Watchdog says Capitol Police deficient at monitoring threats

Washington-DC

FILE – In this Jan. 6. 2021, file photo, people storm the Capitol in Washington. A blistering internal report by the U.S. Capitol Police describes a multitude of missteps that left the force unprepared for the Jan. 6 insurrection — riot shields that shattered upon impact, expired weapons that couldn’t be used, inadequate training and an intelligence division that had few set standards. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Capitol Police force was hobbled by inadequate intelligence gathering ahead of the Jan. 6 siege, a watchdog says in a new internal report, alarming lawmakers who are concerned for their own safety amid rising threats against members of Congress.

Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton will testify Monday in the first of three House hearings this week on what went wrong during the Jan. 6 insurrection. Lawmakers are investigating the riots as they contemplate overhauling security.

Many lawmakers are receiving threats and worry for their safety after the U.S. Capitol was so easily breached on Jan. 6 by supporters of then-President Donald Trump who wanted to overturn the election. The rioters were hunting for lawmakers, calling out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Vice President Mike Pence by name as they roamed the building and members fled the House and Senate. In a statement Friday, the Capitol Police said that there has been a 107% increase in threats against members of Congress this year compared to 2020 and “provided the unique threat environment we currently live in, the Department is confident the number of cases will continue to increase.”

Bolton’s report said that the department “has experienced issues” because of the increase in threats over the last five years and recommended that the force hire more agents who are dedicated to assessing threats. It said multiple deficiencies led to a lack of communication and guidance ahead of the siege and recommended a stand-alone division similar to the U.S. Secret Service that protects the president.

“A stand-alone entity, with a defined mission dedicated to countersurveillance activities in support of protecting the Congressional Community, would improve the Department’s ability to identify and disrupt individuals or groups intent on engaging in illegal activity directed at the Congressional Community and its legislative process,” the report says, according to a summary released by the House Administration Committee.

In Friday’s statement, the Capitol Police said they have already taken “significant steps” to improve counterintelligence and agreed that a stand-alone intelligence division would be helpful, but said they’d need more money to achieve it. The statement says the Capitol Police have about 30 agents and analysts doing the same job as more than 100 in the Secret Service, while the Capitol Police had 9,000 cases in 2020 and the Secret Service had 8,000.

The House is also scheduled to hear this week from former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who will testify about his role in approving National Guard troops during the insurrection. The troops did not arrive until several hours after the riots began, a subject that has attracted intense interest in Congress.

Miller is expected to appear Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee alongside former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and District of Columbia Police Chief Robert Contee III. All three were part of frantic meetings that day as Capitol Police begged for backup.

Army and Pentagon leaders have repeatedly denied any efforts to delay the Guard response. Miller denied in a Vice News interview in March that the response was unduly slow, saying, “It comes back to understanding how the military works.” He said “this isn’t a video game,” adding “it’s not ‘Black Ops Call of Duty.’”

The House Administration Committee will also hear this week from Christopher Failla, the architect of the Capitol, who is one of three officials sitting on a board that oversees the Capitol Police.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat and chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said last week that a $2 billion supplemental spending bill that the House is expected to take up soon will have a focus on increased training, intelligence analysis and capabilities for the police force.

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