McLean column: The decline of the highly politicized FBI
What is wrong with the FBI? They have missed key tips or indicators of several terrorist attacks. They admittedly erred in the Parkland high school shooting. Their own Phoenix and Minnesota field office forwarded information regarding the 9/11 attacks that was ignored by headquarters. They had information of the Fort Hood shooter and ignored it. They released the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston before the bombing after interviewing them.
They had an undercover agent traveling with the shooter before the shooting at the Garland, Texas, draw Mohammed event but did not prevent the shooting and death of a security guard. The father of the New York City bomber called them to warn them of his son’s intent and they did nothing to stop him. The FBI had a 10-month investigation of Omar Mateen, in which he admitted lying to them before he committed the Pulse nightclub shooting. They did nothing to stop him.
J. Edgar Hoover, as the first director, created the FBI. Serving for 48 years from 1924 until his death in 1972, he carefully protected the image of the FBI agent or “G” man as the premier law enforcement agents in the world. He personally advised on the movie “The FBI Story” and the television series of the same name.
While he used any means to protect the institution of the FBI, including blackmail, secret files, and even planting evidence, he insisted that his agents operate in a manner beyond reproach. Standards for becoming an agent were extremely high. At one time it was said that it was easier to gain admittance to an Ivy League school than to become an FBI agent.
Retired FBI agent John Ligato recently wrote in the Washington Times, “Whenever I mention that the politicization of the FBI began during Robert Mueller’s tenure as director, someone challenges me with, ‘What about Hoover!’ They’ve got a point that J. Edgar may have engaged in Machiavellian principles, but he also built the finest law enforcement agency on earth.”
Hoover’s personal reputation was not beyond reproach, but those of his agents were. Today the overall reputation of the agency is in tatters. Weak, politically correct liberal leadership has led to a precipitous decline in performance.
The decline began with the politically correct policies of Louis Freeh in 1993. The New York Times best selling author Bill Gertz in his book “Breakdown, How America’s Intelligence Failures led to 911” said “the Clinton administration wasn’t interested in antiterrorism … More important to the Clinton administration was political correctness of the FBI’s reorganization under new director Louis Freeh. Freeh, following the Clinton push for diversity over performance, appointed a black, a Hispanic and a woman to top posts in the FBI … The reorganization that day included the first of several shifts that seriously hampered the FBI’s intelligence gathering capabilities and led indirectly to the failure to detect Al Qaeda before September 11.”
Despite detailed information from the FBI field offices in both Phoenix and Minnesota, FBI headquarters ignored the warnings that could have prevented 9/11. At one time, the premier spy catchers in the world, the counterintelligence division of the FBI had been filled with political hacks. Robert Hanssen, the FBI agent who was a Russian spy, was given a high level position in counterintelligence. The spy for the KGB and FSB was convicted of treason in 2001 but not before he did untold damage to U.S. intelligence collection efforts.
Political correctness was even more important after President Bush appointed Robert Mueller director of the FBI. He had training manuals and reports purged of any references that might offend Muslims. He met with radical Muslim groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas supporters to pledge not to offend them. He was more concerned with not offending potential terrorists than in preventing harm to Americans. This information only recently came to light after a lengthy Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch.
Under Comey, the politics in the FBI became even more evident. Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were given free rein. Andrew McCabe was promoted to assistance director even though his political bias was well known. They formed a cabal that, if not treasonous, was certainly an illegal attack on an elected government. Instead of directing their efforts at thwarting terrorism or investigating espionage, they plotted the overthrow of a president they did not like.
For the past 24 years the FBI has been decimated by political correctness. Instead of promoting experienced agents from within to executive positions, the past three administrations have appointed political hacks like Freeh, Mueller and Comey.
The morale of dedicated agents has been severely damaged, resulting in poor performance in the field. Innocent Americans have died because of this politicization. We either need to disband the FBI and start over or hire a director who can aggressively weed out the politically correct ineffective agents and managers. I do not believe that Christopher Wray can do that.
Roland McLean, an Aspen Glen resident, is a University of Colorado graduate, Navy veteran and retiree after more than 30 years in international construction. His column appears on the fourth Thursday of each month. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.