Capitol Security Questioned After Breach Monday The U.S. Capitol is considered one of the most secure buildings in the world. But Monday, a man with a loaded gun in his pants managed to crash an SUV through a concrete barrier and dash through several floors of the labyrinthine building. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Capitol has seen massive landscaping, traffic and protocol changes intended to enhance security.
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Capitol Security Questioned After Breach Monday

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Capitol Security Questioned After Breach Monday

Capitol Security Questioned After Breach Monday

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

U.S. Capitol police are still reviewing their security procedures today, trying to figure out how an armed man managed to get inside the Capitol Building yesterday morning. The breach was the most serious of its kind since 1998, when two Capitol police officers were shot and killed by a mentally ill man. And it comes despite the roughly two billion dollars spent on security at the Capitol since 9/11.

NPR's Luke Burbank reports.

LUKE BURBANK: I'm on my way into the U.S. Capitol building. I just went through one checkpoint. I'll go through another checkpoint before I actually get into the building. Anybody who works here in Capitol Hill will tell you that this is one of the most secure buildings in Washington. So how is it that a man managed to drive nearly up to the Capitol steps and then get into the building holding a loaded gun?

Chief CHRISTOPHER MCGAFFIN (Capitol Police): This was unacceptable by my expectation for the Capitol police. It was an unfortunate breach of our security.

BURBANK: That was acting Capitol police chief Christopher McGaffin describing Monday's events in which a 20-year-old man, who police suspect was high on something, managed to get onto the Capitol grounds and then into the building through a construction entrance.

By today reporters expected a flurry of reaction here on the Hill, but things were surprisingly muted. The few members who spoke about the breach called it concerning but largely left it at that. This despite the fact that the event represented an almost complete breakdown of the Capitol's outer security plan. There was however some good news, said Chief McGaffin.

Chief MCGAFFIN: The interior security protocols were executed and worked at a 100 percent satisfactory level. We isolated this individual. We subdued him. He is under arrest. No one was hurt.

BURBANK: Of course catching the guy once he was already in the building was not exactly the consolation intern Holly Strong was looking for.

Ms. HOLLY STRONG (Capitol intern): I was watching the news last night and saw the actual routes into the rotunda, into the basement. And I was shocked at how far this person got before they were caught. You know, it's scary because he could've been, you know, had bombs on him or, you know, it could've been a lot worse.

BURBANK: Something much worse is exactly what Congress has been trying to avoid since 9/11, when it authorized huge increases in the department's budget, bringing the total of number of officers up to around 2,300. That's more than some cities, a fact not lost on Chief McGaffin.

Mr. MCGAFFIN: It is not a matter of how many people or how much money we've got, Congress has provided us with what I need to provide security for this complex. This has nothing to do with the performance of the officers on the job. Has everything to do with management going back in and ensuring that we are deploying our adequate resources properly.

BURBANK: The suspect, identified as Carlos Green of Silver Spring, Maryland, could face multiple charges, including felony possession of a firearm and insulting and officer. Chief McGaffin says over the coming days he and his staff will be going through security tapes, alarm logs and officer accounts trying to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again. And he says as an added precaution, he's set up a new security checkpoint not far from where the suspect was captured.

Luke Burbank, NPR News, the Capitol.

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