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‘Stand Down’ Controversy Continues to Reverberate on Capitol Hill

An official familiar with Monday’s Capitol Hill security discussions says that all decisions deploying Capitol Police units to the Navy Yard shooting were left up to Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine, who was in close communication with Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier.

The full Capitol Police Board — Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers — did not delve “into the minutiae or detail of what was happening on the ground” at Navy Yard. Their conversations focused on how security should be postured around Capitol Hill, as well as the most recent intelligence about active shooter threats. Dine is an ex-officio member of the board.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, had no knowledge until late Tuesday of allegations first reported by the BBC that a heavily armed Capitol Police team was told to stand down when it arrived at the scene.

Dine said in a statement to CQ Roll Call that he “personally offered assets” to Lanier and the MPD.

Dine has requested the Capitol Police Board conduct an independent fact review of the department’s response — specifically mutual aid efforts. Michael Stenger, assistant sergeant-at-arms for protective services and continuity and former assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service, will lead the investigation.

The fact review, expected to focus on radio logs and interviews with officers, is due Oct. 21.

Reaction from Congress has been limited.

The administration panels in the House and Senate that have jurisdiction over the Capitol Police have stayed mum on possible oversight actions.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., announced Thursday that she has spoken with officers who responded to the Navy Yard shooting and “she understands their frustration that the tactical team was not allowed to proceed.”

Norton believes an investigation is necessary to determine whether other tactical police forces were on the scene or available, whether lives could have been saved by the Capitol Police without putting the Capitol at risk, and whether there was proper coordination of police forces. She plans to meet with the Capitol Police Union.

Reps. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts and Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia, ranking members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, its Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census, and its Subcommittee on Government Operations, respectively, have called for public hearings in the wake of the Navy Yard shootings, focused on security concerns for the federal workforce.

In a letter to Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., they write, “Congress owes it to the dedicated civil servants who were slain in the line of service to redouble its efforts to safeguard the dedicated men and women of our civil service.”

The leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee weighed in on their oversight responsibility in the wake of the Navy Yard incident.

Chairman Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., and ranking member Tom Coburn, R-Okla., called for a renewed focus on security clearances.

“In particular, our committee needs to take a closer look at the background check process for individuals applying for security clearances, whether they are contractors or federal employees, and we need to examine what the oversight process is once an individual obtains a security clearance,” Carper said. “We also want to look at the process for gaining access privileges to secure facilities, such as the Navy Yard.”

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