Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Keep the FBI Out of Political Investigations

 

With two mass shootings in a 12-hour period in which over 39 people were killed and many injured, concern is being expressed that we should do something to stop such things from happening again. The Democrat candidates, eager to link President Trump to these vile crimes, blame his rhetoric and “white nationalists.” People on all sides of the political spectrum now call for enhanced FBI investigation of “white nationalists.”

I have some experience with white nationalist groups having investigated the KKK and other extremist groups early in my FBI career. These terrible murders, however, have been lone wolf type attacks involving one or two killers. They are not events planned by domestic terror groups that can be interdicted by law enforcement.

If these mass murders were actually being planned or perpetrated by “white nationalist” terror groups, the FBI would know exactly what to do about it. The major extremist group of the 1950s and 1960s, the KKK, was absolutely destroyed by the FBI. The Klan was penetrated by informants, electronic surveillance, prosecutions, and unrelenting FBI investigation. Membership declined substantially and the Klan became ineffectual as a terrorist organization.

By the mid-1970s, the Klan couldn’t bring off a significant action without finding its members quickly charged, arrested, and convicted. I was working in Detroit when, a few days after the 1971 dynamiting of buses parked in a Pontiac, MI, school lot, our counter-terrorism squad identified and arrested the five Klan members responsible. They were convicted in federal court and served prison sentences. Following the arrests and vigorous investigation by the FBI, the Michigan Klan broke up.

Of course, the FBI should investigate any groups, right or left, that are engaged in criminal acts but investigation of “white nationalist” groups won’t do much to stop horrendous murders that are being done by mentally-ill individuals who are acting alone. If investigation of groups wouldn’t be effective, then what about investigating individuals who hold “white nationalist” views? If that is what is being advocated, I have some problems with it.

Investigating citizens for their political views is a bad business. While law enforcement should investigate anyone or any group that plans or undertakes violence or criminal acts in pursuit of political views, investigation of non-violent American citizens for their odd, strange, or even racist political ideas is a different matter. Besides, who gets to define what is odd, strange, or racist?

The motives of these mass murderers vary. Apparently, the two most recent differ – the El Paso murderer was an extremist on the right and the Dayton murderer an extremist on the left. If we are to investigate citizens for their political views, we should include those on the left as well as the right.

We should remember that political views change and the politicians who advocate for these investigations today may not be there when views change. If you doubt this, look to the past. Investigation of communists was quite popular throughout the country in the 1950s. There was even a popular television show (I Led Three Lives) in which the hero was an FBI informer reporting on the Communist Party. FBI Director Hoover regarded communism as a serious threat and was happy to pursue communists. The same politicians who supported, funded, and approved investigation of communists were nowhere around in 1975 when national sentiments changed and the Senate Church Committee and the House Judiciary Committee blasted the FBI’s domestic intelligence activities. The FBI shouldn’t look to politicians for support when the national mood changes.

The thing all these killers shared wasn’t ideology, it was serious mental illness. We should focus on mental health issues and keep the investigators out of politics.

There are 13 comments.

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  1. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Why should the FBI not be involved? They are the Democrat police force furthering the Democrat Party’s will.

    • #1
    • August 7, 2019, at 9:59 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Joseph Eagar Member
    Joseph Eagar Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    So not to put too fine a point on it, but having the FBI break up white supremacist groups is enormously helpful to the right politically.

    • #2
    • August 7, 2019, at 10:01 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Joseph Eagar (View Comment):

    So not to put too fine a point on it, but having the FBI break up white supremacist groups is enormously helpful to the right politically.

    How does that play? Since the FBI has been captured by the Left and does the bidding of its master and since the Left views anybody that even says something nice about Trump as a raciest white supremacist.

    • #3
    • August 7, 2019, at 10:14 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. Joe Wolfinger Coolidge
    Joe Wolfinger

    Joseph Eagar (View Comment):

    So not to put too fine a point on it, but having the FBI break up white supremacist groups is enormously helpful to the right politically.

    I agree. It was a good thing for the FBI to neutralize the Klan. It not only protected our citizens from Klan violence but also, in my opinion, improved the political culture of our country. Protecting the political culture, however, shouldn’t be the justification for a government investigation of political views.

    • #4
    • August 7, 2019, at 10:27 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. Locke On Member

    The FBI should also stay out because it is visibly politicized, as is the rest of the DOJ. 

    Until the populace can see this is no longer true – and that’s going to require indictment and prosecution for those guilty in malfeasance and perjury in front of the FISA court – it’s not going to be trusted to be even-handed. 

    Sorry, Joe, but that’s what your former employer has come down to.

    • #5
    • August 7, 2019, at 11:02 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  6. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Joe Wolfinger: If these mass murders were actually being planned or perpetrated by “white nationalist” terror groups, the FBI would know exactly what to do about it. The major extremist group of the 1950s and 1960s, the KKK, was absolutely destroyed by the FBI. The Klan was penetrated by informants, electronic surveillance, prosecutions, and unrelenting FBI investigation. Membership declined substantially and the Klan became ineffectual as a terrorist organization.

    According to one article I read recently, membership in some local outlets of the Klan actually had to be propped up by the FBI, lest the outlet be disbanded from lack of interest and the FBI lose access to a source of intelligence. The joke is that in some cases, the majority of the local’s members were FBI informants.

    If that’s accurate, one can sorta kinda see how it might provide an impetus for anti-government paranoia.

    • #6
    • August 7, 2019, at 11:49 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Joe Wolfinger: Investigating citizens for their political views is a bad business. While law enforcement should investigate anyone or any group that plans or undertakes violence or criminal acts in pursuit of political views, investigation of non-violent American citizens for their odd, strange, or even racist political ideas is a different matter. Besides, who gets to define what is odd, strange, or racist?

    Little known factlet: The House Committee on Unamerican Activities was originally created to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having communist OR fascist ties.

    If it was wrong for the House of Representatives to engage in a “communist witch hunt”, presumably it was also wrong for them to engage in a “fascist witch hunt” as well, no?

    • #7
    • August 7, 2019, at 12:02 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Joe Wolfinger Coolidge
    Joe Wolfinger

    The point is that the FBI knows exactly what to do to penetrate extremist organizations when they are engaged in criminal activity or violence. The Klan was an organization that engaged in murders, bombing, lynchings and many other crimes that was devastated by FBI investigation. That result was a good thing for our country.

    • #8
    • August 7, 2019, at 12:04 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Investigating white nationalists and putting them out of business, as was done previously for the Klan, is simply good public policy. The idea that this would uniquely be “political”- as though most other FBI activities of every type is not inherently political (since the first J Edgar Hoover media-alerted show biz arrest of a gangster) is dreaming.

    The FBI might as well be put to work doing useful things instesd of letting them find their own grandstanding opportunities. White nationalists are poison, and a bit harder to flush out than KKK types, good challenge, similar to seeking out jihadist terrorists. Stay out of presidential campaigns, do this stuff instead.

    • #9
    • August 7, 2019, at 12:37 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Vice-Potentate Member

    They are not events planned by domestic terror groups that can be interdicted by law enforcement.

    This is an untenable position in our democracy. It may be true, but that does not placate a bare majority of Americans who crave action, even ineffectual action.

     

     

    • #10
    • August 7, 2019, at 1:13 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Locke On Member

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):

    Investigating white nationalists and putting them out of business, as was done previously for the Klan, is simply good public policy. The idea that this would uniquely be “political”- as though most other FBI activities of every type is not inherently political (since the first J Edgar Hoover media-alerted show biz arrest of a gangster) is dreaming.

    The FBI might as well be put to work doing useful things instesd of letting them find their own grandstanding opportunities. White nationalists are poison, and a bit harder to flush out than KKK types, good challenge, similar to seeking out jihadist terrorists. Stay out of presidential campaigns, do this stuff instead.

    Can you see a possible problem when one side’s presidential campaign declares the other’s to uniquely full of white nationalists? Who decides what falls in that category? What people and organizations determine that? Do we trust the senior staff of the federal law enforcement and intelligence communities to do so fairly at this point? I don’t.

    Isn’t it interesting that the OP and this whole thread have gotten to this point with mentioning the actual violence being perpetrated by ‘antifa’?

    • #11
    • August 7, 2019, at 2:03 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Joseph Eagar Member
    Joseph Eagar Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):

    Investigating white nationalists and putting them out of business, as was done previously for the Klan, is simply good public policy. The idea that this would uniquely be “political”- as though most other FBI activities of every type is not inherently political (since the first J Edgar Hoover media-alerted show biz arrest of a gangster) is dreaming.

    The FBI might as well be put to work doing useful things instesd of letting them find their own grandstanding opportunities. White nationalists are poison, and a bit harder to flush out than KKK types, good challenge, similar to seeking out jihadist terrorists. Stay out of presidential campaigns, do this stuff instead.

    Can you see a possible problem when one side’s presidential campaign declares the other’s to uniquely full of white nationalists? Who decides what falls in that category? What people and organizations determine that? Do we trust the senior staff of the federal law enforcement and intelligence communities to do so fairly at this point? I don’t.

    Isn’t it interesting that the OP and this whole thread have gotten to this point with mentioning the actual violence being perpetrated by ‘antifa’?

    Simply accusing a campaign of “being full of white nationalists” won’t magically make statements in support of ethnic cleansing and Jim Crow show up in campaign communications; even if malicious actors faked said communications, inevitably the FBI would find out and start investigating them.

    Sometimes we forget that there are actual objective definitions of white nationalism, white supremacy and racism. The Northeastern media elite and Hollywood don’t have as much power over the English language as we give them credit for.

    • #12
    • August 7, 2019, at 2:51 PM PDT
    • Like
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Joseph Eagar (View Comment):
    events

    Steele dossier. FISA warrants. There’s your magic. Since no FBI agent or DOJ lawyer has been perp walked, we will now see more magic “evidence” timed to influence the 2020 election outcome in favor of the Democrats. 

    • #13
    • August 7, 2019, at 6:42 PM PDT
    • 3 likes

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