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.
Not gonna happen, I’m afraid; the divide is too capacious, the breach between Us and Them too vast to ever be bridged so easily. Plus, the Demonrats are liking the FBI just fine these days; at this point, the agency has more than adequately demonstrated how deep and firm their support for the Leftist/authoritarian program is, so the Dems will remain happy as clams to just sit back and watch the fun.
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.”
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.
Wait, there are some?
Under the Freedom of Information Act, a request for information made to any government agency shall be processed within 20 business days, or approximately 30 calendar days. The FBI simply ignores this requirement, often insisting on a timeline of years.
In one typical case, the FBI claimed it could not produce records of its surveillance of civil rights activists for 17 years. Both the Justice Department and its subordinate FBI have intentionally structured their FOIA systems to fail to keep up with public demand for records. This should be forbidden. Congress should force both agencies to provide the resources and staffing to meet the statutory deadline for documents. There’s little difference between the FBI being allowed to delay a request for 17 years and simply ignoring the law altogether.
The practice of slow-rolling FOIA requests lets the FBI and the Justice Department operate in near total secrecy, something that is anathema to democratic governance. If the FBI’s failure to follow FOIA time limits pertains to requested documents evidencing FBI misconduct, a requesting party should get attorney’s fees if it becomes necessary to sue to overcome stalling or obstruction.
Similarly, the FBI uses the excuse of a matter being under “active investigation” to block requests for materials that would potentially embarrass the bureau. Director Christopher Wray is particularly adept at claiming any topic that could shame his agency is “under investigation,” thus precluding him from discussing the matter. When the FBI wants to cover something up, say, the provenance of a laptop containing evidence of corrupt dealings of a favored politician, it simply keeps the investigation open for years and years, long past the point any serious investigation would have concluded.
Congress can and should define the limits of this “under investigation,” secrecy. Too often the FBI has held open an investigation into a matter of public interest while leaks aligning with the FBI’s interests continue to crop up in sympathetic media. After six months’ allowance of such secrecy, the FBI should be required to seek approval from the local U.S. attorney to certify the legitimacy of the continued secrecy. After a year, ongoing confidentiality should require approval from the attorney general himself.
Who will then proceed to rubber-stamp every one of ’em just as the FISA “court” invariably has. At long last, Real Americans must recognize that our FBI problem doesn’t begin and end with the FBI alone; what we have here is, in truth, a big government problem, encompassing the damnable Federal edifice entire.
The author lays out several proposals NOT for “getting rid of” the corrupt, irredeemable Fibbies, but to hopefully regain some sort of nominal control over it. All of them are just fine as far as it goes…and y’all know as well as I do that there ain’t a snowball’s chance of a single damned one of them being implemented. As long and loud as I’ve called for the destruction of this misbegotten, wholly corrupt blight on the Founders’ Republic myself, I harbor no illusions about such a beautiful dream ever coming true. Not without We The People forcefully going through FederalGovCo entire like shit through the proverbial goose, it won’t.