Where was the FBI in the months leading up to the violent siege on the U.S. Capitol in 2021? Among the many questions surrounding that historic day, this one reveals the extent to which double standards in law enforcement threaten our nation’s security. For weeks, Donald Trump’s far right-wing supporters had been publicly calling for and planning a protest in Washington, D.C. on January 6, the day Congress was to certify the 2021 presidential election results. Had they been following credible threats to domestic security, officials would have attempted to stop the Proud Boys and QAnon from breaching the Capitol perimeter. Yet when the day came, the mob of pro-Trump extremists seemed to catch law enforcement by surprise. They seized the Capitol, ransacked congress members’ offices, and openly posted photos of their destruction and their weapons online.

In the preceding two decades, the U.S. government has poured money into a behemoth national security apparatus. The FBI’s annual budget ballooned from $3 billion in 1999 to nearly $10 billion today. Much of this 300% increase went to countering terrorism with a mandate to surveil, investigate, and prosecute “homegrown terrorists.” In no uncertain terms, the directive was for the FBI to target Muslim communities.