Security tightened in wake of Hill shootings

With Capitol Hill still reeling from the loss of two Capitol Police officers in last Friday's shootings, the security presence around some congressional leaders has been beefed up even as others plan no changes.

Most notable among the changes is the presence of security around House Minority Whip David Bonior, D-Mich., who prior to last week eschewed any special protection.

Members of Congress have praised the Capitol Police for their professionalism and lauded Special Agent John Gibson for laying down his life to safeguard House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and his staff. Officer Jacob (J.J.) Chestnut was fatally shot while guarding the Capitol entrance next to DeLay's office.

Congress is reviewing Hill security in general, as well as the individual security arrangements of the leadership.

All members of the leadership of both parties are entitled to extra protection, although some, such as Bonior, have previously turned it down. A Capitol Police source refused to comment on any members' individual security, but did say "the level of protection for any particular member of the leadership is driven by threat assessment and information analysis. Certainly the activities of the last [week] have heightened everyone's attention" to ensuring members' safety.

Bonior's spokeswoman said that, at the recommendation of the House sergeant at arms, Bonior now has a plainclothes security detail and a uniformed officer posted outside his door in the heavily traveled third floor hallway that connects the House to the Senate. She added that Bonior's staff and others in nearby offices say they are "relieved" to see another officer up there.

But Bonior's Senate counterpart, Minority Whip Harold Ford, is still declining extra security. His spokesman said Ford feels safe enough with the security provided by the Capitol Police.

Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles, R-Okla., who does have his own security, "is very happy with the arrangements he has" and does not plan to make any changes, according to his office.

The uniformed security outside the entrance to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's office, however, has become more vigilant in the aftermath of the shootings, keeping the hallway clear of anyone all the way up to the hall outside the Senate chamber. As for Lott's plainclothes detail, his spokesman would say only that "his personal security has been strong and will remain strong."

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., as well as House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, both have another plainclothes agent for now and will reevaluate whether to continue after the August recess.

In addition, the security presence around both Lott and Daschle has become more visible, accompanying them for the first time this week when they addressed reporters after the weekly policy luncheons Tuesday. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., who already has a large security detail, and DeLay do not plan any upgrades, according to their offices.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.