It is understandable that after the trauma of the January 6, 2021, riot and invasion of the U.S. Capitol that the Capitol Police would want to sharpen its ability to anticipate and ward off any future attacks. But a new program instituted by the Capitol Police’s intelligence unit comes dangerously close to maintaining political dossiers on Capitol visitors, political donors and staffers.
Politico’s Betsy Woodruff Swan and Daniel Lippman report that former Department of Homeland Security official Julie Farnam, who now heads the intelligence unit, changed the template of an existing program – to assess threats from events with big crowds – to vetting the social media feeds and run “background checks” on people who meet privately and publicly with Members of Congress.
In one instance, the unit analyzed a meeting Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) held with donors at his home.
“Whatever they think that sounds like for security, it sounds dangerously close – if not already over the line – to spying on Members of Congress, their staff, their constituents and their supporters,” said Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.). “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.”