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Ash writes: "While the FBI is quite capable of very professional conduct, the Bureau, its directors, and its agents have also proven equally willing to trample on every civil liberty and right ever invented. Often with lethal consequences."

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Washington DC, 2017. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Washington DC, 2017. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)


To Trust or Not to Trust the FBI, a Question

By Marc Ash, Reader Supported News

12 February 18

 

ndy Borowitz, with his scalpel-like satire, nailed the dark dilemma gnawing away at the psyche of everyone on the left in his recent piece, “Former Hippies Put in Horrible Position of Rooting for F.B.I.

It isn’t a “horrible position,” but it is certainly one filled with contradictions and some significant risks. The FBI’s history is an assemblage of good, bad and, yes, ugly.

While the FBI is quite capable of very professional conduct, the Bureau, its directors, and its agents have also proven equally willing to trample on every civil liberty and right ever invented. Often with lethal consequences.

In every era since its inception, the FBI has been embroiled in one form of epic abuse of power or another. From J. Edgar Hoover’s reign of terror to James Comey’s gift of the White House to Donald Trump, the FBI has been a veritable mayhem machine.

The proposition is now being floated by some that reforming or simply destroying the FBI is actually more important than confronting the mind-boggling criminality now unfolding in the Oval Office. This is a notion that beckons catastrophe. For reference, see people running through the streets of Hawaii fearing a North Korean nuclear missile strike.

Donald Trump and his entourage must be confronted with the greatest resolve, urgency, and immediacy.

Not only is Trump inviting nuclear war with North Korea, “his” ICE and DHS agents are conducting the largest ethnic cleansing on US soil since the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Not to mention the Trump administration’s open warfare against the EPA on behalf of the most corrupt and greedy corporations in the world, the environment be damned.

But who cares about the Mexicans anyway? After all, it’s not me, it’s not my family, right? Of course we can be certain when they get done rounding up Hispanics they won’t start rounding up Muslims or Jews or Catholics or gays. Clearly we live in a country where someone will say something before they come for us, right?

So why are Donald Trump and his enablers at war with federal law enforcement and specifically Special Counsel Robert Mueller? If Donald Trump were not the President of the United States, but just a guy with a criminal record as long as Interstate 10 and criminal entanglements that John Gotti would be proud of, then you might wonder if this isn’t just another story of a crime kingpin counterattacking federal law enforcement as the walls close in.

But Trump does control the Oval Office, and he has ambitions befitting the office. Trump doesn’t want to destroy the FBI, the CIA or the NSA — he wants to convert them, for his own personal use. Trump actually believes that Putin has the right idea. He sees the total, personal control that Putin has over Russia, its economy, and its resources and asks, “Why not?”

So you can destroy federal law enforcement or you can have federal laws, but you can’t do both. As demonstrably flawed as the FBI, CIA and NSA are, what Trump would make them might be irrevocably worse, by orders of magnitude.

Yes, federal law enforcement and the US intelligence apparatus desperately need reform. But this is not a job that should be entrusted to Donald Trump or his enablers. It is a job for the American people, enforcing their rights in a nation of laws. That’s the only road from here to democracy.


Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

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Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+37 # bird 2018-02-12 10:27
Nailed it Marc.
 
 
+19 # MainStreetMentor 2018-02-12 12:05
Are we again faced with the “lesser of two evils”? … i.e.: Is it better for an investigative arm to function under an appointed official of known political genre, or … to function as a personal “SS” arm of what appears to be an advocate of White Supremacy sitting in the Oval Office? Gestapo tactics under any heading can’t be tolerated. Authoritarianis m strives to be absolute, and is limited only by the controlling laws and/or the individual acting as the head of the snake. The only protection against such absolutism, while still retaining the ability to investigate, is a flawless, incorruptible check-and-balan ce system. The current deterring arm is Democracy, which is rapidly becoming Fascist at its’ core. The House and Senate have already introduced Fascist laced legislation.
 
 
+36 # Jim Rocket 2018-02-12 10:41
The saying that "perfection is the enemy of good" really applies in this situation. The checks and balances are being eroded very quickly. Getting rid of more of them is not going to work out well.
 
 
+7 # Observer 47 2018-02-12 10:46
"...James Comey’s gift of the White House to Donald Trump...."

Seriously, Mr. Ash? If Hillary Clinton had not been such an abominable candidate, she'd be living at 1600 now. She lost the election all by herself. It's frightening to think how bad she had to be to lose to the walking disaster that is Donald Trump.
 
 
+1 # lfeuille 2018-02-12 20:31
Very true, but that is not the most important part of the investigation. His open obstruction of justice, his profiting from the presidency his tax evasion and his mob entangled money laundering real estate empire are all very worthy of investigation.
 
 
+1 # ericlipps 2018-02-15 18:31
Right. She was such an abominable candidate that she won the popular election by nearly three million votes and was only denied the White House by an institution crafted at the insistence of slaveowners to give them extra political power to stave off emancipation.
 
 
+24 # tedrey 2018-02-12 12:01
I continue to make the same point in different words in the hope that Marc and others will someday get it before it's too late.

Yes, Trump is a disaster, and the nation and the world are not safe until he is out of the White House.

Is the solution to return directly to the same situation which prevailed before?

That is: an FBI, a CIA, an NSA, which have been shown to pay little attention to laws and the Constitution, either at the demand of a part of the current government, or else on their own and for their own benefit?

A Congress which has ceded war-making to the executive, which in turn is fast ceding military decision-making to the military?

An electoral system which has been found massively unable to avoid vast manipulation and corruption by both US and foreign politicians?

Either of two political parties whose whole effort and capital is put into winning elections but with no ability or will to achieve the expressed desires of the great majority of the people if they do win?

Finally, do you think it reasonable to suggest that any attempt to mitigate or even recognize these enormous failings of both parties can be safely postponed until after the present government can be handed over to one or both of the standing parties which have allowed and exacerbated them for years?

I don't know the answer to this quandary but I think we should be discussing it at the same time as we work on displacing Trump and Co.
 
 
+3 # economagic 2018-02-12 20:55
As usual, your point is well taken. While T-Rump is a gas-fired disaster, he is not "The Problem." If he were to disappear in a puff of smoke We the People would be no better off and might well find ourselves worse off.

"The Problem" is that after a century plus of slow progress toward the aspirations of the Founders, in the first half of the 20th century this country made great strides in that direction, too numerous to mention here. After vanquishing the greatest threat civilization had ever seen, the future was ours to decide. We greatly expanded access to college education, and we grudgingly accepted the humanity of the descendants of the people our ancestors had kidnapped and traded as chattel, ignoring the fact that the people who had stood under the white hoods were still alive and angry. But we failed to take serious steps beyond those--steps that many other countries did take--and chose instead to privilege our newly minted Military Industrial Complex and suppress democratic movements around the world. (They were called "self-determina tion" movements then.)

We also chose to promote "amusing ourselves to death" (title of a 1985 book by Neil Postman) over honest education. Within two decades we were back to suppressing democratic movements in our own country, and in real terms it has been downhill ever since.
 
 
+14 # librarian1984 2018-02-12 12:07
It's a matter of opinion which is more of a threat, more dangerous and more powerful.

You assume if Trump wants to convert the intel agencies he'll be able to do so -- but they hate him, and he can't get rid of all agency loyalists. Trained agents are not replaceable by political appointees. With his history Trump will never be able to 'convert' the agencies, which have not shown loyalty to ANY president. That is not their perceived mission.

Trump vs intel is a false choice. Mechanisms are working to stifle Trump and we should let them do their job. Pelosi and Schumer have said they don't want him out. Granted, for cynical political reasons, but if they thought he was an existential threat they wouldn't say that. Would they?

But when is the last time we had an opportunity to weaken the agencies? They are insidious, unaccountable and usually invulnerable. At this moment we don't have to trust Congress or Trump to reform them. (Obviously no one in DC is willing to do that. Ever.) We just need to weaken them.

This is a rare opportunity because Trump is the only one dumb enough to go after the CIA and FBI. Let him. Then they go at Trump. Let them. Let them weaken each other, then we go after both. In 2018 and 2020 we work to elect true reformers -- who will investigate Trump AND the intel agencies (and our elections).
 
 
+3 # Salus Populi 2018-02-12 17:04
Unfortunately, the record of the past does not support the idea of "let them weaken each other. The last time this was tried was by the German Workers Party, the KPD, under the instructions of Stalin and Ernst Thälmann, the chair of the party. They considered the Social Democratic Party [SPD] to be "Social Fascists" and concentrated on attacking them, proclaiming that after the SPD had been eliminated, they, the KPD, would beat the Nazis. Both the Socialist Workers Party [SAP} and the expelled KPD (Opposition), as well as Trotsky, then in exile in Turkey, urged the KPD to make common cause to defeat the Nazis, but they were ignored. In January 1933 the fruition of the refusal to form a united front came, with the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor; within a few weeks, the KPD had been outlawed, its paper suspended, its office destroyed, and hundreds and thousands of its members arrested.

The secret police agencies in the U.S. have never felt obligated to follow a consistent path. If they find it in their interest to do so -- or their leadership does -- they will readily abandon their hatred and ally with Trump. Trusting that they will weaken each other, while we stand aside from the fray, is a fool's errand. Perhaps trying to build a united movement against both the intelligence agencies and the proto-fascists in the White House is equally futile, but not trying is a guarantee that we will not make a difference, and we may end up with the worst of both worlds.
 
 
+3 # librarian1984 2018-02-13 10:55
I agree with your but we are watching it happen. There have been numerous articles about chaos roiling between internal factions of several agencies. There are leaks galore, and CYA maneuvers.

Yes, the CIA would work with Trump to survive -- but I'm not sure he would be willing to work with THEM -- or if he did he would break his word within a week, or blurt out his 'beautiful' negotiation publicly. Trump is a bull in the proverbial china shop, so let's point him toward the agencies.

When is the last time we saw the CIA this bumbling, this vulnerable? Even if it's not ideal it's better than anything we've experienced in decades, maybe since Kennedy fired Dulles. They sure skated past black sites and torture accountability, and mismanagement in Afghanistan and Syria.

Your posts are always highly informative. Thank you. We need the historical perspective so we don't repeat those mistakes. (We will make new ones.) If this is ongoing and we can bring in waves of reformers I do believe we might have an opportunity here. Much could still go wrong, but there's a chance.

It would be great if Adam Schiff was talking about intel reform rather than proving to US every day how much he's in the pocket of the CIA, NSA and FBI.

I am not saying we do nothing. I am saying we don't help either one. We work, united, against both. imo the choice is false.
 
 
-2 # Depressionborn 2018-02-12 17:13
Quoting librarian1984:
It's a matter of opinion which is more of a threat, more dangerous and more powerful.

You assume if Trump wants to convert the intel agencies he'll be able to do so -- but they hate him, and he can't get rid of all agency loyalists. Trained agents are not replaceable by political appointees. With his history Trump will never be able to 'convert' the agencies, which have not shown loyalty to ANY president. That is not their perceived mission.

Trump vs intel is a false choice. Mechanisms are working to stifle Trump and we should let them do their job. Pelosi and Schumer have said they don't want him out. Granted, for cynical political reasons, but if they thought he was an existential threat they wouldn't say that. Would they?

But when is the last time we had an opportunity to weaken the agencies? They are insidious, unaccountable and usually invulnerable. At this moment we don't have to trust Congress or Trump to reform them. (Obviously no one in DC is willing to do that. Ever.) We just need to weaken them.

This is a rare opportunity because Trump is the only one dumb enough to go after the CIA and FBI. Let him. Then they go at Trump. Let them. Let them weaken each other, then we go after both. In 2018 and 2020 we work to elect true reformers -- who will investigate Trump AND the intel agencies (and our elections).


Trump's IQ is said to be 156.
 
 
+3 # librarian1984 2018-02-13 11:08
I don't believe he's low IQ -- but he IS taking on the CIA and FBI. There is some kind of intelligence lacking, by definition :-)

I applaud it, but I don't think Trump's guiding principle here is any noble quest. It is self-serving, and therefore mercurial, but maybe that's why it's working. He is not bringing a focused, purposeful challenge to the agencies. He is planting chaos bombs in their midst. I'm okay with that. And I don't think he's stupid -- but he HAS proven himself to be flawed. He trusts the generals too much, for one thing.

After the Bay of Pigs Kennedy said, "If we do what (the Pentagon) wants us to do none of us will be alive to tell them they were wrong."

Trump should cancel the trillion $ nuke makeover to fully fund infrastructure spending. We don't need the privatization of our roads and bridges. He should shut down some of these wars we're mired in. Trump talked a good game but he has acted on very little of his campaign rhetoric.
 
 
+3 # Salus Populi 2018-02-13 11:32
Said by whom, himself and his hired guns? The fact that he lies virtually every time he tweets, and doubles down when challenged on his "alternate facts," regardless of his purported high IQ, of which I doubt very much is accurate, his emotional intelligence and state of development is that of a spoiled brat three-year-old.
 
 
+10 # chrisconno 2018-02-12 12:17
I am one of those hippies that cringes at the task of defending the FBI, but we are definitely having to choose between the least of evils. At this point Trump and his entourage of republicans are as bad as it should get. While the Japanese internment is a real scar on out democracy, what we did to the Native Americans was far worse and should not be out done by the current ethnic cleansing of immigrants. With huge reservations and caveats, I am fully counting on Mueller and the FBI to releave us of the trump scourge.
 
 
+19 # Blackjack 2018-02-12 12:45
NOTHING in modern history has been as lethal to our democracy as Donald J. Trump! Reform whatever needs reforming, but get this SOB out of office first! The rule of law is the only demonstrably effective barrier we have left against this wicked piece of excrement! And let's not forget that it was Congress that approved over-the-top spying by FISA and many of the other FBI/CIA abuses. Fix Congress, too, by fixing the gerrymandering that gave us most of the liars and crooks that now occupy those halls!
 
 
+14 # Johnny 2018-02-12 13:27
There are plenty of legitimate reasons to despise the Trump regime without apologizing for the fascist FBI.
 
 
+4 # Depressionborn 2018-02-12 13:47
Ash:"So you can destroy federal law enforcement or you can have federal laws, but you can’t do both."
Of course. Mr Ash. But you miss the point. [again?] What about when law enforcement violates the laws it is supposed to uphold. Then it obviously needs to be indited-and according to the law.
such is not rocked science.
Nor should you politicize it.
 
 
+4 # yolo 2018-02-12 14:03
"Yes, federal law enforcement and the US intelligence apparatus desperately need reform."

Agreed, we the people need to reform those agencies. How do we do it? By electing people who will. The people elected someone who is threatening that status quo. Now we are faced with a choice, if you oppose Trump you embolden those agencies power over the president, if you oppose those agencies you embolden Trump. A moral dilemma, which is the lesser of two evils? Today you don't assassinate a person with bullets but with accusations and innuendo in the media to undermine a candidates legitimacy.
 
 
+2 # MikeAF48 2018-02-12 15:46
100% Trust in the FBI ZERO Trust in the white house, trump and in general republicans. Lets just call it the ZOO House. The corrupt house of lies. Don't turn your back to a back stabber.
 
 
+4 # Blackjack 2018-02-12 16:22
Well, some candidates are NOT legitimate and sometimes the accusations ARE! And sometimes we should pay attention to the accusations. With Trump, all you really have to do is follow the money. There's enough criminal activity on that front alone to send him to the slammer for the rest of his life, if only the right people pay attention to the "accusations!" And don't we expect some entity to have "power over the president" or do we just hand everything over to him and return the country to pre-revolutiona ry times?
 
 
-1 # CDMR 2018-02-12 18:31
Trump is a mofo but the FBI, CIA, NSA, ETC are infinitely worse. Trump is a poseur. They are fascism.
 
 
0 # librarian1984 2018-02-13 11:15
Agreed. Trump is chaos. He is doing damage. But no matter what he does it cannot be compared to seventy years of coups, assassinations, fumbles, murders, drug trafficking, money laundering, torture and mayhem brought on by the CIA abroad and the FBI and NSA at home. And if you combine them all together, it is NO contest. Trump will be gone in a year or three (or seven if Pelosi and the neoliberals maintain control of the DP); the intelligence agencies aren't going anywhere.

btw, last night Oracle Omarosa said that as bad as Trump is, people should be infinitely more frightened of a Pence presidency.
 
 
-3 # Depressionborn 2018-02-13 19:26
So, 1984, what law has Trump broken?
 
 
-1 # librarian1984 2018-02-13 23:41
I'm more interested in the corruption that's legal. I'm sure he's done something, probably money laundering and bribery, but why should he be prosecuted when W, Cheney, Obama and the Clintons have not answered for THEIR crimes?
 
 
-2 # Depressionborn 2018-02-15 14:05
But please 1984, the purpose of gov is to legalize corruption. I thought you knew that
 
 
+1 # lfeuille 2018-02-12 20:45
Whether or not to trust the FBI depends on the situation. People on the fringe, the poor, minorities, immigrants, protesters, etc, absolutely cannot trust them. But white collar criminals are treated differently and Trump being the ultimate white collar criminal is getting a fair deal from them. Most of his crimes have nothing to do with the "deep state" and the CIA's obsession with the global balance of power. He should not get a pass on his blatant corruption because of the intelligence agencies overreach.
The FBI is not like the CIA and the NSA who only care about the global power struggle. A lot of the agents are ex cops and many of them are Trump supporters as are a lot of currently serving cops. They have the same prejudices are cops. International intelligence doesn't dominate like it does with the other agencies.
 
 
+3 # librarian1984 2018-02-13 12:19
Oops! Today on Morning Joe Sen. Chris Murphy slipped and talked about Rex Tillerson's admission that "the Republicans ARE attempting to influence the 2018 election ..."

Joe Scarborough: "The Russians."

Murphy: "Excuse me, the Russians."
 
 
+3 # Black Hawk Down 2018-02-14 12:36
What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?

I learned that Washington never told a lie
I learned that soldiers seldom die
I learned that everybody's free
And that's what the teacher said to me
And that's what I learned in school today
That's what I learned in school

And what did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
I learned that policeman are my friends
I learned that justice never ends
I learned that murderers die for their crimes
Even if we make mistakes sometimes
And that's what I learned in school today
That's what I learned in school

And what did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?

I learned that war is not so bad
I learned about the great ones we have had
We fought in Germany and in France
And someday I might get my chance
And that's what I learned in school today
That's what I learned in school

And what did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
I learned our government must be strong
It's always right and never wrong
Our leaders are the finest men
And we elect them again and again
And that's what I learned in school today
That's what I learned in school
 
 
+2 # Black Hawk Down 2018-02-14 15:30
I heard a rumor, and it is surely a sad fact that the most common utterance from politicians in Washington (on both sides of the aisle) nowadays is, "Who's our judge?"
 

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