Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) led 46 colleagues in a letter to Speaker Pelosi and the Committee on House Administration requesting the creation of an independent commission to investigate the security failures at the U.S. Capitol, both during the violent insurrection in which a mob of Trump supporters breached the House and Senate chambers on January 6, 2021, leading to the death of a US Capitol Police Officer and four others, and more broadly in order to make the complex more secure.
“Despite promises made to Members of Congress that every precaution was being taken and that there was adequate manpower and coordination, hundreds of people were able to easily enter restricted parts of the Capitol grounds, including the steps, and break into the building itself,” the Members wrote. “Even before yesterday’s events it was clear that security at the Capitol was inadequate to address current security threats. Thousands of people are able to flow in and out of the Capitol complex each day… With little more than a quick X-Ray scan of bags and a quick walk through a metal detector, individuals have nearly unfettered access to Congressional offices and Committee rooms… Yesterday’s breach was a wake-up call: The Capitol security system, as it currently exists, is woefully insufficient.”
The Members have requested the independent commission investigate numerous issues, including:
- What was the U.S. Capitol Police’s plan to protect the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and how did it compare to best practices for protecting high-value targets near gatherings of violent extremists?
- How did the U.S. Capitol Police coordinate in advance of January 6, 2021, with the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, federal law enforcement agencies, and the D.C. National Guard, and what plans were made in advance to utilize these resources both initially and in case the situation escalated?
- Who was giving orders to U.S. Capitol Police on January 6, 2021, and did those orders include responding with limited force?
- Did the U.S. Capitol Police monitor social media or coordinate with other federal law enforcement agencies to monitor social media in advance of January 6, 2021?
- Why were only 14 arrests made by U.S. Capitol Police? Can the U.S. Capitol Police explain the difference in their response to the events of January 6, 2021 as compared to the response to other protests, including, but not limited to, the peaceful protests against police violence during the summer of 2020, the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act?
- Given video footage of at least one U.S. Capitol Police officer taking a selfie with domestic terrorists, and footage of U.S. Capitol Police officers potentially opening gates to other rioters, are there mechanisms in place to monitor and determine whether Capitol Police officers have alliances with violent extremist groups?
- Should Congress implement background check requirements for all employees working in the Capitol complex?
- Should the U.S. Capitol Police implement new security procedures for visitors to the Capitol Complex? What would be the costs of implementing new security procedures?
- How can the U.S. Capitol Police improve overall security of the Capitol complex?
A copy of the letter is attached to this press release.
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