Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday that she’s asked retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré to lead an “immediate” review of the Capitol security posture after the Jan. 6 attack on Congress.
“We must subject this whole complex though to scrutiny in light of what happened and the fact that the inauguration is coming,” the California Democrat said at her weekly news conference.
Pelosi said Honoré, who has accepted her request, will review the Capitol “security infrastructure, interagency processes and command and control.”
“The general is a respected leader with experience dealing with crises,” she said. “As a former vice director for operations, J-3, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his focus was military support to civilian authorities … and he has experience with the national Capitol region security.”
Honoré previously led an interagency task force set up to respond to Hurricane Katrina. Pelosi said he worked with House leadership, in particular Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, who led House Democrats’ Katrina task force, at the time, so they have “seen up close and personal his excellent leadership.”
Pelosi said that in addition to the immediate review Honoré is conducting, congressional oversight efforts looking into the Capitol attack and how to prevent future incidents will be ongoing.
“Members are moving forward with strong oversight from committees, of course, to have after-action review,” she said. “There is strong interest in Congress in a 9/11-type commission, an outside commission to conduct that after action review.”
Pelosi said security preparations for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday are ongoing. But she sought to assure the public that the festivities are not being scaled back because of the attack on the Capitol. The small size of the event, she said, is because of COVID-19 precautions that had been planned before last week.
“But it hasn’t changed the nature of the swearing in. I think it’s important for people to know that,” she said. “This is not a concession to the terrorists. It is a recognition of the danger of COVID.”
Pelosi said she’s been personally involved in ensuring the appropriate security measures are in place for the inauguration. She spoke with the head of the Secret Service Thursday night and said she planned on Friday to speak with the Army secretary, who has direct control over the D.C. National Guard, for the third time in two days.
“We all want to be sure that the requests that are made by the Capitol Police are being honored by those who are in a position to meet the needs,” she said. “It depends on the intelligence, and we have to have more security than the intelligence might warrant. I think in this case, redundancy may be necessary. Not too much, but enough.”
Known as the “ragin’ Cajun,” Honoré is from a Louisiana Creole family that hails from the West Indies. Salty and gruff, the retired three-star Army general was widely applauded for his take-no-prisoners approach to improving the government response to Hurricane Katrina.
A former head of operations for the joint staff at the Pentagon, he also commanded the First Army and the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea.
Honoré has been outspoken recently about the Jan. 6 riot.
Notably, he has said he suspects U.S. Capitol Police leaders failed to provide sufficient security forces because, he said, they were “complicit” in the attack —something he predicted will “come out in the investigation.”
“I’ve just never seen so much incompetence. So they’re either that stupid or ignorant or complicit. I think they were complicit,” he said in a Jan. 8 interview with a Fox affiliate in New Orleans.
“We knew they were coming,” he told the station. “Everybody knew they were coming. Every law enforcement agency in D.C. called the Capitol and said, ‘How many you want?’ ‘Oh, we don’t need no help.’ That’s why it was complicit, and people need to go to jail over that.”
Demands for accountability
Honoré has also indicated in tweets he does not approve of the Capitol Police’s traditional lack of transparency. He referred to their lack of press conferences after the riots and their exemption from Freedom of Information Act.
And he noted their failure to respond promptly to lawmakers queries — including those from Tim Ryan, the Ohio Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Legislative Branch subcommittee, which oversees the Capitol Police budget.
Honoré also tweeted on Jan. 12 a link to a news report about anonymous Capitol Police officers saying they were sent home the day of the riots and told they were not needed.
“Just as I said on day one Police Leadership in the capital was Complicit part of the F up that left 5 Kia at the U S Capital real shit show,” Honoré tweeted.
Honoré is charged now with reviewing the Capitol Police response but he has his sights set on broader questions of law enforcement in Washington, D.C.
He recently proposed on Twitter a “high sheriff’s department for the national capital region,” which he said would “coordinate the security entities that protect our government and the nation’s capital.” He copied Biden, Pelosi, news organizations and others on the tweet.
Honoré has pulled no punches in criticizing members of Congress. He recently retweeted calls for Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., to lose her job after she live-tweeted on Jan. 6 that Pelosi had been removed from the House chamber — an action that some took as a signal to rioters with whom Boebert shares some political sympathies.