FBI keeps getting burned badly by reliance on liberal sources
Latest blunder involving Catholics has many questioning why the bureau keeps falling prey to political influence from the left.
Updated: February 12, 2023 - 11:23pm
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
A dossier alleging Russian collusion funded by a Democrat presidential candidate. A suggestion that school parents were domestic terrorists from a left-leaning school board group. A list suggesting old-fashioned Catholics were extremists from a liberal watchdog on hate speech.
Three triggers for investigation. Three blunders that left America's premier law enforcement agency reeling with a black eye.
The FBI's repeated reliance on liberal political and advocacy groups has proven costly in recent years, resulting in high-profile reversals and whispers the bureau has created a two-tier system of justice.
"They need to have an understanding that there are folks out there that are looking to manipulate them for political purposes and every time they fall for it, they're damaging the reputation of the FBI in a way that is fundamentally harmful to not only the FBI, but to the country," said Jason Foster, who investigated FBI wrongdoing for two decades as a U.S. Senate investigator and now represents FBI whistleblowers at the Empower Oversight whistleblower center.
The FBI's latest misstep came last week when it was forced to retract an intelligence bulletin issued by its Richmond office that suggested Catholics who prefer the traditional Latin language Mass pose a risk as white supremacists and extremists. That memo derived some of its information from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a left-leaning group in Georgia that tracks hate activity in the United States, as well as articles from overtly liberal magazines.
The Richmond memo urged agents to begin infiltrating Catholic groups, looking for such extremists. Its liberal bias showed through in a footnote where the author referred to a woman having a baby as a "pregnant person" rather than a mother.
When word of the memo became public, the bureau retracted it, saying it did not meet the "exacting standards" for a U.S. intelligence product.
Kevin Brock, the former chief of FBI intelligence, said that while he was encouraged the bureau ultimately withdrew the memo, he was deeply disturbed by the quality of the product and the mindset that it exhibited.
"It is lazy, it is absurdly speculative, it provides no evidence for its thesis," Brock said, "and it relies exclusively on sources known to be aligned with the political left, such as the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center, Salon, and the Atlantic, that have been known to be habitually critical of the Catholic Church. That's not intelligence analysis. It's parroting."
Brock said the memo is the latest in a lengthening line of examples where the FBI pursued clearly partisan information, like the Christopher Steele dossier funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign that alleged Donald Trump was colluding with Russia to hijack the 2016 election.
In the end, no such collusion was found, and the FBI was forced to admit that they had engaged in wrongdoing that included doctoring evidence and misleading the FISA court.
"With all the increasing real crime going on in this country, if an FBI field office has time to write a fanciful assessment wildly speculating about possible links between violent racists and traditionalist Catholics, then it is clearly over-resourced," Brock said.
Members of Congress are increasingly concerned by the FBI's conduct as well, especially as more than two dozen whistleblowers have emerged in recent months alleging political bias is influencing investigations ranging from the Hunter Biden corruption scandal to allegations surrounding former President Trump.
Rep Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) said Congress is taking the allegations from rank-and-file agents seriously and wants to force the leadership of the FBI to make significant changes.
"We're trying to ultimately root out the corruption at the highest levels that is pushing this political narrative," she said.
Cammack said there's a growing body of evidence that the FBI has engaged in liberal cancel culture, whether encouraging censorship on Twitter or treating parents protesting policies at school board meetings as domestic terrorists at the suggestion of the National School Boards Association and the Biden Justice Department.
"When the FBI is being tasked to go after parents who have expressed concerns at their local school boards about what their children are being taught, and labeled a domestic terrorist ... that's a problem," she said. "When you have the FBI and the administration and agencies coordinating with Big Tech, essentially pressuring a private company to do their bidding in deplatforming, censoring, or silencing dissenting voices, that's a problem."
Foster is currently advising FBI whistleblower George Hill, a retired analyst who says the Boston FBI was pressured to try to open criminal investigations against 140 Trump supporters for simply taking a bus to Washington D.C. on January 6.
He said the need to stamp out political influence and bias inside the FBI is essential not only for the bureau, but for the entire criminal justice system.
"We need a functioning FBI that people can trust and are willing to talk to," he said. "They need cooperation of the citizenry. They need cooperation of local state and local law enforcement. And the further they go down this road of seeming to not care that half the country thinks that they have their thumb on the scale for one political side over the other, the worse the problem gets."