January 6 was “a colossal failure” in tracking extremism online: former homeland security whistleblower

As a senior official in the Department of Homeland Security during the Trump administration, Brian Murphy took a close look at the failures before the insurgency on Capitol Hill.

His 26-year career with DHS and FBI has focused on violent extremism and he observed, he said in a Yahoo Finance Live interview on Thursday, that these departments failed in 2020 as a system of early warning of the emerging threat of radicalization from then-President Trump. supporters.

Officials, he says, “were intimidated and didn’t look at the obvious planning” that was going on online.

Capitol Police were caught off guard on January 6, 2021 when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the barricades on Capitol Hill after a rally near the White House. The barricades were quickly toppled before rioters burst into the building at around 2 p.m. ET, as Congress prepared to certify Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.

Riot police are overrun by crowds of supporters of President Donald Trump on January 6. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP via Getty Images)

Media inquiries were quickly uncovered – some within hours and others within days – the extent of how Trump supporters openly planned the attack online on social media sites like Facebook (FB) and Reddit.

“It was a colossal failure,” Murphy said. “As a country we have spent billions and billions investing in what we call the National Intelligence Architecture. “

“We have the technology now”

During his time in government, Murphy said the Trump administration did not take domestic extremism seriously enough. He testified in Congress on the matter end of 2020.

The testimony came after a 24-page whistleblower complaint who accused the DHS leadership of actions designed to influence the 2020 presidential election. The central charge he did then was that his bosses distorted intelligence to downplay threats posed by Russia and white supremacists to match then-President Trump’s rhetoric.

Since leaving government, Murphy has focused on the private sector issue at a company called Logically.ai. The company described its mission as using technology “to provide everyone, from individual citizens to national governments, the tools they need to identify and disarm harmful and deceptive information shared online.”

“We now have the technology in this country – we just don’t use it,” says Murphy, saying the key in his mind is to make connections across multiple platforms to keep up with trends. “Right now, most of the social listening activity uses yesterday’s technology,” he said. “This is not a recipe for success in the future.”

Murphy says the continuing threat of online extremism and disinformation leading to real-world violence – and the government’s failure to address it – “is eroding the pillars of democracy.”

Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

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