J. Edgar Hoover, long before the fall
I have only one criticism of the just-released book by long-time superstar FBI agent Thomas Baker entitled “The Fall of the FBI.” It really should be entitled “The Winter of the FBI.” That’s how bad things have gotten in the upper echelons of the Bureau.
It wasn’t always that way. More than half the book is a collection of true crime stories that illustrate the competence and professionalism of the Bureau in the old days. Most end with the bad guys in jail.
Baker had a first-hand view of these cases because he was involved in many of them. He was the first FBI agent on the scene at President Ronald Reagan’s shooting when he happened to hear the news report on the radio (recall that the shooting took place right in front of the press who were following the President). Baker was in the neighborhood and sped to the scene, arriving just minutes later. He became in charge of the investigation.
He was the Legal Attaché to the U.S. Embassy in France when Princess Di was killed in a car crash in Paris. He was cross-examined by infamous lawyer F. Lee Bailey in the trial of a mobster (Bailey lost that case). You get the flavor. It’s a collection of real-life stories something like the stories my generation remembers from the television series “The FBI.”
The rest of the book describes the sad decline in the culture of the Bureau. Baker traces it to 9/11.
The Director at that time was Robert Mueller, the same Mueller who years later would supervise the investigation of Donald Trump for allegations of colluding with the Russians – allegations that were ultimately shown to be as groundless as they were explosive. He and his counterpart at the CIA were summoned to the White House to brief President George W. Bush days after the 9/11 attack.
Mueller explained to the President what the Bureau was doing to identify the perpetrators – exactly what the Bureau was supposed to do. Frustrated with Mueller and understandably still upset by the horrific terrorism, Bush snapped that he just wanted to make sure it didn‘t happen again.
The CIA Director then told Bush what his agency was doing to make sure it didn’t.
Mueller left humiliated. His take-away was that the Bureau needed to shift focus toward intelligence-gathering even if it meant sacrificing resources for law enforcement. The Bureau became fewer cops and more spies.
Mueller’s successor was the notorious James Comey, whom Baker calls a “charlatan” whose tenure as Director was a “disaster” for the Bureau. Baker is indisputably right, even if you consider only the Bureau’s reputation.
But Baker points out that the disaster extends beyond reputation and well into substance. Comey had all of Mueller’s bad instincts for centralization and control by bureaucrats, and more. Comey seldom got into the nitty gritty of Bureau work, but instead floated above it all.
Baker didn’t use this word, but I will: Comey was lazy. Like many lazy people, he was also arrogant in thinking he was so smart he could do the job without working hard. It was obvious from any of his pompous speeches that what he loved most was attention.
It was that laziness, arrogance, and attention-craving that led Comey to substitute his political leanings – his hatred of Trump – for professional law enforcement procedures that were respectful of the legal process and required quiet, hard work within it. Comey had a political agenda – to get Trump.
He figured his agenda was a good and right one, and that the ends he uncovered in an investigation by the newly intelligence-driven FBI – namely, the Russian collusion he wishfully thought had taken place – would ultimately justify the dishonesty and laziness of his means of uncovering it. He imagined that in doing so he would be a public hero who might even make the spooks at the CIA a little jealous.
He was proven wrong. Mueller, and history, unequivocally decided there was no Russian collusion, Comey is no hero, and the only scandal was the investigation itself – a scandal that respected prosecutor John Durham has been, in turn, investigating for a long time.
Baker is too modest to expand his book about the rotting culture of the Bureau into a commentary about society in general, but I’m not.
Like Comey, the Left – and, increasingly, mainstream Democrats – have decided that their political opponents are not only mistaken, but illegitimate. Democrats coddle criminals, and want to exterminate Republicans.
The end they seek is one-party rule, and they are willing to employ any means to achieve that end. In America’s major cities, they’ve already achieved it and we see the results.
Willfully blind to basic notions of honesty and fair play and incapable of the art of persuasion, they instead riot, shout down speakers, cancel careers, and make death threats against Supreme Court Justices after slandering them with false accusations.
They circumvent both the political and the legal process by fabricating wild and defamatory pee-pee stories, tricking judges into approving illegal surveillance, and employing the firepower of the FBI.
Their unscrupulous allies in the “news” media report their defamatory accusations on Page 1, but report the debunking of them on Page 19, if at all.
I call on Tom Baker – a very good and engaging writer who can really tell a story – to expand his commentary. His next book should be “The Fall (or Winter) of America.”
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Your pun on fall/autumn, leading to the characterization of this being the winter of both the FBI and America, for me, falls short. Things are far worse, as in a “nuclear winter,” although that trope, too, is an understatement of the consequences of a nuclear conflagration.
Winter is simply a season, from which hemispheres emerge. “When winter comes, can spring be far behind?” concluded Shelley in his angry but hopeful commentary about his own bankrupt society. What is happening within our society and culture seems far more irreparable and irreversible than the duration of a winter. Yes, April breeds lilacs out of the dead land, as Eliot put it, and some of us just celebrated Easter, but I’m not seeing any signs of our nation’s metaphorical spring. Show me just one crocus, anywhere.
You and Tom are, to your credit perhaps, more sanguine than I about the future. I expect your forthcoming book to be more like the “commentary about [the rotting] society in general” that you say Tom’s book is not, with Aspen as the microcosm of the culture’s rotting fruit, so I’m curious to see just where you spot seeds of redemption and regeneration in the place. Just one crocus is all I’m looking for.
Ask for a crocus and you shall receive an oak tree. Skip to the last chapter of my book when it’s published next week.
😃 Looking forward to it.
I’ve said for a while that the FBI should be closed and then bulldoze the Hoover Building and while you’re at it close the CIA and Arc Light Langley. These agencies have become what the Founders feared and are nothing more, now, than a Praetorian Guard for the Democrats.
Merrick Garland says that Jan. 6 political prisoners being locked up for two years in the DC gulag WITHOUT TRIAL is not necessarily a violation of the “speedy trial” requirement of the Sixth Amendment . Good to know… ~Miranda Devine.
They also say the Muslims in Gitmo locked up for over 20 years are not a violation. I haven’t much sympathy for those people, but I do think the Constitution requires them to be charged and tried. Not to do so is an insult to our Constitution.
I sure hope the phrase “those people” refers to Muslim POWs and not to the people who entered the Capitol Building on January 6th.
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Hey Glenn, I just heard Mark Levin mention you and your book review on his live program just a few minutes ago. Tuesday, April 18, 2023, 4:55mdt. Way to go!!!!