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A month after House GOP's highly touted announcement of release of Jan. 6 videos, about 0.4% of the videos have been posted online

Capitol Police officer on trauma of Jan. 6
Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn on Jan. 6 trauma and new book "Standing My Ground" 05:33

One month after GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana announced House Republicans would post nearly all 44,000 hours of Capitol security video from Jan. 6, 2021, to a public website, a CBS News review finds less than an estimated 0.4% of the footage has been uploaded.   

But the task of posting the footage is daunting and has no firm deadline for completion, according to multiple interviews conducted by CBS News.  

The decision to post a comprehensive set of Jan. 6 security camera videos is already shrouded in controversy. House Republicans have lauded the efforts, arguing it will ensure "truth and transparency." But the plan is being blistered by some House Democrats, who warn the initiative is motivated by politics and conspiracy theories. They said it also creates safety vulnerabilities for Capitol Police and the Capitol complex.

CBS News found the project has been weighed down by a series of unique logistical challenges that will be difficult to untangle. The vast quantity of video — which would require five years of 24-hour-per-day viewing for any single person to watch from beginning to end — and the intricate security configurations of closed-circuit surveillance footage are complicating efforts to upload large chunks of the video.

The Jan. 6 security videos

As of this week, there have been two major batches of video posted — viewable but not downloadable — on a Rumble web page operated by House Republicans or on the House Administration Committee's government web page.

One batch is an approximately 90-hour set of hallway, overhead and exterior camera video that was previously made available to former Fox News host Tucker Carlson earlier this year, according to multiple congressional staff who spoke with CBS News.      

A second wave of videos, which appear to have been posted over the past two weeks, include 24-hour chunks from three main security cameras. The estimated 162 hours of total video now available on the website is a tiny fraction of the 44,000 hours in the possession of the House.

The House Administration Committee, which has oversight of the U.S. Capitol Police and the Capitol complex, is tasked with managing and uploading the footage. Months after winning a majority and control of the House, Republicans on the committee opened a Capitol Hill screening room to allow members of the public to view hours of the security video.

In November, the committee posted the first batch of video on its official government website and later shifted footage to the committee's Rumble page, to better accommodate the larger files and potential web traffic.

A spokesman for GOP Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, who oversees the subcommittee managing the footage, said there are plans to upload new sets of video each week.

"Each video must be converted out of the proprietary CCTV format and into a format that can be uploaded. Unfortunately, when the video is converted, it doesn't retain the time stamp," the spokesman said. "This is an issue we are aware of and plan to embed time stamps in the videos in the future. For now, the title of each video indicates down to the millisecond what time the clips start."

After reviewing a set of the Jan. 6 videos released to him by House Republican leadership this spring, Carlson falsely claimed on his then-Fox News primetime program in May, "These were not insurrectionists. These were sightseers."

He ran fleeting clips of the video, showing some of the movements about the Capitol before or in between the violent outbursts that forced lawmakers to evacuate, resulted in the injuries of more than 140 police officers and halted the certification of electoral votes in the 2020 election. Carlson, who no longer works for Fox News, argued the video showed peaceful citizens on Jan. 6.

Carlson's claims fueled criticism that by releasing the video, House Republicans were seeking to provide political cover for former President Donald Trump, who is charged with conspiring to overturn the 2020 election and accused of directing the mob to the Capitol on Jan. 6.  

Lawmakers dispute Tucker Carlson's depiction of Jan. 6 footage 06:03

Trump has pleaded not guilty, and persists in making claims about Jan. 6 that are based on conspiracy theories. At a rally on Saturday, he referred to Jan. 6 criminal defendants as "hostages."

Democrats warn that Trump supporters would cherry-pick clips of the video to spin conspiracy theories. Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who was a member of the House Jan. 6 select committee that probed the attack and efforts to overturn the 2020 election, told CBS News the videos could be misused to underwrite more false claims.

"They can ransack these tapes for scenes of people walking down the hallway without assaulting police. I'm sure they'll find them," he said. "That doesn't mean 140 police officers weren't injured … in the brutal assault."

"You could show the 9/11 hijackers 45 minutes before they took over the plane and directed it into the Twin Towers, sitting munching peanuts and drinking ginger ale," he added. "But that doesn't mean that what happened didn't happen."

A dispute over blurring faces

Johnson said House Republicans intend to blur the faces of some of the people captured by the surveillance camera footage. 

"You have to blur some of the faces of persons who participated in the events of that day, because we don't want them to be retaliated against and charged by the [Department of Justice]," Johnson said earlier this month. 

A spokesman later clarified Johnson's statement: "Faces are to be blurred from public viewing room footage to prevent all forms of retaliation against private citizens from any non-governmental actors. The Department of Justice already has access to raw footage from January 6, 2021."

The time and editing technology needed to blur faces will further prolong an already laborious process to upload the video, according to multiple congressional staffers who spoke with CBS News. The House Administration Committee employs approximately 70 staffers, according to a review of House disbursement reports. A spokesman told CBS News that uploading the video "is a top priority for the subcommittee" and said that it is hiring extra staff to process and upload it.

The first sets of posted videos, which were the same videos given to Carlson, do not include face blurring. 

Democratic Rep. Norma Torres of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Administration subcommittee, blasted the decision to publicly post the footage.   

"By providing unfettered public access to Capitol security footage from the violent insurrection of Jan. 6, despite legitimate security concerns from the U.S. Capitol Police, he is prioritizing partisanship over safety," Torres told CBS News. "There is nothing transparent about this — it is irresponsible and dangerous. Speaker Johnson may want to erase the facts of an attempted coup and undo the bipartisan investigation of the Jan. 6 Committee, but he can never alter the facts. Instead, his actions are putting members of Congress, staff, the press and all visitors to the Capitol at risk and further delegitimizing the integrity of this institution."

During court proceedings, the Justice Department has already publicly released large caches of videos showing the most violent moments and attacks of Jan. 6, including the beating of police by rioters with makeshift weapons, the mob surrounding lone Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman near the Senate chamber, some vicious and brutal battles in a tunnel, the breaches of windows and doors, the parading of a Confederate flag through the Capitol and injuries suffered by police and members of the crowd.  

Hundreds of hours of that footage have been posted to a Justice Department cloud video web portal, accessible remotely by those who enroll to view it.

As of this month, more than 1,200 people have been charged for roles in the Capitol riot. More than 440 of them have been charged with assaulting or resisting police. More than half of all people charged have pleaded guilty to federal charges.

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