Before there was an FBI there was the U.S. Marshals Service
It has been said often that a fish rots from the head. This pearl of wisdom holds as true for fish as it does for politics. The recent I.G. Horowitz report on the DoJ and the FBI has a refrain that is repeated often in the report; “the highest levels.” If nothing else is learned from this report, it should be that the “highest levels” of the DoJ and the FBI are involved in, at the very least unethical, or at the very worst, criminal behavior. But this is not the first time the FBI has been involved in illegal behavior.
Starting in the 1930s, the FBI, at the direction of J. Edger Hoover (and subsequent directors), kept files on various celebrities including Elvis Presley, John Denver, and Steve Jobs, to just name a few. Why these files were opened seems to be a mystery since none if these people posed a threat to national security. It was, however, a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The list of other abuses of power and trust are simply too numerous to mention, as a brief internet search will reveal. This long history of the FBI abuses leads one to conclude that the mantra of the FBI is “Find me the man and I will find the crime.” The preponderance of evidence suggest that there is a systemic and blatant disregard for the constitutional rights of American citizens within the FBI. Perhaps it is time to abolish that institution. But what should replace the FBI?
Long before J. Edgar Hoover was born, there was the U.S. Marshals Service with the likes of Wyatt Earp and William Hickok, whose exploits have been told in print and on the silver screen. But there were many others too, perhaps not as notable but just as dedicated.
It was President George Washington who signed into law the Judiciary Act creating the Marshals Service in 1789. Ever since the inception of the service, Marshals have been called upon to perform a variety of tasks as the only federal law enforcement agency that that answers directly to the President. Marshals are appointed by the President for a four-year term and approved by the Senate. Such a vetting process lends itself to more apolitical and transparent candidates to fill those appointments.
Should we do away with the entire FBI? The whole of the FBI is probably not as corrupt as the cabal that lives and works inside the Beltway (i.e. Dante’s ninth circle of Hell). The agents in field offices are hard-working, dedicated individuals who are sickened by what has gone on at the Hoover Building. The FBI crime lab is the best crime lab in the world. And these things should be preserved, or should I say converted over.
It is possible to throw out the bath water and not the baby. The higher echelon of the FBI must be removed entirely, but not the agents in the field. After all, field agents (and some in D.C.) have undergone a thorough background check, allowing them the choice of becoming Deputy U.S. Marshals or becoming civilians looking for work.
This would give more oversight by both the Executive and Legislative branches of government. This may not be a perfect solution but it is worth trying, since what we have now is not working in the best interest of the county.