Doesn't Pass the Smell Test: Jan. 6 Committee Demanding $20,000 to Release Surveillance Video

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Sometimes, when you look at the news out of Washington, you have to comment, “C’mon. Seriously?”

Since the January 6 riots — you know, the “insurrection” — a carefully chosen group of members of Congress have been investigating what happened, while carefully withholding anything that might interfere with the narrative they’re constructing. This includes most surveillance camera video from the day of the riots. 


That was, apparently, not enough. The committee has started to examine events in the days before, in particular identifying Republican members of Congress as having guided “insurrectionists” on reconnaissance tours of Congress. One of these, Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), has been pressing the committee to release video they say shows Loudermilk escorting visitors through the Capitol on these so-called reconnaissance tours.

So far, the committee has refused. They are now accusing Lowdermilk in particular of doing the “reconnaissance tours.”

Congressional rules, and the iron will of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have managed to impede the release of anything other than the committee’s carefully curated chosen video, but that’s not an absolute bar. The Constitution establishes, through the Speech and Debate clause, that members cannot be restricted from saying anything from the floor in the course of their duties. In the past, this has been used, for example, to ensure that former Democrat Leader Harry Reid could accuse then-candidate Mitt Romney of paying no taxes. (Later, Reid’s explanation: “He lost, didn’t he?”)

So, according to a story in The Hill, the House Administration Committee intends to release the video on its own. This means getting a copy of the video.

“Clearly things have changed when one of our committee members is being insinuated that he led reconnaissance tours in the Capitol on Jan. 5 when we know for a fact the video footage shows otherwise,” a senior aide to the committee told The Hill. 


The proposed cost: $20,000.

An outside observer might wonder at the cost. Today, a casual search at B&H shows several 20-terabyte external drives for between $600 and $1000 retail. How much data are we talking about?

It’s easy to make a back-of-envelope estimate. Let’s assume that all these surveillance cameras record at full high-definition, full color. (Based on the surveillance camera footage that’s usually released, that seems exceedingly generous.)

An hour of HD video is around 1.5 gigabytes, 1.5 billion bytes of data. So, 1 TB is enough for 667 hours of video; a $1000 20 TB disk, more than 13,000 hours.

According to published reports, the Capitol Police have 14,000 hours of video from January 6th. Two 20 TB drives should be plenty for all of that video, not just the “hundreds of hours” the committee wants to release.

Something stinks.


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