A story you might have missed that is disturbing and puzzling all at the same time.
U.S. Capitol Police will start using Army surveillance equipment to monitor Americans as part of a larger effort to improve security and turn the force into “an intelligence-based protective agency” in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Is this really what the tasking and operational duty of the U.S. Capitol Police is all about? They are tasked with monitoring Americans, you and I?
According to the website of the U.S. Capitol Police - Protect the Congress – its Members, employees, visitors, and facilities – so it can fulfill its constitutional and legislative responsibilities in a safe, secure and open environment. Is their stated mission. I don’t see any mention of them needing to become or as a part of their mission statement, of them becoming “an intelligence-based protective agency.” And of course, the writer of the referenced article has added the hyperbolic rhetoric of the “storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Who if anyone is asking the question, why is the U.S. Capitol Police, working with the U.S. Army to monitor Americans? Where is it in either organization’s mission statement to address this issue?
Knowing that this equipment is going in place at our nation’s capitol, are your more likely or less likely to visit your state’s elected officials?
“This technology will be integrated with existing USCP camera infrastructure, providing greater high definition surveillance capacity to meet steady-state mission requirements and help identify emerging threats,” the Pentagon said.
The statement above makes me and I’m sure others wonder just how much of a surveillance state the Washington D.C., region has become? Earth Cam has a network of live feed cameras for the various monuments and tourist buildings around the city.
How many cameras are watching you in Washington D.C., and in what neighborhoods?
In the seven police districts in the District of Columbia, there are a total of 264 cameras watching 24/7, 365 days a year.
A common reaction to this type of surveillance is likely to be, “well, if you’re not doing anything illegal or wrong, it shouldn’t matter about the cameras.” Another reaction is, “Gee, what could possibly go wrong?”
The Capitol Police did not provide further details regarding how or where the surveillance equipment would be used, and didn’t provide information on whether data collected would be stored or distributed.
These latest efforts by the Capitol Police have raised some concerns relating to Americans’ privacy rights. Last month, a federal appeals court found similar surveillance technology used by the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) violated the constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
A New York University School of Law independent audit of the systems used by the BPD found the technology allowed the department to track individuals for multiple days.
Already, red flags are being raised by groups concerned about individuals’ privacy rights and a breach of individuals’ constitutional rights. Another concern is the fact that the U.S. Capitol Police as a part of the legislative branch of our government is not subject to inquiries via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Therefore there is no accountability or transparency with the U.S. Capitol Police as there is with your local law enforcement agency.
While on the surface this protection of the seat of government appears to have good intentions, our southern border continues to be wide open with none of the protections being set in place for the nation’s capital.