Politico

Capitol Police say a Jan. 6 defendant’s demands could expose secret security features


A top Capitol Police officer warned a federal court Tuesday that requests by a Jan. 6 defendant to take measurements in non-public areas of the Capitol could compromise the building and expose some of the newer undisclosed efforts to protect Congress since the insurrection.

“Permitting him to measure distances from wall to wall, from wall to door and vice versa, would provide a wealth of information to an adversary who might wish to calculate blast distances, the ability to fly a drone within the building or how large of a group could quickly pass through the hallways, to name but a few security risks,” said Sean Gallagher, the head of the Capitol Police’s Uniformed Service Division, in an affidavit filed to U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper.

Gallagher, in his filing, noted that the Capitol building was bombed in 1983, was the subject of a planned drone attack in 2011 and was infiltrated by members of the Oath Keepers during the Jan. 6 attack who moved in a “stack” formation throughout the corridors.

Gallagher’s filing accompanied a Justice Department brief opposing a request by Jan. 6 defendant Daniel Egtvedt to permit his attorneys to measure and photograph nonpublic areas of the Capitol. Many Jan. 6 defendants have been provided Capitol Police-led tours as part of efforts to build their defenses. The department offered 10 such tours over the last year.

But Gallagher said offering a greater level of access to Egtvedt would risk revealing “many secret and highly sensitive security features embedded in the physical structure of the U.S. Capitol.”

“Some existed on January 6th and some are new, having needed to be changed after January 6 because the USCP must continue to protect the U.S. Capitol (and those who work there, including Members of Congress) and address future operational security vulnerabilities,” he said.

Egtvedt is accused of breaching the building and then assaulting Capitol Police officers who attempted to get him to leave the building. Prosecutors say Egtvedt entered the Capitol after he had already been sprayed with some kind of chemical irritant and then milled around with the crowd before his confrontation with officers.

In his filing, Gallagher noted that the Capitol Police had provided all 7,000 hours of relevant surveillance footage to each of the more than 840 Jan. 6 defendants. And while the department had initially sought extensive protections on that footage, which it considers extremely sensitive, Gallagher noted that courts had removed some of the restrictions.

“However, the USCP continues to consider any interior footage of the U.S. Capitol to be highly sensitive information, and that access to it should be strictly limited,” he wrote.

“There are additional security features in the doors, windows, and within the U.S. Capitol that are extremely sensitive and cannot be discussed in this document,” he added.

Gallagher and prosecutors also worried that if they granted Egtvedt special access to measure and photograph non-public areas of the Capitol, they would receive hundreds of requests from other defendants to do the same. Gallagher described it as “a virtually impossible task that would significantly tie up valuable USCP resources for ‘one-off’ visits that are otherwise required for the protection, security, and safety of the U.S. Capitol.”

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