Congressional scrutiny of the FBI’s heavy-handed, one-sided involvement in politically-charged controversies is long overdue.
- The Bureau’s active involvement in the 2016 Russia collusion hoax (an acceptable election denial, apparently);
- its own collusion (exposed thanks to Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter) with the Biden administration and social media outlets to censor conservative voices;
- its role in helping safeguard Biden’s 2020 election chances by falsely portraying the Hunter Biden laptop as Russian disinformation;
- its unprecedented raid on the home of former President Donald Trump, in search of classified documents, contrasted with its kid gloves approach to similar classified document stashes in President Joe Biden’s homes and offices.
All have favored Democrats and the ideological left, undermining Republicans and conservative causes.
Front and center has been the FBI’s domestic terrorism against peaceful pro-life protesters.
Questioned by senators about one flagrant example — sending a SWAT team of “20-30 agents,” guns drawn, to arrest Pennsylvanian Mark Houck at home in front of his wife and seven terrified children — U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland repeatedly dissembled, questioning the description of the raid even after Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri displayed “a blown-up photo of fearsome-looking FBI agents with long guns, ballistic shields and bullet-proof vests,” according to N.Y. Post columnist Miranda Devine.
What dangerous crime justified this show of force? An accusation of disorderly conduct that even Philadelphia’s District Attorney — “a Democrat, very progressive,” Sen. Hawley noted — had declined to prosecute.
Despite the FBI’s daring early morning raid, a federal jury took all of one hour to acquit Houck of the bogus charge.
Ah, but perhaps Hawley inadvertently identified the real trigger for the raid when he displayed a photo of the Catholic Houck family “at Mass.”
Did the FBI suspect it had been a Latin Mass? In January the bureau’s Richmond field office called for targeting “traditionalist Catholics,” including those who favor the Latin Mass.
Yes, some Catholics — including the current Pope — seem to regard even the Church-approved Latin Mass as subversive. But that is a Church matter, into which civil law enforcement has no business intruding. Beyond the obvious violation of the First Amendment, does the FBI have so few legitimate law enforcement concerns that it can busy itself investigating Catholic worship controversies?
If so, maybe it could spend some of its free time and resources as Sen. Ted Cruz suggested: tracking down the violent felons firebombing pro-life pregnancy centers (and vandalizing Catholic churches) in response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“Why do you send two dozen agents in body armor to arrest a sidewalk counselor who happens to be pro-life, but you don’t devote resources to prosecuting those who are violently firebombing crisis pregnancy centers?” Cruz demanded.
Garland’s answer? According to the N.Y. Post, he said — apparently with a straight face — that pro-life activism occurs “during the daylight,” when “seeing the person is quite easy.”
So that’s why we need a Federal Bureau of Investigation? To terrorize and arrest peaceful pro-life protesters because they act in broad daylight and are easy to identify — even when local prosecutors don’t see their actions as “crimes”?
And to just make excuses for failure — with all their powers and supposed investigative expertise — to apprehend violent offenders who bomb care centers for women and children?
Political weaponizing of the FBI is nothing new. As detailed by James Bovard, a prolific author, commentator and member of the USA Today Board of Contributors, it dates back more than 100 years, to the bureau’s “notorious Red Scare raids of 1919 and 1920”; continued through the decades of J. Edgar Hoover’s political manipulations to advance the fortunes of candidates he favored (in both parties), and spy on and even attempt to smear those he opposed; and included, as we know, Hoover’s FBI wiretapping — with authorization from the brothers Kennedy — Martin Luther King.
Speaking to law school interns about media relations when I was spokesman for the Nassau County, N.Y. District Attorney, I explained that, with the DA’s investigative, arrest, prosecution and imprisonment powers, an informed media was a vital safeguard against abuse of those powers.
Such safeguards — government as well as media — are even more essential at the federal level, given the FBI’s “vast power and secrecy,” in Bovard’s words.
When, instead, a governing elite, with enthusiastic support from mainstream media, weaponizes the FBI to enhance its power, advance its ideological agenda, and harass, censor, and imprison opponents of that agenda, the very foundations of American democracy are imperiled.
One does not have to be a Trump enthusiast to see how this mutual power arrangement further entrenches the undemocratic deep state, and undermines government of, by, and for the people.
“A mob is a mob,” Bovard quotes a 1920s federal judge, whether made up of criminals or “government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice.”
Surely Mark Houck, and other innocent victims of FBI terror, would agree.
For three decades, Rick Hinshaw has given voice to faith values in the public square, as a columnist, then editor of The Long Island Catholic; communications director for the Catholic League and the New York State Catholic Conference; co-host of "The Catholic Forum," on cable. He is now editor of his own blog, "Reading the Signs." Visit Rick’s home page at rickhinshaw.com. Read Rick Hinshaw's Reports — More Here.
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