Did you know the U.S. Capitol Police have an intelligence unit?
They sure do, and, unknown to almost everyone, they’ve been stepping up their activities. This is yet another “security measure” put in place after January 6 on the pretext that America is under threat from domestic terrorism. POLITICO broke the story after speaking with people familiar with the new policies; they’ve also examined correspondence describing the new approach.
The intel unit is now quietly investigating the backgrounds of people who meet with lawmakers, including their social media accounts. They’re apparently doing the same to Hill staffers. The concept of “civil liberties” becomes more and more nebulous every day.
North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong, a Republican and former criminal defense attorney, compared these new activities to spying. “Whatever they think that sounds like for security,” he said, “it sounds dangerously close --- if not already over the line --- to spying on members of Congress, their staff, their constituents and their supporters. Anybody involved with implementing this without making it known to the actual members of Congress should resign or be fired immediately. And I’m not big on calling for resignations.”
“We need to know everything,” he said. I want to know where it goes, how high it goes, and why all of this exists.”
According to POLITICO, the Capitol Police brought on former Department of Homeland Security official Julie Farnam in the fall of 2020, and she changed a lot of protocols in the weeks leading up to January 6, apparently causing “internal confusion” about priorities. After January 6, she went further, changing the template for what they call Congressional Event Assessments, which are done to anticipate the risks of meetings and events held away from the Capitol. (That would now be all of them, as the Capitol building itself remains closed to visitors.) Farnam is directing her analysts to look very closely at the people who would be meeting both publicly and privately with lawmakers.
If this doesn’t seem like a big deal at first glance, or maybe just something that needs to be done in the name of risk mitigation, let me assure you it gets much worse. The new template tells intel agents to examine the social media of attendees, asking, “...is there anything that may impact the event itself or any of the participants [including not just members of Congress but other attendees]?” And here’s where we really enter a danger zone: Analysts are also supposed to search for information about lawmakers’ opponents and their opponents’ supporters: “List and search all political opponents to see if they or their followers intend to attend or disrupt the event.”
What a great excuse to dig into all kinds of private information on one’s political opponents! Sounds like an idea worthy of Hillary Clinton, and you know I don’t mean that in a complimentary way. Perhaps you’re old enough to recall the mysterious White House staffer Craig Livingstone and the FBI files the First Lady was amassing on political opponents. This sounds like just her style.
It’s outright spying by the Capitol Police. With the pretext of trying to head off danger and disruption, as in the movie MINORITY REPORT, they are delving into people’s private lives. As POLITICO reports: “One Capitol Police official noted that Farnam directed analysts to run ‘background checks’ on people whom lawmakers planned to meet, including donors and associates. When staff were listed as attending these meetings, Capitol Police intelligence analysts also got asked to check the social media accounts of the staffers.”
They were even told to “probe the ownership” of the buildings in which lawmakers held their meetings, sifting through tax and real estate records (!!!). Incredibly, this applies to people’s private homes; they scrutinized one such home used by Florida Sen. Rick Scott for a meeting with donors. The social media accounts of both the homeowner and the attendees were scrutinized, and their foreign contacts were assessed.
Sen. Scott was not pleased. “These reports are incredibly disturbing,” he said through a spokesperson. “It is unthinkable that any government entity would conduct secret investigations to build political dossiers on private Americans. The American people deserve to know what Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi knew and directed, and when. Sen. Scott believes the Senate Rules Committee should immediately investigate.”
Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was surprised to hear that he and his donors had been similarly scrutinized by the Capitol Police. The department, meanwhile, speaks of this as simply part of their job of protecting people, and they say it’s all coordinated with members of Congress. So why is it that when lawmakers learn the extent of this scrutiny, they are surprised?
Individuals are essentially being spied on, simply for exercising their right to petition members of Congress. Their “protected” speech ends up in police files, even when there is no reason to suspect they’re involved in anything criminal. This is just one more way in which the January 6 Capitol Hill riot has been used as a pretext to violate people’s civil liberties.
Here’s the original story from POLITICO.
The story hasn’t received much media attention but continues to percolate. In an update, a group of seven House Republicans sent a letter to the Capitol Police this week demanding answers. Perhaps the biggest question is this: By what authority does the Capitol Police “intel unit” extensively surveil (SPY ON) private citizens? Congress didn’t give it to them.
The letter states, “A decision to expand background checks and intelligence-gathering to a previously unsurveilled group of individuals constitutes a dramatic and troubling expansion of the USCP’s authority.”
A story in The Federalist brings up the resources needed to conduct this type of program, when only three weeks ago, Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger testified to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee about the severe staffing shortages on his security force. What does this say about priorities?
To us, it suggests that the REAL priority among those REALLY in charge of the Capitol Police isn’t security at all, but the ability to spy at will.
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