History’s dark sense of humor has now linked the fate of American Muslims, environmental activists, and MAGA protestors who allege the FBI is abusing them to gin up prosecutions. At the heart of the Supreme Court case Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fazaga is the FBI’s effort to maintain a shroud of secrecy over questionable investigative techniques it uses to develop criminal cases. The FBI laughably claims national security would be put in jeopardy if a court forces the bureau to reveal its motives for targeting otherwise innocent Americans to entice criminal behavior.
The truth—and everyone knows it—is that the FBI wants to avoid public outrage over its dirty tricks.
Fazaga reminds us that FBI abuses follow the winds of politics. As many Americans will recall, the FBI’s focus on American Muslims followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. When fresh cases failed to materialize, the FBI often sent confidential informants to radicalize potential terrorists into future arrestees. The plaintiffs in Fazaga sued the FBI after learning of an FBI informant named Craig Moneilh who allegedly infiltrated an Irvine, California mosque in an effort to radicalize Muslim men and create terrorism cases for the FBI. Among the FBI’s questionable tactics, Moneilh’s FBI handler authorized him to seduce and have sex with Muslim women to surreptitiously create audio recordings of pillow talk for use in the case.
As the New York Times reports,
Justice Gorsuch said Monday’s case . . . may well be the first kind, in which the government has a choice: Does it want to disclose secret evidence to defend itself or does it want to risk losing a sum of money in the interest of national security? Justice Gorsuch said he was wary of letting the government keep both its secrets and its money. ‘In a world in which the national security state is growing larger every day,’ he said, ‘that’s quite a power.’
The case brings to mind a 2015 reversal of a case in which the FBI used an underaged girl as an informant to induce Eric McDavid into committing an act of eco-terrorism. The FBI used a 17-year-old, “Anna,” to allegedly entrap her target by dangling “romantic fulfillment” to encourage him to behave in a criminal manner. In order to advance the conspiracy, “Anna” provided McDavid with money, bomb-making supplies, and a cabin where they could meet.
The Guardian describes how the FBI’s Anna cynically exploited the target’s romantic interest in their informant, noting, “Among the files are a letter and 10 emails written by McDavid to the teenaged woman he thought at the time to be his friend, peer and potential sexual partner . . . In the letter, McDavid declared his love for ‘Anna.’”
McDavid’s lawyers argued to the jury that McDavid had “fallen in love with the woman who would turn out to be his downfall.” But the FBI suppressed evidence that “Anna, in her guise as a fellow radical, clearly reciprocated,” writing to McDavid, “I think you and I could be great, but we have LOTS of little kinks to work out.” She went on to say: “I hope in Indiana we can spend more quality time together, and really chat about life and our things.” McDavid spent nine years in prison before the FBI’s misconduct led to a judge releasing him from his 19-year sentence.
Followers of the January 6 and 2020 Whitmer kidnapping plot see parallels between those events and the FBI’s questionable tactics still in use today. In both cases, court documents now suggest the FBI played a role in the preparation and execution of the plots.
The FBI has had a string of high-profile scandals in recent years. One of its lawyers pleaded guilty to fabricating evidence used to justify spying on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. That same scandal came to light because FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok used his FBI phone to facilitate an extramarital affair with FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The FBI helped cover-up the Olympic doctor-child sex abuse scandal by making “materially false statements” to the inspector general. The FBI agent in charge of the Whitmer kidnapping plot, savagely beat his wife to punish her reluctance to participate in a swingers’ party. An FBI agent in charge of investigating child sex exploitation, was recently charged with using his position to commit sex crimes against children. Following a damning report of a Chinese spy seducing not one but two FBI handlers, the FBI continued to permit its agents to form inappropriately familiar relationships with its informants.
The FBI also cleans up after powerful figures when their sexual misdeeds come to light. The FBI scooped up Jeffery Epstein’s computers believed to contain footage of powerful people committing serious child sex abuse. Yet none of these figures appear to have been charged with these crimes. More recently, the FBI seized the infamous Hunter Biden laptop, which is known to contain evidence of drug use and corrupt business deals aimed at gaining favors from his father. Hunter Biden, thus far, has escaped any charges.
Most recently, the FBI raided the homes and offices of former and current Project Veritas journalists for evidence of an investigation into how the diary of Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley, ended up in the public domain. While there is no evidence Project Veritas did anything illegal, the diary reportedly contains salacious sexual accounts that embarrass the president’s family. One also recalls then-FBI Director James Comey implicitly blackmailing president-elect Donald Trump in a private meeting during which Comey revealed the FBI had intelligence on Trump’s alleged encounter with Russian prostitutes.
But perhaps most concerning is the FBI’s continued abuse of its spying powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). After the FBI was caught lying to the court in order to spy on Trump campaign figure Carter Page, the inspector general conducted an investigation into a sample of the FBI’s thousands of FISA warrant cases. The inspector general concluded that the FBI frequently obtains warrants without first documenting a valid evidentiary basis for the spying.
It should also be noted that very few, if any, of the FBI’s spying operations actually lead to criminal cases. That’s obviously not the objective.
The past five years have seen a near collapse in the FBI’s public image among Republicans as a nonpartisan instrument of justice. Not surprisingly, Democrats increasingly see the FBI as a tool for its partisan interests. Nobody on the Left has called for “defunding” the FBI. It’s easy to understand why after the FBI so effectively hamstrung a duly elected Republican president for four years. But the political winds could once again shift. Neither liberals nor conservatives should feel safe and free under an FBI that abuses its power. Those who wait until the FBI directly targets them will have waited too long.
The first duty of the FBI is to protect the U.S. Constitution. Every FBI agent takes that oath. That’s the same constitution that requires the FBI to tell the truth to judges and prohibits unwarranted invasions of privacy. If the business of the FBI is to protect the U.S. Constitution, it’s been operating at a loss for some time now.