minute was starting.
In the revised version of Part 4 I suggest that there may have been one or more Proud Boys in that MAGA mob that overpowered the handful of USCP officers guarding the Columbus Doors. That possibility cannot be excluded because the Proud Boys were operating “incognito” and dressed to look like the MAGA crowd.
And this may, in fact, have been the second time that the Proud Boys opened the Columbus Door—a possibility I initially overlooked.
The Columbus Doors are opened for two minutes between 1425H and 1427H when three unidentified people overpower USCP officers guarding the entrance and open the doors from the inside. A US Marine Corps officer, Major Chris Warnagiris, keeps the doors open against the resistance of USCP officers and allows a “stream of individuals” to enter “one by one.” If you assume one individual entered every five seconds, that is about 24 individuals.
But because the Oath Keepers did not arrive until 1428H, according to the DOJ, they missed the first opening at 1425H, but were there for the second opening at 1439H from the inside. In the meantime, three Proud Boys, including the apparent Transient 2 leader, Joseph Biggs, exit the Capitol building, transit around the building, and re-enter the Capitol via the Columbus Doors ahead of the Oath Keepers.
The entire sequence of events suggests there is a joint plan and the sharing of operational intelligence between the two groups. It also means that because the Proud Boys are not easily identifiable, unless they self-identify when questioned by the FBI or they are independently identified by the FBI as Proud Boys, it is exceedingly difficult to know what the Proud Boys did or did not do.
But the fact that the Oath Keepers move into a column formation at the same time (1435H) a “large crowd” is getting ready to open the Columbus Doors from the inside suggests this is not a coincidence.
Interestingly, the DOJ’s filings regarding persons responsible for opening and/or entering the Columbus Doors in the 14525H—1427H time-period are inconsistent. It is possible the doors were opened for a minute or two longer and it is possible that they did not enter “one by one.” I think it is more likely that the DOJ has simply errored in their filing on the Bustles (see below).
For example, the first person to enter through the Columbus Doors at 1425H is Major Chris Warnagiris (pdf via DOJ). He enters as the result of three unidentified persons, already inside the building, opening the Columbus Doors. Pictures 1A, 1B, and 1C, taken from the Warnagiris filing, show the door at the specified times of 1425H, 1426H, and 1427H. Thus, by 1427H (Picture 1C), the Columbus Doors are closed.
But Warnagiris was not first person charged with a felony who came through the Columbus Doors. According to the March 4, 2021, “Statement of Facts” (pdf via DOJ) accompanying the government’s “Criminal Complaint” for Jessica and Joshua Bustle, wife and husband, the two of them “violently entered” the Columbus Doors at 1428H (Joshua) and 1432H (Jessica). These times were provided by Google GPS data that located their cell phones “in or around the U.S. Capitol building.” The location data provides a 10-meter radius that accurately locates a cell phone within that radius 68% of the time. The couple’s “Statement of Offense” (pdf) linked to their guilty plea repeats these times of entry (via EmptyWheel). These times are not 100% accurate, as the surveillance videos show. Parenthetically, the couple pled guilty to only Count 4 (pdf via DOJ) of the criminal complaint, that is, “Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol building,” according to the government’s plea offer.
The written description (page 6) in the “Statement of Facts” accompanying the “Criminal Complaint” is based on the FBI’s review of USCP video footage. The government filing states that the couple entered “via the east entrance to the Rotunda” and “Joshua BUSTLE followed, filming Jessica BUSTLE.” Thus while the GPS data suggests Joshua entered 4 minutes ahead of Jessica, the written text describing the video states that Joshua was filming his wife Jessica from behind.
What is interesting, however, in addition to the time of their entry is the picture of the Bustles entering through the Columbus Doors. In the Warnagiris filing (page 4), rioters enter “one by one, each having to fight and push their way past officers who were still attempting to physically block the entrance.”
In the Bustle filing, same door, same rough time-period, there is a photo of a stampede of rioters entering (Picture 1D). Warnagiris is not visible, though he may be there. But both doors are open. There is at least one USCP officer with his back turned toward the incoming rioters. No rioters appear struggling to get in by overcoming USCP resistance. The contrast in description and photos could not be starker. And it does appear that Joshua Bustle’s wife is just in front of him obscured by the sign she was carrying. It appears that sign reads, “Vaccine injury is the real pandemic.” That phrase is found in both government filings.
On June 2, 2021, the government arrested Audrey Southard-Rumsey for, among other charges, assaulting a federal officer and engaging in an act of physical violence, but not for violent entry—the charge that was dropped against the Bustles. Warnagiris is also charged for assault and violent entry.
According to the government’s “Statement of Facts” (pdf via DOJ) for Southard-Rumsey, she entered “the Capitol Building through the Rotunda Door at approximately 2:26 p.m. [1426H]…The Rotunda Door is located on the east side of the Capitol Building.” The 1426H time is between when Warnagiris entered (1427H) and when the Columbus Doors were closed (1427H).
In Picture 1E, a time-stamped photo taken by a USCP surveillance camera, Southard-Rumsey enters at 1426H with Warnagiris still present on the left side of the door. The time comes from the government filing. With only one door open, it does appear that insurgents entered “one-by-one.” However the USCP are no longer resisting. One USCP officer in riot gear is watching people enter. There are only a few people just inside the door. This suggests that at whatever time the Bustles entered, when the two doors were wide open, the USCP was no longer offering resistance, and there was a rush of rioters to get in. If Warnagiris ended his struggle at the Columbus Doors at 1427H, which Picture 1C indicates, then the Bustles probably entered between 1426H and 1427H, after Southard-Rumsey, and not at the 1428H and 1432H times indicated by Google’s GPS estimates in the Bustles’ “Statement of Facts” and “Statement of Offense.”
Putting aside the accuracy of the GPS times for the Bustles, Pictures 1A through 1E show that had the Oath Keepers arrived at around 1415H they would have had enough time to form into a “stack” or column formation and enter the Capitol building by 1427H.
The Oath Keepers Guarding Roger Stone
As I discussed in the original Part 1, the revised and updated Part 1, and the revised and updated Part 5, the transfer of Roger Stone’s security detail duties from the Proud Boys to the Oath Keepers represents a major and significant shift for both groups, as well as Roger Stone. One journalist, Kelly Weill, suggested in January 2019 that the Proud Boys represented Roger Stone’s “personal army.” They guarded him. They managed some or all his social media platforms. They handled his cell phone. This is a closeness that is formed over time and not wisely disturbed.
In the two revised articles, I highlighted that this transition needs to be investigated by journalists and the FBI. This transition is a process that takes time. It requires decision-makers to make decisions.
We do not know who originates this shift. Do the Proud Boys originate the proposal with Roger Stone’s approval? Do the Oath Keepers originate the proposal and seek Roger Stone’s approval? Does Roger Stone originate the proposal?
However it originates, given Roger Stone’s security concerns regarding not wanting his inner circle penetrated by law enforcement informants, the Oath Keepers would have had to have been proposed by name; they would have been vetted; and once approved, there would be a handover transition between two organizations. This is common sense. If you have ever handed over a mission to another unit, you know there is a transition in the handover. It is not a turnkey handover.
This all takes time. And this all happens between the November 2020 in Washington, D.C. and December 12-14, 2020, when the Oath Keepers begin providing security for Roger Stone in Florida.
The real story is not that the Oath Keepers provided security for Roger Stone. The real story is how and why and by whom this transition takes place at all. There is nothing self-evident about this transition.
From this process comes other substantive questions.
Kelly Meggs, who has no military experience and up to December 25, 2020, is only a member of Oath Keepers holding no official leadership position, according to evidence presented by the DOJ, declares to a presumably trusted person on December 19, that “‘this week I organized an alliance between Oath Keepers, Florida 3%ers, and Proud Boys.’”
Meggs on December 25, again with a presumably trusted person, declares “‘we have orchestrated a plan with the proud boys. I’ve been communicating with REDACTED the leader.’”
It is safe to assume that Enrique Tarrio, the Miami-based national chairman of the Proud Boys, is a savvy operator. We also know that Tarrio relies upon the Orlando-based Joseph Biggs to be an organizer, planner, and special operator for operations outside of Florida. It would be difficult to believe that Tarrio and/or Biggs would be hoodwinked by Meggs.
If Meggs’ statements on Facebook accurately reflects what he and other Oath Keepers have accomplished, then there are other substantive questions that need to be answered.
For example, why would Tarrio negotiate, discuss, or talk with Meggs and/or other Oath Keepers about “‘an alliance’” and “‘a plan’” without assurance that the person(s) he was negotiating with were authorized to discuss these matters?
Tarrio knows that he can deliver the Proud Boys. He is the national chairman. He could probably convince other Proud Boys leaders to form “‘an alliance’” and to formulate and agree to “‘a plan’” with the Oath Keepers.
But who would or could or did assure Tarrio of the same for the Oath Keepers? Who can deliver the Oath Keepers?
That certainly is not Meggs. Up until December 25, 2020, Meggs is merely a member paying for a lifetime membership. Meggs is almost certainly part of an Oath Keepers’ entity engaged with the Proud Boys, or he is aware of what this entity is doing. But this entity must have authority regarding forming “‘an alliance’” and developing a joint “‘plan’” with the leader of the Proud Boys. Tarrio must be assured that the Oath Keepers he is dealing with can deliver the Oath Keepers to whatever is agreed.
And perhaps that is why Jon Schaffer, a founding and lifetime member of Oath Keepers, reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors. He may know and have proof of who that person is.
Mistakes Versus Confirmation Bias(?)
Marcy Wheeler in a tweet criticized my suggesting that the Proud Boys made several tactical mistakes. As Wheeler put it, “But also anything that doesn’t fit his idea of what a well planned military assault is must be a mistake.”
No matter which interpretation of Wheeler’s remark I examine, Wheeler is wrong. Her criticism of the attack model’s methodology is her attempt to undermine the entire the analysis. Thus every possible interpretation of her remark—whether she implied it or not—must be refuted. An attack on the methodology is an attack on the entire analysis. What follows, therefore, is a robust and at times redundant defense of the methodology and what the actual mistakes I claimed were made. The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers mistakes have nothing to do with data fitting or not fitting a model.
On the one hand, Wheeler’s criticism suggests I suffer from confirmation bias. This is the benign interpretation of her criticism. Writing the five-part series I was aware of this bias. Certainly, believing that there was, at a minimum, a Proud Boys plan, I could have interpreted every piece of evidence consistent with that plan as part of the plan and every piece of evidence not consistent as not part of the plan. At least that is what I think she might be claiming.
However that is not how I constructed the model. The model’s construction is inductive. Evidence of activities by the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, MAGA mob, and others was included. The model is built from empirical data from timelines, from media analyses of videos and photos, from DOJ filings, and my watching videos and looking at photographs. Every piece of data that could put together a picture of how the attack unfolded was included. In terms of data, the process was inclusive and inductive. Data was not excluded because it did not fit the model. The model is based upon the empirical data.
The only data I did not include was an unverified breach and an inconsequential breach.
For example, the Washington Post reported that at 1410H, “a man in the crowd swung a clear plastic riot shield to break through first-floor windows on the Capitol’s south side, making a hole big enough to climb through. A stream of protesters pushed in.”
First, there is a southwest side and a southeast side of the rectangular building. So which “south side” is the Post writing about? Second, the breach that does occur at 1412H is at the northwest side of the Capitol. Third, since I am neither a mind reader nor can I guess what the Post meant, I excluded this data about an unconfirmed breach. There is evidence of people entering through a Northwest Courtyard Fire Door (pdf) (via EmptyWheel). But this breach is a continuation of the initial breach on Transient 2.
I have omitted the brief and inconsequential breach of the Senate’s North Door. This breach has been exhaustively covered by the anonymous collective Tweedle Riot and distributed via the anonymous Sarah Stark. But it does not appear to be much of a breach. Between 1449H and 1512H USCP are letting people exit the Capitol building through that door; there is a violent struggle with some MAGA insurrectionists; some MAGA insurrectionists enter the Capitol building (1510H); the MAGA rioters are forced out of the building (1512H); the USCP respond with chemical sprays (1513H); and the door eventually closes (1514H). Between 1608H and 1646H there is another violent attack on USCP officers but there is no breach.
Regarding Wheeler’s criticism that “anything that doesn’t fit his idea of what a well planned military assault is must be a mistake,” there are two additional comments.
One, the mistakes made by the Proud Boys on Transient 2 are self-evident. And the mistakes have nothing to do with data that does not fit my idea of a good plan. And while the mistakes are self-evident when viewed in the context of the design of the attack and the objective of the attack, it is necessary to explain why they are self-evident.
Two, Wheeler appears or seems to assume that a “well planned military assault” would not have any mistakes. I am not certain that she is actually making this criticism. But military history is filled with “well planned military assaults” that had planning and/or execution mistakes. Certainly, the Roman general who fought Hannibal at Cannae thought he was executing a well-planned Roman attack until he lost between 50,000 and 70,000 Roman soldiers.
Proud Boy Mistake #1 on Transient 2
But for every mistake I thought I found, I stated the mistake and the evidence for the mistake. The mistakes were not of the kind that the data did not fit the model. Rather these were acts of commission or omission. That is, their action was mistaken, or they did not take an action they should have taken, given the design of the attack and given the objective of the attack. Readers may look at the evidence and conclude that the Proud Boys did not make that mistake. Fair enough. But I provide my reasoning for why it is a mistake. But Wheeler’s critique that “anything that doesn’t fit…must be a mistake” is wrong. The Proud Boys made clear mistakes.
Consider how the Proud Boys planned their operations. Joseph Biggs, one of the secret MOSD leaders and apparent leader of the attack on Transient 2, described the planning process for a Proud Boy operation. Here is Biggs describing that process in an interview released on January 3, 2021: “‘When we set out to do an event, we go alright, what is or [our] main objective? And that’s the first thing we discuss. We take three months to plan an event. And we go, what’s our main objective? And then we plan around that, to achieve that main objective, that goal that we want.’”
Biggs is describing a process close to the U.S. Army’s planning methodology. The Proud Boys start with the “main objective” which in Army terminology is the Commander’s Intent. For the Proud Boys, that may be a negotiated process. But then the Proud Boys “‘plan around’” the main objective and how “‘to achieve that main objective.’” Biggs is describing a process that appears to be thorough, perhaps considers and eliminates different strategic objectives, and then allocates resources to achieve the strategic objective.
But Biggs is also suggesting that the planned attack on the Capitol had a truncated planning cycle. The Proud Boys did not have “‘three months’” to plan this operation. They may have had 1 or 2 weeks.
What we do not know is when Meggs and Tarrio initiated their discussions to form and “an alliance” which resulted in planners from the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys “orchestrat[ing] a plan.”
Let us look at the Proud Boys mistakes in terms of the tactical/strategic options they faced once they breached the Northwest Courtyard entrances at 1413H or so. Figure 11 comes from Part 3, the original and unchanged analysis of Transient 2.
Option 1 is to invade the Senate Chamber and seize Senators and/or otherwise stop the Senate deliberations. The entire objective of Trump’s “Stop The Steal” information warfare campaign, his judicial campaign, his effort to use the military for anti-democratic ends, and his January 6 “Wild!” protest is to keep Trump in power and prevent the 46th president from taking office.
As Adam Serwer observed, “This is why the authoritarian remedies festering in the Trump fever swamps—martial law, the usurpation of state electors, Supreme Court fiat—are so openly contemplated. Because the true will of the people is that Trump remain president, forcing that outcome, even in the face of defeat, is a fulfillment of democracy rather than its betrayal.
Seth Abramson quoted from an InfoWars show broadcast on January 5 by Owen Shroyer, a top performer for Alex Jones. In that Shroyer broadcast, alluding to some confidential information Roger Stone may have received from the White House and is telling Alex Jones but Shroyer cannot reveal, Shroyer states, “‘we then know if we have successfully stopped the certification of the fake election for [Joe] Biden and we can actually get Trump in for another four years’” [emphasis in original].
If Option 1—invade the Senate Chamber and/or disrupt or stop the Senate deliberations—is not their first option that they absolutely must accomplish, then the Proud Boys should have stayed at home, sitting on the couch masturbating. Option 1 is dictated by the larger objective and logic of Trump’s entire effort.
And the Proud Boys failed to accomplish Option 1. That observation has nothing to do with data fitting or not fitting the model. It is an empirical fact that at around 1414H Dominic Pezzola faces a tactical choice: take a tactical left towards a catastrophic strategic failure or take a tactical right towards a spectacular success for Donald Trump. He turns left and follows Officer Goodman to failure and large legal fees.
So, by any metric, Pezzola and the Proud Boys made a mistake. Only my failing to observe and write about that mistake would have been an error on my part.
Proud Boy Mistake #2 on Transient 2 to Transient 3
Option 2 is to transition from Transient 2 to Transient 3 and open the Columbus Doors on the east side of the Capitol from the inside. The Proud Boys executed a Reconnaissance March to Transient 3. They probably deposited the core of Transient 3 during that march. And the Oath Keepers marched directly from the Ellipse to the Columbus Doors expecting that some organization would open those doors for them. Opening the Columbus Doors from the inside is virtually dictated by the design of the attack.
So option 2 is a logical outcome based on what we know empirically happened. The only error I may have made is overlooking that at 1425H, when the Columbus Doors open for the first time (see above and below), that the three unidentified individuals who did that could have been Proud Boys. Or maybe they were not Proud Boys. More data is needed to determine which conclusion is correct. I initially called it a mistake—not because the data did not fit the model—but because it may not have happened. What we do know is that the Columbus Doors on Transient 3 were opened a second time at 1439H and this may or may have not included Proud Boys operating from the inside.
The second most important tactical option was moving from the Northwest Courtyard breach to the Columbus Doors on the east side of the Capitol building. The one individual that seemed to make the apparent mistake of not going up the flight of stairs was Augustin Garcia, I originally wrote. His first destination is the Crypt—the same first floor he entered on—but located directly under the Rotunda. His next location is the Rotunda about 5 minutes before the Columbus Doors are opened from the inside. So I assessed that his trip to the Crypt was a mistake.
However, it is possible that the Proud Boys did not make this mistake of not opening the Columbus Doors at 1425H. And upon reconsideration they may not have made this mistake, their actions suggest they were operating according to a “‘operational plan.’”
It is possible that the three unidentified persons who opened the Columbus Doors at 1425H may have been Proud Boys dressed “incognito.” We do not know one way or the other. The one error I did make is that I overlooked in the filing for Major Christ Warnagiris is how the door is opened to let Warnagiris inside.
The Architect of the Capitol states that the first floor contains the Crypt. The second floor contains the Rotunda, the Senate Chamber, and the House Chamber. The Proud Boys entered on the first floor. Their strategic and tactical objectives are one floor above them.
However, 1425H is only 11 minutes after Biggs entered the Capitol building at 1414H. That is roughly the time it would take to transit from the Northwest Courtyard doors on the first floor to the Columbus Doors on the second floor. From the dimensions of the Capitol building given by the Architect of the Capitol that distance is roughly 375 to 450 feet, depending upon how many feet are attributed to the stairs and other hallways. The Proud Boys would have to go up the stairs, move through a crowd, and perhaps dodge or overcome police. So 11 minutes seems reasonable. And it is certainly possible, given only an 11-minute gap, that the three unidentified persons who did that were Proud Boys. That movement within 11 minutes certainly appears deliberate and planned.
And if, on the other hand, the 1425H breach is three MAGA rioters doing this on their own, does that not suggest the Proud Boys made a mistake? After all, Biggs and two other Proud Boys go to the Columbus Doors a little later suggesting their transit is part of a plan.
But if it is not a Proud Boys mistake—failing to open the Columbus Doors from the inside—then how do you explain the Oath Keepers actions? All Oath Keepers actions are dependent upon the Proud Boys (or somebody) opening the Columbus Doors. Why? Because the Oath Keepers do absolutely nothing to open those doors.
The Proud Boys mistake on Transient 3, if they made that mistake, must be seen in the context of the Oath Keepers actions.
At 1352H, according to the “Fourth Superseding Indictment” of the Oath Keepers, Harrelson and Dolan are at the US Capitol grounds. Triebert’s tweet tells us that at 1408H, Dolan (and probably Harrelson as well) are at or near the top of the stairs leading to the Columbus Doors. We know that when the Columbus Doors are opened at 1425H for two minutes, that neither Dolan nor Harrelson enter the building.
It certainly appears that Dolan and Harrelson leave the Ellipse and by 1352H they are on the Capitol grounds. That is 36 minutes before Meggs and the stack arrive. They do not enter at 1425H. That gives all the appearance that they are waiting for the Proud Boys to open the Columbus Doors and they are waiting for the Oath Keepers’ “stack.” Certainly, they are waiting for somebody to do something. Who could they possibly be waiting for?
Well, if Meggs is correct that there is a joint plan with the Proud Boys, then they are waiting for the Proud Boys to open the Columbus Doors. The Proud Boys may or may not have opened those doors at 1425H. The Proud Boys may or may not have opened those doors at 1439H. But if they did not open the Columbus Doors at those times, is that not a tactical mistake by the Proud Boys?
And the opening of the door at 1439H suggests that the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers were communicating through some yet undetermined means.
The Proud Boy in question, Augustin Garcia, at 1434H is captured on surveillance video inside the Rotunda doing a live feed. The DOJ/FBI does not state when he arrived in the Rotunda area. He appears to talk about Speaker Nancy Pelosi during his live video while he is in the vicinity of the “large crowd” that at 1435H is starting to overpower the USCP officers guarding the Columbus Doors. He may be oblivious to what is going on around him and is not really providing operational intelligence updates. But we do not know if there were other Proud Boys in this “large crowd” transmitting real-time intelligence that they were about to breach the Columbus Doors.
There is evidence that at 1435H, ten minutes after the first inside breach, there is the start of a second inside breach. And at the same time (1435H), in a situation the Oath Keepers could not see happening inside the building, the Oath Keepers formed into a column or stack formation and began walking up the Central Plaza stairs. And at some time between 1414H, when the apparent Transient 2 Proud Boy leader Joseph Biggs first enters and then eventually exits the Capitol building with two or more other Proud Boys, they end up in front of the Oath Keepers at the Columbus Doors. But why did Biggs’ team go outside the building? That makes no tactical sense. But going to Transient 3 does make sense.
So it is hard to tell if the Proud Boys made this mistake. Unless the FBI identifies Proud Boys with the first and second Columbus Doors breaches, we will not know for certain. The fact that the Proud Boys dressed to look like the MAGA rioters, makes it difficult to be certain. Perhaps the DOJ/FBI has undisclosed Telegram messages or eyewitness testimony that can clarify.
I Never Wrote That Options 3 and 4 Were Mistakes
Option 3, opening the West Door at the Upper West Terrace was not pursued by the Proud Boys. But I did not label this a mistake. All plans are constrained by resources and planning assumptions. I would have included this option in my plan if I were planning the attack. But I did not plan the attack. And I never wrote that not doing so by the Proud Boys was a mistake. This fact directly contradicts Wheeler’s criticism. I did not penalize the Proud Boys for this omission.
Option 3, in other words, is in my parlance something good to have done. Option 2, on the other hand, was necessary to have done to get the Oath Keepers into the Capitol building and have a follow-on force exploit the main attack on Transient 2.
Option 4, attempt to enter the House Chamber, was apparently pursued by the Proud Boys. At least one Proud Boy was present when a rioter was shot dead. I did not label this a mistake either.
So what data or evidence “did not fit” that I characterized as a mistake? The Proud Boys had four tactical/strategic options. They failed at Option 1. They may have succeeded at Option 2, depending upon whether unidentified persons are later identified to be Proud Boys. However, because the Oath Keepers were taking their time getting to the Capitol, they arrived too late (1428H) to enter at 1425H. They would have to wait until 1439H, when a “large crowd” that may or may not have included Proud Boys, opened the Columbus Doors from the inside. The Oath Keepers clearly made a mistake by arriving too late.
What I specifically wrote was a mistake was Proud Boy leader Joseph Biggs and at least two other Proud Boys exiting the Capitol building on the northwest side, walking around the north side, and then re-entering the Capitol by 1440H. It makes no tactical sense to do that when the most direct route and the option with the highest probability of success is to stay inside the building and open the Columbus Doors from the inside. The MAGA crowd did this at 1439H. In fact, one person identified as opening the doors at the time, Philip Grillo, entered the same door Joseph Biggs did—but 6 minutes later at 1420H. If Grillo could have arrived from the inside at the entryway to the Columbus Doors at 1435H, surely Biggs could have arrived by 1429H, if not a little sooner.
I do not have to apologize for having common sense.
Plans And Mistakes Reconsidered
But there may be a hidden assumption in Wheeler's remark that well-planned attacks do not have a mistake, either in planning or execution or both. Perhaps she either does not intend to make this argument or she has not. I am inclined to believe she has not made this claim. On the other hand, some readers may make this line of attack.I sense this methodological attack would appeal to readers who do not bother to read the analysis or who do not read the analysis carefully. But I have already explained in the original paper and the explanation above specifically what mistakes I thought the Proud Boys had made. And those mistakes had nothing to do with data fitting or not fitting the model or what I considered a "well-planned" attack.
Now if anyone has different ideas about the plan and how the attack was carried out, great. Looking forward to reading that analysis. In fact, if other critics have a better analysis of the attack as a military attack, I look forward to reading those analyses as well.I taught Soviet military tactics for a U.S. Army Reserve intelligence school for two years. As a senior civilian intelligence analyst, I was the lead military analyst producing daily Black Book articles for the European Command regarding Russian military operations in Chechnya between 1994—1995. These articles, because they were published hours ahead of Washington, D.C., were included in the Chief of Staff of the Army’s daily read book. My co-author analyzed the political situation. We then co-authored the European Command’s military-political assessment of Russian military operations in Chechnya. One of the things we had to assess was why the Russian military operations suffered from significant failures. Clearly the Russians occupied Chechnya as a whole and Grozny in particular. They were eventually successful. But the Russians suffered horrific losses in personnel and armor during a thrust into the center of Grozny.
So even a plan devised by a decorated Russian general could suffer from mistakes in planning, or training, or communications, or mistakes in execution, or a combination of all of these. Small errors in units under the pressures of combat and time can produce significant tactical mistakes. What is commonly called “friction” and “fog” can produce errors or mistakes. U.S. Army planners will commonly state that plans go out the window with the first contact with reality. Militaries, when they lose a war or lose a battle or a campaign, attempt to figure out their mistakes. Even in victories they may try to figure out their mistakes. So mistakes are inherent in war or conflict. Figuring out those mistakes are what operational and intelligence analysts do.
Thus I do not understand the problem with suggesting that the Proud Boys appeared to have a well-planned attack and committed tactical mistakes leading to strategic failures.
The alternative to mistakes in execution of the plan is to claim there was no plan. That is the hidden assumption here. If there is no plan, then there were no mistakes. In other words, if you do not believe the Proud Boys made mistakes, then you accept some variant of the Immaculate Insurrection model. Simply put, there is no plan. And if there is no plan, then there are no mistakes to find and analyze.
But the DOJ/FBI has stated as part of their evidence that by December 30, 2020, the inner core of the Proud Boys leadership, a secret cell called the MOSD, knew they had “‘one operational plan’” and this plan had “‘many contingencies’” and that the Proud Boys were going to be organized into groups.
Now I cannot claim, nor did I claim that I had or knew the Proud Boys plan. I stated that I was analyzing the assault as a military attack. The starting point was the empirical data of the attack. It was only later that the public was informed that the Proud Boys had an operational plan with many contingencies and had been organized into task-groups. And the evidence provided by the DOJ/FBI, as well as other articles and timelines suggested a specific model: the Single Envelopment Three Transient Attack model. That is what the attack looked like based on the empirical data.
Now how many logical outcomes do we have regarding plans and mistakes?
There is a plan that is executed with no or very minor tactical mistakes that leads to strategic success. Clearly not the case here. There are tactical successes, but tactical mistakes lead to a catastrophic strategic failure.
There is a plan that is executed with significant tactical mistakes leading to strategic failure. That is the case here.
There is no plan, thus there are no mistakes. The DOJ is wrong about a plan, and the defense lawyers’ Immaculate Insurrect model is correct.
There is no plan, but there are mistakes. The DOJ is wrong about a plan, and the defense lawyers are correct.
But how would anyone know the Proud Boys made mistakes unless they had a plan? If there is no Proud Boys plan, then there is just a bunch of Proud Boys’ men and women wandering around the Capitol building trying to accomplish little, if anything. They are in no position to make a mistake. Whatever they do is correct.
Proud Boy Mistakes Are Strategically Consequential and Self-Evident
What mistakes did I write that the Proud Boys made?
If Pezzola leads the MAGA rioters into the Senate Chamber at around 1414H on national television with Donald Trump watching in the White House, then the entire dynamic of the attack changes. The USCP and MPD officers would have to decide to hold their positions or rush to the Senate Chamber to rescue the Senators now under physical assault.
In fact, if Pezzola leads 100 to 300 MAGA rioters into the Senate Chamber and takes them hostage, the entire strategic political situation is transformed into an existential threat against the Constitution and the republic. It would now be up to Donald Trump and his closest insurrectionist advisers, having seized the initiative and having Senate hostages, who can or attempt to dictate the outcome that keeps Trump president for life.
That is not to say this coup is successful. At this point, the USCP
and MPD could consider anyone not authorized to be in the Capitol building a
terrorist and shoot them. The heavily armed Oath Keepers Quick Reaction Force
could deploy to the Capitol building. One can wargame this scenario further.
But the point is simple: once the Senate is taken hostage by the Proud Boys,
the strategic political and law enforcement problems have been transformed into
existential questions with existential outcomes.
I suppose one could argue that Pezzola had no Proud Boys plan to guide his actions, and he made a mistake without a plan.
But you would have to ignore everything that Pezzola had done up to that point to get to the Senate landing. He was among the first Proud Boys near the front of a MAGA crowd at the foot of the Northwest Stairs. He was the first Proud Boy to reach the Northwest Courtyard windows with Joseph Biggs right behind him. Pezzola was armed with a stolen riot shield which he used to smash the windows open. He was the first person to smash the windows. Then he was among the first of the rioters going up the stairs leading to the Senate Chamber. Everything Pezzola did argues strongly that he was operating according to the Proud Boys plan.
To see how catastrophic Pezzola’s mistake is, compare it to the counter-factual scenario in which Pezzola turns right and into the Senate Chamber at 1414H. This single decision by Pezzola transforms the entire paramilitary and political scenario. Thus, going left is the mistake and going right would have been executing the plan correctly.
Bringing out the primary and fundamental Proud Boys’ mistake on Transient 2—failure to invade the Senate Chamber at 1414H—also allows readers to see how close a spectacular success the attack could have been. And because the media does not focus on the potential success, it allows the GOP and even conservative critiques hostile to the GOP viewpoint to miss this.
The mistakes on Transient 2 by the Proud Boys and Transient 3 by the Oath Keepers are also strategically consequential. If the Proud Boys open the Columbus Doors at 1425H, kept those doors open, and the Oath Keepers had arrived maybe 10 to 15 minutes sooner (1413H to 1418H), then Transient 3 would have entered the building sooner and the Oath Keepers could have started arresting Senators for "'treason.'"
We know the GOP has been engaged in an aggressive effort to gaslight Americans on the severity and gravity of the insurrectionist attack on January 6.
Mike DeBonis and Jeremy Barr, writing in the Washington Post, noted that in addition to the GOP falsely claiming that Antifa was responsible for the January 6 attack, they noted that “many Republicans [were] challenging whether the mob… truly intended to subvert democracy.” A New York Times report noted that the disinformation campaign regarding Antifa as the real culprits began as the insurrectionary attack was underway. Luke Broadwater at the New York Times noted that “a growing number of Republicans in Congress are mounting a wholesale effort to rewrite the history of what happened on Jan. 6, downplaying or outright denying the violence and deflecting efforts to investigate it.”
More recently, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has created the legally incorrect and baseless conspiracy theory that the FBI itself planned the January 6 attack. Matt Gertz at Media Matters noted that “Carlson has become a founding father of the 1/6 Truth movement.” Carlson quickly found supporters in the GOP and the Russian Sputnik outlet.
Andrew McCarthy, writing at the National Review, schooled Carlson on the finer legal points between an unindicted co-conspirator, a confidential informant, an accomplice witness, and an undercover agent. But then McCarthy agrees with Carlson that the terrorism charge is ridiculous. Wrote McCarthy, “Carlson is right that it is ridiculous for Attorney General Merrick Garland to portray the Capitol riot as if it were a terrorist attack and the people behind it as the most dangerous national-security threat we face.”
I suspect McCarthy can make this claim because the mainstream media do not look at how close to success Trump came. Yes, the Washington Post early on noted that at 1414H that the MAGA mob missed Pence and the Senators. The Post noted that at 1414H, “rioters reach the precipice of the Senate chamber, where lawmakers are still inside.” All the government filings state that at 1420H House and Senate members “were instructed to—and did—evacuate the chambers.” In other words, at 1414H Pezzola could have led an enraged mob of 100 to 300 people into a full Senate Chamber, minus Vice President Pence.
Now consider Pezzola and Gieswein, the III%er acting as Pezzola’s wingman, turn right and lead 100 to 300 Proud Boys, III%ers, and MAGA insurrectionists into the Senate Chamber on national television. We now have a potential hostage situation and potentially the USCP opening fire on national television. The USCP and MPD officers outside and elsewhere inside the Capitol building now have to decide where to deploy in the absence of upper management communications. Trump is watching this chaos unfold. In fact, for all intents and purposes this appears to be a terrorist attack.
Tactically and strategically the Proud Boys have created a situation in which the Senate is being held hostage by a mob of insurrectionists, some of whom have to come with an intent to kill “traitors.”
What was Trump doing during the actual attack?
House impeachment manager, Representative David Cicilline, presented evidence that even in the absence of a potential hostage situation, Trump, according to GOP Senator Ben Sasse, was “‘Walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was.’” Senior White House officials reported that Trump was “‘Borderline enthusiastic because it meant the certification was being derailed.’” How much more enthusiastic would Trump have been watching a hostage situation?
According to the same impeachment presentation and House legal brief, CNN reported that just after 1400H, just 14 minutes prior to the Capitol building being breached, Trump mistakenly phoned Senator Mike Lee while actually trying to call Senator Tuberville to ask for more voting delays.
The House legal brief noted that at 1424H, just 10 minutes after Pezzola’s mistake, Trump tweeted that “‘Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.’” In a strange coincidence, the Washington Post reported that at 1424H “Trump followers [on Parler and Gab] urged the crowd in Washington to find and accost Vice President Pence.”
But it is not until 1438H and again at 1523H—when it is obvious that the joint Proud Boys-Oath Keepers attack has failed—does Trump tweet for the crowd to “‘Stay peaceful!’” and “‘remain peaceful.’”
The House legal brief noted that “not only did President Trump fail to issue unequivocal statements ordering the insurrectionists to leave the Capitol; he also failed in his duties as Commander in Chief by not immediately taking action to protect Congress and the Capitol.”
Can anyone imagine Trump’s reaction if he were watching the Proud Boys leading up to 300 insurrectionists from Transient 2 into the Senate Chamber at 1414H and within 15 minutes the Oath Keepers arrived with the Transient 3 MAGA mob at the Senate Chamber to arrest Senators? Would the insurrectionists attacking the defended doors at the Speaker’s Lobby have succeeded entering the House Chamber in this scenario with this much confusion within the upper leadership of the USCP?
And what advice would Donald Trump have been receiving from his three top advisors: Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and Rudy Guiliani? Stone, the originator of the “Stop The Steal” movement had advocated in September 2020 for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act. Michael Flynn had advocated in December 2020 for Trump to re-run the election under martial law. Guiliani appeared to be Trump’s point man on negotiating with rebel senators via Senator Tuberville.
Invoking the Insurrection Act. Is that not the scenario Rhodes had foreseen the Oath Keepers would be operating under? Is that not the scenario Meggs and Watkins had discussed?
Chauncey DeVega has recently argued that Trump’s scenario for his coup against democracy depended upon his MAGA base providing the context for invoking the Insurrection Act. DeVega argued, “When viewed in the context of the Trump regime's and Republican Party's broader campaign against American democracy, it appears obvious (except to the most self-deluded observers) that using the Insurrection Act would have provided an avenue for Donald Trump to remain in power—past the end of his constitutional term, and perhaps indefinitely.”
Indeed, DeVega has argued that even after the failed coup on January 6, “Thebattle for America’s future is now existential.” Imagine how existential that battle would have been starting at 1415H with the Senate held hostage by the Proud Boys-led MAGA “‘normies’” the Proud Boys were hoping they could enrage to the point they “‘burn that city to ash,’” would “‘smash some pigs to dust,’” because the “‘normiecons’” were a “‘pack of wild dogs’” with “‘no adrenaline control’” (pdf) (via EmptyWheel).
How many dots must be connected before we see this attack for what it was, the overthrow of the U.S. government organized and executed by and for the benefit of Donald Trump? Would this not be seen as terrorism in support of an insurrection to effect a coup?
The failure to imagine the terrorist attack that was missed by one minute and two bad decisions by Pezzola and Meggs, allows the GOP to gaslight America. There is also a failure of imagination to see what this attack could have looked like had it been executed as well as it had been planned. As bad as the insurrectionists’ attack was, it was not as bad as what was intended.
I believe that not only were these mistakes strategically consequential, but given the design of the attack and the objective to be achieved, these mistakes are self-evident.
Proud Boys Mistake #3 at the North Door
The third mistake I wrote about was the “lost hour” of the Klein brothers. After about an hour or so they exit the Capitol building and try to get back in through the North Door. Again, going outside the building makes no tactical sense when the easiest way to open a door is from the inside.
Not Doing Option 3 Was Not A Mistake
A third tactical option for the Proud Boys was trying to open the West Doors on the Upper West Terrace to Transient 1. That might have caused the MPD resistance to give way sooner. As it was, the West Doors are breached from the outside at about 1440H—the same time the Columbus Doors are breached. But I did not claim that not doing this third option was a mistake. I only stated it was an option.
Doing Option 4 Was Not A Mistake
The fourth tactical option was to head to the House Chamber. At least one Proud Boy, Andrew Bennett, was in the vicinity of the Speaker's Lobby when a MAGA rioter was shot, according to a live video he was uploading. I never wrote this was a mistake.
Why The Proud Boys Made Mistakes
I gave 7 reasons in the original analysis why the Proud Boys may have made the mistakes they did. All these reasons are plausible and consistent with the evidence presented in DOJ filings.
These reasons included: only about 4 to 10 Proud Boys’ leaders knew the complete “‘operational plan’” they had been briefed in late December; operational security and lack of time may have prevented the task-group leaders understanding their roles in the plan; the rank-and-file Proud Boys on the “Boots on the Ground” Telegram channel, if detached from their group leaders, may not have known what they were supposed to do; a shortage of Proud Boys manpower inside the building may have disrupted execution of the plan; police resistance at key chokepoints combined with the large meandering crowd of MAGA tourists could have disrupted the plan; the Proud Boys leadership may not have been able to communicate at key times because the building’s Wi-Fi may have been overwhelmed; and lastly, under time pressure the Proud Boys leaders made poor tactical decisions.
The fundamental issue is whether the Proud Boys had a plan. If they had a plan, then they could make mistakes. If there is no plan, then it is not possible to make mistakes. But the evidence presented in the DOJ filings, when plotted out on different transients with time data, strongly suggest that the Proud Boys were operating according to a plan, even if they may have been altering the plan, by going outside the building after they had entered the building, as the battle with the police inside the Capitol unfolded.
If there is no Proud Boys plan, let alone a joint Oath Keepers-Proud Boys plan, then the alternative is the Immaculate Insurrection model favored by defense lawyers—there was no plan, there was no coordination, the insurrection just happened, and there were no mistakes to be made—other than finding themselves inexplicably inside the Capitol building.
Almost all these refutations of accusations made on Twitter are directed in response to the anonymous Capitol Terrorist Exposers (CTE).
They have achieved some notable accomplishments. They have provided various media outlets with videos of Oath Keepers that resulted in important stories. As best I can tell they have not had been cited in a story since March 25 in Mother Jones.
What they do is find videos and peddle them to journalists. They are not analysts. No one knows who they are. No one knows their qualifications. They pretend to be analysts and experts. They pretend they know or can infer intent.
Their modus operandi consists of two tactics, smear and make wild and groundless accusations of what I have done without providing proof that I have done those things. Have I made factual mistakes? Yes. Who has not made an error in writing? Journalists at major media outlets with fact checkers make mistakes.
Let us take look at various CTE accusations. These are not all. Quite frankly, it is mentally taxing reading their bullshit.
I have already apologized above to Christiaan Triebert above for stating that the New York Times stating the Oath Keepers were still walking at around 1406H or 1408H was “misinformation.”
However, the amateur sleuth collective, Capitol Terrorist Exposers, accused me that I “literally accuse[d Tribert] of sowing disinformation, in an effort to slander him.”
Now, the CTE collective should learn to quote correctly. I wrote “misinformation” not disinformation. Two, the CTE collective is apparently not familiar with these two terms of art. They very much mean different things. Three, because they mean two different things, misinformation does not constitute slander. And four, that was not my intent, and they cannot credibly infer or know my intent, especially when I did not write what they said I wrote.
So the anonymous CTE collective is wrong on four counts.
Marcy Wheeler initiated a criticism that was seconded and amplified by the all-knowing CTE. Unfortunately for the CTE gang, their tweet exposes that the CTE folks could not convince any reputable mainstream journalist to write up their finding.
Here they are declaring in a criticism of me: “Exactly. We spotted 45 #OathKeepers and made 4 main groups w colours and then there were 25 from the NC chapter.” The CTE folks also stated, “We found out there were PSD teams for different groups for those 2 days: Wild protest, Roger Stone, Freedom Plaza 1/5, [and] Latinos/Koreans for Trump.” Marcy Wheeler started this with, “Among other things he thinks these are the only Oath Keepers.”
The only CTE data that got traction with mainstream journalists was the PSD team guarding Roger Stone. Why? Well, Roger Stone linked to an attack on the Capitol will catch your attention. Linking Roger Stone to Oath Keepers who participated in the attack makes a story. So, the Roger Stone data is newsworthy, will generate buzz, and attract eyeballs.
Now, apparently none of the mainstream journalists they shopped the other information to thought that it was newsworthy enough and/or could pass through their legal departments. I do not know why journalists did not publish this groundbreaking, stop-the-presses CTE information about the 3 other PSD teams or the Oath Keepers from North Carolina. But no mainstream media organization informed the reading public. They looked at the non-Roger Stone CTE data and gave it a pass.
So the CTE collective wants us to believe that they identified 25 Oath Keepers from North Carolina because all 25 had “North Carolina” patches but no journalist would write the story? Is that right?
What is the CTE evidence that there were “25 from the NC chapter”?
In the filings for the Oath Keepers from Florida, the FBI relied upon “Florida” and “Oath Keeper” patches on their uniforms or equipment to identify, in part, where the group was from. Other FBI filings also state that Thomas Caldwell told Jessica Watkins that the North Carolina Oath Keepers [40+ in the filing] were the armed Quick Reaction Force.
Is the CTE collective allowing readers to infer that the CTE identified them from “North Carolina” based on “North Carolina” patches on their equipment or uniforms or clothing?
In a later filing, the DOJ/FBI states that the North Carolina contingent did arrive by bus on the morning of January 6, and they were dropped at three locations (pdf via EmptyWheel). But those specific confirmatory details were not officially released until May 31, five days after I first published. From the DOJ/FBI filings we do not learn what they wearing; whether or not they came armed; whether or not they linked up with weapons previously deposited at those locations; and whether or not they moved from those locations.
I have not included them in the revised and updated analysis. Why? Because there is no evidence that they moved from those locations perhaps one mile away from the Capitol building. When the DOJ/FBI stated that Oath Keepers “not on mission” came rushing to the Capitol at 1430H, those were the 7 security detail Oath Keepers under the leadership of Joshua James.
The DOJ/FBI has not made public that the North Carolina Quick Reaction Force was involved in the attack on the Capitol grounds or that they entered the Capitol building. It may be that this contingent simply waited where they were dropped off. On Signal, someone speaking for the QRF states that they are standing by. When the DOJ/FBI do provide that evidence, I will incorporate it into the model.
It is possible that the DOJ/FBI has been sitting on this CTE information since mid-January or whenever they collected it. The FBI may be painstakingly going through the videos and screenshots trying to put a face to a name. But if you look at the FBI’s “Most Wanted” page for the Capitol insurrectionists, there does not seem to be many Oath Keepers with a “North Carolina” patch on their helmets or uniforms. Or maybe the North Carolina contingent looks indistinguishable from the MAGA mob. The latter might be the case because the FBI may be putting faces to names, names to social media accounts, names or nicknames to Go To Meeting calls, names or nicknames to Signal posts, names to cell phones to GPS tracking, and faces to USCP surveillance cameras.
What we do know is that we know next to nothing about the
North Carolina Quick Reaction Force from the DOJ/FBI. And what is in the public record does not alter the substantive findings of my analysis. Even if I added the North Carolina QRF being dropped off on the morning of January 6, that changes nothing. Unless and until the DOJ/FBI provides evidence that they were part of the Oath Keepers attack and/or inside the Capitol building, what is there to add? Now, they may be added to the Oath Keepers' conspiracy charges at a later time. The DOJ/FBI may disclose more information about them. But whether I knew there were 40+ Oath Keepers from North Carolina or 25 from North Carolina changes nothing.
And if that is the case, what is the Wheeler/CTE tweets about?
I very well knew that a Quick Reaction Force had been mentioned by Caldwell and others. I also knew there was no DOJ/FBI public evidence they were on the Capitol grounds and there was no DOJ/FBI public evidence that they had entered the Capitol building.
Does the CTE collective know where the North Carolina Oath Keepers were at 1253H and what they were doing?
Does the CTE collective know where the North Carolina Oath Keepers were at 1406H and what they were doing?
Does the CTE collective know where the North Carolina Oath Keepers were at 1415H and what they were doing?
Does the CTE collective know where the North Carolina Oath Keepers were at 1428H and what they were doing?
Does the CTE collective know where the North Carolina Oath Keepers were at 1439H and what they were doing?
All those times are key times in the Oath Keepers timeline. And I wrote something about each of those known times. The North Carolina Oath Keepers represented a known unknown. The FBI/DOJ has provided no answers to the above five questions.
But if the CTE collective is so cocksure they know this QRF was involved in the attack and eventually inside the Capitol building, why do they not write it up? Why did the mainstream media pass on this story?
Let us skip the involved in the attack and inside the building bits. Why have the CTE collective not written up the North Carolina story? If it is so important, why are they not analyzing and publishing the data they collected?
Then the CTE collective outdid themselves and accused me of plagiarism. They make this accusation that has zero factual foundation. But here is their smear: “If you did *actual* research instead of copying other’s people work like our, NYT’s & @emptywheel [Marcy Wheeler] you should have known it is a wrong assumption in court docs. Mike Whip was CO of both days.”
On one level this accusation is beyond ridiculous. My paper is based on research and analysis, which is more than can be said for the lack of output by the CTE pretend analysts. And in science there is at least three kinds of research: original, secondary, and meta-analysis.
Now, on another level, this tweet is incoherent. To set the stage, I wrote that the person on Signal who posted, “‘The have taken ground at the capital[.] We need to regroup any members who are not on mission’” was Joshua James. I misinterpreted numerous DOJ filings that stated that the person who wrote this was “leading the coordination of the security details…” I wrote that I thought that person was Joshua James. In a document I did not have access to, but Benny Bryant kindly provided, Person Ten is named as the person making that statement.
Okay, it is a factual error that is easily corrected. Does it change the analysis of the attack? No. Did I get the command-and-control architecture wrong? No. Person Ten commanded the overall ground attack on January 6. In the Joshua James filing of April 8, James is asked by another leader to “‘being the coordinator for the security teams, outside of the PSD, and coordinating with [Person Ten].’” The filing goes on to state that an Oath Keepers leader “confirmed to everyone… that the defendant [Joshua James] would the ‘second’ in command of all the prospective security details” for both days.
So, on the one hand, I made a factual error that I later corrected.
On the other hand, I am “copying other’s people work like
our, NYT’s & @emptywheel [Marcy Wheeler] you should have known it is a
wrong assumption in court docs.” So, if I had copied all this work, I would not
have made that mistake. But I made the mistake. So was I copying the mistake or
ignoring the correct information? What was I doing? In fact, I did not have a copy of the Joshua James filing that specified that Person Ten made the remark until Benny Bryant provided it to me.
If that is not an incoherent CTE accusation, I do not know what is.
Benny Bryant who appears to have some connection to the CTE collective did not accuse me of stealing his work without attribution. On the contrary. Bryant provided me data and a document to improve my analysis. And he apparently provided me an Oath Keepers timeline (see below).
Wheeler criticized my analysis. She wrote that it was “problematic and in several areas factually erroneous.” Fair enough. I am not sure what “problematic” means in this context. But I accept the criticism. And there are factual errors. Fair enough. Those errors keep getting corrected.
But Wheeler did not accuse me of “copying” her work, because I did not copy it. Every quote by Wheeler had a hyperlink to her article. Every DOJ filing I acquired via her website had a hyperlink on “via EmptyWheel.” The reader could not only read the pdf filing for themselves, but they could also read what Wheeler had written in the context of that filing. And the same was true for all the other DOJ filings. If I wrote, “via DOJ” it meant it was either a DOJ press release or from the DOJ website. Every source that provided a DOJ filing—Daily Beast, Law And Crime, Politico, Washington Post etc.—had a hyperlink to both the filing and what the journalist(s) wrote about the filing.
The New York Times has high-priced in-house lawyers as well as access to high-priced outside law firms. They have not accused me of copying or stealing their work and not giving them credit. They should feel free to write me a letter stating I did do that.
Does the anonymous CTE collective want to state what part of their work I copied? I am not part of their Discord chat. I am not on Discord. I did not hack their Discord chat. They did share some data via Twitter direct messages. What did I steal? Did I steal the name of an unindicted Oath Keeper? What did I copy and not give them credit for?
The only thing that piqued my curiosity was a timeline, via Benny Bryant, that had “Louisville” on it and pointed to some Oath Keepers that were there. But I had “Louisville” already in my files. For example, on January 13, the Ohio Capital Journal reported that Watkins and her militia had been in Louisville. On January 14, Thomas Crowl told Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker that he had been in Louisville. In an interview on February 19, the co-founder of the CTE collective stated, “And then photos of Watkins showed up again in Louisville; she was even wearing a nameplate.”
And then I Googled “Oath Keepers” and “Louisville,” and I was also lucky to find a tweet from a BuzzFeed News reporter that showed up in my “latest” feed. I cited that tweet. I hyperlinked to all the articles that had Oath Keepers in Louisville. So what did I steal? What did I copy without giving credit?
And then there is the matter of the Zello tapes. I did make a mistake. But readers should understand what the mistake was and how it was made.
The anonymous CTE collective claims that the mistake made me a “horrible and terrible liar.” In their dichotomous reality, no one can make an honest mistake.
So let us look at this Zello tape, particularly the WNYC podcast website.
The first FBI/DOJ source description on January 19, an “Amended Criminal Complaint” (pdf via EmptyWheel) for Caldwell, Crowl, and Watkins states, “the FBI has obtained an audio recording of Zello communications” that were used by Watkins and other people. The second mention happens in the affidavit for the “Criminal Complaint” (pdf via EmptyWheel) for Meggs, Meggs, Young, and Steele filed on February 11.
The first challenge to the FBI/DOJ source description comes from Caldwell’s defense lawyer (pdf) in a motion filed on March 2 (via EmptyWheel). In addition to complaining about federal prosecutors removing timestamps from the recording and using a National Public Radio recording of excerpts, Caldwell’s lawyer argued that when Watkins stated “‘we are sticking to the plan’” that this transmission “happened several hours before the Capitol breach, and probably in the very early morning, as there is no crowd noise in the background.” Caldwell’s lawyer is wrong. The source is WNYC not NPR.
But on March 8, federal prosecutors responded to Caldwell’s lawyer motion (pdf via Washington Post). The government stated that the removal of the timestamps did nothing to alter the detention hearing. The government then stated that the “government did not suggest when, exactly, it believed Watkins spoke the words it quoted from the Zello chat.”
Then in a footnote, the federal prosecutors stated, “The government has not obtained a copy of the recording from Zello. Excerpts from the recording obtained by the reporter can be listened to in the [WNYC] podcast available” at the url for the website’s story [emphasis added].
So, twice the FBI/DOJ claimed that “the FBI has obtained an audio recording of Zello communications…”
Did the CTE collective claim the FBI were “horrible and terrible liars”? No. The FBI twice made a mistake in court filings. They corrected the mistake. As far as we know, neither Caldwell’s defense lawyer, nor any other defense lawyer for the Oath Keepers, nor the presiding judge have declared that the FBI were “horrible and terrible liars.” A mistake is a mistake. And civilized people act in a civil way.
So what did I do to be deemed a “horrible and terrible liar”?
I mistakenly claimed that the audio had been available in January. Benny Bryant responded with a link to the Wayback Machine showing that in January the Zello recording was not available on the WNYC website. That was a helpful response because it clarified in my mind how I made the mistake.
I had copied for my records all the text on the WNYC website. That was done on January 29. I put the webpage into “reader view” and then copied the text. When I went back to the same website months later there was the “unedited” Zello tape. The quotes are necessary because that is what the website says they posted. It reads in full: “Here is a video capture of the Zello tape featuring Jessica Watkins.” “Jessica Watkins on ‘Stop The Steal J6’ Zello channel (unedited)[.]” [emphasis added]. And the first timestamp on the cassette-looking picture says “1:48 PM” or 1348H.
The website is also dated January 15, 2021. The introduction in June was the same as it was in January. There was no indication that the website had been updated with this significant addition. I thought, erroneously to be sure, that when in January I put the webpage into “reader view” that I had probably missed the “video capture” of the Zello tape.
Benny Bryant’s Wayback Machine link clarified the situation.
The WNYC producers and webmaster had not bothered to update the introduction or alert visitors to the website that they had updated the material. I appreciate Benny Bryant’s tweet. But the issue is whether conscientious researchers are obligated at every website to conduct a Wayback Machine search to see if webmasters have updated it. I would think the WNYC producers and webmasters would be more professional.
The CTE pretenders responded by claiming I was a “horrible and terrible liar.” CTE pointed out that the website had been updated on March 7.
But I was not lying. I had made an honest error.
But if you think WNYC is innocent in this matter, guess again.
Between the time Bryant tweeted me (May 27) and I re-checked the WNYC website (May 28), there was a “video capture of the Zello tape featuring Jessica Watkins” [emphasis added]. The pure audio which I had listened to had been available since early March.
Well, by June 1, that “video capture” was no longer on the website and the producers and/or webmasters gave no indication as to when or why they removed it. The only thing they left was the statement: “Here is a video capture of the Zello tape featuring Jessica Watkins” followed by an empty space. They expect every fucking visitor to be clairvoyant. Today (June 21) when I used the Wayback Machine to examine the WNYC on 10 March, there is no “video capture” of the Zello recording. There is no “video capture” of the Zello recording on 22 April. It is a good thing I took screenshots of the “video capture” or the CTE collective would be claiming I made it up.
THE OVERLOOKED HARD DATA POINT ON THE ZELLO RECORDING
Fortunately, the Zello recording exists and it raises problems for those who use it determine the time of transmission. The time counters on the Zello tape match the time counters I listened to on the “video capture.” So we are not comparing apples and oranges.
But it is interesting that the Zello recording, as used by the New York Times and the FBI, produces incorrect statements regarding real-world time.
The first Zello transmission that corresponds to a real-world event is at 1:09 on the Zello tape. An unknown male states, “‘Bitch McConnell has rebuked those who are challenging the Electoral College votes that constitute the fucking communist revolution election steal of 2020 by these treasonous fucking bastards. So yeah, Bitch McConnell, the head of the Senate, the fucking RINO, bastard treasonous bastard, is objecting and saying it should go to Biden basically’” [bold added].
According to the Washington Post, Senator McConnell
at 1335H “warns that overturning Biden’s election would push democracy
into a ‘death spiral.’”
What time this Zello transmission is made is not known. But it cannot happen before 1335H because McConnell had not yet begun to speak on the Senate floor. What is interesting, however, is that there is no elapsed time on the Zello tape of around 39 minutes between when McConnell started speaking and Person Ten makes his Signal post at 1414H regarding the breach of the Capitol building.
The second Zello transmission that corresponds to both a real-world event and a known Oath Keeper transmission happens when call sign “Airborne America” (3:24 on the “video capture” and “live audio”) states, “‘Okay guys, apparently the tip of the spear has entered the Capitol building…’” [bold added].
We know for a fact that this event—the Proud Boys and the MAGA insurrectionists—entering the Capitol building starts at 1413H with the first insurrectionist climbing through the window Proud Boy Pezzola smashed open and that Proud Boys leader Joseph Biggs then strode into the building at 1414H. We know from the Oath Keepers Signal post, that Person Ten informed all Oath Keepers on that channel, “‘The have taken ground at the capital[.]’”
We know, therefore, that “Airborne America’s” Zello transmission could not occur before 1414H. This is a hard data point, in my view.
For one thing, before 1414H the event had not happened. For another thing, the first Oath Keeper awareness that the event happened comes at 1414H on Signal and prompts Person Ten to begin considering a tactical decision. It is also hard to believe that the transmission comes before 1414H and “Airborne America” is using the past tense to describe a future event. It also suggests that “Airborne America” may have been monitoring the Signal channel because he begins his transmission with “‘apparently.’” That “‘apparently’” sounds as if he is interpreting Person Ten’s vague “‘taken ground at the capital[.]’” I mean, to be honest, the insurrectionists had been taking ground since 1253H. But “Airborne America’s” statement is precise: “‘the tip of the spear has entered the Capitol building.’” That does not happen until 1413H or 1414H.
“Airborne America’s” Zello transmission establishes a hard data point: before 1414H and after 1414H. On the Zello tape, the entire transmission from the tape marker is between 3:24 and 3:45 when it ends. There are more words in the transmission, but I removed what comes after “‘entered the building.’” Every Zello transmission after this Zello transmission in sequence is also later in time. This is just logical. And this holds even if “Airborne America” is talking later than 1414H. “Airborne America” cannot claim “‘the tip of the spear entered the building’” before 1414H.
But apparently both the New York Times and the FBI/DOJ mistakenly claim that a transmission after “Airborne America’s” “‘entered the building’” in sequence also happened before that transmission in time.
The New York Times reporters wrote in the context of the Oath Keepers still walking to the Capitol: “Around this time, Ms. Watkins posts a message on the audio app Zello saying: ‘Trump’s been trying to drain the swamp with a straw. We just brought a shop vac’” [bold added]. Christiann Triebert in his tweet was more specific, stating that “meanwhile” is in the vicinity of 1408H, and provides the same Watkins quote.
But on the “video capture” and the “live audio” of the Zello tape, Watkins makes the “‘shop vac’” statement at the 5:05 counter on the tape, after “Airborne America’s” “‘entered the building’” statement which ended at the 3:45 counter on the tape.
In other words, the “‘shop vac’” transmission comes after “Airborne America” in sequence has stated the Capitol building has been “‘entered’” but we are to believe that the “‘shop vac’” comment comes before in time.
This New York Times mistake can be corrected by just putting the “‘shop vac’” comment at some time after 1414H.
The FBI in its “Fourth Superseding Indictment” makes an even bigger mistake in time.
The first instance they put a time to a Watkins Zello
transmission they are correct. The FBI/DOJ states that at 1350H (para 107)
Watkins says, “‘We have a good group. We have about 30-40 of us. We are
sticking together and sticking to the plan.’” This transmission comes before
“Airborne America’s” transmission in sequence, so it comes before in
time. And 1350H is about right. The Oath Keepers departed the Ellipse sometime
between 1340H and 1344H. And Caldwell's lawyer's claim that it was made early in the morning is without foundation.
The second time the FBI/DOJ put a time to a Watkins transmission they are wrong.
In para 111, they claim that at 1400H Watkins states, “‘Y’all, we’re one block away from the Capitol right now. I’m probably gonna go silent when we get there, because I’m gonna be a little busy’” [bold added].
The FBI/DOJ are wrong for two reasons.
One, the alleged 1400H transmission comes after the 1414H transmission in sequence. Thus, it must come later in time.
Two, if in para 111 Watkins and the Oath Keepers were one block away at 1400H, the FBI/DOJ stated in para 125 that at 1428H Watkins and 8 other Oath Keepers “unlawfully entered the restricted Capitol grounds.” A city block is about 650 feet. Even if it were 1,000 feet, the FBI/DOJ would have a hard time explaining why it took Watkins and the Oath Keepers 28 minutes to travel 1,000 feet or less. The “‘one block away’” transmission probably happens around or in the vicinity of 1424H when Kelly Meggs calls Stewart Rhodes for 2 seconds. About 4 minutes after this call, the Oath Keepers are on the Capitol grounds, according to the DOJ/FBI.
These two examples do not call into question the Zello tape recording.
I think both the New York Times and the FBI/DOJ have made honest mistakes with the timing of Zello transmissions. I do not think the mistakes substantively change anything. The “‘shop vac’” transmission happens while the Oath Keepers are walking to the Capitol; it just happens later than 1414H. The “‘one block away’” transmission comes much closer to 1424H and cannot possibly happen at 1400H.
Based on solid criticisms, I updated three parts of my analysis. The factual corrections did not alter the substantive conclusions.
I apologized to Christiaan Triebert, the New York Times, and Marcy Wheeler.
Going back to make the corrections allowed me to have other insights into the attack. I have included those insights in this paper/post.
And I have refuted groundless, reckless accusations from the
CTE pretenders who pretend they are analysts, despite having analyzed nothing.
They cannot quote me accurately. They do not know the difference between
misinformation and disinformation. Their claim to fame is that they provided
some videos of Oath Keepers who on January 5 and January 6 were linked to Roger
Stone. Any analysis of those videos appears to have been done by journalists at
the New York Times or Mother Jones, for example. They make a big deal of having allegedly identified 25 Oath Keepers from North Carolina, but for some reason they have not published this analysis themselves. Nor have they apparently been able to convince any mainstream journalists to publish this information.
I will not respond to any more CTE attacks. They are anonymous bullies at this point.
I have written a 5-part analytical paper. I will update it with data that either corroborates or disproves the analysis.
If the paper is useful to readers, great. If the paper is of no use to readers, fine. I enjoyed writing it.
As I look forward to FBI investigations going forward and more arrests and indictments by the Department of Justice, I think two Oath Keepers may prove pivotal in moving the investigations up two levels towards Donald Trump.
Roberto Minuta is located inside a triangle that includes Stewart Rhodes, Michael Flynn, and Roger Stone. Minuta and Rhodes appear to be close confidants. Minuta provided security protection for Alex Jones in November, Michael Flynn in December, and Roger Stone in January. All these Oath Keeper operations took place in Washington, D.C. Minuta would appear to be in a position to have information regarding how these operations took place, as well as the substance of conversations he may have had with Jones, Flynn, Stone, and Rhodes.
Kelly Meggs is also located inside a triangle of relationships that could move the investigation upward. Meggs was apparently a trusted Oath Keeper by Stewart Rhodes and apparently accomplished putting together an “alliance” with the Proud Boys through its national chairman Enrique Tarrio. He appears to have been privy to the joint Oath Keepers-Proud Boys attack planning. He was also apparently involved at some point in the formation of the security details. Meggs’ triangle includes Stewart Rhodes, Enrique Tarrio, and Joshua James. James is, of course, linked to Roberto Minuta. But Meggs would allow investigators to explore the connection, if any, between Rhodes, Tarrio, and Stone regarding planning for the insurrectionary attack on January 6.
The recent ProPublica investigative article on the two competitive “Stop The Steal” and the Amy Kremer-led Tea Party efforts demonstrates that the more radical and aggressive faction included Ali Alexander, Alex Jones, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, and Enrique Tarrio. Conflicts between these two factions were apparently elevated for resolution to one or more White House officials, though White House officials contacted by ProPublica deny that.
Seth Abramson’s summary article on five identified “war rooms” related to the “Stop The Steal” effort puts Alexander, Flynn, and Rudy Giuliani in the Trump Townhouse located inside the Trump International Hotel on the evening of January 5. Abramson reports that an eyewitness puts Flynn there, but Flynn has denied being there. Roger Stone is only suspected of having been there. Abramson has reported that Stone’s explanations of his whereabouts regarding the Willard Hotel keep shifting. In the Willard Hotel Room war room Stone, Flynn, and Jones are only suspected of being there. Ali Alexander, Abramson reports, is “currently in hiding.”
Given how Stone and Flynn operated off-the-books and away from the spotlight before and during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, respectively, it is not surprising that is difficult to put Flynn and Stone inside a “war room.” They are both savvy operators that work best from the shadows.
Indeed, Abramson has most recently argued that “It is only because Jones,Shroyer, Alexander, and Stone deliberately stayed away from the Capitol as it was being breached on January 6 that major media writ large has not yet apprehended that these men orchestrated the events on Capitol Hill” [emphasis in original].
The ProPublica and Abramson articles hint that if Donald Trump was aware of plans for the January 6 insurrectionary attack, then the road to Donald Trump most likely goes through Alex Jones (and Owen Shroyer),Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, and Alexander Ali. And two key Oath Keepers, Roberto Minuta and Kelly Meggs, may be able to help investigators navigate part of the network that includes Flynn, Stone, and Tarrio.