The FBI is broken. No serious person who isn’t operating in bad faith would contest this fact. But it also, at least historically, serves an important purpose: solving high-level national crimes that local and state agencies lack the resources or personnel to solve.
That said, following the release of the Durham report and the publication of the “Twitter Files,” it is undeniable that left-wing partisan actors have thoroughly weaponized the nation’s largest intelligence agency against their ideological adversaries. The FBI must not be allowed to continue abusing the public, and in the event that holistically eliminating the institution is not an option, it must be majorly reformed to end its reign of terror.
A soon-to-be-published report written by the former Acting Secretary of Transportation Steven Bradbury for the Heritage Foundation titled “How to Fix the FBI” addresses this head-on.
Exploring various steps Congress could take to rein in this part of America’s rogue intelligence apparatus, Bradbury’s report details specific reforms that could mitigate the federal bureaucracy’s rabid partisan bias through nothing short of a complete structural overhaul of the agency.
Emphasizing how the FBI squandered Americans’ goodwill through systemic abuse, the report states:
Once America’s premier domestic law enforcement agency, dedicated to protecting the American way of life from organized crime and terrorist conspiracies, the FBI has now become an adversary of freedom in the eyes of many Americans, misappropriated for partisan political purposes, abusing its national security powers for the suppression of free expression and religious dissent and for the harassment of law-abiding citizens.
“The Bureau has expanded the scope and use of its own intelligence-gathering powers in dangerous ways, directing them increasingly at political movements that threaten the Washington establishment and at the exercise of constitutionally protected rights by ordinary Americans,” Bradbury writes.
In recent years, the FBI and the agency it’s housed within, the Department of Justice, notably disenfranchised concerned parents by branding them as terrorists for opposing public school boards’ ideological misconduct, flagged online Covid-19 skepticism, and burned piles of cash investigating and tracking down Jan. 6 protesters instead of prioritizing actual security and safety risks like the flourishing human trafficking and synthetic fentanyl industries.
And referring to the ongoing debate over whether to recertify Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Bradbury raises the point that the FBI abused this process to gather intelligence on Americans who were obviously not engaged in foreign espionage.
He writes, “FBI has improperly queried the database more than 278,000 times, including to gather information about U.S. persons who were crime victims, suspected January 6 rioters, people arrested at Black Lives Matter protests, and even 19,000 donors to a congressional candidate.”
Whether these individuals were complicit in illegal activity is irrelevant — the FBI abused the resources at its disposal to disregard the free speech protections of American citizens. Members of the agency even opened intelligence queries on maintenance men.
The report breaks down “big things to consider if you are completely rebuilding the FBI,” Bradbury told The Federalist. “It’s a longer-term project,” Bradbury said, “[but] in the meantime, there are specific reforms that need to happen.”
This process of “[r]eimagining the FBI from the [g]round up” would likely involve carefully redefining and narrowing the jurisdiction and scope of the new agency, relocating the agency’s intelligence-gathering functions, establishing distinct components within the agency specifically focused on assisting the solving of local and state crime, reallocating resources and personnel to field offices, isolating and purging “information improperly collected on Americans,” and more.
But at a minimum, Bradbury contends, it must include “prohibit[ing] the FBI from participating directly in Section 702 surveillance and from querying the 702 collection on its own authority,” holistically reforming the FISA process by “appoint[ing] an amicus in all politically sensitive cases involving U.S. persons,” amending the length of the FBI director’s tenure, seriously considering reforms to the Hatch Act so that it applies to senior intelligence officials so they are held responsible as long as they possess a security clearance, and reorganizing the agency’s reporting structure so the assistant attorneys general for the criminal division and for national security can ensure better management.
In the wake of 9/11 and the Global War on Terror, the FBI and its peer institutions experienced immense mission creep in which ideological actors felt emboldened to use the vast resources of the federal government against the American people while undermining the U.S. Constitution, throwing things like federalism and due process under the bus.
Reigning in these rogue actors is crucial to preserving the American republic. Congress has the power to act, and the process can start with relinquishing Section 702 to the dustbin of history — denying the FBI a powerful tool with which it only continues to abuse the public.