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It’s Too Late to ‘Reform’ the FBI and Intelligence Agencies

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Our federal government is hopelessly corrupt. The sooner more of us realize this, the sooner we can begin moving toward a society that values liberty. Unfortunately, too many of us have been holding out hope that agencies like the FBI and others can be reformed or rebuilt.

Indeed, GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy made some waves recently when he suggested abolishing the FBI and then replacing it with another agency. He’s not the only one.

Many on the right, after the Bureau was found to have been targeting Trump in 2016 and later in 2022 when it raided his home at Mar-A-Lago, have found a new appreciation for the idea that the FBI should be razed to the ground—figuratively speaking, of course. Still, the notion that “repealing and replacing” the FBI will solve the corruption problem is deeply flawed.

I came across an article written by John Daniel Davidson, senior editor for The Federalist, in which he discussed the revelations coming from Special Counsel John Durham’s report on the origins of the FBI’s scheme to concoct the Russia hoax. He suggests that the “real warning” in the special counsel’s report is that the corruption in the federal agencies involved in the Russia collusion hoax “cannot be fixed with new rules and policies.”

“It’s a moral failing, moral corruption, and it can only be fixed by a spiritual renewal in America, by a return to — let’s be honest — a civic culture shaped and guided by Christian moral virtue,” he continues.

Davidson emphasizes that the fundamental issue lies in the corrupted hearts and minds of those in power, and no amount of rule changes or training sessions will be effective if the FBI’s supposed guiding principles of “fidelity, bravery, and integrity” are not engrained in the individuals responsible for upholding the Constitution. The author contends that the abuse of power witnessed in 2016 and 2020 represents a significant threat to the republic, making self-government and the preservation of the rule of law nearly impossible.

He’s not wrong about this. It’s an issue that has been present in all of our governmental institutions since they were created. However, the idea that we can somehow make these agencies more virtuous is perhaps a bit naïve.

For starters, corruption in the FBI did not begin with Crossfire Hurricane in 2016, a fact I’m sure Davidson would agree with. From the abuses under J. Edgar Hoover’s leadership to the massacre at Waco, TX, the FBI has a history of overstepping its boundaries and violating civil liberties. The same can be said for the CIA’s questionable activities abroad. It is essential to recognize that these abuses were not isolated incidents, but rather indicative of systemic issues within the agency. To put it simply, the agency has never been as upstanding as many believe.

Davidson’s suggestion that we as a society must strive for personal virtue is commendable. Each one of us should work to become better people. However, it is overly simplistic to suggest that increased moral fortitude among individuals will solve the problems within government.

The issue lies not solely with the personal character of those in power, but with the structures and incentives that enable corruption. The concentration of power attracts individuals with self-serving agendas, and systemic changes are necessary to address these root causes.

Placing undue emphasis on individual virtue disregards the reality that power corrupts, no matter what. It is the reason why the anti-Federalists argued so vociferously against the establishment of a strong centralized government. If they were alive today, they would be on YouTube saying, “WE TOLD YOU SO!”

Of course, when I say the FBI and other federal agencies are hopelessly corrupt, I’m not saying every single, solitary individual working in these institutions are evil people. However, it has been abundantly clear throughout history that these agencies have been one of the prime abusers of our liberty, and there is no hope of reforming them.

This is why I constantly call for the abolition of the FBI and most other federal agencies. These organizations are largely unaccountable to voters, and neither party seems interested in truly addressing the problem these entities pose to a free society. There are better ways to protect our rights without holding up government agencies that consistently violate them.

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