In the 1991 hit movie “Silence of the Lambs,” Clarice Starling (Jody Foster) follows her investigative instincts to a serial killer’s house to save a kidnap victim. With no back-up and overmatched by an adversary with tactical night vision, she overcomes her terror to hunt Buffalo Bill alone in total darkness.
In 2019, on the other hand, the real FBI swarmed the modest residential home of an unarmed and cooperative Roger Stone with more manpower and firepower than what was dispatched to kill Osama bin Laden.
It’s a perfect juxtaposition to illustrate what the FBI has become, a mythical law enforcement agency that uses its real power for political ends.
In reality, the FBI doesn’t actually catch very many serial killers. Of the top-five most infamous serial killers in the United States, the FBI played little or no role in the cases, largely solved by state and local police work. The FBI bungled the Atlanta Olympics bombing investigation and the 2001 anthrax attack investigation. It failed to act on tips that could have prevented the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Parkland school shooting, the Orlando nightclub shooting, and even the Kennedy assassination.
Speaking of Boston, the FBI’s multi-decade partnering with organized crime kingpin Whitey Bulger was particularly disgraceful. And as I’ve written before, the FBI maintains a massive illegal domestic spying program that almost never leads to an actual crime being solved. Where the FBI has caught “terrorists,” they’re often dimwitted patsies the FBI tricked into agreeing to plots the FBI concocted for elaborate sting operations.
Like the massive police apparatus in a crime-ridden third world country, the FBI seems less about preventing crime than it is about maintaining power. If the business of the FBI is protecting and preserving the Constitution, it has operated at a significant loss for some time.
As bad as the FBI is at fighting crime, it’s really good at intimidating its constitutional masters. It’s always been this way.
Recall Harry Truman’s assessment in 1945:“We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. 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.” Truman added: “Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him.”
More recently, Senator Chuck Schumer warned President Trump that if he took on the intelligence community, “they have six ways to Sunday” of getting back at Trump and that he was being really dumb by insulting them.
But let’s imagine a world in which the FBI has not amassed so much power that it has become an untouchable branch of government. Let us entertain the fantasy that somebody in Washington, D.C. might stand up to the authoritarian juggernaut the FBI has become. What can be done?
Dissolving the FBI completely would do more good than harm, from a constitutional perspective. If the FBI applied more than a token effort to the drug cartels or Chinese espionage, then “reform” might be plausible. But it doesn’t and all past efforts to induce them to do that have failed.
The FBI lies to courts to get search warrants and nobody is punished. You’re not supposed to do that, according to existing FBI policy. But instead of punishing the liars, Director Christopher Wray tinkers with training and procedures. Wray has had almost four years to reform the FBI and it’s only gotten worse.
To fix things, the FBI should be dismantled into smaller, more regionally based units. The jurisdictions should be redundant and overlapping because that’s how dirty cops get caught.
FBI corruption in the Whitey Bulger case came to light due to outside law enforcement agencies asking why their joint-FBI investigations of Bulger always seemed to evaporate at the last minute. The Washington field office should be closed. That’s the office, remember, that surrendered to the rampaging Antifa mobs. It’s rotten with political corruption.
The Hoover building should also be closed to the FBI. The FBI should be split into three or more agencies with headquarters located in real communities within the United States. I suggest one office in El Paso to combat the drug cartels, one in Portland, Oregon to counter the rising domestic terrorist threat of Antifa, and one in Chicago to counter public corruption. Actually, let’s make it two in Chicago. Unless there are rival offices snitching on one another, the FBI has proven itself susceptible to petty corruption.
The Hoover building should be turned over to the Justice Department’s office of inspector general. That office should be given dedicated law enforcement agents and a dedicated prosecutor who won’t decline all of its referrals to protect political allies. The DOJ-OIG stands virtually alone in resisting the full politicization of the FBI into a leftist enforcer and guardian of the administrative state.
Further, the successor agencies should constantly rotate their agents and attorneys every three years. The military does that to prevent senior officers from building empires of troops more loyal to their commanding officer than to the system itself. The Russian collusion hoax would not have been possible without a network of longstanding relationships that allowed the perpetrators to operate in confidence that nobody would blow the whistle. They’re getting way too chummy over there in the Hoover building. Too many dirty FBI agents are willing to play ball with political operations.
None of this is likely to happen in the current climate in which the FBI eagerly auditions for a role with the neo-Maoist revolution that will unleash its true instincts on America. As an example, the FBI deployed a whopping 15 agents to investigate a garage door pull in a garage at the Talladega Superspeedway. But it can never seem to find the resources to safeguard private and federal property from the woke mob.
While the FBI failed to prevent the election of Donald Trump, it did succeed in leading a resistance to the peaceful transfer of power. No wonder the calls to “defund the police” never mention the FBI. The mob knows a friend when it sees one.