The FBI raid on the residence of former President Donald Trump drew fire from liberals such as Alan Dershowitz, who called out the “weaponizing of the justice system.” By contrast, former Vice President Mike Pence reserved his wrath for those who criticize the FBI.
“These attacks on the FBI must stop,” Pence said on August 17. “Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.” That equation invites a review of FBI performance at its duly appointed tasks.
“We protect the American people and uphold the U.S. Constitution,” proclaims the FBI website. On the protection side, the American people might look back at September 11, 2001.
In May 2001, according to “The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States,” FBI counterterrorism boss Dale Watson had only two people looking at threats from Osama bin Laden and his organization. FBI assessments of the potential use of flight training by terrorists and warnings of “radical Middle Easterners attending flight school,” were never passed along to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FBI did not produce the kind of intelligence reports other agencies disseminated, and its usual practice was to withhold the information and say little about investigations. FBI field offices “never used the information to gain a systematic or strategic understanding of the nature and extent of al-Qaeda fundraising.”
Terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui was prevented from further training on Pan Am’s Boeing 747 simulators but FBI headquarters believed there was “insufficient cause” to search his laptop computer. An FBI agent in Minneapolis said he was “trying to keep someone from taking a plane and crashing it into the World Trade Center.” Officials at FBI headquarters said that was not going to happen, and they did not know if Moussaoui was a terrorist.
“The FBI has proven for the past decade it cannot identify and prevent acts of terrorism against the United States and its citizens at home and abroad,” wrote FBI whistleblower Robert Wright in the summer of 2001. “Even worse, there is virtually no effort on the part of the FBI’s International Terrorism Unit to neutralize known and suspected terrorists residing within the United States.”
Wright headed an operation that shut down terrorist funding but claimed that FBI management “intentionally and repeatedly thwarted and obstructed” his attempts to expand the investigation and to arrest other terrorists and seize their assets.
In 2009, American-born Muslim Major Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was communicating with al-Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki about killing Americans. As Lessons from Fort Hood explains, the FBI was monitoring Hasan’s communications, but the bureau’s Washington office did not “assess Hasan to be involved in terrorist activities.” On November 5, 2009, Hasan murdered 13 unarmed American soldiers, including Private Francheska Velez, who was pregnant, and wounded more than 30 others.
In 2011, Russian intelligence warned the FBI about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But in 2013, the FBI failed to stop the brothers from bombing the Boston Marathon. The attack killed three people and wounded more than 250. Local police, not the FBI, took out Tamerlan and captured Dzhokhar.
The FBI failed to stop Islamic terrorists Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik from murdering 14 people and wounding more than 20 others in San Bernardino, California, on December 2, 2015. As in Boston, the FBI played no role in the takedown of the terrorists. San Bernardino police shot dead the heavily armed Farook and Malik, with no further loss of innocent life.
In 2016, the FBI failed to protect the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida from Omar Mateen. The Islamic State supporter killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 others. The FBI had questioned Mateen in 2013 but closed the inquiry, leaving the terrorist free to plan his attack.
In 2020, Antifa and Black Lives Matter launched riots that claimed 35 lives, injured hundreds of police officers, and caused $2 billion in property damage in the course of 100 days. The FBI did nothing to prevent the “peaceful protesters” from taking over part of central Seattle.
As these cases confirm, the FBI does a poor job of protecting the American people. It’s unclear if any FBI bosses were disciplined, suspended or dismissed for the failures that left thousands of Americans dead and wounded. The failure of the FBI and CIA against Islamic jihadists led to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security which is now, like the FBI, deployed against the American people.
It’s hard to find statements from Mike Pence contending that FBI failure “must stop,” or that it should have any effect on the bureau’s budget. According to Christopher Wray, that budget now tops $10.8 billion, including “a total of $10.7 billion for salaries and expenses, which will support 36,945 positions.”
More recent episodes call into question FBI dedication to the Constitution and the rule of law. According to former FBI director Louis Freeh, the rule of law is the “only beacon” for the FBI. That is hard to square with FBI election interference under James Comey.
With her unsecured homebrew server and destruction of subpoenaed emails, Hillary Clinton violated federal law. But Comey said no reasonable prosecutor would pursue the case, and the FBI launched the Midyear Exam operation to keep Clinton in the presidential race. FBI-favored candidates Clinton and Tim Kaine lost to Donald Trump and Mike Pence, but there was more to the FBI’s meddling.
The FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane operation targeted candidate and President Trump. As Julie Kelly recalls, the FBI framed General Michael Flynn, misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, doctored correspondence, and used a fake dossier against Trump and his allies. In the style of the Soviet KGB, politicians pointed out the man and the FBI created the crime.
FBI boss Christopher Wray is all-in with the idea that anyone less than worshipful of Joe Biden is a violent extremist and domestic terrorist. The bureau raids the home of Donald Trump, ripping off his passports and rummaging through Melania’s clothes, yet Mike Pence has a beef with those who “attack” the FBI by lawful budgetary means? Embattled Americans may be forgiven for thinking that Pence is just as wrong as those who remain uncritical of the FBI.
The former vice president, a devout Christian, did not publicly cite Bible verses against the FBI critics. The targets of current FBI operations, on the other hand, have grounds to ponder Matthew 10:36: “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”
A former president’s foes include the man who ran who ran at his side, and prominent members of his own party. The most formidable foes of the American people are the agencies of their own government. None is a more clear and present danger than the Federal Bureau of Investigation.