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As we come upon the release of The Infamous Memo(TM) , there are a lot of people shouting, “Oh my gosh, how can anyone criticize the FBI and the Intelligence Community? These are respected national institutions that deserve our unquestioning loyalty, obedience, and respect.” as though it is inconceivable that the institutions of Government could be influenced by politics. History, on the other hand, has demonstrated consistently that the long-term drift of any large, bureaucratic organization is toward self-interest, politicization and corruption.
Is there any reason, outside of political expedience, to believe this FBI is immune from the history? If you look back at history, every organization instituted by mankind has gone through four distinct phases.
In the first phase, Inception, the organization comes into existence usually in response to a specific challenge. The FBI was created initially to enforce the Mann Act and, not long after, prohibition. In the Inception phase, everyone in the organization comes from elsewhere. They bring a diverse range of experience, and they focus on the original mission.
In the second phase, Maturation, the organization grows in size and the mission expands in scope. The bulk of the organization’s members still come from the outside and bring multiple perspectives to the mission. This is the most formative stage, where the structure and processes of the organization become formalized. If the organization is performing its mission successfully, it will gain the confidence and respect of the greater society in which it operates.
In the third phase, Institutionalization, the organization has been around for long enough that its workforce becomes more and more composed of people who have never worked outside the organization. As such, the organization becomes insular; external perspectives are no longer welcome and the culture rewards loyalty and conformity over merit. “It’s not how we do things at the FBI” becomes the standard response to any suggested change. Peformance of the mission becomes secondary to the organization operating according to its established protocols.
In the fourth phase, Perpetuation, the organization has become a society unto itself. This is where the greatest danger for corruption occurs. Incompetence and malfeasance will be covered up “for the good of the organization.” The organization has become hostile to “outsiders” and will resist any attempts at reform as a threat to its order. The organization nevitably becomes highly politicized as internal battles for power and status take precedence over the mission. The mission itself has become diffuse and unfocused because the original purpose of the organization is no longer relevant, or because the organization has taken on so many different missions and has so many competing internal interests.
The FBI and the CIA, and indeed, most all of the Deep State, are at Phase IV (only without the ants). They are staffed by “lifers” who have no experience outside their bureaucracies, they are all about self-perpetuation, and are beholden to the political class most likely to fund and expand them — the Democrats. If they were businesses, they would be Sears and Blockbuster Video; except there is no market incentive to weed them out.
Perhaps every Government bureaucracy should just be sunset after twenty years. If its work is still necessary, it could be performed by a successor organization with a fresh charter and new personnel.