Abolish the FBI?

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

At Newsweek, Liz Wheeler has jumped into the debate over what to do about the ongoing weaponization of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation under Joe Biden and Merrick Garland in the aftermath of the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s home last week. She covers some of the current accusations against Garland and the Bureau that are rather difficult to simply brush aside as partisan bickering or paranoia. Chief among these is a reminder that it was Hillary Clinton’s lawyer, Marc Elias, who first suggested accusing Trump of hiding a classified document and then prosecuting him under Title 18 of U.S. Code 2071. If a conviction could be obtained, Trump would be barred from ever holding public office again. (Which was the point of the entire exercise to begin with.)

Wheeler asserts that Merrick Garland “underestimated the fury of the American people” as they are watching all of this play out. The raid has turned out to be a “spectacular backfire” and the Bureau appears to be in damage control mode for now. But even if this one unseemly episode is put behind us, what, if anything, can be done to stop the same thing or something similar from happening again in the future? That’s where Liz Wheeler moves into some bold, new territory. She declares that it’s time to take a page from the left’s playbook and “abolish the FBI.”

The FBI is now backpedaling, claiming its agents were looking for nuke documents, a convenient (and implausible) excuse that the FBI will never have to prove because it can’t reveal classified information to the public.

If it smells fishy, it’s because the FBI is rotten to the core.

It’s time to abolish the FBI. The raid on Mar-a-Lago revealed the agency to be a political hatchet man for the Left disguised as law enforcement. People have rightly lost their trust that it will operate as a neutral enforcer of the law. Now, half the country is looking over its shoulder wondering whether a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag will bring federal agents to their door in pre-dawn hours.

The chances of eliminating the FBI seem slim at best, despite the current abuses taking place. The Bureau has been around in one form or another for more than a century. (Since 1908 to be precise.) And it’s grown into a behemoth. And the FBI continues to have a lot of complex responsibilities that would have to be addressed by someone in its absence.

Wheeler’s suggestion covers that issue as well, at least at the surface level. She proposes that we “farm out the vital functions of the FBI and raze the rest.” But we would first need to identify each of those “vital functions” and determine what other existing law enforcement agencies would have the abilities and resources to absorb those duties.

The FBI is primarily involved in investigating crimes that cross state lines or take place on federal lands where state law enforcement agencies would not have jurisdiction. It’s pretty much the definition of the FBI’s purpose in life. Those duties can’t be handed off to the local or state police because of the aforementioned jurisdictional issues. The military can’t take on that role because of Posse Comitatus unless we want to try to ram through an amendment to the Constitution or attempt a massive and unique piece of federal legislation that might not survive a court challenge.

I suppose, at least in theory, the CIA could be tasked with situations like these. But do they have the bandwidth to take on that workload? The CIA currently has a little more than 20,000 agents. The FBI has about 18,000 employees, roughly 8,000 of whom are special agents. We would need to nearly double the size of the CIA. And would replacing the FBI with an even more deeply buried bunch of federal spooks really be much of an improvement?

It sounds as if the only solution would be to create a new federal law enforcement agency out of whole cloth to take over the investigation and resolution of crimes involving activity taking place across state lines. And being a law enforcement vehicle, there really isn’t anyplace else where it would logically fit in the federal government besides the Department of Justice. But if we do that, aren’t we really just creating a new FBI, perhaps with a different name?

Donald Trump has already suggested one possible course of action, though he was approaching it more broadly and applying it to the entire federal bureaucracy. First, retake control of Congress in November and impeach Merrick Garland. (Yes, that can legally be done.) Or just wait until 2024 if the Democrats lose the White House and he’ll be gone on his own. Then go through and fire pretty much every senior official in the FBI from the top down to regional levels and vet the hell out of any experienced law enforcement officers who apply to replace them. Establish a new office under the Inspector General at the DoJ specifically tasked with doing nothing but monitoring the FBI for any signs of partisan hackery and chicanery in the future. It might not solve everything on the first try, but at least it would be a start.

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David Strom 4:01 PM on October 05, 2022