Former FBI agents to Director Comey: 'Future of the Bureau' rests on handling of Clinton email case

A group of former agents has written a letter to FBI Director Comey saying the “future of the bureau” hinges on what happens in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The letter from a group of retired agents in Long Island compares the Clinton email scandal to another famous FBI case known as ABSCAM. ABSCAM involved public corruption of politicians who were filmed taking bribes from a fictitious front company. Fox News published the letter over the weekend. It reads:

Dear Director Comey,

The Long Island Chapter of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, hereinafter called the Chapter, would like to extend our ardent support for you and the agents involved in the enormous challenge with which you are confronted– the investigation into an email controversy involving a high government official’s alleged mishandling of classified information on her private email server.

In 1978 a number of agents in the Chapter were directly involved in a sting operation, ABSCAM, a highly publicized investigation of which Judge William Webster said at the outset, “The future of the FBI rests on this case.” Your’s and the bureau’s challenge today is a far cry from what existed thirty-eight years ago. Similarly, it is the Chapter membership’s opinion that not only does the future of the Bureau but also that of the United States of America rests on the outcome of this crucial case. Decisions must be made on facts alone. Much is at stake here– people’s trust in the Bureau for years to come, as well as the Bureau’s reputation among our allies, partners, and friends as the greatest law enforcement agency in the world.

You have the enthusiastic respect of the Chapter, and we are certain of the loyalty of all former agents of the FBI.

It would be easy to read too much into this. This is one group of former agents in Long Island. The suggestion that the future of the country depends on this case sounds like something a group of conservatives might say. In other words, this does not sound like a group of completely disinterested observers. The sound like people who want to see Clinton prosecuted.

On the other hand, it would also be too easy to dismiss this as nothing more than a group of retired partisans. Just because these retired agents seem to have an opinion does not mean they are wrong. For one thing, retired agents probably have more insight into the investigation than non-agents. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are getting leaks from inside the FBI but some of them may still have connections. Their suggestion that the case should turn on the “facts alone” suggests they have a sense of what the facts are and also that they are concerned about political pressure which might impact the decision apart from those facts. Even if these agents don’t have access to insider information on the case, they probably do have a sense of how political pressure works inside the FBI and that concern prompted this letter.

The good news is that Director Comey appears to be that rare individual in the Obama administration who doesn’t feel the need to coordinate his actions with the White House. Some reports have suggested the FBI investigation could be completed next month.

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