WASHINGTON -- A Democratic senator said yesterday he has closed his Washington office because a top-secret intelligence report made him fear for his staff's safety. Federal law enforcement officials insisted there is no new intelligence indicating the Capitol complex is a target.
Senator Mark Dayton, Democrat of Minnesota, said his office in the Russell Senate Office Building across the street from the Capitol will be closed while Congress is in recess through Election Day, with his staff working out of his Minnesota office and in Senate space off Capitol Hill.
"I take this step out of extreme, but necessary, precaution to protect the lives and safety of my Senate staff and my Minnesota constituents, who might otherwise be visiting my Senate office in the next three weeks," he said.
Dayton said he could not give details of the intelligence report, which he said Senate majority leader Bill Frist presented to senators at a briefing two weeks ago.
Frist, a Tennessee Republican, told reporters later that he didn't know of any other senators who had closed their Capitol Hill offices.
"There has been no new information over the last five to six weeks," he said, referring to intelligence.
Brian Roehrkasse, a Homeland Security Department spokesman, said the department had no intelligence indicating Al Qaeda intends to target any specific US locations.
FBI officials said that while there still is concern Al Qaeda wants to disrupt the upcoming election, there is no new information indicating the Capitol or any other location is a target.
Added Capitol Police spokesman Michael Lauer: "We continue to be on guard now, all the way . . . through the inauguration."
Nonetheless, Dayton said he would advise people from his home state to avoid Capitol Hill until after the Nov. 2 election.