The confrontation between authorities and a man who stopped by the Library of Congress allegedly having a bomb in his truck, ended with his safety. Give up Thursday afternoon.
It took at least hours of negotiation Three law enforcement agencies – US Capitol Police, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – to safely persuade Floyd Ray Rosebery to stop shouting about “revolution” and turn himself in to the authorities.
But the ease with which Roseberry has gained such close access to the sidewalk of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, itself located near the United States Capitol and Supreme Court, raises new questions about the security of the nation’s most important symbols of democracy. Just seven months after the riots and deadly violence of the January 6 rebellion.
More attacks may be inevitable
Malcolm Nance, a former naval intelligence and counterterrorism officer, says Rosebery would never have approached the Capitol complex had authorities moved to erect a permanent fence around the perimeter, where discussions have been taking place for years.
“It should have happened a long time ago,” Nance told NPR. He says the question shouldn’t be whether a permanent barrier should be built, but when.
A protective fence was built around the Capitol after the siege, but it was It was removed last month. Similarly, the outer fence was removed in March. Capitol Police said they would monitor intelligence for any threats to the compound and that the temporary fence could be reconstructed if necessary.
Nance does not agree with this approach. Based on his constant monitoring of far-right extremist groups across the country, he believes that more bomb threats and other acts of violence targeting symbolic institutions are inevitable.
He adds that there is “a rebellion looming where this is only going to happen often, and there is a lot of possibility of it not being threats.”
He asserts that the only way to effectively protect lawmakers and civil servants on and around the Capitol complex is to use the same kind of defensive military tactics that the United States applies to combat terrorism around the world.
“We don’t need a bomb to explode to damage the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress and the US Capitol,” he says, adding that “a proper blast radius is about 680 yards.”
Congress approved a $2.1 billion package to enhance security
Late last month, Congress approved a $2.1 billion package To improve the security of the members and to strengthen the security of the Capitol.
Nearly $950 million of that amount will be directed toward installing new security measures for members of Congress and fortifying the Capitol. This can include building a moveable or retractable fencing system, hardening doors and windows, and installing new security screening halls and cameras. It also allocates about $3.3 million to the Capitol Police Intelligence Division and $5 million for equipment, and another $18 million to provide body cameras for officers, specialized training, and new physical barriers.
Adding barriers that will “rip the heart out of the city”
Daniel Schumann is Director of Policy at Demand Progress, where he oversees the advocacy organization’s Capitol Police. He said that increasing the militarization of public spaces and increasing the number of employees are the wrong solutions to address the growing domestic problem of terrorism.
Schumann notes that the Capitol Police has an annual budget of half a billion dollars, but it is not obligated to reveal how that money is spent or the equipment in place is used.
“What it showed on January 6 is that a lot of this stuff isn’t getting published very well,” he told NPR.
He is against any plan that might include a 10-foot fence. “He will tear the heart out of the city.”
“It’s a terrible symbol,” he adds.
But the most fundamental downside is the division it creates between citizens and their representatives.
“Every time you add an extra layer between the people and the people they represent, you create more distance. It becomes more difficult for members of Congress and their staff to hear from the people that laws affect.”
Schumann notes that Rosebery, a Trump supporter who was broadcasting himself live on Facebook while threatening to detonate a bomb outside the Library of Congress, called himself a “patriot” and called on Democrats to step down.
“In this crisis of democratic legitimacy, we don’t want to take the most democratic institutions and make them difficult to deal with,” Schumann said.