The FBI's constant bungling is an American embarrassment

The FBI's constant bungling is an American embarrassment
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The actions of current and former FBI officials are making life easy for Kremlin propagandists, who no longer have to make stuff up and now just cut-and-paste news reports.

The Kremlin material won’t be broadcast to American audiences but will be used for internal messaging and copied in places like China, Pakistan and Iran to show the American security services are awash in politics and money. The message: “Everyone does it.”

The first offender is FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe who neglected to report in his required financial disclosure that his wife, who was running for a Virginia state Senate seat, received $675,000 from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Democratic National Committee. At the time, McCabe ran the FBI’s Washington Field Office which was supporting the investigation into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump lashes out at 'rigged' Russia probe in pair of tweets Clapper: 'More and more' of Steele dossier proving to be true Republicans are strongly positioned to win Congress in November MORE’s secret email server.

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Terry McAuliffe knew what he was investing in: a Democrat senator for his state and, if his patron Hillary Clinton was elected president, direct access to the top tier of the FBI.

 

In his defense, an FBI spokesman (and McCabe subordinate) claimed McCabe acted "in compliance with applicable laws and regulations," but neglected to opine on whether the public would be interested to learn about cash donations to the spouse of an FBI official who was involved in an investigation of the donor’s close personal friend.

Special Agent Peter Strzok and his mistress, a Justice Department lawyer, share a love, and a love of criticizing President Trump. But Strzok wasn’t all texting and no action: he reportedly watered down the conclusion of Comey’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information from "grossly negligent” — a criminal offense — to "extremely careless;" gave Clinton cronies Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills a pass when he interviewed them in the Hillary Emailgate investigation; and coordinated with Andy McCabe to interview Michael Flynn without lawyers present. This over-achiever is now under investigation by the Justice Department Inspector General for his role in the Hillary Emailgate investigation.

When he was found out, Strzok, a leading FBI counterintelligence agent, was quietly banished by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to the “Siberia” of the agency's HR department. Well, the guys who own the real Siberia appreciate Special Agent Strzok’s impulsivity.

Former FBI Director James Comey can obviously peer into the future as he wrote the exoneration of Hillary Clinton’s scheme to hide her State Department email from public scrutiny, and her mishandling of classified material, several months before he interviewed her. His helper? FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, a longtime Andrew McCabe crony.

And after Comey decided he was disappointed with the man the American people elected president, he leaked the official memoranda of his talks with President Trump, which, in a Hillary-esque touch, contain classified information. But he didn’t have the guts to do it himself, so he asked a friend to do the deed. His goal: to cause the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the president who fired him.

And speaking of Special Counsel Robert Mueller (who ran the FBI for 12 years and is a fast friend of James Comey), he’s largely had a walk-on role so far, but acted to quarantine his investigation by banishing Strzok, who apparently wasn’t an outlier, but may have been symptomatic of the partisanship of his staff. And then there’s his stonewalling of Congress which has the temerity to exercise its constitutional oversight authority.

Is this an attempted coup by the FBI? No, it’s just the actions of a spiteful man (Comey), an opportunist (McCabe), and a gabby partisan (Strzok) — bureaucrats who seek political advantage without the bother of seeking election, tactical operators without the will to power.

These senior security officials display a startling cluelessness about how things look outside the fishbowl of D.C., but their actions embolden regimes opposed to America’s interests overseas, and here at home as foreign secret agents strive to confound Strzok’s former colleagues in counterintelligence.

It will hit home when our diplomats confront foreign officials about suspicious payments to spouses of local officials and their interlocutors respond by trotting out the tale of Mr. and Mrs. McCabe. And the partisan enthusiasm of these FBI agents gives the Kremlin the chance to say, with a straight face, that President’s Trump’s troubles are a project of America’s “deep state.”

Its puzzling how senior security officers, who would normally be above suspicion, are making a series of amateurish blunders that hurt their country. If we were paranoid, we might think they’re all “colluding.”

James D. Durso is the managing director at consultancy firm Corsair LLC. He was a professional staff member at the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission and the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and served as a U.S. Navy officer for 20 years specializing in logistics and security assistance. His overseas military postings were in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and he served in Iraq as a civilian transport advisor with the Coalition Provisional Authority. He served afloat as supply officer of the submarine USS SKATE (SSN 578).