Category Archives: Special Online Issue: Capitol Insurrection 2021

The Capitol Insurrection and Pineapples on Pizza

By Paul Rosenzweig

The events of January 6th will echo in American history for years to come. While other essays in this special edition may focus on root causes of the insurrection or legal issues relating to the definition of domestic insurrection, in this brief essay I want to look at the role that cybersecurity efforts played in saving our Nation. Along the way, I will also explore the role Hawaiian pizza played (but more on that later).

Cybersecurity may not have the most obvious nexus to the insurrection, but it assuredly did. To see this most clearly, we might begin with a thought experiment grounded in the assault on the Capitol …

From 9-11 to January 6: The Limits of Surveillance Authority and the Democratic State

By Marc Rotenberg

A Constitutional democracy that seeks to monitor the private lives of its citizens must do so in the most minimally intrusive manner, ensure that its conduct is lawful and permissible, subject to public oversight and transparent, and also that it is effective. Implicit in the willingness of citizens to permit some degree of intrusion by the state is the assurance that the government will act appropriately on the information it obtains. If the government fails to act, it calls into the question the legitimacy of all surveillance authorities.

Others will comment on the extraordinary breakdown in agency coordination and intelligence assessment that made it possible for a mob to seize the Capitol of the United States on January 6, 2021. But a meaningful analysis of January 6 should also take account of the failure of the extraordinary surveillance authorities established after September 11 …

Taking Congress and the Capitol Seriously as National Security Institutions

By Dakota S. Rudesill

Responsibility for the seditious violent attack on the United States Congress of Jan. 6, 2021, rests with serious afflictions within our civic culture, with a series of costly errors regarding the security of the Capitol, and with then-President Donald Trump’s mendacious inspiration, assembly, and direction of a massive, frenzied, armed mob to march on the Capitol.

Also operating here to leave the Congress insufficiently warned and the Capitol inadequately defended was a general, longstanding failure among many to regard the Congress and the Capitol as national security institutions of paramount importance. Although the crowd was large and violent, it is hard to imagine such a mob ever – or at least so quickly and extensively – penetrating security at other public sites well understood to be vital to the nation’s security, such as the White House or the Pentagon, and halting for hours their ability to execute their responsibilities under the Constitution.

Better protection would certainly flow from a proper appreciation of the nation’s legislature and the iconic temple of democracy in which it meets as central to the nation’s survival and very identity. Ultimately, better security must be balanced with the public access imperative in an open society, in a way that preserves both …