From COINTELPRO to Crossfire Hurricane: Can Political Bias Be Eliminated From Federal Agencies?

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File

The reality of political bias in federal agencies such as the FBI and others has been apparent since the 2016 election. Special Counsel John Durham’s recently released report further details how elements of the Bureau were weaponized against former President Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign. At this point, it seems reasonable to ask: Is it even possible to rid federal agencies of political bias in their decision-making?

Durham’s report sheds light on the questionable handling of the Trump-Russia probe by the FBI, raising concerns about the apparent political bias within federal agencies. While the report stops short of directly accusing the FBI of political motivations, it highlights instances of disparate treatment between the Trump and Clinton campaigns, leading to questions about the ability to remove political bias from federal agencies altogether.

Special Counsel Durham’s report raises serious concerns about the FBI’s handling of the Trump-Russia probe, referring to it as “seriously deficient.” The report criticizes the agency for its flawed approach, demonstrating what appears to be confirmation bias in favor of a suspected plot by the Russians. However, it falls short of explicitly attributing the FBI’s actions to political bias, leaving room for interpretation.

One of the key issues highlighted in the report is the disparate treatment of the Trump and Clinton campaigns. Durham’s investigation brings attention to alleged attempts by foreign entities to influence Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which were briefed to her team. In contrast, Trump and his associates were not informed of the FBI’s suspicions regarding their bid. This disparate treatment raises concerns about potential political bias, as it suggests a difference in the way investigations were conducted based on the political affiliation of the candidates.

It is also important to note that the situation with Trump is not the first time the Bureau has been found to have acted in a politically-biased manner. Starting in the 1950s, the FBI launched the Counterintelligence Program, also known as COINTELPRO. Its purpose was to surveil, infiltrate, and disrupt various political organizations deemed subversive, including civil rights groups, anti-war activists, and black nationalist organizations.

COINTELPRO targeted groups such as the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement, among others. The FBI employed and recruited agents to infiltrate these movements to sabotage them from the inside.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the FBI’s surveillance of anti-war and civil rights groups raised concerns about political bias. The FBI under Director J. Edgar Hoover extensively monitored and gathered intelligence on individuals and organizations associated with these movements, often without proper legal justification.

These examples highlight instances where the FBI’s actions were criticized for their political targeting, and its willingness to infringe on the rights of individuals and groups engaged in political activities. Such cases have fueled concerns about the potential misuse of law enforcement powers for political purposes.

These are only a few examples illustrating how the FBI, from its inception, was used as a political weapon against people labeled as potential dangers. The Bureau has a long and storied history of abusing its authority and, despite its claims of impartiality, it does not seem that this issue could ever be rectified.

The existence of political bias within federal agencies is a complex issue that cannot be easily eradicated. The nature of human beings and their inherent biases makes it challenging to ensure complete objectivity in politically sensitive matters. This is especially true when people gain the power to wield an entity as powerful as the federal government against political opposition.

From where I sit, this is yet another reason to abolish the FBI and other institutions that can be, and have been, used to violate the rights of Americans based on political affiliation. At this point, the rot has infested these agencies to the point of no return. With authoritarianism becoming even more prevalent in the government, it is even more important to ensure that the state cannot be weaponized against the citizenry.


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