- AMERICAN GREATNESS - Adam Mill - AUG 8, 2022 -
Short of abolishing the bureau, our elected leaders must exercise their power to reimpose constitutional supremacy over this out-of-control agency.
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President Harry Truman saw the FBI as the seed of a totalitarian cancer it would later become. “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police,” Truman wrote. “F.B.I. is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex life scandles [sic] and plain blackmail when they should be catching criminals.” Whether it’s mass unconstitutional spying, interfering in American elections, lying to courts, or entrapping and sometimes framing innocent Americans, the debate over whether we should have an FBI is drawing to a close. Almost every month another informed author calls for the abolition of the FBI.
So let’s move on to the next question: How do we get rid of the FBI?
In theory, a properly motivated Congress could defund and shutter the FBI with a simple piece of legislation. Unfortunately, until Democrats and establishment Republicans swallow their fears and wake up to the threat the FBI poses to self-government, the FBI remains above the rule of law and beyond the reach democratic accountability.
Still, there are incremental steps that could be taken to challenge the lawlessness of this untouchable agency. The winds of public opinion have begun to blow strongly against the FBI making the previously unthinkable possible. Republicans and Democrats should join together to take action, if they still can.
End the FBI’s Counterintelligence Work
There’s a reason why the FBI loves to paint its opponents and political rivals as, “agents of Putin,” or stooges for Russia. Through the Russian collusion hoax, the public learned that the FBI can use a false allegation of a target acting as a foreign agent to spy on political opponents. While the FBI, in theory, was supposed to have probable cause that Carter Page, a figure in the Trump campaign, was an agent of Russia, it lied to the FISA court to conceal Page’s history of providing information voluntarily to the CIA. Through the warrant to spy on Page, the FBI (in coordination with subcontractors for the Clinton campaign) spied on the Trump campaign. Long after the FBI knew there was “no there, there,” it used the sham counterintelligence investigation to engineer the appointment of a special counsel to interfere with the peaceful transition of power.
The FBI has been ineffective at using the FISA court to catch real spies, however, preferring instead to reverse engineer warrants on real American targets who happen to have some incidental contact with a Russian. The FBI has shown it cannot be trusted with the domestic counterintelligence brief and that power should be reassigned to an agency that won’t abuse the power.
Combatting Elected Officials’ Fear of the FBI
Truman also wrote, “Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him.” Democrats are fools if they believe the FBI is a reliable ally. Truman would know. The FBI attempted to throw the 1948 presidential election by leaking to Republican challenger Thomas E. Dewey “compromising information about President Harry Truman’s former association with the Kansas City political machine of the corrupt boss Tom Pendergast. The details soon found their way into Republican campaign literature.”
Politicians feared the FBI because of its ability to plant and spread stories with the imprimatur of the bureau as a source. When the FBI sees a candidate engaged in real corruption, however, it seems to do the opposite, running interference with the news media to protect that candidate by suppressing news stories or characterizing politically inconvenient evidence as “Russian disinformation.”
The problem is a thorny one because the FBI’s access to the vast national security databases (and its willingness to abuse them to spy on Americans) acts as a powerful psychological deterrent to politicians seeking to challenge the bureau.
One solution might be to demand of political candidates a pledge to publicly disclose any attempt by any member of the FBI to gain leverage over that politician. Further, the FBI should be required to register and report to the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General any contact with a political candidate, his family, an elected official, or a journalist.
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