Fear grip Capital Hill: “Untouchable! Now we are all touching”


Washington – The attack on the Capitol a week ago has left lawmakers with a heightened sense of vulnerability about their safety – and fresh questions about whether their own leaders and the US Capitol Police are sufficient to handle those concerns Are equipped

The feeling of uneasiness has been heightened by the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden next week. According to a Department of Defense official, the Capitol Police has erected fences around the Capitol, and the National Guard now plans to bring 20,000 troops to Washington – an increase of 5,000 from earlier plans.

But members of Congress have not been advised how to plan to enter the capitol security perimeter if a large crowd gathers outside the fence.

A House Democrat questioned the current policy for guests at the inauguration, which allows members to be with one person, but does not require them to present the guest’s name for a list or background check. Guests will only need a paper ticket issued by the Joint Opening Committee to enter the building.

There is also no rule as to whether members or their guests will be allowed to carry guns at the inauguration, a debate arose when another member who attended Monday’s briefing asked if a private The security guard can come as a guest – and can that security guard carry a gun.

“One person’s personal safety is another person’s pride boy,” the member said.

Attendees were left seriously concerned about their safety at a security briefing on Monday night by the US Capitol Police as they learned of the threat of armed militias to encircle the Capitol and Democrats to establish Republicans in power Are plotting to kill him.

A House Democrat told CBS News, “There is no way on God’s green earth that there is no threat until January 6 and now it is like every organized militia that plans to land in the Capitol within a period of three days is.” “Intelligence failure reaching VI is absolutely indisputable.”

Adding to the members’ concerns is the fact that at least two members of the Capitol Police have been suspended in the wake of the riots – one for taking a selfie with people who broke into the Capitol; Another to donate and provide instruction to a Make America Great Again hat. 10 to 15 other investigations are also underway.

Congressman Mickey Sherrill of the Democrat Party of New Jersey said in a Facebook Live on Tuesday night, “If many members of our police force and our military are working to eliminate and reduce it, we cannot have democracy.” He also accused key members of other reconnaissance visits the day before the January 6 riots.

Sheryl did not respond to subsequent questions, which the members looked at but swore, “I’m going to see that they are held accountable, and if necessary, make sure they don’t serve in Congress Huh.”

Lawmakers and their employees felt relatively safe inside the Capitol, but that changed last week.

“The idea that everyone is untouchable. No, we are all untouchables now. If there is an atomic bomb, we accept that we are probably the first to go. But we never know when a mob will be able to go to the Capitol.” “A House staff member said.” People are afraid that more things will happen before the 20th. Those who have been here for 20 years – since 9/11 – have never had this fear. ”

The Democratic House member said the failures on 6 January have raised questions about the inaugural security plan and also worried that some House leaders hold the misconception that those planning a new attack on the Capitol President Trump will stop trying once in office.

“Legislators have a level, which is present in the leadership of the House, where they do not see what danger it is,” the legislator told PBS News.

House Republicans, meanwhile, have begun to pursue some new additional security measures, including the installation of magnetometers outside the House chamber. In the past, lawmen have enjoyed interference on security matters and are only required to come to the House Chamber at the doors of the Capitol and House office buildings and wear their congressional pins to bypass the magnetometer.

Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee who oversees Capitol Hill housekeeping issues, including the Capitol Police, called the move a “political correctness run amok” at a Capitol police briefing Tuesday evening.

“The danger is from the outside, not from inside. Every resource used inside is one that cannot be used outside,” he said.

Several Republicans reportedly refused to go through the magnetometer in House votes Tuesday evening, and the number two House Republican, Louisiana whip Steve Scallis, asked officers in a heated pose with officers stationed outside the House Chamber, “Your Constraining capacity Members come and vote? … It was never discussed. ”

A House Democrat said members of Congress are deferred on such measures, making members less secure.

“The power dynamic with members of Congress is detrimental to our own safety,” the MP said.

In addition to security failures on 6 January, other lawmakers have raised concerns about inequality in treatment among white Black rioters that day compared to protesters of the peaceful Black Lives Matter who demonstrated last summer in response to George Floyd’s death Was.

“I’m sure during the Black Lives Matter administration we would have seen at least that kind of presence when the building was safe from peaceful protesters,” House Majority Whip Jim Clyb, the highest-ranking African American official in Congress, told reporters last week . “I want to emphasize that peaceful protesters, people who came in peace, not bringing Molotov cocktails … came to protest peacefully. And yet, with all kinds of shows from the Capitol Building force was wrong.

Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan, who oversees the House Subcommittee that funds the Capitol Police, also said police had a much larger presence ahead of protests over the summer.

“Being outspoken, if there were black people there, I think there was a very different reaction to what they did and it was very disappointing for me,” he said.

The Congressional Black Caucus heard on Wednesday about white supremacy in demonstrations in last week’s attacks. Black Lives Matter and other civil rights leaders were invited to testify.

At this point, the caucus representing Black, Hispanic and Asian-American members of Congress has not had a collective discussion about disparities in treatment by diversity within the police and the organization.

A congressional source did not want to “put the cart on the horse” and wanted to see what the investigation would be before recommending reforms, but at the same time acknowledged that some members were concerned and could focus on the issue in the future is.

Representative Joyce Beatty, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told CBS News, “The people who were calling the shots … were definitely unprepared and inferior and it was not acceptable.”

The Capitol Police is now in command of its first black leader. Yogananda Pittman is serving as acting chief following the resignation of former chief Steven Sundar following the January 6 attacks. Like other police departments across the country, the department faces some challenges. Although it does not publish diversity figures, the Capitol Police has faced numerous lawsuits alleging discrimination by black officers.

David Martin and Mary Walsh contributed to this report.

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