Security For Public Officials Rises Amid Political Threats
The Central Intelligence Agency’s most endangered employee for much of the past year was not an operative on a mission abroad, but an analyst who faced threats after filing a whistleblower report that led to the impeachment of President Donald Trump. The analyst spent months living in no-frills hotels under surveillance by CIA security, the Washington Post reports. He was driven to work by armed officers in an unmarked sedan. On the few occasions he was allowed to reenter his home to retrieve belongings, a security team swept the apartment first to make sure it was safe. The CIA’s Security Protective Service monitored thousands of threats across social media and Internet chat rooms. Violent messages surged each time the analyst was targeted in tweets or public remarks by the president.
Officials across the U.S. have faced similar ordeals. The targets encompass mayors, governors and members of Congress, as well as officials Trump has turned against within his own administration. The dynamic appears to be without precedent: government agencies taking extraordinary measures to protect their people from strains of seething hostility stoked by a sitting president. The FBI disrupted an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Anthony Fauci, the immunologist leading the response to the pandemic, requires near-constant security because of threats against him and his family. It’s “sad,” Fauci told “Sixty Minutes,” that “a public health message to save lives triggers such venom and animosity that it results in real and credible threats to my life and my safety.” The rise in such cases is part of a broader escalation in tension and violence, with clashes in major cities, shootings that have killed or wounded protesters and law enforcement officials, and murmurings of possible uprisings depending on the outcome of next week’s election.