Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Why We Should All Fear the Right Wing Rot Inside the FBI

If nothing else, FBI Director James Comey's effort to throw the presidential election to Donald Trump has revealed the rot and corruption within the FBI which has seemingly been taken over by rogue alt-right agents.  This development ought to worry anyone who believes in objective law enforcement and fact based criminal investigations - things that are the antithesis of what today's Republican Party stands for.  Indeed, the North Carolina GOP has bragged about who it has disenfranchised many African-American voters this election cycle.   A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the rot and right wing agenda within the FBI.  Here are excerpts:
When a black church burned in Greenville, Mississippi, leaving charred walls and roof and the words “vote Trump” scrawled on the side of the building, local authorities called in the FBI. Its offices in Jackson, the state capitol, and Washington D.C. were put on the case.
 The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been doing that kind of work for decades. It was the FBI, under pressure from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, that sent scores of agents to Philadelphia, Mississippi in June of 1964 to investigate the disappearance of three civil rights workers: Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney, who had themselves been investigating the firebombing of a black church that was to serve as a “freedom school,” in preparation for registering black Mississippians to vote. When the three men were found dead—lynched and discarded in an earthen dam—it was FBI agents who made the discovery, acting on an informant’s tip.
 Americans have, at various times, leaned on the FBI for a measure of justice that local and state police couldn’t be counted on to deliver . . . The events of the past two weeks have made it all but impossible to have much faith in the FBI now. The agency has, through the actions of a minority cell of unknown size, been severely tainted, potentially dragging down the reputations of even the finest agents in its ranks.
 After all, how can we trust the nation’s foremost federal law enforcement agency now that it has become clear that a faction of its agents used a conspiracy theory-hawking political book to launch a partisan probe into a presidential candidate?
 That unprecedented prospect: that federal law enforcement could take it upon themselves to try and swing a national election using allegations gleaned from a partisan hatchet job financially linked to the target’s political opponent, is Third World stuff.
It makes the already creepy chants of “lock her up!” at Trump rallies reminiscent of a spiraling coup d’etat in a banana republic, because clearly, some in the FBI want to make those chants come true. And it makes Rudy Giuliani’s assertion, two days before Comey’s vague oppo dump, that the campaign had “a couple of things up our sleeve to turn [the race] around,” an ominous tell indeed.
 Most Americans presume that members of law enforcement tend to be ideologically conservative. But many Americans have watched in alarm as police officers across the country pose with the Republican candidate, even donning red “Make America Great Again” baseball caps with their police uniforms. . . . These officers clearly don’t mind if those they police know that they concur with Trump’s divisive, racially abusive message . . .
 FBI agents are, presumably, drawn from much the same pool as law enforcement generally: mostly white, mostly male, mostly right of center. If the agency is indeed, “Trumpland,” as The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman reports, God help Hillary Clinton. But God help the rest of us well.
 We have entered an unprecedented new age when federal law enforcement demonstrates a willingness to go beyond each agent exercising his or her individual right to vote to massing its investigative powers against an individual for political purposes. That the FBI could become a tool in the arsenal of one party’s presidential candidate, perhaps even coordinating with that candidate through their mutual allies, is the most frightening development in a truly unnerving presidential cycle. It should be unnerving to their fellow FBI agents as well, and to anyone who cares about the agency’s reputation.
 Based on the reports from multiple journalists, including Wayne Barrett, some of Giuliani’s friends in the FBI hate her still. But should they be able to use the badges the public pins on them to try and prevent her from winning a presidential election?
 Whatever the cause, it’s clear that there is a cancer festering inside the nation’s pre-eminent law enforcement agency, and it runs through New York.
The possibility that the director of the FBI is essentially at the mercy of a right-wing faction of his own agents, whose source of investigative material is an offshoot of Breitbart.com, which has direct connections to the Republican candidate, bodes ill for what the agency might do with its power, under either potential president. Would the Breitbart wing of the FBI continue to hunt the new Democratic commander in chief based on the thin gruel ladled out by fever swamp websites? Or would it become the investigative sword wielded by the Republican president against his political enemies, Democrat and Republican, any of whom could face investigation if they displeased him and his fans? Either way, the result would not be democracy. It would be authoritarian tyranny of a downright Putinesque kind.
 Something is rotten inside the FBI. Americans have good reason to be afraid, and angry.
There needs to be a thorough investigation by new, independent investigators and people need to be fired and, ideally, lose their retirement benefits as well - starting with the firing of James Comey.  The FBI must remain non-partisan and those who has worked to make it otherwise have to go. 

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