US Capitol Police intelligence chief warned Congress in July of right-wing attacks By Reuters

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© Reuters. One day after Trump supporters occupied the United States Capitol building in Washington

By John Shiffman WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The intelligence director for the US Capitol Police warned Congress in July that the rebellion against COVID-19 precautions had accelerated violence by right-wing “revolutionary extremists,” according to testimony. in Congress. Four months before joining the force, John K. Donohue, then a private security consultant, testified that the country desperately needed a sophisticated early warning system on social media, similar to the nuclear missile launch detection capability of United States, to avoid a catastrophe. “The United States is at a crossroads,” Donohue told the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism during a hearing on July 16. “The intersection of constitutional rights and the application of legitimate law has never been more at risk from national actors as now, as the seditious actively promote a revolution.” He added: “The time has come to acknowledge this phenomenon and work quickly to preserve civil society.” Donohue’s public warning, which had not previously been reported, came six months before a right-wing mob incited by fake online conspiracies and President Donald Trump violently stormed the Capitol on January 6. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died as a result of the riot. Donohue was hired by the Capitol Police as director of intelligence in November, four months after his testimony. Contacted by Reuters on Tuesday, Donohue declined to comment. At the time Donohue testified, he was a recently retired New York City Police Department (NYPD) chief, after a 32-year career. According to a resume posted on the House committee website, Donohue’s work for the NYPD included planning presidential, papal and heads of state visits to the United Nations. Before joining the Capitol Police, Donohue worked for much of 2020 for a private security firm and as a fellow at Rutgers University. During his July testimony before the House Intelligence and Counterterrorism subcommittee, Donohue cited a link between the restrictions imposed to combat the coronavirus and the “exponential growth in participation in the cyber-social domain that has rallied around to extremist revolutionary issues. ” “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, these ingredients – social isolation, high unemployment, fear of changing the social order, and the most powerful ingredient, a perceived martyr for the cause – existed to a much lesser degree,” Donohue testified. . “During the pandemic, in contrast to any previous time in world history, those ingredients have dramatically aligned.” Donohue made similar comments to another House committee in September and this year he co-authored a Rutgers investigative paper titled “Covid-19, Conspiracy and Contagious Sedition: A Case Study on the Militia-Sphere.” The paper explored how social media, including fringe chat rooms 4chan and Gab, helped drive misinformation and fuel violence. “The potential for violence is now palpable,” Donohue co-wrote in the introduction. “That potential is amplified by an emerging and unexplored network of opportunist violence and propaganda.” Appearing before Congress in July, Donohue cited as portents of rebellion against the government the killings of federal building guard David Patrick Underwood last summer and California Deputy Sheriff Damon Gutzwiller by members of a loose affiliation of right-wing people who they defend a violent sentiment against the government. Donohue also cited the firebombing of a New York police police car by civil rights protesters. “We need to learn from our past; we have to learn from our mistakes, ”Donohue testified. “We have to go beyond that, and there is a way to go, but it is not through a violent insurrection.”