Suppose what many are now suspecting is completely true — that the FBI, or parts of it, exonerated Hillary Clinton and her cohorts with a mock investigation, attempted to swing our presidential election against Donald Trump and then continued to undermine the new administration after they had won with illegitimate claims of Russian collusion orchestrated by sleazy political lowlifes?
While this is not quite Stalinist — no one was tortured in Lubyanka or sent to the Gulag for life — it’s not all that distant. It’s tantamount to an internal coup d’état that is still ongoing. And just as in many coups throughout history, many of the participants are convinced they are doing the right thing, that they are on the side of justice, even though they are bending it, especially because they are bending it. The ends justify the means, as the old homicidal slogan goes.
Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — that low-rent Hero and Leander of the Beltway — certainly believed that. You know that from the contents of their compulsive text messages even though five key months are suddenly “missing.” The inside of the FBI, particularly at the higher reaches, seems to have been filled with a band of smug, self-righteous ideologues who would do anything, erase or rephrase anything, to get their way. And then lie about it. Either that or quote scripture. Or form “secret societies.”
Or just cover up, as Robert Mueller did when Strzok and Page were caught, literally and ideologically, with their pants down. He simply shipped them off Soviet-style to FBI Siberia, not saying a word to the public, hoping no one would notice, hoping it would be ignored that those “secret societies” and “insurance policies” they referred to smack of exactly the kind of behavior that would open one to RICO charges in a normal FBI investigation. This coverup only came out by accident months later. (As Marc Antony might have put it, “And Robert is an honorable man.” He might add now: “And Loretta is an honorable woman.”)
Put another way, should “lying to the FBI” be a crime, when the FBI itself lies?
That’s not a zen koan. That’s reality.
So if — and it’s not that big an if anymore — this story out of a spy novel (the density of Le Carré coupled with the outlandishness of Fleming) is indeed the truth, what do we do about it? The answer is not easy. At minimum it would necessitate a massive over-hauling, possibly even a dismantling, of the FBI and the Department of Justice. But how would we do that? That too will not be simple.
Critics of the FBI often acknowledge, seemingly paying obeisance, that there are many good people at the heart of the organization. Can we assume that to be accurate? Undoubtedly there are a significant number, but how do we determine who is who in an organization so adept at, and wedded to, stonewalling? Moreover, we can assume that the perpetrators at the top will be backed up and supported — some of the time anyway — by leaders of other investigative and intelligence branches, notably the CIA and the NSA, that have been similarly infiltrated over the years.
A second special counsel has been suggested, but we need considerably more than that. We need a through investigation via a full-on commission of the FBI and the DOJ themselves and, unfortunately, the intelligence agencies as well that could — and most likely would — take years. So many issues are at play here it’s mind-boggling. How do we deal with the dishonesty of our officials and bureaucrats when those same people are the keepers of our secrets and the enforcers of our laws (both of which are related)? When is transparency necessary? When is secrecy justified? Who will watch the watchers? Are the congressional oversight committees enough? Do they have sufficient power?
The questions are indeed endless and the solutions will necessitate more than just firing or indicting the most recent miscreants. Deep structural problems have allowed this to happen. They must be corrected. Nothing should be sacrosanct. We face a complex future as technology advances inexorably and the capabilities of these organizations increase exponentially. We have to know — in advance and to the extent we can — how to prevent totalitarianism from within.
Mueller and current director Christopher Wray may not fully realize it — longtime denizens of D.C. and its culture that they are — but a significant portion of the American public outside Washington no longer believes in the fairness of our justice system and those people, with cause, are getting more skeptical by the day. There’s no telling where this will end. Attempts to salvage the Trump-Russia investigation with charges of obstruction when no collusion occurred in the first place will only exacerbate the situation and drive a further wedge into a broken society.
This alienation has a powerful emotional affect on all us that often we cannot even see, although we sense it. For homework, everyone should watch, if they haven’t, what may be the most insightful film of recent decades, the German-made movie about the Stasi, The Lives of Others.
In sum, as Peter Strzok himself texted, “there’s no big there there” for the Trump collusion investigation. Unfortunately, and sadly for America, there is a big there there for corruption in the FBI — and he’s part of it.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His latest book is I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already.