What 9/11 wrought.
Prior to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was a traditional law enforcement agency. FBI agents investigated federal crimes and tracked down criminals. The bureau also assisted state and local law enforcement agencies via its training facility in Quantico, Virginia and through its famous crime laboratory.
At the top of the FBI’s list of priorities was organized crime – a reflection of its coming of age concurrent with the emergence of the mafia during prohibition.
Notably not on the FBI’s list of priorities was counter terrorism. That changed on 9/11. Robert Mueller (yes, the Robert Mueller whose name appears on the bogus Russian collusion investigation that dogged the presidency of Donald Trump for nearly three years) had been on the job as FBI Director for only a week when 9/11 happened.
The recriminations following that dark day led President George W. Bush to ask Mueller what the FBI was going to do to prevent the next 9/11-scale attack.
That question, together with the hurried passage of the Patriot Act just six weeks after 9/11, set in motion a chain of events that transformed the FBI from a federal law enforcement agency into a national security agency – accompanied by sweeping new powers.
Those who were of age on 9/11 and were shocked by its viciousness (including present company), went along with the Patriot Act and all it entailed without protest. Americans wanted a guarantee that such a horror wouldn’t happen again
But what has happened since exposes that acquiescence as a grievous error, while revalidating the maxim that power corrupts while absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The FBI – with the aid of its equally corrupt parent, the Department of Justice – has become a government unto itself, unaccountable to the Executive Branch under which it falls and utterly beyond any citizen sanction via the ballot box.
The FBI, once arguably the most admired federal agency, now reeks of partisan malfeasance. Armed with the fearsome powers of surveillance that the bureau acquired following 9/11, the FBI has nearly unlimited power to protect those whom it favors while destroying those that it does not.
Among the powers the FBI has arrogated to itself is the discretion to determine on its own who should be president. Thus the 2016 persecution of Donald Trump for made-up crimes, concurrent with the blind eye turned toward the actual crimes of Hillary Clinton.
The irredeemable state of the FBI was evident Wednesday as director Christopher Wray bobbed, weaved, dissembled and smirked before a congressional committee asking him direct questions about the Trump-Russia hoax, the de facto censoring of protected free speech via social media, the pass given Hillary Clinton on clear criminal misconduct and the calculated dithering on investigation of Biden family bribery and tax evasion.
Two conclusions emerge.
The first is that government with the power to guarantee safety has the power to enslave.
The second is that profound reform of the FBI – up to and including dismantling it and starting over – should be very much on the table.