If You're Going to Drain the Swamp, Mr. President, You'd Better Start with the FBI

("FBI Building IMG_3725" by OZinOH is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

I’m so old I can still remember when people looked to the FBI for protection.

Normal people probably never deal with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, formerly the nation’s premier criminal investigation and counterintelligence organization. That’s for the simple reason that most people aren’t crooks or foreign spies, and the FBI is, or at least was, in the business of going after both — and presumably no one else.

So I suspect most people’s impression of the FBI was similar to mine, gleaned from countless movies. A mid-level mobster gets into some kind of jam, and goes to the FBI to enter Witness Protection in exchange for his testimony against the previously untouchable Big Boss. Or the plucky office worker accidentally uncovers evidence of a criminal conspiracy involving a multinational corporation and/or high-level government officials, and finds herself under the protective wing of a straightlaced FBI agent who just wants to do the right thing at any cost. Or the still-live victim of a serial killer, who could be saved if the mad geniuses of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit can unlock the mind of a madman in time.

That’s certainly the FBI we wanted, even if the day-to-day reality was a bit more mundane (and not always on the up-and-up) than we’d get from a Hollywood thriller. The essential truth remained the same though: The FBI was where you went when you needed protection.

But that’s not entirely true anymore, is it? Or as Captain Mal Reynolds might say of our all-too-postmodern FBI, “My days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle.”

Or at least that’s the smart-take after learning that Jeffrey Epstein’s underage callgirl madam — if we can call her that in a family publication — has reportedly gone on the lam, fleeing from the FBI because of the information she has on powerful people. That’s according to the latest from the Daily Mail, where it’s reported that Ghislaine Maxwell “may be hiding in a safehouse in Israel” following a report that “both she and Epstein were ‘assets’ for a foreign government.”

Dirt on rich and powerful Americans? The British royal family? Foreign spies? Underage sex-trafficking? A woman whose testimony could blow the lid off an international secret society for once isn’t the stuff of a Hollywood movie. But instead of going to the FBI for protection in exchange for her testimony, she’s fled them.

I’m not saying that Ghislaine (almost rhymes with “grisly”) Maxwell is the good guy in all this. She’s more like the mob hitman who got caught skimming and needs protection from his own boss. It is believed, as DM reports, that Ghislaine procured “underage girls for Epstein to sexually traffick among his wealthy and powerful friends.” They also noted that “rumors have long circulated that Epstein secretly took videos of his rich and powerful friends having sex with underage girls, either for financial blackmail or as leverage for a foreign intelligence service.” The FBI has kept mum on all this, as they should before the investigation is complete. But if sinister international forces really do make Maxwell fear for her life, it isn’t that long ago that the FBI would’ve been the organization where she’d find refuge.

Epstein himself was under government “protection,” for lack of a better word, but ended up dead just the same. As I noted back in August about Epstein’s supposed suicide:

• Epstein had been removed from suicide watch, despite having attempted suicide once before just two weeks prior to his death.

• His cellmate had been reassigned, leaving Epstein alone just one day before killing himself.

• Two guards in Epstein’s jail unit “slept through checks and falsified records” the night of his suicide. They were supposed to check on him every 30 minutes.

• While the guards were busy catching Z’s for three hours, there was not one but two broken security cameras outside his cell. The FBI is “investigating.”

And far from being a strictly non-partisan law enforcement agency, we’ve learned over the last couple of years that not only is the “Deep State” much more than the fever dreams of conspiracy theorists like Mel Gibson’s Jerry Fletcher, but that FBI special agents and other personnel even higher up the chain of command, were deeply involved in the attempt to subvert the 2016 election. Last December the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report concluded that the so-called Steele dossier was highly dubious, but that the FBI knew it — and relied on it just the same.

Erielle Davidson wrote at the time:

The dossier contained a heap of entirely sensational, unverified allegations against President Donald Trump, which many in the media seized upon with sheer and unabated glee. Steele had assembled the dossier while contracted out by the American investigative firm Fusion GPS. During the Republican primaries, Fusion GPS’s work was financed by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative media outlet. Once Trump became the Republican nominee, the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party began footing the bill for the opposition research on then-nominee Trump.

There’s no longer any denying the fact that there’s a lot of political rot at the FBI — the Department of Justice as a whole, really — and the rot has spread due to a lack of accountability. If it were up to me, I’d fire pretty much everyone at the DOJ ranked GS-13 or 14 and above, and see if the shockwaves would be enough to straighten out the rest of the organization. And if not, then another wave of firings, another rank down the line.

The 140-year-old Pendleton Act prevents the president from firing federal workers for political reasons, but what if the reason is the federal worker is engaging in partisan politics? The idea behind Pendleton was to limit partisan White House meddling in the nonpartisan bureaucracy, but clearly that pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. We now have a weaponized, partisan bureaucracy as part of a whole #resist movement against a sitting president, something Pendleton never envisioned. It’s time to alter or abolish Pendleton, or perhaps the president can even legally ignore it when it comes to today’s politically infused FBI.

Because I’m not kidding when I say that our law enforcement bureaucracy has become an existential threat to the Republic. When law enforcement goes criminal, when a counterintelligence organization won’t or can’t bring in enemy spies, when a nonpartisan federal bureau secretly takes part in partisan hit jobs, then either the agency is reformed or abolished — or the Republic drowns in a swamp.

I was promised a president who would drain the swamp. Well, Mr. President?