Tags: congress | representatives | senators | security

Congressional Security Detail on the Rise

Congressional Security Detail on the Rise
A U.S. Capitol Police Officer stands guard around the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., June 14, 2017, as security is increased following a shooting incident targeting Congressmen in nearby Virginia. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

By Thursday, 27 July 2017 10:55 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The lunatic that opened fire at Republicans practicing for the annual Congressional baseball game may have only succeeded in making Congress even more remote and detached from the lives of the people the members allegedly represent.

Now the Washington Post reports panicky representatives “are traveling the halls of the Capitol — and the streets of their home towns — with security details.” The question is how do they justify the expenditure and the resulting imposition on the public?

Easy, they have an inflated estimate of their own worth.

Members of our Imperial Congress, in their minds, have gone from being representatives of the people to becoming caretakers of the people. And without our caretakers how would we get along?

In reality, every member of the House and the Senate is a public servant, no more important individually to the functioning of the Republic than the cop on the beat. It is only en masse that the individual politician starts to become a special case.

While being short one representative out of a total 435 isn’t going to cripple the nation, losing them in bunches would be a symbolic loss with worldwide repercussions. That is why I reluctantly support the fortress-like atmosphere of the Capitol and House and Senate office buildings. We can’t always rely on the Flight 93 Militia to guard those buildings from attack.

Individual members in their district and outside the government complex should not have “security details.” And the Capitol Police should have no role outside the federally controlled part of D.C. Larger gatherings of elected officials and politicians who feel particularly threatened should ask for protection from local authorities.

Otherwise one might get the impression the local police, that are good enough for the public that elects them, aren’t worthy to protect senators and representatives.

This brings up another question. The proposed security detachments are supposed to be justified “by the increasingly hostile political environment that has produced combative town hall meetings and violent encounters among political activists.” Yet who has more influence on creating the political environment than the politicians? Why shouldn’t they take their chances the way the rest of us do?

It’s bad enough that Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and the likes of Oren Hatch travel inside the Capitol surrounded by bodyguards.

The “vicious, personal attacks” that Members of Congress are subject to come in the form of advertisements, not violence. If you’re looking for a “public servant” that’s actually in danger while doing his job, talk to a mailman not a politician. The last member to be killed in an individual attack was Rep. Leo Ryan in 1978. Before Rep. Steve Scalise was shot, the last serious injury was the Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' shooting in 2011. Prior to that it was Sen. John Stennis in 1973.

Four attacks in 44 years isn’t exactly the definition of danger, yet now Marco Rubio has a flying wedge of security surrounding him inside the Senate buildings. Unless he’s worried about being confronted by a constituent over flagrant absenteeism, I can’t imagine what is worrying him.

Neither, for that matter, can the FBI. In spite of all the hand-wringing in the halls of Congress, the Bureau said it, “has not seen a sustained trend in criminal threats to Members of Congress. It is galvanized into action only “when the threats are regarded as credible and meeting a certain threshold.”

That’s not exactly reassuring when we remember all the “known wolf” jihadis that have been on FBI radar and disappeared, but again why shouldn’t our elected representatives be subject to the same dangers and “wrong-place-at-wrong-time” randomness that the people who pay their salary are?

Criminal court judges have jobs that generate threats and they deal daily with people who have a potential for violence that exceeds that of even the most hardcore TEA Party member, yet they don’t travel around town surrounded by a ring of steel.

When there is a credible threat, they get protection. Otherwise they live like citizens.

PR-conscious members, like Rep. Cedric Richmond (D–LA), are making a big push for a congressional response that will apply equally to all members: “If you look at our leadership…they have full­time protection detail. Everybody else is just really left out there on their own.”

The resulting, massive multi-billion-dollar cost is a small price to pay to avoid individual criticism from voters.

The truth is the “Deplorables” who venture out to support President Trump in a Los Angeles rally without being surrounded by black SUVs are a better example than some members. To hide inside a cordon of bullet-headed intimidators, on the basis of mere threats, is a shocking display of cowardice from people who never tire of telling voters how hard they are "fighting for us."

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.

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The lunatic that opened fire at Republicans practicing for the annual Congressional baseball game may have only succeeded in making Congress even more remote and detached from the lives of the people the members allegedly represent.
congress, representatives, senators, security
Thursday, 27 July 2017 10:55 AM
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