Firing FBI Leadership Isn’t Enough

August 19, 2022 Updated: August 24, 2022

Commentary

Victor Davis Hanson’s recent appearance on EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” with Jan Jekielek includes one of the most unabashedly scathing critiques of the FBI currently available.

As much is obvious. Hanson’s (mostly) ironic statement that he and Jan would “probably have the FBI knocking on this door by the end of the interview” is funny in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way precisely because it is emblematic of something very real in America—the targeting of political enemies and dissident thinkers by the state security apparatus.

Hanson cites some of the most egregious recent examples of the country’s politicized federal police force being wielded against enemies of the Washington establishment: from altered FISA applications to outright lying under oath when testifying to congressional committees, to false stories about Russian disinformation in order to sway a national election, to fabricated domestic terrorist plots. The argument that the agencies have overstepped their legal jurisdiction is laid bare.

Where Hanson’s account is either more insightful, logical, or just plain courageous (likely a combination of the three) than other political commentary, however, is his refusal to stop at the FBI brass, or leadership class more generally; instead, he demonstrates that the problem is pervasive throughout the entire system.

Why should we excuse the “rank and file” agent who manipulates, fabricates, and lies to fit the agenda of his or her respective agency? Yes, there is a “toxic hierarchy of careerists” who head the FBI, Hanson states, but that hierarchy has completely “permeated its values” throughout the various organizations.

To illustrate his point, he brings up the case in which the FBI orchestrated a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. This was done to create the illusion that right-wing militia groups pose an existential threat to America’s constitutional republic. Who were the individual agents responsible for wrangling up the vulnerable social outcasts that would be susceptible to such a harebrained scheme?

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a press conference at the governor’s office in Lansing, Mich., on March 11, 2022. (David Eggert/AP Photo)

Although under the instruction of special agent in charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office, Steven D’Antuono, (who was subsequently promoted to lead the Washington field office, and is now overseeing the investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol breach and also had agents involved in the Mar-a-Lago raid), why should Americans not demand accountability from every individual involved in the political theater?

Tucker Carlson recently did an in-depth dive into the fake Whitmer plot, but even he has been hesitant in the past from saying that more than just the top brass should be punished for their betrayal of the American people.

Hanson is the first to truly address the endemic nature of the problem that pervades the entire entrenched bureaucracy.

His proposed solution? The FBI should be broken up and its primary functions shifted to other federal government departments. This includes the lower-ranking members of the organization who are concerned with American security. Hanson argues that they should be shifted to one of the many “investigatory intelligence police bureaus” currently existing as a part of the U.S. government.

This is where I must respectfully suggest to Mr. Hanson that this still isn’t far enough. The FBI case is simply indicative of the general rot that exists in the entire federal bureaucracy, including (if not especially) the intelligence and law enforcement sectors (not to mention the foreign policy establishment composed of the State Department, Department of Defense, military leadership, and almost every think tank). Moving around the same individuals to different departments or bureaus will simply decentralize the problem further.

Yes, there must be a total firing of the brass in agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and National Security Agency (NSA). This is often regarded as a logical first step, as Hanson himself alludes to in describing the “conservative” narrative regarding the FBI’s partisan nature. He agrees with the proposition that the “toxic careerists” rotate in and out of various government agencies, as well as private enterprise (defense contractors, consulting firms, and weapons manufacturers). Allowing them to remain in positions of power will result in zero change (except for the worse).

Where I begin to diverge from his analysis, however, is the belief that aspiring entrants and low-ranking officials in the agencies are simply conforming their views to the ruling ideological orthodoxy. This is supposedly due to the fact that they will otherwise have no chance at career advancement.

This is partially true, but it also begs the question of why exactly someone would want to enter and advance in a career that’s so thoroughly weighted in a particular ideological direction. The agencies are looking for the proper credentials, the right schools attended, and the correct organization membership. Without getting into the state of higher education in America, it seems obvious that a certain worldview is expected for employment in these bodies.

Many, such as the Peter Strzoks and Lisa Pages of the world (as Hanson mentions in the interview), are genuine partisans who aspire to join the ruling class. They believe themselves as the enlightened few, the “science believers” worthy of wielding power over the dumb and superstitious “clinger” masses.

But it also begs another question: Aren’t the higher-ups in the federal agencies seeking to hire and promote individuals of the same mindset? Doesn’t D’Antuono’s promotion to Washington from Detroit after the Whitmer hoax demonstrate that partisan actors are, indeed, located in the lower ranks of the FBI, not just the very top positions based in Washington? Why was Strzok, as mentioned by Hanson, the one chosen to interview Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn?

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FBI Washington Field Office Assistant Director Steven M. D’Antuono on March 9, 2022. (Screenshot/FBI)

I understand that some may say that this type of action is merely the result of career climbing, but this at least demonstrates that the problem won’t magically vanish by just eliminating the heads of the various agencies, and then shifting lower-ranking members around. There must be serious suspicion that anyone who has been in any of the latter for longer than several years is politically compromised.

Does anyone believe that these individuals have been regularly promoted because of their loyalty to the Constitution? Their love of country? Or is it more likely that they hold a favorable political demeanor and correct worldview? Have they not previously exhibited the proper loyalty to their partisan leaders? Readers can answer these questions for themselves.

The uncomfortable truth that most don’t want to admit is that the real number of employees in the FBI, CIA, NSA, and other “investigatory intelligence bureaus” who must be fired is closer to 50 percent of the total.

This will receive serious backlash and indignation from those who argue that these are patriots who are putting their lives on the line to keep America safe. To which I would reply: Yes, that is sometimes true, and would be demonstrated by their record. But ask yourself how many have been involved solely on the domestic front tracking “extremism.” How many agents were involved in declaring concerned parents as domestic terrorists? Were they “putting their life on the line to keep America safe”?

As a side note, I was enrolled in a graduate program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies before withdrawing (in good academic standing) after the first year. I was disgusted with the general demeanor and attitude of faculty toward the ideological foundation of the United States and the American people more generally. When considering reenrollment, the vaccine policy also helped me to make my decision.

Graduates of the school regularly joined the intelligence services, and many of my colleagues had such aspirations. I can promise you that few, if any, were driven by a love of country, unless that “country” was defined by LGBT art exhibitions in Williamsburg, or by Washington Beltway cocktail parties. These were firm believers in the Mueller investigation and Russian collusion hoax. Defending the Constitution? Please. Ask them about the right to bear arms or their views on “hate speech.”

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Former special counsel Robert Mueller waits to testify before the House Intelligence Committee about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington on July 24, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

At my orientation, we received a talk from John McLaughlin, former acting director of the CIA and resolute anti-Trump activist. He was one of the proud signees of the abject lie that the Hunter Biden story was Russian disinformation.

This is the operating procedure of Bolsheviks: The truth is relative, the ends always justify the means, and they are the only ones who properly know how to wield power for the betterment of all. Your job is to shut up and accept their benevolent rule.

Since 2016, and especially since the Jan. 6, 2021, protests, these types have been working tirelessly to convince us that former President Donald Trump is a threat to democracy, and he controls a private army just waiting to pounce. They try to paint the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, and Oath Keepers—groups whose collective membership pales in comparison to those on the payroll of the FBI and the various intelligence agencies (87,000 new IRS agents, anyone?)—as Trump’s brownshirts.

They tell us they are insurrectionists, although they are largely composed of military veterans and blue-collar workers who love the Constitution.

But enlisted men and toilers, not officers and foremen. The ones who bear the brunt of hardship for our freedom and punch the clock every day to keep this country running.

They tell us they’re white supremacists, even though they all have plenty of members who are people of color.

But citizens who focus on their commonality as Americans first, and eschew victim status. They refuse to focus on division and perceived grievances—the type of people who upset the media narrative, and are no good for interested parties that seek to inflame racial tensions for political gain.

Yet still, for all their effort, the intelligence services and federal law enforcement agencies have failed to detract most attentive citizens from the real state of affairs, especially following Mar-a-Lago: They are the true American Gestapo.

And they know that Trump saw what he was truly up against in his hectic first term in office. Should he get in again, they know that their role as usurpers will be exposed, and that—to quote from one of my favorite movies—their time for honoring themselves will soon be at an end. Their one hope is to keep him from office, and they have gone all in on it.

As Hanson so eloquently summarizes in the interview:

“We’re in a revolutionary cycle where the left has now said, under the pretext that Donald Trump is so extraordinarily threatening to the republic, that it requires any means necessary to end him. And, therefore, we’re going to do things that are revolutionary.”

This may be an appropriate time to wonder myself whether I, too, should expect a knock at the door sometime soon.

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

Dominick Sansone is a PhD student at the Hillsdale College Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship. He is a regular contributor to The Epoch Times, and has additionally been published at The American Conservative, The Federalist, and the Washington Examiner.