There’s a growing divide between the rank-and-file officers of the FBI and upper management, according to FBI agent-turned-whistleblower Steve Friend, and it’s those at the top who are pushing a political agenda.
“I spent close to nine years in the FBI, spent a good chunk of my time just keeping my head down and working the cases in front of me,” Friend noted in a March 14 interview with NTD News, The Epoch Times’ sister outlet.
“There are a lot of agents that sort of share that sentiment and just want to drive the mission forward. Unfortunately, there’s a big disconnect between the rank-and-file and the management class, and as you climb that ladder, it’s tending to become more and more political.”
The evidence, Friend said, could be seen in the bureau’s disparate treatment of pro-life activists—like Mark Houck, whose home was raided by the FBI over an altercation outside of a Planned Parenthood—and pro-abortion activists, like those who protested outside of Supreme Court justices’ homes and were never investigated.
“I think there’s an argument to be made that the FBI has now just become a weaponized apparatchik of the presidential administration,” he added, holding that public trust in the agency has diminished largely as a result of the perception of political bias.
Blowing the Whistle
Friend—now a senior fellow at the Center for Renewing America—previously worked as a special agent in the FBI’s Jacksonville, Florida, office, but was suspended from the agency after he came forward last September with concerns about how the bureau was handling child sexual abuse cases and allegations that cases were being inappropriately assigned.
Friend had also objected to the FBI’s use of SWAT teams to arrest individuals suspected of committing misdemeanors during the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.
According to a March 6 letter (pdf) written by whistleblower organization Empower Oversight, Friend was informed in December by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) that, “after careful consideration,” the OIG had decided against opening an investigation into his allegations.
However, on March 16, DOJ Assistant Inspector General Sean O’Neill responded that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz “still intends to schedule an interview with Mr. Friend regarding his disclosures.”
Views on Jan. 6
Prior to his suspension, Friend was involved in investigations relating to the Jan. 6 Capitol breach—an incident he said could only be fully understood through “radical transparency.”
“I’m hoping that this slow drip of surveillance footage is just eventually abandoned, and we just get the whole amount of it,” he said, alluding to the recent exposés aired by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
“There’s no reason why it should be leaked out slowly because that just gives cannon fodder to both sides to accuse the other of cherry-picking their information.”
As for his views on the events of that day, Friend said he thought the incident involved a “mixed bag” of people who did some “deplorable and abhorrent” things and should be held accountable and those who were just there to exercise their First Amendment rights.
And the Capitol Police, he noted, did appear to give protesters permission to enter the building.
“Whether or not the Capitol Police were trying to deescalate the situation doesn’t mitigate the fact that they gave permission to those folks and assured them that they were within the law to walk through the Capitol peacefully and admire the House of Representatives and the Senate.”
The Oath ‘Has to Mean Something’
Given the stresses of the internal conflict between the rank-and-file officers and leadership, Friend noted that some officers might be tempted to keep quiet about misconduct at the bureau until they can collect their pensions and leave.
But that temptation, he said, should not supersede their oath of office.
“You swear an oath in the very beginning, and that has to mean something at the end of the day,” he said. “I stood up and I swore an oath before God, my family, and my colleagues that I was going to protect the Constitution and my fellow countrymen. And I joined the FBI to do the work of the FBI, not to retire from the FBI.”
As for others on the inside looking to speak out, Friend encouraged them to do so—but smartly.
“You should look into the proper whistleblowing procedures and make sure your concerns are brought forward. And hopefully, the select committee looking at government weaponization will protect whistleblowers, so that you’re not going to have to sacrifice that career.”
The Epoch Times has contacted the FBI for comment.