The Myth Of An Independent FBI Persists, Here’s Why It Matters
As the entire world talks about President Donald J. Trump having fired former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey, many call for the current administration and Congress to only allow for a new director who has no ties to either political party. In other words, a true free-thinker whose only concern is to uphold the law of the land.
They call for a truly “independent” bureau that will “restore public confidence in our law enforcement and government.”
But while they claim that the bureau is — or should be — an independent agency, it operates under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice, responding to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. And whether you like it or not, these positions are filled by presidential appointments. Calling the bureau anything but a state agency that responds to those in power is but a feel-good fantasy.
Don’t believe me? So don’t take my word for it. Look at the history of this agency and see for yourself how blatantly ideological this particular law enforcement body has been over the decades.
Looking at the bureau’s inception as we currently know it, ask yourself: Has the bureau been run by individuals without any strong political affiliations and ideologies?
As its first director, the man who made the FBI what it is, J. Edgar Hoover, used the agency’s surveillance power to go after presidents he disliked, waging a war against Americans over their very thoughts. To him, keeping criminals at bay wasn’t enough, as he was determined to undermine the First Amendment to the Constitution at every turn.
Because of his obsession with his work and his vision of what law and order was, many believe he kept tabs on politicians so that he would have bargain power over them — that’s probably why he was never fired.
Does he seem like a trustworthy, independent man whose goal was to simply uphold the Constitution to you?
After Hoover, many other partisan hacks took over the bureau, such as Louis Freeh, a President Bill Clinton appointee who ran the bureau during some of the most controversial periods of its existence.
He was involved in a civil liberties suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that claimed the FBI had abused its power while investigating a short fictional film discussing riots and a military takeover of New York City. But before that in 1993, he was the head of the organization while an investigation into the deadly Waco, Texas compound incident prompted many to say the bureau was covering up evidence that incriminated the government.
Robert Mueller, the American lawyer who served as the FBI director between 2001 and 2013, may have been appointed by President George W. Bush, but he served both under the Republican and President Barack Obama when he tried to make it easier for the FBI to wiretap internet users.
Apparently oblivious of the Fourth Amendment, Mueller hoped to expand a 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, that required “phone and broadband network access providers like Verizon and Comcast to make sure they can immediately comply when presented with a court wiretapping order,” the New York Times reported at the time. Mueller wasn’t satisfied with just presenting the proper legal justification for the takeover of a phone or computer, he was also pushing so that the Silicon Valley would be forced to design devices and backdoors that would give officials instant access to users’ technologies.
Needless to say, this man sounds like everything but a trustworthy, “independent” thinker whose only goal is to fight for the protection of common Americans.
Like all of them, Comey was also a partisan hack in the sense that he was never compelled to do the right thing.
As presidential candidate Hillary Clinton struggled to defend her lies regarding her private email server, Comey made himself seem as a Clinton stooge by dropping the investigation after then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with former president Clinton. But that’s not all, he also lied about U.S. mass surveillance to the American public. So whether you believe his firing was or not justified doesn’t make a difference. What matters is that, for as long as the agency is an arm of the federal government, there’s absolutely no chance that anyone involved with it will have an obligation to be an independent thinker who’s not pressured to meet the expectations of their superiors.
The very fact that Trump fired Comey shows that the FBI director must, in one way or another, please the state — and not the people. So the idea that it is possible for a government agency to achieve an independent status is, by definition, a lost cause.When will we finally realize that?