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Among the most striking images of law enforcement futility, on a day when chaos convulsed the U.S. Capitol, was of a lone, shirt-sleeved officer in retreat waving a baton at an advancing mob that had breached the Senate side of the building.

Flag-waving rioters appeared to stalk the officer who bounded up one stairway after another — with no immediate back-up to be found.

The stunning sight was just one in an ugly collage that laid bare a jarring breakdown of security at one of the country’s most iconic institutions.

More unnerving, perhaps, is that the attackers took their target with such remarkable ease nearly a decade after the 9/11 attacks prompted federal authorities to spend millions to bolster defenses across the capital to repel such assaults.

Capitol police officers in riot gear push back demonstrators who try to break a door of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
The failure also comes less than two weeks before what is traditionally one of the country’s most challenging security operations: the inauguration of a new president.

Federal lawmakers, D.C. authorities and law enforcement officials already are calling for a national examination of capital security – similar to the commission that studied the myriad breakdowns in advance of the 9/11 attacks – which D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser described as a “catastrophic failure.”

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