Human Rights First Decries Lack of Accountability in Bill for Capitol Insurrection Commission

WASHINGTON — Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation to create a bipartisan, independent, 9/11-style commission to examine the events surrounding the Capitol insurrection on January 6th.

While we are encouraged that the commission is solely focused on the events leading up to and on January 6th and does not examine activities unrelated to the insurrection and protected by the First Amendment, we are disappointed by the lack of mechanisms for accountability in the legislation.

“On January 6th, our democracy was threatened by those storming our Capitol, as well as elected leaders within the government,” said Michael Breen, CEO and President of Human Rights First.  “A commission addressing that day’s events will only provide the American people the answers we deserve by investigating the people and efforts behind the insurrection.”

The commission is focused on ensuring Capitol police and law enforcement are better prepared to protect the Capitol and the people inside it. It is true that the Capitol police and law enforcement were ill-prepared for the events of January 6th and were slow to respond when the mob stormed the Capitol. Given that the Capitol Police force is larger than those in many metropolitan police departments, the answer cannot solely be more physical protection.

The Capitol insurrection was at its core a political failure. The commission should be focused on these issues, including the potential culpability of Members of Congress and the former president for their roles in inciting the mob and perpetuating the lie that the election was stolen. Suppose the commission does not investigate the critical role these individuals played in the lead-up to the storming of the Capitol. In that case, it will not deliver any real accountability for what happened.


Published on May 19, 2021


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