How secure is the venue where nearly every head of the United States government will be tonight? That is a fair question and worth investigating considering how many enemies the US has made around the world ranging from Islamic extremists to North Koreans. Being that the groups that threaten the security of the US are well trained, equipped, and funded, the security measures in place must go beyond dealing with a lone gunman or group of Code Pink protesters. As such, a group of concerned citizens carried out what appears to be a very detailed reconnaissance of the security in place around Washington, DC in hopes of correcting any deficits before the address. Disturbingly, their verdict is the security needs improvement.
Let me first say that for the safety of everyone attending the State of the Union Address, I will not reveal the critical details of the security weaknesses identified to me, but will address some of the glaring problems so that hopefully, they can be corrected. Note that I have no reason to discount the reports I was given because of the detail and specificity of the information. For your verification purposes, I will provide a few details that are far less critical. For example, senior military leaders, which I will not identify, arrived at the Monroe on Capitol Hill for Dinner at approximately 6:07 PM, Eastern Standard Time and US Marine Units wearing police road guard vests staged NBC response gear in the vicinity of 2nd and D Street North East. Fire and rescue personnel were staged in column along the western sector of the Capitol grounds. The entire Capitol Hill area is also geo-locked by signals intelligence. Feel free to independently verify the claims, but so far, I have not been able to disprove any of it. As such, because this post will most likely get flagged, let me state with 100% assurance, none of the citizens reporting on the security of the speech tonight are of any threat and are simply conducting a passive red team exercise in hopes of correcting any security deficiencies through awareness. Instead, their hope is that by pinging the surveillance grid, word will filter back and security gaps can be quickly fixed. I will be also be available to answer questions regarding security concerns until the event begins by anyone able to fix the gaps.
Returning to the core point of the quality of the security for the event, it is lacking. In short, a heavy presence of police personnel does not equal good security and in fact seemed to be counterproductive. US Capitol Police ring the Capitol, but are not alert and seem more worry about huddling in groups to stay warm. Further, a number of observers easily penetrated the cordon around the Capitol using very basic tradecraft and could have proceeded unchecked to the middle cordon posted just outside the actual entrances. This would be very dangerous in the event someone was wearing a suicide vest. If not bad enough, due to the low light conditions and the poor coordination between guard posts, any terrorist group organized enough (such as ISIL), could easily have donned US Capital Police uniforms and created absolute havoc via the use of active shooters. This style attack was disturbingly assessed as being the most likely. However, it appears that the chances of an attack such as that actually breaching the Capitol itself were unlikely. Respective of most dangerous courses of action, including the use of a WMD or indirect fire such as mortars, the reports suggest that the measures in place were oriented at responding quickly, but unable to prevent such an attack beyond nuclear monitoring teams. In fact, no one reported that they were aware of any effective preemptive countermeasures that would have prevented such an attack (beyond nuclear monitoring). Instead, they were concerned that the bulk of the measures in place relied far too heavily on reaction with the caveat that a significant amount of work has gone on behind the scenes by our intelligence agencies to be preemptive. Respective of the intelligence, we already know that the enemy is smart enough to stay electronically dark (especially inside the geo-locked area) and successfully carry out attacks undetected so this isn’t reassuring. Electronically, it also appeared that jammers were in place that could take down all but a thin band of frequencies for emergency communication as well as protect against remotely detonated explosive devices and low altitude Group 1 unmanned aerial systems. These precautions were reassuring.
Overall, from the information I have been provided, the State of the Union Address is vulnerable to a low tech attack designed to garner attention and disrupt operations, but the attendees are relatively secure from anything beyond an insider threat or WMD. Being that the active shooter type scenario seems to be one of the more likely methods an enemy could successfully use, I would feel much better if the Capitol Police appeared to be alert and have very specific sectors, posts, and means to identify a friend from a foe. The impression I get is that if anyone would start shooting, more citizens and police would be killed by police than by any possible attack. This should be corrected before the 9 PM address. Altogether, I hope it is just an uneventful address where the president lies for an hour about how well the economy is and how effective his policies have been for bringing down the cost of healthcare and defeating ISIL. Let’s just hope he doesn’t label any other groups a “JV” team this address!
By Guiles Hendrik
January 12, 2016