Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Christopher Wray Makes Changes at the FBI—So What?

 

The reputation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is in the tank and I see little reason for optimism for the future. And FBI Director Christopher Wray is only making the situation worse. Following IG Michael Horowitz’s report on FISA abuse, Wray promptly called for sweeping changes of the FBI’s procedures in submitting applications to the FISA court.

Actually, that’s not true. Wray’s proposed changes ensure that nothing much will change, primarily because he hasn’t dealt with the root problems.

Here is a summary of the changes that Wray proposed (with my comments in italics):

  • First, we are modifying our processes under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), both for initial applications and renewals, to enhance accuracy and completeness. Please notice the use of the words “enhance accuracy and completeness.” Enhancing sounds like window-dressing.
  • The FBI is a field-based law enforcement organization, and the vast majority of our investigations should continue to be worked by our field offices. Moving forward, in the very rare instance when FBI Headquarters runs a sensitive investigation, we are requiring prior approval by the FBI Deputy Director and consultation with the Assistant Director in Charge or Special Agent in Charge of the affected field offices. For some reason, I am not reassured by Wray’s requiring high-level directors to approve Headquarters’ running a “sensitive investigation.” We’ve already seen that many of those people are not trustworthy.
  • Many FBI investigations rely on human sources, but the investigative value derived from CHS-provided information rests in part on the CHS’s credibility, which demands rigorous assessment of the source. [CHS is a Confidential Human Source.] “Rigorous assessments” have been required in the FBI previously. I suspect that this requirement will also be compromised, depending on the agenda of investigators.
  • Fourth, I am establishing new protocols for the FBI’s participation in Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)-led counterintelligence transition briefings (i.e., strategic intelligence briefings) provided to presidential nominees. The FBI’s role in these briefings should be for national security purposes and not for investigative purposes. So they’re adding another level of bureaucracy. That always has successful outcomes.
  • Fifth, I am mandating a specialized, semiannual training requirement for FBI personnel at all levels who handle FISA and CHS matters. My only response is, another training program? Good grief.

I suspect I’m not the only person who is not just skeptical but cynical about the promise of these proposals. We have already seen people intentionally ignore or bypass strict FBI requirements for their own nefarious purposes, with little or no accountability. Christopher Wray, who has done nothing but soft-pedal his responses to criticisms of his department lacks the credibility and intensity of a person who must be called to make drastic changes. If he seriously wants to restore the credibility and performance of the FBI, he will have to do much, much more. Maybe the Barr/Durham report will provide the impetus to Wray’s making critical and hard-hitting decisions. Even then, how does a person change a culture that has become so infested with malfeasance and arrogance?

In closing, Director Wray wrote the following:

Finally, we will review the performance and conduct of certain FBI employees who were referenced in the Report’s recommendations — including managers, supervisors, and senior officials at the time. The FBI will take appropriate disciplinary action where warranted. Notably, many of the employees described in the report are no longer employed at the FBI.

The root problems I referred to in my opening are lack of accountability and hard-hitting solutions. The only satisfactory action will be to fire those who remain, Director Wray.

Then maybe I will believe you are serious about transforming the FBI, restoring its credibility and reassuring the country that you mean business.

There are 51 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. James Madison Member

    Wray is “wray” off course. Time to curtail the national police force and its confidential source arm, the CIA and its hand maiden, the Republican wire tapping crew at the FISA courts. Had it not been for Adm. Mike Rogers, Trump (recall his statement that they were bugging Trump Tower – immediately discounted by those knowledgeable about matters of state) might never have arrived ready to be on guard with our Deep Democratic penetrated state.

    Lois Lerner looks on in envy. Christine Blasey Ford has new information she only recently remembered about Trump and the Russians. Hear-sayers of hear-say have their ears out, prepared to mutually confirm the hearsay that one hear-sayer heard from the other hear-sayer.

    • #1
    • December 20, 2019, at 6:31 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Bless Mike Rogers! I wonder where he is these days. Thanks @jamesmadison. Good to hear from you!

    I don’t have the answers. But clearly Wray doesn’t either. I’m puzzled by what looks like enthusiasm from Barr. I’m a big fan of William Barr and wonder what he sees in the FBI director.

    • #2
    • December 20, 2019, at 6:34 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. James Madison Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bless Mike Rogers! I wonder where he is these days. Thanks @jamesmadison. Good to hear from you!

    I don’t have the answers. But clearly Wray doesn’t either. I’m puzzled by what looks like enthusiasm from Barr. I’m a big fan of William Barr and wonder what he sees in the FBI director.

    The last point you make here is indeed puzzling. I worked in DC. The FBI and DOJ was only penetrated fairly recently by what amounts to partisans. McCabe was catapulted for some unexplained reason to the top. Comey was always an apple, polisher. Brennan a bag man. Mueller was plodding. Barr, is different. Pity we depend so much on one man and the incorruptible John Durham. There should be a series on Netflix, “John Durham.”

    Corrction: “fairly recently”- there have always been partisans, but enough on both sides to keep it in check. The Dems now have smokestacks of information and power connections to ram rod almost any FISA application, IRS denial, or phony story through to the biddable agencies of gov’t. and the press. The press used to be proud, now they are wasted. This started before Clinton, but it accelerated under Obama.

    • #3
    • December 20, 2019, at 6:43 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    BTW Adm. Mike Rogers retired in 2018, and refused to sign the letter that 175 others signed condemning Trump’s revoking John Brennan’s security clearance. Here’s a quote from Adm. Rogers in the Washington Times:

    ‘Intelligence is most effective when the perception of the customers is that what they are seeing represents a true objective analytical assessment that is not in any way influenced by political view, administration [or] particular policy,’ Mr. Rogers explained during the discussion. ‘And so for me, as I’ve talked to the teams I’ve led in my intelligence career, we must ensure that nothing we do calls into question the objective nature of intelligence.’

    • #4
    • December 20, 2019, at 6:51 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  5. Rodin Member

    I don’t particularly like the term “swamp creatures” as it casts too wide a net catching both committed partisans, influenced subordinates and people just trying to do the job they have been given to do. But Wray seems to be earning it. (sigh)

    • #5
    • December 20, 2019, at 7:07 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    I don’t particularly like the term “swamp creatures” as it casts too wide a net catching both committed partisans, influenced subordinates and people just trying to do the job they have been given to do. But Wray seems to be earning it. (sigh)

    @rodin, I saw Mollie Hemingway on TV last night and she echoed my thoughts. Wray should be more outraged or intense–or something, about what happened and what he’s going to do. Maybe he’s just not that way temperamentally, but he should juice it up a bit. I’ve not been impressed with him since he was appointed.

    • #6
    • December 20, 2019, at 7:15 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. The Reticulator Member

    Changing internal procedures won’t fix things. External, adversarial checks and balances are needed.

    • #7
    • December 20, 2019, at 7:37 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  8. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Bless Mike Rogers!

    Ditto. My first thought on any of these hacks is to contrast with Nunes and Rogers. Rogers did not wait for misbehavior to become public before shutting it down. Rogers is a patriot and Wray is a deep state hack. 

    Contrast Rep Nunes with Sen. Burr. Within a month of taking office, Nunes was sounding the alarm about abuses of the NSA database. 3 years later and Sen Burr is still playing Sgt. Schultz. Sen. Burr is compromised or corrupt.

    Lastly, the FISC judges and CJ. John Roberts all suck. They were willing to be lied to, because there was less political risk in violating the rights of Americans than letting some terrorist slip through the cracks. So many examples of people putting their career over the Constitution.

    • #8
    • December 20, 2019, at 7:59 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  9. MichaelKennedy Inactive

    James Madison (View Comment):
    This started before Clinton, but it accelerated under Obama.

    Remember that Mark Felt was never discovered to be “Deep Throat” until he admitted it in old age.

    • #9
    • December 20, 2019, at 8:01 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. MichaelKennedy Inactive

    FISA needs to be repealed and we need another Church Committee.

    • #10
    • December 20, 2019, at 8:02 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  11. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Yep, just blah, blah, blah from Wray. The worst is his second action. The problem with the Clinton email and Russia investigations was not with the field offices. Both investigations were conducted by small groups at HQ, staffed with politicos, and with no oversight or internal checks. Wray has been part of the cleanup and coverup since becoming director and must be removed and the top ranks of the FBI purged.

    • #11
    • December 20, 2019, at 9:32 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’d expect the agency’s top officials to be the most partisan because those are who politicians appoint and interact with. They already bear responsibility for politically sensitive investigations; absolutely for investigation of a presidential campaign. 

    Oversight and training are not the points of failure. Lack of accountability is the problem. Codify and enforce punishment of abuse. 

    • #12
    • December 20, 2019, at 9:36 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Yep, just blah, blah, blah from Wray. The worst is his second action. The problem with the Clinton email and Russia investigations was not with the field offices. Both investigations were conducted by small groups at HQ, staffed with politicos, and with no oversight or internal checks. Wray has been part of the cleanup and coverup since becoming director and must be removed and the top ranks of the FBI purged.

    I was just thinking the same thing, Mark. Wray has got to go. Trump was furious at Wray’s moderate response to the IG report. I suspect the “changes” will be put in place after Barr reviews and adds to them, but I think Wray’s tenure will be short. Rightly so.

    • #13
    • December 20, 2019, at 9:59 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  14. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnellJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    In other words, “We didn’t do anything wrong. And we promise not to do it again.”

    • #14
    • December 20, 2019, at 10:10 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  15. Sweezle Member

    When AG Barr speaks I believe him 100%. Wray lacks conviction and seems bored when he speaks. Just because Comey and McCabe are gone doesn’t solve all the problems. Where is the FBI oversight? 

    • #15
    • December 20, 2019, at 10:15 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  16. PHCheese Member

    Congressman Mark Meadows will be the new FBI Chief I think.

    • #16
    • December 20, 2019, at 10:22 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Congressman Mark Meadows will be the new FBI Chief I think.

    Have you heard anything in that regard, @phcheese? I think his at least being considered is a great idea!

    • #17
    • December 20, 2019, at 10:28 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. PHCheese Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Congressman Mark Meadows will be the new FBI Chief I think.

    Have you heard anything in that regard, @phcheese? I think his at least being considered is a great idea!

    I like to start self fulfilling rumors is all.

    • #18
    • December 20, 2019, at 11:25 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  19. David Carroll Thatcher
    David CarrollJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I share the skepticism with these weak-tea proposals. I think there needs to be someone designated as a citizen’s advocate with complete access to all file whose job would be to advocate on behalf of the person to be investigated. The advocate should have the right and opportunity to personally question the agents supporting the application looking for flaws. It would be tough job and the personal would need the guts to resist pressure and be able to swim upstream.

    • #19
    • December 20, 2019, at 1:03 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    David Carroll (View Comment):
    It would be tough job and the personal would need the guts to resist pressure and be able to swim upstream.

    That might have potential for FISA applications, but does the target even know he or she is a target? Or do they learn they’ve become a target after the application is approved? What about all the actions that were malfeasance outside of the FISA applications? Who can we trust to check those? I’m really glad you’re taking a shot at a solution, @davidcarroll; it just upsets me that we have to do it at all. Maybe we just need to regularly turn over our bureaucrats so they don’t assume they have a lifetime job, no matter what they do.

    • #20
    • December 20, 2019, at 1:13 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. EDISONPARKS Member
    EDISONPARKSJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Sorry, but I just don’t want my law enforcement officials sporting game show host hairstyles:

    Image result for christopher wray"

    Image result for bob eubanks"

    • #21
    • December 20, 2019, at 1:31 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  22. James Madison Member

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    James Madison (View Comment):
    This started before Clinton, but it accelerated under Obama.

    Remember that Mark Felt was never discovered to be “Deep Throat” until he admitted it in old age.

    Everyone should read “Nixon’s Resignation ReconsideredNew Watergate evidence suggests that presidential resignation is a mistake — then and now.” Turns out Woodward and Bernstein May have gotten it wrong, or ate the broccoli they were fed.

    • #22
    • December 20, 2019, at 2:40 PM PST
    • Like
  23. James Madison Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bless Mike Rogers! I wonder where he is these days. Thanks @jamesmadison. Good to hear from you!

    I don’t have the answers. But clearly Wray doesn’t either. I’m puzzled by what looks like enthusiasm from Barr. I’m a big fan of William Barr and wonder what he sees in the FBI director.

    Mike Rogers is working with John Durham.

    • #23
    • December 20, 2019, at 2:43 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  24. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnellJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    I share the skepticism with these weak-tea proposals. I think there needs to be someone designated as a citizen’s advocate with complete access to all file whose job would be to advocate on behalf of the person to be investigated. The advocate should have the right and opportunity to personally question the agents supporting the application looking for flaws. It would be tough job and the personal would need the guts to resist pressure and be able to swim upstream.

    The problem with that is that it seems to be human nature that the “overseer” over time always come to view the person or organization that they are charged with overseeing as a client, instead of a subject of oversight.

    • #24
    • December 20, 2019, at 3:20 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. Bob Thompson Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bless Mike Rogers! I wonder where he is these days. Thanks @jamesmadison. Good to hear from you!

    I don’t have the answers. But clearly Wray doesn’t either. I’m puzzled by what looks like enthusiasm from Barr. I’m a big fan of William Barr and wonder what he sees in the FBI director.

    Here!

    Bad News For Coup Crew – Former NSA Director Mike Rogers Working With John Durham For Several Months…

    • #25
    • December 20, 2019, at 5:21 PM PST
    • 1 like
  26. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpringJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    When I heard the other day that Wray had something like 40 changes in mind, my reaction was “Yeah, give me the names”. Unless people who have been involved in violating the rules are punished severely, it doesn’t matter what new rules they implement.

    • #26
    • December 20, 2019, at 5:50 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  27. Roosevelt Guck Inactive

    I say the Attorney General needs to sign off on every single one. He or she won’t sign if they don’t have confidence in the work backing it up. According to what I heard there aren’t that many of these warrants most years (1-2 thousand) so it wouldn’t be too burdensome.

    • #27
    • December 20, 2019, at 6:04 PM PST
    • Like
  28. Bob Thompson Member

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    When I heard the other day that Wray had something like 40 changes in mind, my reaction was “Yeah, give me the names”. Unless people who have been involved in violating the rules are punished severely, it doesn’t matter what new rules they implement.

    Few outsiders know details regarding the approach to executive management at the FBI. Horowitz and some of his key associates who have been looking into this for more than two years are probably good sources for consultation as Wray develops his approach. Several of those involved in what looks like nefarious anti-Trump efforts are gone already. I wonder how much of the non-political appointment HQ staff involved in the Clinton and Trump ‘investigations’ was developed solely or mostly in Washington and not having senior field office experience. To me, this might represent the kind of area where changes are needed.

    • #28
    • December 20, 2019, at 6:09 PM PST
    • 1 like
  29. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    I share the skepticism with these weak-tea proposals. I think there needs to be someone designated as a citizen’s advocate with complete access to all file whose job would be to advocate on behalf of the person to be investigated. The advocate should have the right and opportunity to personally question the agents supporting the application looking for flaws. It would be tough job and the personal would need the guts to resist pressure and be able to swim upstream.

    How about, “Any agent who is caught lying or misrepresenting is immediately fired, loses their pension, and does a few years in a federal pen”.

    Do that seriously for a few years and maybe that’ll get their attention.

     

    • #29
    • December 20, 2019, at 7:12 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  30. Rodin Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bless Mike Rogers! I wonder where he is these days. Thanks @jamesmadison. Good to hear from you!

    I don’t have the answers. But clearly Wray doesn’t either. I’m puzzled by what looks like enthusiasm from Barr. I’m a big fan of William Barr and wonder what he sees in the FBI director.

    Here!

    Bad News For Coup Crew – Former NSA Director Mike Rogers Working With John Durham For Several Months…

    That is good news for patriotic Americans. 

    • #30
    • December 20, 2019, at 7:15 PM PST
    • 1 like

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.