New Election, Different President, But Same FBI

Jill Kelley Former Honorary Diplomat
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Today, four years ago, my innocent family’s life was inexplicably turned upside down as part of an FBI takedown of our country’s top U.S. Generals and CIA Director.  Unfortunately, exactly four years later, in the aftermath of this Presidential election, I see too many parallels with similar behaviors and abuses.  It turns out that my case was not an isolated incident better left forgotten; it is part of the Bureau’s systematic pattern of improper influence on the outcomes of our elections.

During the summer of 2012, our lives were upended by the FBI after I began receiving threats by an anonymous cyber-stalker, who ultimately turned out to be the former CIA director’s mistress.  At the urging of my close friend and colleague, General John Allen, I reported the deranged emails to the FBI after he learned the stalker used information illegally obtained from Petraeus’s official government email account to target her victims (my husband, CIA Director Petraeus, General John Allen and other top U.S. Generals, and Ambassadors.)

Despite our plea to the FBI for protection for six (long) months prior to the election, top officials in the Bureau did nothing to stop the stalker.  Instead, they decided to delay and manipulate the evidence because they saw a political opportunity to influence an upcoming election.  My powerful friends had equally powerful political opponents. FBI leaders improperly accessed and snooped into years of our private emails and personal photos — without consent.  The FBI capitalized on the electronic communications that were the outgrowth of someone else’s extra-marital affair and dominated the political landscape.  Despite the fact that I was innocent, I was, nevertheless, collateral damage.

The Sunday after Election Day 2012, the world watched the media storm on my front lawn during my daughter’s 7th birthday party; all because the FBI lied about my emails to distract from one of the most politically corrupt FBI investigations in modern history. Sadly, it worked. The Bureau dubiously created a tabloid effect to mask the secret political take-down of the country’s most important leaders.

And just last week, our nation witnessed the FBI use the same tactics: ‘using electronic communications uncovered due to another person’s extra-marital affair’ to influence the political landscape during this presidential election.  Unfortunately, on this anniversary, we see this tale of political intrigue becoming entirely too familiar.

Democrat or Republican, everyone in America lost something precious when our FBI  “accidentally” searched another cache of unrelated emails days before this election. Let me be clear: It was no accident.  When you understand how my story fits into the larger picture you will see that there is a pervasive lack of integrity and absence of accountability in the FBI.  The FBI has grown accustomed to abusing their power by overreaching into the personal communications of law-abiding citizens.  This breach of the Privacy laws during the last two elections has broken trust with Americans.

The FBI should not have their fingers on the scales to manipulate the democratic election process, as they have in the past two U.S. Presidential elections. The FBI leadership does not favor “D” or “R” exclusively.  We do not want the FBI disregarding Privacy laws and using the information to influence the election with selective delays (2012), leaks (2012 and 2016), with innuendo (2012 and 2016) and October surprises (2016).  When the FBI interferes and exploits opportunities in this way, Americans are left to question the integrity of the U.S. elections.

We need these politically inclined officials to be held accountable for these inept, sprawling FBI investigations that waste tax-payer money and ruin the livelihoods of innocent civilians who are merely collateral damage in an in a blatant attempt to advance a political agenda.

Confidential emails are supposed to be protected. Victim’s rights are supposed to be protected. Snooping and going on evidentiary “fishing expeditions” is supposed to be unlawful.  But who at the FBI has been held accountable by the injustices in the past two elections? Nobody.  What additional safeguards have been put in place to ensure that electronic communications are adequately protected? None.

Our government continues to snoop into millions of other law-abiding American’s emails with impunity.  Therefore it’s not a question of “whether” government will abuse its surveillance powers to stifle dissent and suppress liberties.  It is happening now and it will continue until we demand that it cease.

Whether you voted for Trump or Hillary, do not be fooled into believing the FBI is doing the right thing for the country or national security.  The FBI’s influence in the 2012 and 2016 Presidential elections is utterly undemocratic and indefensible.  Today people aren’t storming my front lawn, but are storming the streets as we witness the civil unrest that has followed this contentious election. The American public must demand that this conversation be brought center stage so that we can get the proper checks and balances in place.  This is not a question of party affiliation; we must fight to restore the integrity of the elections free from the undue influence of the FBI. The future of our democracy is at stake.  We want American voters to choose the President – free from the undue influence of any powerful branch of government.

Jill Kelley was the first Honorary Ambassador to the United States Central Command’s Coalition Forces.