Security review recommends enhanced background checks, retractable fencing to secure Capitol

Source: Politico | March 8, 2021 | Kyle Cheney

Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore will propose a series of intensive security measures in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Congress should expand the Capitol Police’s skeletal team of intelligence analysts, install a retractable fence around the building and increase background checks to “decrease insider threat risks,” according to recommendations supplied by a retired general tasked with reviewing security in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, flanked by a team of veteran military and national security officials, will propose a series of intensive security measures that they say respond to glaring gaps in Capitol security measures that enabled a violent mob to overtake the building and disrupt the transfer of presidential power.

Honore, in a letter accompanying the recommendations, describes “unique” challenges to securing the Capitol, beginning with the longtime open access that the public has enjoyed.

“Any security measure that reduces physical access to the Capitol Complex makes it less accessible to the public it serves,” Honore and his team wrote. “As representatives of the people, Members understandably seek to be available to their constituents and transparent about their travel and activities, yet such openness can create physical security vulnerabilities.”

Honore’s review will ignite what is expected to be a tense reckoning among lawmakers who have been surrounded by thousands of National Guard troops, fencing and razor wire since the assault. It arrives at a moment of extreme distrust among lawmakers themselves, with many Democrats viewing the 138 Republicans who voted against certifying some of the states’ election results as a driver of the violent riots. And Republicans have blasted Honore for his comments accusing some GOP lawmakers and Capitol Police officials of complicity in the attack. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has also argued that he worries Honore’s recommendation would permanently turn the Capitol into a “fortress.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tasked Honore with the review as part of an initial bid to shore up overtaxed Capitol Police and identify significant gaps in the capacity of the force, District of Columbia law enforcement and other federal agencies to aid in an emergency. Other officials on Honore’s team include retired Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who helped organize aid to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and Mary McCord, a former acting assistant attorney general for national security.

The group’s most significant recommendation includes the establishment of a “dedicated quick reaction force” for all of Washington D.C., one that could respond to developing emergencies and quickly ramp up law enforcement capacity. Honore’s team will propose three options: a force consisting of multiple law enforcement agencies that is granted legal authorities and funding; a quick reation force run by the D.C. National Guard that draws form National Guard units across the country; and a permanent military police battalion housed within the D.C. National Guard.

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