Guest Editorial

Thomas Knapp

More transparency needed at Capitol

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, no stranger to finding himself under political fire, has been hunkering down beneath a new barrage after turning over 40,000 hours of Capitol security camera footage (from the Jan. 6, 2021 riot) to Fox News’s Tucker Carlson.
“The speaker is needlessly exposing the Capitol complex to one of the worst security risks since 9/11,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) whined. “The footage Speaker McCarthy is making available to Fox News is a treasure trove of closely held information about how the Capitol complex is protected.”
But NBC News reports that, per a source with direct knowledge of the process, “the Jan. 6 committee worked with a Capitol Police representative to make sure the video would not pose a security risk if it were released to the public.”
The only thing wrong about this is that only Carlson has received the footage. But that’s a temporary problem. “[H]e’ll have an exclusive,” McCarthy says, “then I’ll give it out to the entire country.”
On March 1, Tracy Walder — a former CIA and FBI employee — clutched her (taxpayer-provided) pearls on MSNBC’s The ReidOut. “[A]s someone who served in Afghanistan, served my country and was in harm’s way,” she said, “I did not risk my life for something like this to happen.”
And then Walder got really weird: “But also, the way I look at this, strangely, is actually no different than what Edward Snowden did.”
That’s an interesting comparison.
Edward Snowden is probably the 21st century’s greatest American hero, driven into exile under threat of life imprisonment for exposing the crimes of agencies like those Walder worked for.
While McCarthy should find the comparison flattering, he isn’t putting his life or freedom, or even his job, at risk by doing the right thing here.
Nor is what he’s exposing the equivalent of what a cat does in the litter box and then tries to cover up, as were Snowden’s revelations.
He’s just releasing footage of events that occurred in a public building and are of obvious public interest.
The U.S. House of Representatives likes to refer to itself as “the People’s House.” There’s no particular reason why the Capitol building it works in should be treated as “only the Very Special Important People’s House.”
In fact, all areas of the Capitol building should be covered, 24/7, by cameras/microphones that anyone can access via Internet stream. Except the bathrooms. Let’s keep those audio-only, please.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (


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