Report: Threat level at US Capitol 'very high'

By WCBS Newsradio 880

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) — The threat level at the U.S. Capitol is "higher than has been reported," a defense official tells CBS News.

The official said the level is "very high" right now.

CBS News correspondent David Martin reports approximately 2,000 National Guard members are at the Capitol.

Photos showed hundreds of troops curled up or stretched out across the tiles of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, positioned between the House and Senate and the Capitol building itself. They leaned against pillars, used backpacks and stairs as pillows and napped beneath busts of former presidents, their weapons close at hand.

According to Martin, the troops are authorized to carry weapons, though not all are armed.

CBS News reports the acting Secretary of Defense has delegated authority to carry arms and use force to the Secretary of the Army, so there will be no need for approval, which cost about 40 minutes last week.

The National Guard has been authorized to send up to 15,000 troops from various states to Washington, D.C. and a defense official told CBS News they're planning to bring in an additional 5,000.

Security has been stepped up in Washington a week before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

The coordinated effort to prevent violence in the district brings together all available resources.

It was supposed to kick in next Tuesday, but has been moved up due to last week's events and the threats of even more violence in the days ahead.

"Members of Congress received briefings about what's to come before next week's inauguration. Some called it chilling," reported CBS News correspondent Jeff Peques. "They were informed of potential plans for a plot to surround the White House, Capitol and Supreme Court to block Democrats from taking control."

The FBI said it warned law enforcement agencies ahead of last week's breach of the Capitol about the potential for violence from extremist groups. That contradicts earlier statements that law enforcement agencies were caught off guard.