PART 4: TRANSIENT 3: THE OATH KEEPERS JOIN THE PROUD BOYS’ ATTACK
To understand the interaction between the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers on Transient 3, we must first establish some essential facts about the command-control-control-communications-and-intelligence (C3I) of the Proud Boys.
From the government’s “First Superseding Indictment” (pdf) (via EmptyWheel) of the Proud Boys’ leadership—Nordean, Biggs, Rehl, and Donohoe—we know that the Proud Boys operated two separate Telegram channels.
The leadership channel called “New MOSD” included “NORDEAN, BIGGS, REHL, DONOHOE, and a handful of additional members.” At least two of the other members were Unindicted Co-Conspirator-1 (UCC-1) and PERSON-2. The latter will be mentioned in the government’s reply on a motion to revoke pre-trial detention for Nordean (see below).
Also clarified in the later filing is that UCC-1 and Person-2 were “monitoring events remotely using livestreams and other methods.”
The second Telegram channel was called “Boots on the Ground” and that included “over sixty users.”
In other words, UCC-1 and Person-2 were the core of the Proud Boys’ Tactical Operations Center monitoring both New MOSD and Boots on the Ground, plus livestreams, Baofeng radio transmissions, and a Zello channel. That is a lot of material to monitor, analyze, fuse, and assess, if not come to an action decision in their Observe-Orient-Decide-Act Loop (OODA Loop). It is reasonable to assume that the TOC was augmented with other Proud Boys.
If the Proud Boys organized themselves properly for a military attack, the Telegram channel New MOSD was for the leaders. Intelligence and commands would travel first on the leadership channel and then be transmitted on the Telegram channel Boots On The Ground for much wider dissemination of information, guidance, and command.
This understanding of the C3I structure will keep us from making the basic error Marcy Wheeler did in claiming that the Oath Keepers 1414H transmission indicating that the Proud Boys “‘have taken ground at the capital’” was “a quicker response than the Proud Boys Boots on the Ground channel” that transmitted at 1419H, “‘We just stormed the capitol.’” Wheeler’s comment is based on the government’s reply cited below.
Wheeler’s claim is factually true and completely irrelevant and meaningless. You cannot draw any valid inferences from it. Why?
From the government’s reply (pdf) (via EmptyWheel) to Nordean’s lawyer regarding revocation of pre-trial detention, filed 21 days after the “First Superseding Indictment” of the Proud Boys’ leadership, the government confirmed (page 4) that “When the…Proud Boys…did, in fact, storm the Capitol grounds, messages on Telegram immediately [emphasis added] reflected the event. PERSON-2 announced, ‘Storming the capital building right now!!’ and then ‘Get there.’”
The very next sentence continues in the vein of immediacy: “UCC-1 immediately [emphasis added] followed by posting the message, ‘Storming the capital building right now!!’ four consecutive times.”
On page 5 the government becomes even more specific than immediate. Now the transmissions are in “real-time,” meaning as the events are happening on the ground. As important as the “real-time” is the example they use: Joseph Biggs.
The government stated as fact that Biggs was providing “real-time descriptions that ‘we’ve just taken the Capitol’ and ‘we just stormed the fucking Capitol.’” Biggs’ first statement is transmitted when the Proud Boys reached the West Plaza. But there is no reason to believe that Biggs, near the very front of Transient 2 and right behind Pezzola, did not continue to transmit via the New MOSD channel “real-time” Situation Reports.
In other words, the Proud Boys’ leadership and the TOC were informed via the New MOSD in “real-time” and “immediately.”
In Part 2 of this analysis, Picture 16D showed Pezzola smashing open the Northwest Courtyard window at 1412H, about 20 seconds shy of 1413H. At 1413H, the first insurgents are pouring through the two open bottom windowpanes. In Picture 14G at 1413:30, the doors are now open. In the “First Superseding Indictment,” Biggs entered the Capitol at 1414H.
If Biggs were transmitting on the New MOSD leadership channel in real-time then the Proud Boys’ TOC knew at about 1412—1413H that Pezzola had made the initial breach and the initial penetration of the Capitol was occurring.
The first indication that the Proud Boys’ Tactical Operations Center and the Oath Keepers’ Tactical Operations Center were communicating, if not co-located, comes at 1413H when Person Ten calls James for 43 seconds (see Table 1 below) and discussion here.
At 1348H, Transient 2 has breached the police line at the bottom of the Northwest Stairs and at 1411H the first rioters have reached the Northwest Courtyard and are walking and then running to the Northwest windows and doors that will soon be broken open.
We will analyze the Oath Keepers calls in greater detail and synchronize them with Proud Boys’ activities, but between 1359H and 1413H, PERSON TEN, who is the Oath Keepers’ overall ground commander on January 6, and Joshua James, the probable head of the VIP Security unit that has gone off-mission, exchange 8 phone calls, with James initiating 4 of them, with 3 of them coming at 1404H, 1407H, and 1410H, according to the Oath Keepers’ “Third Superseding Indictment” (pdf) (via EmptyWheel).
The fact that the phone calls between Person Ten and Joshua James come at 3-minute intervals suggests they were calling on a specific schedule for a specific purpose. These calls do not appear to be random.
At 1413H, the fourth phone call with an interval of 3-minutes, is made by Person Ten, which is his own fourth phone call to James in a span of 14 minutes. This call lasts 43 seconds. At 1414H, almost certainly Joshua James, stated on the encrypted Signal chat, “‘The have taken ground at the capital[.] We need to regroup any members who are not on mission.’” This Signal post is probably relaying information James received from his phone call with Person Ten at 1413H.
We know from the “Third Superseding Indictment” of the Oath Keepers that James is at most 1 mile away from the Capitol building. If you calculate Rate x Time = Distance for a golf cart traveling at 20 mph for 3 minutes, you arrive at 1 mile in distance. The slower the golf cart moves, the shorter the distance. So, 1 mile is probably the furthest distance James, and the VIP Security unit could have been from the Capitol building. James is therefore not in the TOC.
Perhaps Person Ten and/or Joshua James are watching a livestream and see this action at the Northwest Courtyard. Perhaps Person Ten is communicating separately with the Proud Boys’ TOC. Perhaps Person Ten is co-located in the known Proud Boys’ Tactical Operations Center. Or perhaps Person Ten is on Transient 2 with the Proud Boys. But that makes little tactical sense for the overall ground commander.
The reasonable assumption at this point is that Person Ten is co-located inside the Proud Boys’ Tactical Operations Center. He is certainly making phone calls to Joshua James as the Proud Boys have already begun their assault on Transient 2. The other reasonable assumption is that Person Ten is communicating via an unknown communications channel with the Proud Boys’ TOC or he is monitoring the Proud Boys’ New MOSD Telegram channel.
My assessment is that Person Ten is co-located with the Proud Boys’ TOC. That would certainly keep things simple and allow for more real-time intelligence to flow to the Oath Keepers on Transient 3 and the VIP Security unit held in reserve but not “on mission.”
The above suggests that the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers may have been operating jointly and communicating jointly. The analysis of Transient 3 intends to demonstrate that the design of the battleplan indicates that the deployment of the Oath Keepers on Transient 3 could only have been undertaken with prior planning and coordination with the Proud Boys. The prior planning and coordination will be the focus of Part 5. The execution of the Oath Keepers’ attack also depended upon joint execution and joint communications with the Proud Boys.
The intelligence analysis of Transient 3 is the foundation for the above conclusion.
The origins of Transient 3 on January 6 start at 1000H.
A NOTE ON THE OATH KEEPERS TIMELINE
Before proceeding there needs to be a clarification of the Oath Keepers timeline because there are sources that I believe are 100% mistaken. Specifically, the timeline offered by the New York Times on the website and Christiian Triebert on Twitter. If this is not cleared up, I will have armchair sharpshooters complaining, “But what about the New York Times and Christiaan Triebert.”
Let me stipulate that there are three sources of information about the Oath Keepers that are certainly true, meaning 100% true: (1) the FBI/DOJ court filings on all the Oath Keepers; (2) the sequence and content of the Zello transmissions as recorded by the reputable journalists Micah Loewinger, of On The Media, and Hampton Stall, founder of Militia Watch; and (3) Michelle Peterson’s filing (pdf) (via EmptyWheel) on February 20, 2021, on behalf of her client Jessica Watkins.
There is one piece of analysis by the New York Times and Christiaan Triebert that is reliable. Namely, that the Oath Keepers were led out of the Trump speech by an Oath Keeper wearing a “tan balaclava and beige cap” at “12:53 p.m. … the same minute that rioters first breach through the Capitol’s perimeter fence.” [emphasis in original].
Let us examine the Zello transmissions to establish two hard, indisputable data points of time. Who makes the male-vocalized statements has not been determined. It does not matter who. It could be an unidentified rodeo clown. It does not matter. What matters is the sequence of the transmissions and the content revealed in those transmissions.
The first hard data point Zello transmission is at 1336H. Note the time is correlated to the event, not a time-stamp or any indication from the Zello recording itself. A male voice 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.”
We know it is 1336H because C-SPAN, which broadcast the Senate debate, stated so.
The next Zello transmission at an unspecified time but done by Watkins states: ““Hey brother, we’re boots on the ground here. We’re moving on the Capitol now. I’ll give you a boots on the ground update in a few.”
The next hard, indisputable time data point is 1414H.
A few transmissions after the “Bitch McConnell” transmission an unidentified male states: “Apparently the tip of the spear has entered the Capitol building and police are coming from Washington Monument side, if you want to correct me [unintelligible]. A minute or two directions towards the Capitol. So watch your back.”
We know that the time they are talking about is 1414H because it is the FBI’s consensus view that Proud Boy Joseph Biggs was inside the Capitol building at that time and that beforehand Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola was bashing in the windows. So this is a real, verified event. And we have already seen that Person Ten and Joshua James are certainly aware of this initial breach at the Northwest Courtyard.
We also know from the March 8, 2021, government filing on Caldwell, that at 1414H “an individual leading the coordination of the security details run by the Oath Keepers on January 5-6 stated, ‘The have taken ground at the capital[.] We need to regroup any members who are not on mission.’ Person One [Stewart Rhodes] then reposted that message and instructed the group: ‘Come to South Side of Capitol on steps’ and then sent a photograph showing the southeast side of the Capitol.” And we know from the “Third Superseding Indictment” of the Oath Keepers that at 1415H Rhodes called Kelly Meggs.
So 1414H is also a hard, indisputable time data point established and verified by both by the Zello transmission and FBI filings.
Keep the question in mind as to who Rhodes might have been instructing to come to the south side of the Capitol.
After the “tip of the spear” transmission Watkins then makes this claim: “One hundred percent. It has spread like wildfire that Pence has betrayed us. And everyone is marching on the Capitol. All one million of us. It’s insane. We are about two blocks away from it now and the police are doing nothing. They are not even trying to stop us” [emphasis added].
After an unidentified male voice says something, Watkins responds: WATKINS: “He’s trying to drain the swamp with a straw. We just brought a Shop Vac” [emphasis added].
After an unidentified male speaks about the Oath Keepers being “A-10 Warthogs” instead of a Shop Vac, Watkins responds: “We’re probably one block away from the Capitol now. I’m probably going to go silent when I get there cause I’m going to be a little busy” [emphasis added].
All of Watkins’ statements—“two blocks away,” “a Shop Vac,” and “one block away” follow the 1414H transmission on the Zello recording which means that they were made after 1414H.
At this point, the New York Times article, “Tracking the Oath Keepers,” (co-authored by Christiaan Triebert) and Triebert’s own Twitter thread of 24 tweets publicizing the article spreads misinformation into the information sphere.
In the article, under the subhead, “Walking to the Capitol,” the New York Times states: “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.’”
In Triebert’s Twitter thread he wrote: “It’s over an hour later, at 2:06 p.m., when we see this group again, now marching with hundreds of other Trump supporters down Pennsylvania Ave. toward the Capitol.”
Two tweets later Triebert reminds us of the “man in tan balaclava and beige cap” who “at 2:08 p.m.” is near the Columbus Doors.
Triebert’s next tweet states: “Meanwhile, on the Zello ‘Stop the Steal, J6’ channel, Watkins is heard saying: ‘Trump’s been trying to drain the swamp with a straw. We just brought a shop vac.’”
We know from the sequence of Zello transmissions discussed previously, that the “shop vac” transmission is after 1414H. Thus, it is not possible, not remotely possible, that the Oath Keepers are “two blocks away” at 1406H and Watkins is bragging about being a “shop vac” at 1408H, when we know without any doubt that those transmissions come after 1414H.
Furthermore, Triebert’s “2:06 p.m.” observation that the Oath Keepers are marching on Pennsylvania Avenue is linked to James Townsend’s video. This calls into question the veracity of the video.
If the Watkins transmissions are after 1414H, then the Oath Keepers are not where Triebert, the New York Times, and/or Townsend say they are.
Being off by 8 minutes is not the problem. The problem is that they are in the wrong sequence. Moreover, if you actually bother to do the math, the total transit time of 101 minutes is patently absurd.
Triebert and the New York Times want you to believe that an event that happened after 1414H happened before 1414H. No one has challenged the veracity of the Zello recording. Certainly, not the FBI who has access to some of the best forensic analysts in the country. They have used the Zello recordings in several Watkins and other Oath Keepers filings.
Thus, I am highly confident that the Oath Keepers timeline below is as accurate as best I can determine by doing my due diligence on the sources and reporting.
As a former senior civilian intelligence analyst, I recognize that I could still be wrong. But at this point I do not believe that.
But, let me solve the problem using Triebert’s own times and Watkins’ descriptions of where she is relative to the Capitol building. What does physics tell us?
The physics is easy: Distance divided by Time equals Speed. Or, Rate times Time = Distance. As long as you know two of the variables, you can calculate the third variable.
The distance from The Ellipse to the east side of the Capitol, according to Google Maps, is about 1.8 miles. The average person should walk that distance in 37 minutes at an average speed of 2.92 mph (see Figure 15A). See Figure 15C for all rate, time, and distance calculations.
If the Oath Keepers left The Ellipse at 1253H and at 1406H they were two blocks away from the Capitol building, then they had travelled 1.3 miles in 73 minutes (1406 – 1253) (see Figure 15B). According to the formula, going 1.3 miles in 73 minutes yields an average speed of 1.068 mph or 1.07.
Now, to travel the last 0.5 miles of the Oath Keepers journey and assuming they were travelling at a constant rate of speed, it would take the Oath Keepers an additional 28 minutes. In total, the Oath Keepers would have travelled the 1.8 miles in 101 minutes (see Figure 15C).
So, we have two calculations. From the Ellipse to two blocks away is 1.3 miles and 73 minutes at 1.06 mph. Then, from two blocks away to the east side of the Capitol is 0.5 miles and another 28 minutes of transit time. The two segments total 101 minutes of transit time.
If you calculate 101 minutes from 1253H, the arrival time of the Oath Keepers “stack” formation on the east side of the Capitol building is 1434H—a mere one minute before they get into formation and maneuver their way up the Central East Columbus Doors and are captured on security camera inside the Capitol at 1441H. See Pictures 28A and 28B further down in the analysis which shows Oath Keeper Laura Steele relaxing before their assault on the east side.
That photographic evidence completely undermines the New York Times analysis that it took the Oath Keepers to transit for 101 minutes. The 101 minutes makes Jessica Watkins’ attorney to be a liar. He claimed in a court filing that the government stated that it took Watkins 40 minutes to transit from the Ellipse to the east side of the Capitol building.
Watkins’ lawyer in a February 2, 2021, court filing stated the following: “At the time the Capitol was breached, she was still at the sight [sic] of the initial rally where she had provided security. The government concedes that her arrival at the Capitol was a full 40 minutes after the Capitol had been breached” (pdf) (via EmptyWheel). The Capitol is breached at 1253H. The New York Times unequivocally stated the following: “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.”
If the government is correct and Watkins’ lawyer is correct, then Watkins and the “stack” arrived on the east side of the Capitol at 1333H (1253 + 40). In Table 1 below, I rounded up to 1335H.
In order to believe Triebert’s and the New York Times’ analyses are correct, you have to believe four absurd propositions.
One, the Oath Keepers would arrive at the east side of the Capitol a mere one minute before the “stack” is formed at 1435H and a mere 6 minutes before they are recorded inside the Capitol building by an interior Capitol building surveillance camera.
Two, this late arrival would not trigger a series of cell phone calls between Stewart Rhodes to Kelly Meggs, or between Rhodes and Person Ten. Rhodes calls Meggs once at 1415H for 15 seconds. Rhodes and Person Ten are not exchanging calls wondering where Meggs and the “stack” are. There may or may not be any Signal communications. We do not know because the FBI has not released all the Signal chats. But, even if you listen to Watkins’ Zello communications, no one asks for their Estimated Time of Arrival and no one requests for them to speed up.
Three, at 1414H Stewart Rhodes sends a Signal post telling the Oath Keepers to “‘Come to South Side of Capitol on steps.’” Who is he talking to? The “stack” led by Meggs is still on Pennsylvania Avenue, according to Triebert and the New York Times, and the VIP security detail is at most 1 mile away from the Capitol building. Rhodes is apparently talking to no one and no one corrects him. Is Rhodes the crazy uncle talking to himself?
And four, whereas the average person can walk 1.8 miles in 37 minutes, the Oath Keepers, who were in Washington, D.C. to make sure that the Chinese Communist government did not install a puppet regime on January 20, took a very leisurely stroll, facetiously about the speed of someone on crutches with two broken ankles, at 101 minutes.
I estimate that the Oath Keepers arrived at around 1335H or 42 minutes after they left Trump’s speech at the Ellipse. I rounded up because I like even numbers. Even if they arrived at 1340H, they were still making good time and within an imagined margin of error in the government’s estimate of 40 minutes transit time.
TRANSIENT 3: PROUD BOYS’ RECONNAISSANCE MARCH
At 1000H on January 6, the Proud Boys gathered at the Washington Monument. There may have been a separate pre-briefing of the commanders organized by Charles Donohoe before 1000H, but that has not been disclosed in government filings. The government’s “First Superseding Indictment” of the Proud Boys’ leadership states in paragraph 52, “Shortly after 10:00 a.m., NORDEAN, BIGGS, and REHL led the group, which included DONOHOE to the east side of the Capitol.”
Insurgent Hunter (aka Jan6Evidence) collected Eddie Block videos and divided them into time segments showing where the Proud Boys were, and the time elapsed between locations.
The route of this Reconnaissance March is shown in Figure 16. The march begins at 1113H from Union Square. It then views the USCP defenses at the Garfield Monument which leads to the Maryland Walkway and then the defenses at the Peace Monument which leads to the Pennsylvania Walkway. This is the route of Transient 1. Transient 2 is the slide off Transient 1 up the Northwest Stairs.
The Proud Boys then march on Constitution Avenue towards First Street NE. From the Eddie Block film segment, the Proud Boys then transited towards Northeast Drive on the Capitol grounds, turned on that walkway, and then cut across the lawn and arrived at the Capitol East Plaza at 1152H. That is the point of Jon Cherry’s iconic picture of the Proud Boys massed and riling themselves for an attack that is 1 hour from starting.
Interestingly, neither the FBI nor other researchers have noticed the dog that did not bark regarding the Oath Keepers. There is no reporting that this paramilitary organization composed of ex-military and military retirees, ever conducted a reconnaissance of their area of operations on January 6. They simply show up on January 6, wait at their staging area, and then move into the fight along Transient 3. That is strange.
Three videos provided by Insurgent Hunter showing the very initial movements of the MAGA mob removing the police barricades allowed me to calculate where the metal police barricades were located on Transient 3. They are depicted in blue on Figure 17. This Reconnaissance March to Transient 3 allowed the Proud Boys to visually confirm that the police barricades were thin, they were close to the Columbus Doors, and there were very few USCP officers stationed on the Capitol East Plaza.
Eddie Block’s video clips suffer from being filmed at such a low height with him surrounded at times by people obscuring the view. But we can recreate what the Proud Boys’ leadership and group leaders were seeing from Google street views taken years before.
Picture 21 shows the Northeast and Center East stairs and doors in December 2016. The police barricade would be closer to the viewer and thus out of view.
Picture 22 was taken in May 2017. I have superimposed the police barricade to show how close the police barricade is to the Center East Plaza stairs and Columbus Doors. The position of the police barricade and the front line of the MAGA mob become clearer in Picture 23. Notice that the MAGA mob is very close to the two lampposts shown in Picture 22. That is not an optical illusion.
Picture 23 shows two screenshots from a video taken by journalist Saqib Ul Islam accessed via Insurgent Hunter. The two screenshots form a composite showing that the police barricade depicted in Picture 22 is correct. Picture 23 shows the MAGA mob assembled just in front of the two lamps. The other two lamps on the wings are not shown.
The blue-checked journalist Saqib Ul Islam wrote on his tweet: “The moment it all started. I was filming a protester bullying a photo-journalist when the crowds toppled the barricades & ran into the #Capitol building where the joint session was going on to certify #JoeBiden’s #Election2020 victory—Congress to resume counting at 8pm now.”
The crowd did not literally run from the barricade into the Capitol building, but Islam shows how close the crowd was to the Capitol building at the “moment it all started.” Plus, as you can see no one in the crowd is moving or running forward.
Figure 17 below shows the specific geo-coordinates (red tear drop) of a Parler video taker relative to the east side of the Capitol building about one minute before the police barricade on the northeast side of the Capitol along Constitution Avenue is breached by the MAGA mob and persons unknown. I put the geo-coordinates from the IPhone into Google to get the precise location of the Parler video maker.
Insurgent Hunter’s analysis states that the initial breach of the police barricades along the east side occurs at 1357H. The actual location of the Oath Keepers staging area in the northeast quadrant has not been disclosed by the FBI. But the MAGA mob lined up against the police barricades and the key terrain feature of the lawn screened by large trees suggests this was the staging area.
Picture 24, taken by the same video maker at the same location shown in Figure 17, shows the MAGA mob just opposite the northern most police barricade to the right of video camera. Within 7 seconds, the police barricades at that location begin to be pulled apart and the mob will then transit south heading towards the East Plaza.
But now comes the intriguing part. We have already seen in Figure 16 above that the Proud Boys’ Reconnaissance March transited the entire northeast quadrant. Their final stop before they returned to the Peace Monument to begin the attack at Transient 1 was at the Central East stairs, as shown in Jon Cherry’s photograph.
I would argue that the Proud Boys also deposited the core of Transient 3—the main individuals who would either pull apart the police barricades or incite the MAGA mob to do so. I would also argue that the incognito Proud Boys then led the MAGA mob past the unguarded Northeast Stairs to the stairs leading to the Columbus Doors.
The design of the attack was to go through the Columbus Doors. The Columbus Doors were the schwerpunkt, the focus of effort on Transient 3.
Magically, the fates, the gods of war, Fortuna, guided the MAGA mob past the unguarded stairs and door at the Northeast and headed toward the East Plaza Center Stairs leading to the Columbus Doors where they meet the MAGA mob having breached the police barricade between the two lampposts up to the first line of USCP officers at the bottom of the Center East Stairs leading to the Columbus Doors (see Pictures 25 and 26).
Notice the black police vehicle in the lower right corner of Picture 27A? Between 1400H and 1401H we will locate the two Oath Keepers forward observers, Ken Harrelson and the FBI’s unidentified #228 who is dressed exactly as Triebert described when he was leading the Oath Keepers out of Trump’s speech. We are to believe that he is at the front of the MAGA mob on Transient 3, but Watkins and the “stack” are at 1400H even further away than the “two blocks” on Pennsylvania Avenue in a sea of MAGA.
Picture 27B shows the MAGA crowd close to lower steps in-between at least two or three police vehicles.
Picture 27C is taken from the FBI’s webpage listing photos of individuals that are unidentified but they would like to name and locate. One of those pictured is Ken Harrelson. But the FBI’s picture #228A is the Oath Keeper in the beige hat. The FBI put the yellow box around him. Harrelson is to his immediate right. Picture 27D is also from the FBI’s “Most Wanted” page and shows him in isolation.
Triebert and the New York Times determined that the Oath Keepers “stack” formation and other Oath Keepers left the Trump speech at the Ellipse “at the same time that rioters across town first break [1253H] 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,” according to the New York Times’ video analysis tracking the Oath Keepers.
Watkins’ lawyer stated as fact in a February 20 filing, “The government concedes that her arrival at the Capitol was a full 40 minutes after the Capitol had been breached…. Their evidence is that 40 minutes after the Capitol had been breached, she went to the Capitol and entered the building” (pdf) (via EmptyWheel).
What we have to remember is that the use of the word “breached” is used several times by the USCP and MPD. The first breach of the Capitol occurs at 1253H when the mob at the Peace Monument moves past the plastic fence. That technically is a breach of the Capitol.
As Marcy Wheeler observed of Watkins’ lawyer’s brief of supposedly exculpatory facts, “Her brief further describes that she and her kitted-out militia were to provide ‘escort’ to marchers to the Capitol, and she appears to know the intent was to march to the Capitol… to ensure that those marching on the Capitol were accompanied by a militia that had plans to take up arms if things went badly…. And once she left the VIP pen where she was ‘providing security,’ she put that tactical gear back on. That only serves to emphasize the degree to which she was targeting Congress.”
But, Watkins’ actions, reflective of the behavior of the entire Oath Keepers’ “stack” formation, is a pre-planned march to a pre-designated staging area in the northeast quadrant where they were to wait for the Proud Boys breach the Columbus Doors according to their joint military plan.
Indeed, the entire march, the patient waiting in the general staging area, the lack of activity to breach the Capitol building, and then moving just 5 minutes before the Columbus Doors are breached—even if accomplished by Grillo and the MAGA mob from inside the Capitol building—all point to one uncontestable conclusion: the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys were executing a jointly planned and jointly executed military assault on the Capitol building and the legitimate elected government of the United States performing a sacred constitutional duty on January 6.
Pictures 28A and 28B show at least one member of the “stack” formation (Laura STEELE) with other Oath Keepers standing in the northeast quadrant of the Capitol grounds with the MAGA mob on the East Plaza Central Steps, meaning an unspecified time after 1359H when the police barricades on the east side are breached by the MAGA mob on Transient 3.
The “Criminal Complaint” (pdf) (via EmptyWheel) for Meggs, Meggs, Young, and Steele explains that “prior to entering the U.S. Capitol, Laura Steele was with a group of individuals wearing camouflaged-combat attire…. some with writing that says ‘Oath Keepers’ and ‘Florida’” (emphasis added). They are nonchalant and relaxed, looking as if they know the plan is being executed without them lifting as much as a finger.
A BOYDIAN ANALYSIS OF THE TRANSIENT 3 ATTACK
We can see the source of this nonchalance if we look at the Oath Keepers’ march, staging, and posing in the context of the entire assault.
The Transient 3 breach on the east side of the Capitol [at 1358H] happens just 14 minutes before Pezzola begins bashing [at 1412H] the Northwest Courtyard windows. In other words, as if the USCP and MPD did not have enough headaches, having been outflanked along Transient 2, which had slid off Transient 1 which is keeping the MPD battling in hand-to-combat against the insurgents, the police were now being enveloped in the rear by Transient 3.
The design of this attack, a single envelopment with a cheng and two chis, is a classic attack. This does not arise spontaneously. This is a designed attack.
Early in his “Discourse on Winning and Losing” briefing John Boyd introduces the Sun Tzu concepts of cheng and chi. And what these concepts tell you from an intelligence perspective is that what you may be seeing initially is a deception and you must look for the surprise or what Boyd says is more accurate to call a “hard shock.”
As Boyd summarized, “Cheng is the ordinary…the direct…the obvious…the deception” while “Chi is the extraordinary…. the indirect…. the hidden…. the surprise.” One of the purposes of cheng and chi is to play the game of concentration and dispersion which leads to the ability, among other things, to place strength against weakness in the attack.
For the single envelopment, Boyd presented the Battle of Leuctra (see Figure 18). Outnumbered two to one, Epamonidas, the Theban commander, “thinned out his center and right wing…put the stronger troops in here [left flank], so at the point of attack he had strength against weakness…. And…it’s a single envelopment scheme.”
The cheng is the troops in the center and right, while the chi is troops on the left. The Thebans put strength against weakness and then pivoted behind the Spartans to give them a surprise or “hard shock.” It is a maneuver designed to “pull apart” an adversary with a rapid, violent transient that overloads their ability to react. With only a slight modification, this is the January 6 attack on the Capitol (see Figure 19).
The staging of the Oath Keepers’ “stack” formation in the northeast quadrant of the Capitol building—basically sitting on the grass or standing on the concrete walkway doing little except waiting for the Columbus Doors to be breached so that Transient 3 can penetrate the Capitol building—makes no sense until you realize that the Proud Boys had to open the Columbus Doors for the Oath Keepers to enter from the East Capitol Plaza.
I have already shown in Part 3 that the Columbus Doors opening was accomplished by a Grillo-DeGrave-Sandlin MAGA mob from the inside. But, Joseph Biggs, the probable Transient 2 Proud Boys commander, took Jackson and Rae outside the Capitol building and arrived at the Columbus Doors just as the Oath Keepers’ “stack” formation was reaching the top of the stairs and preparing to enter with the much larger MAGA mob.
The transit, staging, and attack by the Oath Keepers along Transient 3 makes no tactical sense unless the Oath Keepers had planned and coordinated this deployment with the Proud Boys prior to the attack on January 6.
All the Oath Keepers’ main leadership are ex-military. The Oath Keepers contingent included some members who were not ex-military, for example Kelly Meggs, the “stack” commander. But all the leaders were ex-military. We know that the Oath Keepers held at least 10 planning sessions, 9 of which were organized by Kelly Meggs, the leader of the “stack” formation. His deputy, Kenneth Harrelson, organized the other one. Some of these appear to be for the overall leadership planning cell; some for southeast leaders; and some for Florida. In fact, a subsequent DOJ filing on Harrelson reported that between “September 30, 2020, and January 3, 2021, Defendant Harrelson…attended or organized approximately 30 meetings (pdf) (via Politico) on Go To Meeting that appear to be related to the Oath Keepers.”
There are no military principles the small Oath Keepers contingent could have been following that would have dictated or required a unit to sit inert hoping that a breach will occur without prior planning and coordination with a larger attacking force that had already seized the initiative. The Oath Keepers themselves displayed no initiative sitting at Transient 3 while the Proud Boys were fighting along Transient 1 and Transient 2.
Pictures 29 and 30 shows Harrelson and another unidentified Oath Keeper facing the Meggs-led “stack” formation apparently shouting directions to Meggs. Harrelson and the other Oath Keeper appear to be acting as forward observers guiding the attacking force to the target (from “Criminal Complaint” (pdf) (via EmptyWheel).
THE INTERACTION OF ATTACK EVENTS AND OATH KEEPERS’ COMMUNICATIONS
Prior to examining the interaction of attack events and Oath Keepers communications, it is helpful to examine their command-and-control network. This network analysis is developed from the pattern of cell phone calls found in Tables 1 and 2.
Person One, Stewart Rhodes, who is not nominally in charge of the Oath Keepers’ operation on January 6, primarily communicates with Kelly Meggs, commander of the “stack” formation. Rhodes also communicates with Roberto Minuta, a member of the VIP Security Detail. But these communications come early and late in the operation. Person Ten, the overall ground commander, has no communications with Meggs. Instead, almost all of his phone conversations are with Joshua James, head of the VIP Security Detail. No one apparently communicates with Ken Harrelson or FBI #228 who are at the top of the stairs leading to the Columbus Doors.
There may be more Signal communications that would change this architecture or modify any conclusions you can draw from it.
But the command-and-control architecture suggests a unit that was not quite unified and perhaps had more personality conflicts than we are aware of.
Two separate lines of communication are not a good sign for a military or paramilitary unit.
Table 1 shows that there is a correlation between attack events perpetrated by the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers’ communications.
Although the FBI has not released any communications for the Oath Keepers around 1253H, the “stack” formation and other Oath Keepers leave the Trump speech where they claimed they were providing “security,” at the same time the Proud Boys breach the Capitol grounds at 1253H. The coincidence strongly suggests that the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers ground controllers or commanders were operating from a Joint Tactical Operations Center.
Within five minutes, Robert MINUTA, who stays remarkably close to Joshua James, the head of the VIP Security unit, calls PERSON ONE, Stewart RHODES, the national founder, and head of Oath Keepers. Four minutes later, Rhodes calls Minuta. While the FBI has not revealed the substance of the calls, the context suggests that Minuta was notifying Rhodes that the “stack” had departed the speech and was probably getting kitted out in tactical gear. Rhodes’ call 4 minutes later may have been to ensure that the “stack” was kitted out and moving out.
The FBI did not release any other Oath Keepers’ communications until PERSON TEN, the Oath Keepers’ ground commander on January 6, and who I believe was co-located in the Proud Boys’ Tactical Operations Center, calls James one minute  after the Transient 3 breach  at the northern and eastern police barricades protecting the Columbus Doors. In other words, this analysis is based on a very select release of phone calls by the FBI and very few Signal posts. There certainly could be more communications that enhance or refute this intelligence analysis.
About 1 minute after the MAGA mob has reached the lower Capitol East Plaza stairs where they are in direct contact with the USCP officers, Person Ten calls Rhodes.
On Transient 2, the Proud Boys have been pushing against MPD officers and one of the MPD commanders verbally shouts that the police should abandon the stairs [1403H]. At the same time, Person Ten calls James. Perhaps this is a coincidence.
At 1404H, James starts the first of his 3-minute interval calls to Person Ten [1404, 1407, and 1410]. The first lasts 3:36 minutes, suggesting they were assessing the tactical situation.
On Transient 2, at 1412H Pezzola begins bashing the NW Courtyard windows. Within 1 minute, on the same 3-minute interval, Person Ten calls James, probably to tell him of the new tactical situation. It is difficult to believe that this is widely known, unless you either following the correct livestream out of all the livestreams uploading that day, or, you are in the Proud Boys’ TOC and Biggs, the probable Transient 2 commander, is communicating via the New MOSD Telegram channel to the TOC.
At 1414H, it is probably James who broadcasts on the Signal channel for the Oath Keepers: “‘The have taken ground at the capital[.]. We need to regroup any members not on mission.’” This message is broadcast on the Signal channel “DC OP: Jan 6 21.” This Signal channel is described in at least four government filings, the earliest being the March 8 filing related to Thomas CALDWELL.
This Signal channel is a channel for Oath Keepers’ leaders and decision makers. We know from various government filings the select subscribers on this channel.
The “Criminal Complaint” for Kelly Meggs, the “stack” commander, and a government filing related to Watkins, factually states that Rhodes, Meggs, Harrelson, Watkins, James, and Minuta are on that channel. Person Ten, the overall ground commander, mentioned extensively in the “Third Superseding Indictment” of the Oath Keepers, must have been on the channel. Lastly, the commander of the Oath Keepers’ Quick Reaction Force or someone speaking for the QRF was also on the channel. In the government’s March 24 filing related to Watkins, at 1438H “an individual messaged the Signal chat participants, ‘QRF standing by at hotel. Just say the word…’” (pdf) (via Daily Beast).
So, the 1414H Signal message, “‘We need to regroup any members not on mission,’” pertained to those Oath Keepers’ forces not “on mission,” namely, the VIP Security unit headed by James.
And there is one large omission so far in the FBI’s investigation of Oath Keepers: the North Carolina contingent of possibly 40+ Oath Keepers headed by PERSON THREE who coordinated with Kelly Meggs as part of the southeast planning coordination network. The government has provided virtually no information about Person Three and the North Carolina contingent.
Table 2 shows the attacking events and Oath Keepers’ communications from 1415H until the breach and penetration of the Columbus Doors at 1440. I have omitted the post-attack communications as being irrelevant to this intelligence analysis.
By 1415H, it should have been obvious to Proud Boy Pezzola that his attempt to invade the Senate chamber on live national television with Donald Trump watching had failed. He had followed the QAnon proponent, Douglas Jensen, who was mesmerized by Officer Goodman into a dead end. Pezzola, who was wearing an earpiece, was probably communicating that failure to the Proud Boys’ TOC via Baofeng radio or Telegram chat.
At 1416H, Person Ten called James for 42 seconds. Perhaps it is a coincidence.
But, starting at 1421H there was a persistent effort by the MAGA mob to breach the Columbus Doors. Insurgent Hunter reported that at 1425H there was the first initial breach and between 20 and 30 insurgents entered before the door was closed. This is seemingly confirmed by a “Statement of Facts” supporting the arrest of US Marine Corps officer Chris WARNAGIRIS. According to the FBI, between 1425H, when Warnagiris first breached the Columbus Doors, until 1427H when the USCP managed to close the door, “other individuals followed, one by one” and this was described as a “stream of individuals” (pdf) (via DOJ).
At 1424H, Meggs called Rhodes for 2 seconds. It is a highly ambiguous call. But it could have simply conveyed, “We’re ready.”
By 1430, the VIP Security unit has been kitted out with tactical gear and starting at 1430H they begin a 3-minute ride to the Capitol, dismounting near Third Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW (“Third Superseding Indictment” via DOJ. At 1433H, James called Person Ten, probably to notify him that they were dismounting and heading on foot towards the “stack” formation.
Between 1431H and 1436H, Person Ten and Rhodes have a conversation for 5:25 minutes, with Meggs joining the phone call for 1:37 minutes. While we do not know the substance of the calls, the length of the conversation and the participants suggests this was their collective come-to-Jesus moment. The mission to storm the Capitol was at a go or no-go inflection point.
At 1435H, the VIP Security unit arrived on the east side of the Capitol and Minuta verbally berated the USCP officers standing aside and not engaging in any effort to stop the MAGA mob. At the same time, Meggs formed-up the “stack” formation and began maneuvering up the East Plaza Center stairs towards the Columbus Doors.
At 1439H, the Columbus Doors were opened from the inside by a MAGA mob that may or may not have had Proud Boys members (see Part 3). The reporting on this breach by the FBI is ambiguous. Five people have been charged with this breach, but three were charged separately and the other two jointly because they traveled to and operated within the Capitol building together. The Oath Keepers’ stack may have entered just behind the Proud Boys’ trio of Biggs, Jackman, and Rae, plus two other probable Proud Boys.
The Oath Keepers’ behavior and communications on Transient 3 strongly suggest prior planning, prior coordination, joint execution, and joint communications.
The Oath Keepers long, late transit from the Elliptical to the Capitol building—leaving at the exact time when the Proud Boys make the very first breach and penetration of the Capitol grounds at the Peace Monument—makes no military sense unless there was prior planning, coordination, and communication with the Proud Boys.
The patient, relaxed staging at the northeast quadrant of the Capitol building, most likely on the lawn that was screened by trees and the MAGA mob, makes no military sense unless there was prior planning and coordination with the Proud Boys. From 1335H when they arrive at the staging area until 1435H when the “stack” forms, the Oath Keepers are inert. They take no initiative.
Between 1253H and 1414H there are no phone calls to or from Kelly Meggs (see Table 1).
Between 1415H and 1435H, Rhodes called Meggs at 1415H for 15 seconds; at 1424 Meggs called Rhodes for 2 seconds, which could be a mistake or a “ready” call; and, at 1432H, while the VIP Security unit is on its golf cart dash to the Capitol, Meggs joins a call-in progress between Rhodes and Person Ten. Person Ten and Rhodes are still talking when the “stack” forms and starts moving towards the Columbus Doors guided by their two forward observers, Harrelson, and an unidentified Oath Keepers.
This lack of calls until just before the “stack” forms up and starts moving at 1435H suggests that the “stack” was operating according to a well-designed plan. All Meggs was waiting for was a final go signal.
And this well-designed battle plan, involving 3 transients and 2 attacking forces, requires prior planning and coordination; it requires joint execution; and it requires joint communications. The communications do not need to be on a common communications channel. But if you have ever worked in a Joint Task Force, as I have, you know that there are multiple communication channels coming into the JTF for different intelligence agencies and not everyone has access to every communications channel.
All that is required is that someone is sitting with the Proud Boys in their FBI-confirmed external Tactical Operations Center. The location of that TOC has not been disclosed by the FBI. The co-location has not been asserted or confirmed by the FBI. But that is the logical conclusion of where the FBI is headed.
The idea that this 3-transient attack with 2 attacking forces arose without any planning is difficult to believe. The Immaculate Insurrection model is not credible.
The idea that this 3-transient attack with 2 attacking forces with independent planning, no joint execution, no near-real time sharing of intelligence is weak. The Six Parallel and Interlocking Conspiracies is plausible, but I do not think it explains the interactions, movements and communications, of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.
As I have argued throughout this intelligence analysis, the design of the single envelopment attack along 3 transients with 2 attacking forces reveals that the overall attack was jointly planned, jointly coordinated, jointly executed, and jointly communicated.
Part 5 analyzes the planning and coordination before January 6. Part 5 confirms the conclusions in Part 4.