Tuesday, September 28, 2021

U.S. intelligence signals extremists could be planning attack on Capitol Hill

U.S. intelligence signaled that extremists could be planning an attack on Capitol Hill, acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told members of Congress.

As a result Capitol Police plan to maintain their enhanced level of security around the Capitol at least through President Joe Biden’s first official address to Congress.

Pittman, who replaced Chief Steven Sund after he resigned following the recent attack on Capitol Hill.

“We know that members of the militia groups that were present on January 6th have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible with a direct nexus to the State of the Union, which we know that date has not been identified,” Pittman told members of Congress, referring to Biden’s coming first address to a joint session of Congress.

“So based on that information, we think that it’s prudent that Capitol Police maintain its enhanced and robust security posture until we address those vulnerabilities going forward,” she said.

Pittman emphasized that the rioters who attacked the Capitol “weren’t only interested in attacking members of Congress and officers.” “They wanted to send a symbolic message to the nation as to who was in charge of that legislative process,” she said.

“It has been suggested that the department was either ignorant of or ignored critical intelligence that indicated that an attack of the magnitude that we experienced on January 6 would occur,” Pittman said.

“The department was not ignorant of intelligence indicating an attack of the size and scale we encountered on the 6th,” she said. “There was no such intelligence. Although we knew the likelihood for violence by extremists, no credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol, nor did the intelligence received from the FBI or any other law enforcement partner indicate such a threat.”

Based on a security assessment, Capitol Police made significant changes to its security strategy, which involved increasing protection for certain members of Congress, deploying agents to provide protection outside the homes of congressional leaders and using “counter-surveillance agents”.

They also made plans to “intercept the radio frequency used by some demonstration groups” and monitor their communications that day.

George Costa
George Costa is a reporter specialized in defence and security systems. He covers international defence and security issues, such as international conflicts, WMD proliferation, and cybersecurity, as well as news reporting on developments in the global defence community.
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