Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
The last year and a half have been frustrating when it comes to dealing with the transgressions at the FBI and DOJ. The institutional rot is obvious. The misdeeds clear. There’s very little question that the breaches of protocol, abuse of power, and unaccountable nature go far beyond just Peter Strzok and arguments over Donald Trump.
Unfortunately, because everything must (MUST!) revolve around whether you despise the President or not, much of what we’ve learned has been swept aside by those who see “getting Trump” as preeminent.
This is misguided and the very institutions they claim must be upheld and protected are being destroyed by their circling of the wagons. Furthermore, the FBI and DOJ’s own lack of admittance and obfuscation are doing profound harm to the public’s view of them as fair arbitrators of the law.
Criticism of these agencies, even when backed by mountains of objective evidence, has often earned you the charge of “doing Putin’s bidding” and other such nonsense, as if vast corruption within our law enforcement agencies is something to be overlooked if it indirectly benefits Russia (fact check: it doesn’t do much of anything for Russia)
I used to resent the term “deep state” but I now find to be a perfectly logical descriptor of what we’ve seen. I apologize to those who clutch their Comey plush dolls at the mere mention of the phrase. The truth is, the institutional rot I mentioned above goes far beyond just concerns about rogue officials out to get Donald Trump
Take this case that Andrew McCarthy of National Review lays out in a recent expose of FBI maleficence. Trigger warning: it has nothing to do with Donald Trump so you may have to actually think outside your political biases.
What do you do with an FBI agent, sworn to uphold the law, who flagrantly violates the law in a rogue investigation aimed at making a name for himself by bringing down some high-profile targets?
Why . . . you promote him, of course.
At least that is the way the Justice Department answered that question in the case of David Chaves, an FBI agent who serially and lawlessly leaked grand-jury information, wiretap evidence, and other sensitive investigative intelligence to the media in his quest to make an insider-trading case against some celebrities. And when finally called on it, the Justice Department circled the wagons: proceeding with its tainted prosecution, referring the now-retired Chaves for an internal investigation that has gone exactly nowhere after nearly two years, and using legal maneuvers to block the courts and the public from scrutinizing the scope of the misconduct.
You can read many of the details of the case at the link above and I encourage you to do so.
The long and short is that FBI agents used illegal disclosures, leaks to reporters, and tactics to publicly destroy people in order to force them into pleading guilty. The FBI originally lied to the court about their conduct. When cornered, they admitted it but the main player in question (David Chaves) ended up promoted instead of prosecuted.
In another case outlined by McCarthy, the FBI destroyed a man’s life and business by illegally getting a search warrant and leaking the raid to the media.
A little over a year ago, I wrote about another of these cases. It involved David Ganek and his hedge fund, Level Global. The government obtained a search warrant for the firm and alerted the media before the raid. Predictably, the reputational damage caused by publicity about Ganek’s status as a suspect destroyed the business. Yet, Ganek was never charged, and it appears that the government falsely represented in its search-warrant application that an informant had implicated him in insider trading.
At the time, I opined that investigative excesses and lawlessness are a serious problem best addressed by Congress and Justice Department leadership. The courts are limited to weighing the legal claims raised by parties to a litigation; they are simply not equipped to investigate official misconduct, nor is it their responsibility. And indeed, since I posited that argument, Ganek’s lawsuit against the government has been dismissed on a finding that law-enforcement officials have immunity, and it is an open question whether the Second Circuit (which dismissed Ganek’s claims) will take action on the misconduct in Walters’s case.
In the end, the DOJ didn’t even find evidence to charge him. Did he get his life back? Of course not. We’ve seen this play out in the Mueller probe as well, where bankrupting targets and threatening to go after their children are perfectly acceptable tactics to secure a meaningless conviction on a process crime.
That’s not justice. It’s abuse of power simply to collect a scalp.
Our federal law enforcement apparatus has reached a point where they are simply too powerful and too unaccountable. Worse? Their detestable actions are largely endorsed in 2018 because some see their pursuit of Trump as primary. That means letting corruption slide because if you call it out, it might indirectly help the President. We can’t let that happen, now can we?
Knowing they’ve got cover, the FBI/DOJ thumb there noises at constitutional oversight…
The problem is not the existence of miscreants; they are an inevitable part of the human condition, from which no institution of any size will ever be immune. The challenge today is the ethos of law-enforcement. You see it in texts expressing disdain for lawmakers; in the above-it-all contempt for legislative oversight; in arrogant flouting of the Gang of Eight disclosure process for sensitive intelligence (because the FBI’s top-tier unilaterally decides when Bureau activities are “too sensitive” to discuss); in rogue threats to turn the government’s law-enforcement powers against Congress; and in the imperious self-perception of a would-be fourth branch of government, insulated from and unaccountable to the others — including its actual executive-branch superiors.
Once law enforcement saw the virtue in self-policing, in a duty to expose and purge itself of rogue actors. Now, it tends toward not just burying bad behavior but — the best defense being a good offense — hiding it behind claims of a job well done, behind claims that its ends are so noble its means are justified no matter how unseemly.
And who’s going to stop them? If the executive tries to, he’ll just be accused of obstructing justice by these same institutions. If Congress tries to, they are accused of partisanship and threatened with subpoenas. The Judiciary simply lacks the power of oversight.
Meanwhile, the leaders of these agencies wrongly see themselves as above constitutional governance. They are the keepers of the flame in their minds, righteously delegating justice based on their own judgements in order to secure their vision for America. Instead of admittance of wrongdoing and a push to fix things, we get more self-righteous nonsense and lectures about how our entire Republic depends on not holding extra-constitutional bureaucracies accountable. It’s mind-numbing.
In response to the damning, widespread abuses found in the recent IG report on the Clinton email investigation, we got this…
“The OIG report makes clear that we’ve got some work to do,” Wray said. “But let’s be clear on the scope of this report. It’s focused on a specific set of events back in 2016, and a small number of FBI employees connected with those events.
“Nothing in the report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution.”
Absolute nonsense and it shows that the current FBI director is probably not the person to clean this mess up. The idea that everything that went on during the Clinton investigation is somehow isolated to the Clinton investigation is an idiotic assertion. As was shown in the cases laid out above, breaches of protocol and yes, criminal activity within the FBI, were not relegated to just “a specific set of events back in 2016.”
What’s Mr. Wray’s solution to all these revelations? Why, more training of course. That’ll fix everything.
What was shown in the IG report demands mass firings and a restructure of leadership down to the mid-levels of the organization (i.e. not just directorial positions). It also demands a wholesale admittance of institutionalized corruption and a vow to root it out. Instead we get more obfuscating and repeated claims of how righteous and untouchable the FBI is and must remain.
How does Peter Strzok still have a job within the FBI? How has James Comey not been directly condemned by the FBI for his actions? It’s insanity at this point.
What’s most chilling isn’t what happened during the Clinton investigation, it’s that the two cases mentioned at the beginning of this article won’t get an IG report. They won’t get publicity. There will be no justice for those who’ve had their lives destroyed by out of control FBI officials. The wrongdoers are immune from the consequences of their actions and that means they have no reason to stop.
Those in the media and conservative circles who see criticism of the FBI (yes, as a whole because they deserve it) as being in competition with criticism of Donald Trump continue to do the bureau a profound disservice. By brushing aside corruption and tacitly supporting misdeeds in the name of politics, they are helping to destroy the very institutions they swear are so vital.
It’s time to stop kidding ourselves. It’s time to stop making excuses and moderating our language. As McCarthy puts it in his article above, it’s time for the FBI to stop whining about criticism. They’ve shown themselves to be and it needs massive reform, including at the legislative level to reign them in and establish real, enforceable oversight. Until that happens, these abuses will continue and while you may enjoy them being pointed at Donald Trump, one day they may be pointed at you.