Recently, I flew to Washington, D.C., to testify for the House Judiciary’s Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. I met two Congressmen and then began working as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Renewing America. I also resigned from the FBI.
As I reflect on the past five months, I am saddened by how avoidable the whole experience was. The FBI teaches agents to recognize and report potential wrongdoing. I relied on my training and shared concerns about the FBI’s mismanagement of Jan. 6 investigations to my supervisors in August. Unfortunately, I naïvely believed FBI Director Christopher Wray’s declaration to the United States Senate, “I condemn in the strongest possible terms any prospect of retaliation against whistleblowers.”
The crux of my whistleblower disclosure to FBI executives and Congress is two-fold. First, the FBI is not following established case management rules for Jan. 6 investigations. Regardless of the motives behind the rule departure, I contend the divergence constitutes a due process violation that infringes on citizens’ rights and may prove problematic in righteous prosecutions. Second, the FBI is using aggressive arrest tactics to apprehend Jan. 6 subjects who have pledged to cooperate with authorities. This show of force with SWAT teams and large-scale arrest operations for misdemeanor offenses or cooperative subjects is placing FBI personnel and the public at unnecessary risk.
A whistleblower reports his reasonable belief that the government is engaging in waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, or activity which is dangerous to public safety. That is what I did to FBI managers in Aug. 2022. In response, I was ordered to stay home and docked a day’s pay. Later, the FBI suspended my security clearance and placed me on indefinite, unpaid suspension. The FBI denied my request to seek outside employment and implemented gag orders to prohibit me from speaking with my own family.
In violation of the Privacy Act, the FBI refused to furnish my training records. The bureau defied HIPAA when it leaked my COVID-19 vaccination status to The New York Times. The FBI also falsely said I was under disciplinary investigation for discharging an FBI firearm in my backyard. I have yet to find a criminal violation for that, but it certainly transgresses the FBI’s purported commitment to honesty.
I suffered these indignities before my transcribed interview with the Select Committee. I hoped for a bipartisan pursuit of truth. But while Republican participants dug into my whistleblower declaration, Democratic attorneys attacked the messenger.
The approach is irrational. My whistleblower disclosure alleges significant abuse and malfeasance by the FBI. Our elected officials should focus on ensuring the agency is operating legally and ethically. Regardless of party affiliation, committee members ought to investigate the veracity of my declaration. If I am right, correct the problem and hold the wrongdoers accountable. If I am wrong, provide a logical justification for the FBI’s conduct. Either way, the issue is resolved.
Unfortunately, the Democratic lawyers working for the committee lobbed allegations of misdeeds against me. They highlighted that while I may have thirteen years of law enforcement experience and training in Constitutional law, I am “not a lawyer.” Thus, they implied that I lacked the necessary bona fides to identify the FBI’s Jan. 6 case mismanagement as potential due process violations.
In Oct. 2022, I gained approval to discuss my whistleblower complaint in the media and appeared on many television, radio, and alternative media platforms. My requests went to the FBI’s press and prepublication review offices’ single points of contact. However, the Democrats argued these media appearances were inappropriate publicity stunts performed without the explicit approval of my personal chain of command.
Finally, the Democrats argued that my objections to using SWAT to arrest individuals was rooted in deep seeded sympathy for the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and Three Percenters. Many of those people wore body armor on Jan. 6 and some carried Confederate and Nazi flags. Several had bear spray. I countered that FBI investigations must comport with the Constitution and protect citizens’ civil rights. The FBI is also ostensibly committed to public safety.
Departures from investigative norms and hyper-aggressive arrest tactics for Jan. 6 subjects are clear violations on both fronts. Unfortunately, Democratic attorneys interrupted by describing Capitol police officers’ injuries. The lawyers could not abide the concept that citizens do not forfeit their civil rights when accused of crimes that Democrats find particularly abhorrent.
My time at the Rayburn Building was a clarifying experience. House Democrats and the FBI are two sides of the same coin. Neither is willing to consider the merits of information which may counter the narrative that Jan. 6 was the worst day in American history. Both are content to weaponize investigative processes to victimize their political opponents and silence those willing to spotlight these abuses.
Stephen Friend is a former FBI special agent and whistleblower, now a senior fellow with the Center for Renewing America.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.