On January 6, 2021 a few of my friends repeated the media refrain, “They stormed the Capitol,” on a Slack channel. The next day on the phone someone asked me, “How did all those reporters, within minutes or hours of things happening, suddenly know exactly how things went?” It seemed like they’d typed up reports faster than ChatGPT. (Maybe they were using a prototype.)
How could these reporters have possibly reviewed even a tiny percentage of the available information coming out of D.C. that day? Surely they didn’t already have access to the surveillance video Kevin McCarthy recently gave to Tucker Carlson, a small portion of which was aired tonight, which focused on household names like Officer Brian Sicknick (in this footage at minute 19 seen alive in the Capitol after he was murdered according to mainstream media) and the QAnon Shaman, Jacob Chansley, who was shown around the Capitol by the police before thanking them.
Though there is more footage scheduled to be released Tuesday night, unfortunately so far there was no additional footage regarding Ashli Babbitt nor various key moments before anyone entered the Capitol. With the vast majority of the surveillance footage from that day still not yet made public, what more is there for the public to learn? (This can be said of many topics, even those such as JFK’s assassination, for which there are hundreds of thousands of pages of declassified government records still to be made sense of after the National Archives released the records in a format not conducive to detailed investigation.)
This puzzling J6 reaction from my friends was an echo from the events of May 26, 2020 in Minneapolis, about 18 blocks from where I lived at the time. Most people seemed to make judgments based on what the news told them to think, or based on what their favorite social media influencer opined. But how many people would later update their conclusions when the autopsy was released, or when Thomas Lane’s body cam footage was published? One of my friends questioned why I would even suggest he watch the body cam footage. What’s your point? Well, I want to know what happened, with as good of information as is available. One doesn’t have to agree with the conclusions made here to realize that Peggy Tierney did more research than most. Certainly her digging was more extensive than my own, even though I twice visited the square where the fist-shaped monument was installed only a few dozen steps away from two provocative murals.
More than two years later, will the public be able to deny the truth about how the mainstream media reported about January 6? Which is that they have been shown to have manufactured a false narrative?
So, where is this all heading?
Hopefully, to a proper discussion about elections. That’s why many were at the Capitol in the first place, including some that I’ve spoken to.
Trustworthy elections are foundational to a functioning constitutional republic which elects representatives to work for the people.
If it could be reliably measured, my guess is that trust in elections is at an all time low. Once trust in the system is lost by a large enough number of voters, alternatives better be on hand, ready to implement.
Even though elections have been shown to be riggable for decades—see Robert A. Caro’s Working for a description of the author’s meeting with Luis Salas who at the 11th hour delivered a box of 200 ballots which tipped the 1948 Texas senate race for Lyndon B. Johnson by just 87 votes in a race in which over 1 million votes were cast—it is nevertheless only in the last two years that such a staunch clinging to the fiction that American elections are clean and secure and impossible to manipulate at scale has become widespread. But that fiction is sure to be but a brief fad. A flash in the pan. (Flash fiction?) But it seems unlikely anyone will ever forget, in this generation or the next, what has happened. So long as we get to the bottom of it and document everything we can along the way.
To see how easy it is for manipulation or basic errors to occur during the most basic of elections, simply visit your local political party’s convention and observe the vote counting, vote tallying, and vote recording process, as I did this past Saturday.
In the last two years, hundreds of thousands of people, probably millions, have worked together in various ways to ask questions, gather evidence, and piece together the puzzle of what really happened in 2020, and what really happened in 2022, even while facing stiff opposition to their inquiries. These are trained data scientists, researchers, engineers, and computer security specialists, as well as teenagers, grandparents, working moms and retired dads, many regular people like you and me, all learning together and sharing what is learned with one another and with decision makers with the power to swap out unreliable electronic systems for paper alternatives.
Only last week, several states stepped away from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), at its peak used in 31 states, a signal that awareness is rising about the electronic voter roll system’s ineffectivess.
Only last week, True the Vote’s emergency motion was granted for leave to inspect property of the plaintiff, Konnech Inc., in a case which may show that American election data was and is stored on Chinese servers. Here’s the 46-page motion. (Konnech’s software is used in Minnesota—previously I’ve asked one Hennepin County commissioner and Minneapolis city council members about Minneapolis’s contract with Konnech.)
Only last week, Shasta County, California dropped Dominion, part of a growing trend toward ditching electronic voting machines in favor of hand counting paper ballots.
What will happen this week?
As for January 6th: it matters that we reconcile with friends and neighbors about what happened. As an American people we cannot risk remaining divided (or retaining the illusion that we are more divided than we actually are).
Open source information, in particular raw source data such as surveillance footage, or declassified records, or log files from election tabulators, soberly reviewed, are examples of an immediate path to open and honest conversations, however difficult.
What is learned is how easily it is to be manipulated, as a human. And about what resources are deployed daily against us. But also—this is the hopeful part—how to strengthen our local bonds so as to continue our peaceful protest for a lasting change in the direction of integrity.