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What's behind the attack on the FBI?

By Judy Garland • Feb 4, 2018 at 12:00 AM

The FBI foiled a terrorist plot planned for Christmas Day on the usually crowded Pier 39 in San Francisco. They arrested Everitt Aaron Jameson, a 26-year-old convert to jihadist extremism, who planned to detonate a bomb by remote control and then gun down people with his assault rifle as they ran from danger. Necessary and impressive life-saving work that protects us all.

History teaches that it’s important to avoid glorifying any agency or organization, government or otherwise, but a close look at today’s FBI reveals an agency whose leadership and performance is much respected and trusted, here and abroad. It has field operations in every state with expertly trained agents working to counter terrorism, cyber crimes, human trafficking, hate crimes and other threats to U.S. citizens.

The agency also mans 60 legal attaché offices and 15 sub-offices across the world, coordinating with foreign security services and sometime conducting secret activities overseas, which require coordination across government agencies.

Because Donald Trump has spent his life nourishing his massive ego, he can’t help but personalize everything, even as president where such a way of behaving can, at worst, be catastrophic. He impulsively measures the worth of individuals, businesses, organizations, even foreign leaders and governments by their positive or negative responses to him personally at the moment, irrespective of his past perceptions.

As a direct result of the Trumps long history of hubris and business practices at least verging on the criminal, and their sense of entitlement, the Trump campaign took little care to follow basic rules of decorum and respectability and sometimes not even the rule of law. The upshot is the current special prosecutor’s investigation, under FBI auspices, of the campaign’s connection with well-evidenced Russian meddling in our 2016 national election.

This is so serious that at least two major players in the campaign are already indicted for criminal activity related to the campaign and another has agreed to a plea deal in exchange for cooperation. These facts in themselves validate the need for the special prosecutor‘s investigation. Resulting unease and discomfort for Trump, his family and members of his campaign team is well earned and of their own making.

True to his nature, Trump first tries to exonerate himself and his children. Other bad actors, as they are uncovered, lose whatever stature they had as members of the campaign and are said to be of inconsequential status, certainly never under Donald Trump’s general purview and certainly not due loyalty. (Even if one was campaign manager and a long-time associate.) This squirming strategy just makes him look more the fool.

The second and most current stratagem is of very serious consequence. That he would direct his malice to the small team of FBI employees working with Bob Mueller on the Russia probe can only to be expected. That he, for his own self-interest, would direct his venom to include the entire agency is harmful beyond excuse. The FBI is peopled with citizens dedicated to the mission they serve. For the president of the United States to deliberately and publicly undermine their credibility in this case undermines the public’s confidence in the FBI in all cases.

In thousands of criminal cases pending in courts across the country, the FBI’s testimony is critical, while the president of the United States is telling the nation that the FBI cannot be trusted. While thousands of FBI agents are putting their lives on the line here and all over the world, Trump’s language must be named for what it is — anti-law enforcement and pro-criminal. He even stood before an assembly of police officers, praising their work while denigrating the work of the FBI, two groups who routinely must depend on each other.

Trump’s mildest language is the still serious and false charge that “the FBI is in tatters.” On the extreme end, which Trump and his so-called conservative supporters of the assault on Mueller seem to favor, is an actual statement that the FBI investigation under Mueller is equal to the KGB and needs to be shut down. That’s what they’re fomenting against the fact-finding, truth-seeking mission led by Mueller, one of the most respected men in the legal community of this nation. His leadership of the FBI after 9/11 forever preserves that place for him.

The Justice Department gave Mueller’s team the job, which is to follow the rule of law (as I recall a campaign promise). Far too many congressmen, even senators like Chuck Grassley and Lindsay Graham, are echoing Trump from the seat of government when what he needs most around him are unbiased adults who will call him out when he‘s wrong.

This is big and could not be more serious. Trump, his more undiscriminating supporters and his personal media organization, Fox News, are doing their best to whip up a dangerous frenzy over a false claim that fraud is being carried out by enemies of the state under the direction of  Mueller. That the president of the United States is at the center of this dangerous game demands that Congressional Republicans resurrect their backbone and put country over party. Please do it now, without delay.

Judy Garland of Johnson City is a community health care activist.

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