Since the insurrection attempt on January 6, almost 500 people have been formally charged for their actions that day. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ) continue to comb through video footage, social media posts, phone location data, and tips from the public. More individuals are likely to be charged in the future.
On May 19, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to establish an independent commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol. This investigation would be carried out similarly to what was done after the terrorist attack on 9/11. Only 35 Republican Representatives voted in favor of the legislation. What will happen in the Senate is uncertain at this time, but many Republicans have already stated their opposition to the bill. Senator Mitch McConnell has stated he will oppose the bill, saying he doesn’t see what additional facts or information could be added to efforts already being made by Congress and law enforcement.
However, current investigations are focused on individual actions during the insurrection attempt and are not likely to address some important and very serious questions. How and why did this event occur at all? Was it just a spontaneous event or a well-planned act of insurrection? What organized groups were behind it, and what role did former president Trump play? Was there any involvement by military or law enforcement personnel? These questions need to be answered and safeguards put in place to prevent another attempted overthrow of our democratic political process.
Analysis of January 6 From a Military Intelligence Perspective
To shed some light on these critical issues, I asked James Scaminaci III to share his analysis of the insurrection attempt. When researching my latest book, The Cult of Trump, Dr. Scaminaci was extremely helpful in increasing my understanding of fourth-generation warfare (4GW). Essentially, 4GW is a psychological form of “warfare.” Propaganda and conspiracy theories are used to undermine the legitimacy of a government or institution. Sowing doubt, constant confusion, and uncertainty create openness to the idea that only one person or group has the solution. 4GW, as it relates to the failed insurrection, was used to convince the right-wing that the federal government and even the Constitution and Bill of Rights have no legitimacy and should be overthrown.
Dr. Scaminaci III holds a PhD in Sociology from Stanford University and is a retired Navy intelligence officer. For 14 years, he was an all-source civilian military intelligence analyst for the Army. During that time, he worked at the Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center, the European Command’s Southern Region Joint Operational Intelligence Center, and was a member of the Joint Task Force Provide Promise. Dr. Scaminaci is a former Soviet analyst and co-authored the all-source Intelligence Assessment on Russian military operations in Chechnya. He is also a subject matter expert on organized crime in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, drug and human trafficking, and money laundering.
Background Information – The Key Actors
MAGA Trump Supporters
Between the presidential election in November and January 6, Trump supporters were involved in numerous demonstrations. Lawsuit after lawsuit contesting the election was dismissed, but Trump continued to promote the “Big Lie” that the election had been stolen. As the options for any legal remedy continued to decline, stopping the official certification of the election became his target and that of his supporters. In the days leading up to January 6, many news articles were written indicating that MAGA Trump supporters were planning a “final stand” to prevent certifying the Electoral College votes determining that Joe Biden had won the presidential election. Two other groups that played a significant role during the insurrection attempt were the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. I asked Dr. Scaminaci to give a brief description of the origins of these groups.
The Oath Keepers
The Ron Paul presidential campaign in 2008 was not so much a presidential run as it was a way to create an infrastructure for a much larger movement later on. Two significant people in that campaign were Gary North, a strategist for the Christian Reconstruction Movement, and Stuart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers. Oath Keepers claim they are dedicated to upholding the Constitution, that they are walking “hand in hand” with the Founding Fathers.
Oath Keepers is unique in that it recruits active-duty military, veterans, and members of law enforcement. Rhodes worked with Richard Mack, who founded the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA). (On CSPOA’s website, it says in bold letters: The vertical separation of powers in the Constitution makes it clear that the power of the sheriff even supersedes the powers of the President.)
Oath Keepers intends to use these active-duty recruits as “chaos agents” within their respective institutions to damage the operational security of those institutions. The ultimate goal is to protect any state that wants to secede from the Union. Twelve Oath Keepers have been indicted and 17 Proud Boys have also been indicted. A total of 31 people have been charged with conspiracy.
The Proud Boys
The Proud Boys are the “street fighters” who engage in direct conflict. They are the right wing’s “heavy infantry” and have been called the fighting wing of the Republican Party. The Proud Boys provide security at Republican events and for Roger Stone. Joseph Biggs and Dominic Pezzola are two leading figures in the Proud Boys and have been indicted for conspiracy as a result of their participation in the insurrection attempt.
A Well-Planned Military Assault on Democracy
Dr. Scaminaci has based his analysis of the insurrection attempt on information actually released by the FBI and DOJ, which he admits is a minimum amount of data. However, he is not attempting a legal analysis of the events, such as an attorney would have to do in representing a client charged with conspiracy. Rather, by virtue of his extensive experience with military intelligence, Dr. Scaminaci is well qualified to analyze the events of January 6. As they unfolded, timelines and videos of the events provide evidence that this was a well-planned and coordinated military operation.
Understanding the attempted insurrection as a military action is essential for the lawyers in the FBI and DOJ. Dr. Scaminaci has seen how lack of that vital understanding has caused some U.S. Attorneys almost to make a case for the defense. He has developed three models for the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
Model One—The “Immaculate Insurrection”: Everybody was hanging around; they just got swept up in the moment, and the assault sort of happened somehow. Speaking of the events in this way is inaccurate first of all. But worse, it glosses over the fact that there was a planned and coordinated attempt to interrupt the democratic process and overthrow a duly elected government. When something like this happens in a third-world country, we call it an attempted coup, not a riot or a rally that got out of hand.
Model Two—Parallel and Interlocking Conspiracies: This model gets closer to what really happened but is not complete. The assumption here is that the various groups involved (MAGA, Proud Boys, and the Oath Keepers) are similar and have similar goals. There is a high level of mistrust, belief in many different conspiracy theories, and anti-immigrant, white supremacist ideology. One conspiracy theory pertinent to the Capitol assault is that the Democrats were trying to establish a puppet government controlled by the Chinese. Under this model, these groups were at the Capitol for similar reasons, but not as a coordinated event. However, there is significant evidence of advanced coordination and cooperation among the groups and their leadership. This model does not address the sophisticated, military nature of the assault.
Model Three—A Well-Planned, Classic Military Assault: In our conversation, Dr. Scaminaci presented ample evidence of the ways this event was coordinated and executed. Videos and the timing of various segments of the assault demonstrate that there was high-level coordination between the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. They used the MAGA crowd as a distracting force to keep police occupied while other Capitol areas were breached. Advanced planning evidence also exists documenting contacts between the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, showing that they had orchestrated an alliance and planned something significant for January 6. There is evidence of pre-planning on January 5, with critical players walking around the Capitol building. Communication during the events of January 6 occurred through special channels used by these major players.
Two Mistakes and One Minute from Disaster
Joseph Biggs neglected to go to the Rotunda and open up the Columbus Doors, which would have eventually allowed the Oath Keepers access to the Senate Chamber. While the Columbus Doors were ultimately breached, the delay enabled the Senators to seek cover.
Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, was alone and heroically leading the mob headed by Dominic Pezzola away from the Senate Chambers. When they reached a point at the top of a stairway, Goodman led them to the left. For whatever reason, Pezzola did not realize this was the wrong way. If he had, he could have easily turned the mob in the right direction.
The Worst-Case Scenario
What would have happened if Biggs and Pezzola had not made those two crucial mistakes? Pezzola would have led a mob of at least 300 angry Trump supporters into the Senate Chamber. One hundred Senators were in that chamber. Would the US Capitol Police protecting the Senators have opened fire? Biggs would have led in the Oath Keepers, in tactical gear, and additional MAGA rioters prepared to make “citizens arrests” of the Senators to prevent certification of the election. Donald Trump, watching on national television, would have seen victory and would certainly not have gone on Twitter to encourage the mob to leave peacefully.
In terms of time this means that by 2:14 p.m. or 2:15 p.m. Dominic Pezzola would have had the MAGA mob inside the Senate Chamber on live tv. Had Biggs gone straight to the Columbus Doors, the Oath Keepers and the second MAGA mob would have been in the Senate Chamber by about 2:25 p.m. to reinforce the Pezzola mob.
As a nation, we need to understand how close we came to the overthrow of our legitimate government. Some key actors may be prosecuted and even serve prison sentences, but the organizations behind this attack will not magically go away. The insurrection attempt was a well-coordinated, sophisticated military assault. And we may see this model exported to other countries. We must remain aware that it could happen again. This possibility should lead us to increased vigilance and a deeper commitment to protecting our democratic way of life.
The pdf documents will be uploaded to Scaminaci’s page at academia.edu.