WaPo wonders: Why did the Capitol police bungle Pelosi's security?

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

How did an intruder make his way undetected to the home of the House speaker long enough to break into it and attack her husband? The Capitol police provide security for Congress and especially for its leadership, including Nancy Pelosi’s home, which is covered by real-time, 24/7 surveillance. And in this case, the CPD’s cameras actually caught the intruder coming onto the property and breaking into the house.


If that’s the case, though, why did Paul Pelosi have to call 911? Someone was asleep at the switch, the Washington Post reports this morning — while trying to shift blame for the failure:

If the Capitol Police were going to stop an attack at the home of any member of Congress, they had perhaps the best chance to do so at Pelosi’s, according to several current and former law enforcement officials, many of whom spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because the break-in remains under investigation.

The Capitol Police first installed cameras around Pelosi’s home more than eight years ago; she has an around-the-clock security detail; and for many months after the attacks of Jan. 6, 2021, a San Francisco police cruiser sat outside her home day and night. But hours after Pelosi left San Francisco last week and returned to D.C., much of the security left with her, and officers in Washington stopped continuously monitoring video feeds outside her house.

The targeted security and lack of full-time, active surveillance — even at the home of the member of Congress with the most death threats — reflect the competing demands facing local and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the balances that lawmakers, their families and security officials have tried to strike in the nearly two years since the attack on the Capitol.

Apparently, the first notice of something amiss at the Pelosi house picked up by surveillance is when they saw police lights flashing on the cameras. They had to roll back the video to discover that the assailant could be clearly seen on their cameras approaching and then breaking into the Pelosis’ home. Oof.


The Post uses this as a springboard mainly to tie the attack and the failure to a massive wave of threats connected to the riot on January 6, 2021. Capitol Police didn’t install surveillance cameras and live monitoring last year, however, as the excerpt notes. They didn’t get installed after Trump took office either, or even when Trump started campaigning, even though the WaPo’s story mentions Trump six times in the course of the article. (Steven Scalise only gets one mention despite being nearly killed by an explicitly political sniper attack on House Republicans in 2017.) “More than eight years ago” would have been before the fall of 2014, and that precedes the rise of “MAGA,” and it’s also long after Nancy Pelosi first became Speaker, for that matter (2007).

The security needs of the Pelosis are real and understandable. The performance of that security, however, is questionable at best. Having spent nearly twenty years in the alarm-monitoring industry, I can assure you that live video security monitoring is costly and people-intensive. That doesn’t mean it can’t work, but it does mean you have to commit enough resources to it to make it effective. And this failure makes it look like the Capitol Police hasn’t done that at scale, at least in this instance.

The Post thinks so too, but it tries to explain away the failure of this very expensive security set-up as a result of the massive expansion of threat-tracking the Capitol Police have on their hands. That, however, is a resource issue — and it’s entirely Congress’ responsibility. Security companies have to scale up as they add customers, and the Capitol Police should have been doing so as well. So why didn’t they?  The Capitol Police work for Congress, and Congress provides those resources. Furthermore, Congress is responsible for their performance. If the demand for security has increased that much, why hasn’t Congress responded with more resources and a demand for better performance?


The Post even gets close to the right answer here:

In the months after Jan. 6, 2021, House Democrats repeatedly reminded leaders that their campaign coffers were not enough to pay for personal security or upgrades to their homes. Congress has, in turn, approved increases to office budgets for individual lawmakers — allowing them to pay for private security to assist them at events back home — and set aside nearly $5 million in a separate fund to allow for security upgrades to their personal residences.

Well … who’s been running Congress for the last 22 months? Democrats. Who runs the House of Representatives? Nancy Pelosi and her two-decade-long leadership clique. “Congress” in this instance seems like a passive way of saying “fellow Democrats.”

Let’s not forget that this is the same Congress and Democrat leadership that spent $1.9 trillion on an unnecessary and inflationary stimulus bill less than two months after the riot, pushed another $5 trillion “Build Back Better” proposal for months, and spent $1.2 trillion on infrastructure and another $800 billion on climate change in this session — all off-budget, mind you. So Democrats have no problem spending trillions on their political hobby horses. They certainly could have chosen to spend a few million on expanding their own Capitol Police force and financing more personal security.

But they didn’t, even with a ballooning threat environment that the Post describes. Why?  Could it be that an animus within the Democrat Party toward policing has had something to do with resource issues for its own police force? Or has Congress simply cheaped out and acted irresponsibly about resources out of incompetence? I’d looove to hear from the Capitol Police on that point.


Oh wait, we already have:

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger on Tuesday issued a rare public call for more resources to protect lawmakers following the assault of Paul Pelosi.

“We believe today’s political climate calls for more resources to provide additional layers of physical security for Members of Congress,” Manger said in a lengthy statement that also confirms the department’s plans for a review of the home invasion at Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco residence.“This plan would include an emphasis on adding redundancies to the measures that are already in place for Congressional leadership,” Manger added. He declined to disclose further details about the improvements, citing the risk posed by “bad actors.”

Maybe just adding more personnel in the monitoring station would be a good start — along with some better triggers to alert on motion on the grounds.

Whatever the reason, this failure isn’t on the people who rioted on January 6, nor on the tens of millions of regular people who support Trump, or Bernie Sanders, or whomever. The primary responsibility is on the nutcase perp, but after that, the failure of the Capitol Police is on the Capitol Police — and the leadership of Congress that runs them.

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 24, 2024