This article appeared in the May 14, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Capitol riot: Could a commission bring clarity on a divisive moment?

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois speaks next to an image from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, displayed during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on May 12, 2021.
Peter Grier
Washington editor

The final report of the 9/11 Commission was an investigative and literary triumph. It painted a detailed and sweeping picture of the events surrounding the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, so lucidly written that it was a finalist for the National Book Awards in 2004.

Could a Jan. 6 commission to probe the attack on the U.S. Capitol produce a similarly high-quality result?

It now looks as if such a commission could happen. On May 14 Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Homeland Security Committee announced they’d struck a deal to create a bipartisan panel composed of 10 people with relevant expertise. 

Each party would get to name half of the group’s members. Democrats would appoint the chair, and Republicans the vice chair. The commission would have subpoena power.

This isn’t a done deal yet. The Homeland Security Committee’s bill establishing the commission would need to pass Congress. Republican leaders say they want the investigation to focus on events beyond Jan. 6 – which Democrats strongly oppose. 

But an independent body investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is badly needed, writes Kate Brannen, editorial director at the national security and law blog Just Security.

A May 12 congressional hearing on the insurrection shows why. Both sides just postured and grandstanded, with Democrats berating witnesses, and Republicans repeating disinformation about the Jan. 6 events, according to Ms. Brannen. 

“On Capitol Hill, the forces that unleashed the violence that day are still working to hide the truth,” she writes.

This article appeared in the May 14, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 05/14 edition
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