Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, author of the newly-released book “Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away From It All,” left his post after a 12-year run to run for Congress as a Republican, turning his back on President Barack Obama and the “fog of scandals” he believes have enveloped the Obama administration.
Bongino sat down with The Daily Caller and dished on the politicized state of the Department of Justice, the reforms he believes will stifle corruption in the burgeoning federal bureaucracies and the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance sweeps.
What’s your opinion of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice and Eric Holder’s tenure, and the difference between finding actual criminal cases and cases that are just neatly packaged?
Bongino: “It’s a travesty, what’s happened to the Department of Justice. It’s an actual travesty. It’s political malpractice at its worst. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Lady Justice has got a blindfold on. That has not been the case for this administration. Think about the things they’ve wasted their time on. Political statements about the voter intimidation, Fast and Furious, hiding documents from Congress — the most recent scandal, and I think the most egregious, is going after Louisiana for the school voucher program. … This Department of Justice is a Department of Injustice. It’s just sad what has happened — I’m stunned that more people have not come forward. Because I get, phone calls, emails, texts from people all the time, who — I cannot express to you the level of frustration amongst federal agents and administrative employees. People are really fed up with this administration and the way they politicize things. I think the DOJ is just the tip of the spear.”
Do you have a remedy for this besides bringing in a new DOJ, reforms that could be put in place to prevent this sort of politicization?
Bongino: “From a larger, umbrella view, the reason we have this is the walling off and these individual silos amongst this multitude of alphabet soup of federal agencies out there. What it does is give the Department of Justice unusual power. If we were to reform the system, put everyone under a blanket law enforcement umbrella, and then a blanket intelligence umbrella, and then had independent — completely independent, there’s no cross-pollination, there’s no transfer of personnel — and independent, third wing, so law enforcement intel, and then an inspector general that was completely separate and distinct from everyone else. They would actually be able to oversee elements like the DOJ and law enforcement and government by discretion. The way it’s set up now, structurally, it’s impossible. The attorney general is an appointee of the president and his loyalties are to the president first, which I think Holder’s are, and not to the people. And I think you’re going to have a very serious problem. And there is no way to prevent it if the media just goes along.”
So you have tens of thousands of federal agents investigating small crimes and ignoring larger ones like the Boston bombing. Does this puts us at risk for not only corruption in departments, but actual attacks?
Bongino: “Absolutely. This is a national security issue. I mean, think about it — we’re raiding Les Paul guitar centers for importing wood that violates a restriction that nobody even knows or cares about, while a known terrorist, a Tsarnaev brother, is in our terrorist information database, goes back and forth [to Russia], and nobody even notices? If this was a private company, there would be a mass firing. They would be selling off of branches, consolidation — none of this happens. And this is the sad part: We have just so accepted as the American citizenry government ineptitude. It’s ineptitude that — it doesn’t surprise anyone. There’s no cattle prod. … It’s like that shirt I see all the time: ‘The beatings will continue until morale improves.’ That’s really what we’ve got to, a point where — you accept such levels of ineptitude these umbrella questions get lost, because it’s just assumed that that’s the way it is. And the umbrella questions of ‘Why do we have all of these agencies?’ Has anybody even thought of that?”
“This is bureaucratic investigative laziness at its worst. I’ve actually investigated these cases, so I’m speaking from first-hand experience. This whole position of lawmakers, bureaucrats, and some in the spy agency — not all — is that since we can’t reform government, we’re going to defualt to a collection mechanism on every American, because we can’t do anything to make things better at the margin. So we’re just with one big stroke of the pen collect [data] on every single American. How any good conservative can defend this program is beyond me. If you give the government — I promise you, having been there as long as I have, I promise you it will be abused. Don’t think for a second that it won’t. It’s just a matter of when. The ‘if’ question is done, finished. It will be abused, I promise. The incentives are all wrong.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.