National Security

Reps ask Capitol Police Board for information on ‘insider threat awareness program’

Seven House Republicans wrote to express their concerns over the “dramatic and troubling expansion” of the U.S. Capitol Police’s authority after it was asked to gather intelligence about members of Congress, visitors to the Capitol and other previously unmonitored groups.

In their letter on Tuesday, representatives asked for answers about the “insider threat awareness program” as well as records surrounding the intelligence it has collected.

The letter specifically cited the Capitol Police Board’s request to the force “to conduct background checks and other forms of intelligence gathering on Members of Congress, staff, contractors, visitors to the Capitol Complex, and attendees participating in off-campus and district-based events.”

“While the statutory authority granted to the USCP is broad, we are unaware of any direct statutory authorization for such a dramatic expansion of intelligence collection,” the lawmakers wrote, adding that “intelligence activities of the sort would require direct statutory authorization and the implementation of a vigorous oversight system.”

The letter was signed by Reps. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Troy Nehls (R-Texas) and Bryan Steil (R-Wis.).

The letter also noted that a review following last year’s Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol said “as part of an effort to ‘decrease insider threat risks,’ the Capitol should review ‘its use and application of background checks for identification card holders,'” a move that the representatives said would require congressional approval.

The letter followed a report from Politico that after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, Capitol Police have been looking into the backgrounds of people who meet with lawmakers or their staffers.

The Capitol Police defended the practice in a statement, according to Politico. 

“The more public information we have, the better we can understand what kind and how much security is necessary,” the police said, according to the news outlet.

But Armstrong said at the time of that report that he did not know of any members aware of the “very, very bad” practice, Politico added. 

The Hill has reached out to the Capitol Police for comment. 

National Security