What Do We Do with the FBI Now?
The events of the past five or six years have demonstrated to America that the FBI is no longer the unbiased law enforcement agency it once was. Between the Hillary Clinton investigation-in-name-only, the Crossfire Hurricane hoax, the targeting of Americans as domestic terrorists, and playing three blind mice with the Biden graft machine, the bureau’s issues can’t be ignored any longer. If we don’t take corrective action soon, the FBI will finish its transition from law enforcement to being a political functionary advancing the interests of one party.
There are only two options: rehabilitate the FBI, or eliminate it. The current state is unacceptable in a functioning constitutional republic. We need a credible and competent federal law enforcement capability. Sadly, the FBI has lost its claim on both those things.
A company I once worked for ran afoul of equal opportunity employment regulations. It was essentially placed on probation for a period of five years. That probation came in the form of a consent decree -- an agreement between the parties to resolve the problems, overseen by a court, and often verified by a court-appointed administrator. It’s time for a consent decree between the FBI and the American people.
An FBI consent decree is definitely going to need oversight, and not by the Department of Justice. The current problems have festered under DoJ oversight for years. The DoJ has not only failed to provide course correction to the FBI, but it has also arguably contributed to the problems. The rebuilding of the FBI should be overseen by a board chartered with the mission of rehabilitation, and staffed with people who care about integrity and understand what a well-functioning police organization should look like.
The oversight board should include retired FBI agents. Most retired agents left the bureau before it made its mad dash to be a political player. They are proud of what it was and ashamed of what it has become. Nobody wants to see it rehabilitated more than they do.
The board should also include the membership of an assortment of police chiefs/commissioners from around the country. They will bring an outside perspective and have no bureaucratic loyalties within the FBI. They know what policing should look like and can represent U.S. citizens on the board.
The board should be vested with broad powers. It should have the authority to terminate anyone at the FBI for malfeasance -- including the director. Presidents retain the authority to appoint directors. But unfortunately, terminating bad directors has become political. Give the board the ability to terminate directors for cause, outside of the political sphere.
The board should have oversight of all training, employee terminations, and employee promotions. By training agents to behave ethically, and ensuring that those who embrace those lessons advance professionally, the board will gradually rebuild a culture of integrity.
Give the board oversight of charging decisions where bureau criminal violations are involved. As we have seen, DoJ prosecutors have a history of declining prosecution of criminal behavior in other government agencies. Even though Deputy Director Andrew McCabe violated numerous laws and was referred for prosecution by the Inspector General, the DoJ declined prosecution. Recently we have learned that over the past 14 years, nearly a dozen CIA employees committed sex crimes against children -- one as young as two years old! The issue was referred to the DoJ, which decided that job termination rather than criminal prosecution was just fine. That’s the DoJ, taking a pass on multiple instances of child rape because the offenders were fellow federal employees. The FBI cannot be rehabilitated unless its employees are held to at least the same standard as the general public. The board needs to be consulted for all FBI employee charging decisions.
The board should have the authority to initiate investigations within the FBI. It should be authorized to draw on the resources of the inspector general to conduct those investigations, and the IG should be answerable to the board for any FBI-related investigations.
Finally, the board should be in an advice and consent role in the appointment of FBI directors. The President should still hold the authority to appoint, but the board should be involved in identifying and vetting candidates.
For the probation period to work, some structural changes will also be necessary. Victor Davis Hanson recently proposed that the FBI headquarters be moved out of the Washington, D.C. area, and into the heartland of America. Get the bureau leadership out of the Washington echo chamber. Special functions such as training and technical labs can remain in their current locations. But make the FBI leadership reside with the people they are sworn to serve.
Civil servant protections need to be addressed. There needs to be an efficient means to dismiss corrupt or incompetent employees, without facing years of appeals for doing so. Andrew McCabe was terminated for both policy and criminal violations. He protested the termination. Years later, the termination was overturned by the attorney general. That is no way to send a message of accountability to agents of the FBI.
The IG needs to have enhanced powers -- at least as it pertains to the FBI. Currently, the IG only has the power to interview current employees to investigate departmental malfeasance. The IG can only refer criminal matters to the DoJ, which as we have noted above, is not inclined to take action when politics are involved. The IG needs to have the authority to impanel a grand jury, issue subpoenas to fully investigate any criminal behavior within the FBI, and hire prosecutors from outside the DoJ when criminal conduct is found.
The thing about a consent decree is that it relies on consent. We know the FBI is not going to like being put on probation. If the current staff doesn’t want rehabilitation, no amount of oversight will be successful. An alcoholic can’t be rehabilitated against his will. If the people of the FBI refuse the opportunity to correct themselves, they will resist every step, and the rehabilitation will fail.
But the current state is unacceptable. The bureau cannot be allowed to continue working counter to the Constitution, as the enforcers for one political party. America will not tolerate the FBI becoming the secret police, pursuing ideological rather than criminal investigations.
The bureau must be made to understand that if they will not embrace option 1 -- rehabilitation -- America will be left with only option 2 -- elimination. If the bureau can’t be rehabilitated, then the only alternative is to:
- Transfer its functions to other agencies.
- Defund it.
- Shut it down.
- Lay everyone off. I hear Chicago and Minneapolis are looking for cops.
No doubt, many good people will get hurt if we’re forced to go this route. But government employees need to understand that when a private company loses a big customer, good employees lose their jobs. It’s just the way it is. And the FBI is losing its biggest customer -- the American people.
So, what does the FBI want? One last chance? Or an opportunity to explore job openings in mall security?
Quentin Smith is a military veteran and retired FBI Special Agent who served in the bureau for nearly 29 years and now lives in Idaho.
John Green is a political refugee from Minnesota, now residing in Idaho. He currently writes at the American Free News Network (afnn.us). He can be followed on Facebook or reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.