The retired Army general appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lead a security study after the January 6 Capitol riot has called for setting up a quick-reaction force to permanently stand ready for threats against government.
The so-called QRF would be staffed with National Guard troops who reside in Washington full-time, troops from National Guard units from around the nation who are sent to Washington on three- or six-month rotations, or officers drawn from federal law enforcement agencies, retired US Army Lt. General Russel Honore said in a draft copy of his report. The executive summary, obtained on Thursday by Fox News, didn’t specify how large the QRF should be.
In any case, the strategy would permanently militarize the nation’s capital with an active-duty force dedicated full-time to responding to security emergencies in Washington’s government district. Honore, who previously said that US Capitol Police (USCP) may have been “complicit” in the riot, also called for hiring more than 1,100 additional officers for the department, including filling 233 open positions.
Many of the new hires would be intelligence analysts who would monitor security threats against the Capitol. Honore also wants the USCP to create a force of horse-mounted officers to help control crowds, as well as expanding its unit of bomb-sniffing dogs. Other recommendations include speeding the decision-making process for deploying the national guard; beefing up security-monitoring systems; requiring background checks of Capitol identification holders to reduce “insider threats”; establishing more screening portals to access the complex; and creating dedicated riot platoons who can be called on whenever Congress is in session. Members of Congress also would be given beefed-up security for travel, their home offices and their residences.
The military installed razor-wired-topped security fencing around the Capitol district after the riot. Once that barrier comes down, Honore wants mobile fencing at the ready to be put up when security threats develop and taken down when those threats pass.
USCP this week reportedly called for keeping the current fencing in place and retaining more than 5,000 National Guard troops who are deployed in the Capitol area for an additional two months because of security threats. The government has continued to keep a military presence in Washington several alleged security threats passed without incident. The latest such threat was reported to be on Thursday, when law enforcement agencies said an unidentified militia group intended to storm the Capitol for “QAnon Inauguration Day.” The House rescheduled its Thursday session amid the threat.
Pelosi said Thursday that government remains under threat from “all the president’s men,” referring to supporters of former President Donald Trump, and said more funding will be needed to secure the Capitol in a way that allows public access to the complex. The QRF alone could cost taxpayers as much as $130 million.
Republicans such as Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) have suggested that security threats in Washington are being overstated and that the National Guard troops should be sent home. The top of Honore’s draft report sported a special Capitol logo created for his task force, including a caption at the bottom: “Never Forget.”
A Harvard/Harris poll conducted in February found that 55 percent of Americans are more troubled by rising violence in their cities than by the Capitol riot. Homicides jumped by an average of 30 percent last year in 34 large US cities.
Republicans blasted Pelosi in January for choosing Honore to lead the security review, saying he is too partisan. The retired general has a history of making controversial comments, such as calling Trump an “SOB” who “doesn’t care about people of color” and blasting federal officers sent to quell riots in Portland as an “uncontrolled mob” that wore military-like uniforms “as a function of intimidation.”
Honore also said falsely that a USCP officer was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher during the Capitol riot, and he called Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) “a little piece of s**t” who should be “run out of DC” for his “white privilege” and making allegations of election fraud against President Joe Biden.
Honore is best known for leading the National Guard response in New Orleans after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. His troops were allegedly involved in confiscating guns from residents after New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass III declared that only law enforcement officers would be allowed to have firearms amid the violent, post-storm chaos in the city.