Dim Prospects for an Independent, Objective FBI

March 19, 2021 Updated: March 22, 2021

Commentary

FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month, when he stated that the events of Jan. 6 aren’t isolated but are symptomatic of a widespread domestic terrorism problem, can only be interpreted in one way.

He’s laying the foundation for the utilization of authoritarian tactics by the FBI—at the direction of the Biden White House and those who pull the strings—in order to justify what may be a wave of politically motivated investigations.

In previous, pre-election testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee, on Sept. 17, 2020, Wray revealed his willingness to participate in the recently expanded white supremacy narrative, when he testified that the primary domestic threat—more serious than anarchists and Antifa—came from white supremacists.

His most recent statements should come as no surprise. Much of his recent testimony consisted of conclusory statements that appeared to reflect Democratic talking points, rather than independent determinations based on articulated facts.

The director repeated the conclusion from September, specifying that the primary current threat is from “racially motivated violent extremists who advocate superiority of the white race.” It’s precisely because such individuals–true racists—are despicable, contemptible, worthy of ostracization, that the categorization must be carefully defined and applied only where truly merited.

Those in law enforcement know that the threat from groups such as the Aryan Nations, though still significant, has diminished appreciably in recent decades, due in no small measure to large-scale initiatives by the FBI, big-budget undercover operations where brave undercover FBI agents infiltrated various truly white supremacist militias.

However, by now expanding the definition of white supremacy to include those who disagree with progressive policies, the moral justification is created for repressive tactics directed at eliminating dissent.

Wray testified that the bureau will not tolerate “agitators.” And who defines exactly what constitutes agitation, and how it is to be distinguished from constitutionally protected, fiery expression of opinion and belief? The threat to our Bill of Rights should have civil liberties advocates raising the alarm. But to date, they and the media have been silent.

Raising some questions as to his objectivity, Wray testified that “we have not seen evidence of fake Trump supporters,” or indicia of surreptitious infiltration present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, despite eyewitness accounts to the contrary.

He then concluded that the events on Jan. 6 constituted domestic terrorism. In response to questioning by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Wray confirmed that the events of that day constituted armed insurrection—in apparent contradiction with Senate testimony a week earlier by his assistant director for counterterrorism, Jill Sanborn, that no arms, no weapons of any sort were known to have been used or recovered.

Thus, highly aggravated unarmed trespass into the nation’s Capital building—abhorrent as it was—is elevated and equated with meticulously planned, coordinated acts of organized murder.

And why this conclusion? Because it provides the foundation and justification for a broad range of investigations into the ordinary activities of ordinary Americans, now branded as “terrorists” and thus not only worthy of investigation, but perhaps necessitating surveillance in the interest of newly minted national security threats.

On Jan. 14, the FBI arrested and charged anti-Trump activist John Sullivan in connection with his activities inside the Capitol building, as described in an FBI criminal complaint and affidavit–where he reportedly enthusiastically encouraged others participating in the trespass.

There are conflicting reports as to his relationship with BLM and Antifa, and published photos show him (at an unspecified time) wearing a pro-Trump cap. How does this reconcile with Wray’s testimony regarding the absence of agent provocateurs?

When questioned by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the director refused to provide the cause of death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was on duty protecting the Capitol on Jan. 6. While it’s standard practice for the FBI to not disclose facts pertaining to an ongoing investigation, non-disclosure of the cause of death—essentially a matter of public record—is highly unusual, and arguably an improper exercise of authority when providing sworn testimony in a Senate hearing.

The appropriate response by the FBI chief would have been to offer to testify behind closed doors, so as to allow the elected public officials to evaluate the need for withholding the information from the public. Two men have subsequently been arrested for assault of Sicknick, although the cause of death remains undisclosed.

Yet when questioned by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on the same topic, the director expressed appreciation—with thinly veiled sarcasm—praising the senators for having such an elevated degree of interest in the death of a law enforcement officer who lost his life “while protecting all of you.”

When asked by Cruz if the Department of Justice–FBI domestic terrorism task force, created to fight attacks on police and on federal property by anarchists and other politically motivated individuals, was still active, Wray responded that “the work the task force began is still ongoing.” Which was an oblique way of saying that the task force doesn’t continue to function as a task force—therefore, the work has been deemphasized.

Concurrent with the director’s expansion of the scope of FBI investigative activities into domestic affairs, there has been a reduction in the scope of what constitutes terrorist activity when it comes to those anarchists sympathetic to the current administration (as revealed by a quick visit to Antifa.com).

In the course of his confirmation hearings to become attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland testified that attacks such as those on the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, were of a lesser significance, due to having occurred at night. Thus creating a “nighttime exception” to the federal laws concerning attacks on federal property. As quoted in The Oregonian, “‘an attack on a courthouse while in operation, trying to prevent judges from trying cases, that plainly is domestic extremism, domestic terrorism,’ Garland said. ‘An attack simply on a government property at night or under other circumstances is a clear crime, and a serious one, and should be punished.’”

But not as terrorism, apparently.

The apparent elimination of the Trump-era domestic terrorism task force, combined with the appointment of an attorney general who deemphasizes the criminal nature of politically motivated domestic terrorism, bodes ill for the future of the FBI. It’s a bitter disappointment for the men and women of the FBI, the current and former field agents who risked and continue to risk their lives daily to protect the public and uphold the Constitution.

The trend isn’t limited to federal law enforcement. As the FBI’s upper management has been politicized, starting with Director Robert Mueller then James Comey, now Wray, the military has followed suit.

Recent attacks on the media—and TV news host Tucker Carlson in particular—have been startling indeed. Marine units, in uniform, expressing publicly their political views, criticizing the opinion statements of the fourth estate, are anathema to a free society.

Objective, independent, and apolitical national police and military are the cornerstones of a free republic. Should these institutions be permitted to be actively political, advocating in support of certain ideological groups to the detriment of others, the foundations of our Constitutional republic will begin to crumble, and the momentum will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to diminish.

Marc Ruskin, a 27-year veteran of the FBI, is a regular Epoch Times contributor and author of “The Pretender: My Life Undercover for the FBI.” He served on the legislative staff of U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y. Follow Marc on Twitter @mhruskin or Parler 

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.