The FBI has long been considered America’s premier federal law enforcement agency. The Bureau has a storied history dating to the 1930s and was the subject of a laudatory television series from 1965 to 1974. The FBI helped bring down the Gambino crime family. In the 1970s, the Bureau aided in defeating the violent Weather Underground, which was led by revolutionaries Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.
The FBI now has morphed into a pale reflection of its former self — almost a parody. Last week, in a scene I never dreamt I would see, a group of FBI personnel (“officials,” according to one account) were photographed kneeling before some of the protesters who had wreaked havoc on the streets of our nation’s capital city. The kneelers all wore protective vests with “FBI” emblazoned thereon and were equipped with holstered sidearms.
It is unclear whether these individuals knelt out of fear, were ordered by their superiors at the Bureau to assume such a submissive pose, or whether each was doing so because they personally supported the protesters and rioters. What is clear is that the display confirms that the Federal Bureau of Investigation in this 21st century has lost sight of its mission and purpose, and apparently no longer even acts on its own intelligence information.
This last point is especially relevant.
As Attorney General William Barr stated on May 31st, mixed in with the protesters, demonstrators, looters and violent thugs who smashed windows, burned churches and engaged in all manner of other violent acts in cities across the country were elements of antifa and other extremist organizations. The FBI is a component of the U.S. Department of Justice which is headed by the Attorney General, and if he states that antifa and other extremist groups are mixed in with the thousands of other riot participants, we can assume the FBI was aware of such evidence. The Attorney General also publicly declared firmly that it was time “to confront and stop [the violence].”
Either the kneeling FBI agents were not given a copy of the Attorney General’s order, or they chose to ignore it, as their response was not to “confront” the challenges posed by the rioters but to bow before them.
Making this public display of kowtowing particularly ironic is the fact that the strategy, tactics and revolutionary goals of the current protesting groups before who the FBI employees knelt, are well-known to the Bureau. For example, the cries that America and its institutions are at their core systemically “racist” and must be dismantled is not a new battle cry of protesting groups. This was a recurrent theme in the book that served as the bible for the violent Weather Underground in the 1970s: Prairie Fire, The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism.
More recently, the violent group antifa similarly has championed the discredited but politically correct theme that America is a country predicated on “systemic racism.”
In earlier times, when called on to assist in maintaining law and order, the FBI and its personnel seem to have understood its mission is to protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States. There also appears to have been a common understanding that those laws included prohibitions on looting, arson, assault and battery when crossing state lines or when targeting federal buildings and personnel, such as the Secret Service agents injured by rioters while protecting the White House.
Moreover, it always in the past was understood that personal political or social beliefs of individual agents were not to interfere with their official duties. No more.
Today’s FBI, as witnessed just recently by its employees kneeling before those who violate the very laws its personnel are sworn to uphold, and in the 2016-17 efforts by its senior officials to target President Trump, Gen. Michael Flynn and others for political reasons, has forsaken its fundamental and defining mission.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003 and served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986 to 1990. He now serves as President of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation based in Atlanta, Georgia.