Home / General / The FBI’s War On American Democracy

The FBI’s War On American Democracy



James Comey’s illegitimate partisan intervention into the 2016 elections didn’t come out of nowhere:

Information is power, even if that information is false or misleading. A law enforcement agency does not need to arrest you or charge you with a crime to disrupt your life. It can simply release innuendo into the wild and watch your reputation — along with, potentially, your professional and social life — collapse.

Which, of course, is what various individuals within the FBI are doing to Hillary Clinton.

FBI Director James Comey’s decision to release damaging and vague information to Clinton’s enemies last Friday is, as I argued on Monday, a firing offense. As one former Justice Department official told the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, such a disclosure — especially because it appears to be based entirely on speculation and conjecture— “impugns the integrity and reputation of the candidate, even though there’s no finding by a court, or in this instance even an indictment.”

The FBI is not allowed to lay waste to a candidate’s reputation based on little or no evidence. Just so we are clear, there is a policy that Comey violated prohibiting disclosures relating to political candidates.

Yet Comey is hardly the only member of the FBI who doesn’t believe this rule applies to him. Wednesday evening, the Wall Street Journal published leaked information about an entirely separate investigation into former Secretary Clinton. One of the reporters on this story is Devlin Barrett, who Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall described as “the chief conduit of choice for anti-Clinton agents at the FBI.” And the details of this Clinton probe are almost too comic to be believed.

In 2015, Peter Schweizer, a reporter with the white nationalist site Breitbart News, published a book called “Clinton Cash” which alleged that President and Secretary Clinton used foreign connections to enrich themselves. The CEO of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign, Stephen Bannon, is the executive chairman of Breitbart.

Based on this book, which was published by a writer at a white nationalist site with close ties to the Trump campaign, some agents within the FBI reportedly decided to investigate Clinton. Schweizer was himself interviewed several times by these agents.

According to the Wall Street Journal, representatives from the FBI met with public integrity prosecutors and the head of the Department of Justice’s criminal division in February. The prosecutors reportedly were not impressed with this Breitbart-fueled investigation, and the DOJ instructed the FBI to “stand down.”

And yet, the agents persisted, even as senior executives within the FBI turned against them.

Evidently, if the FBI had a director with any integrity the insubordinate agents would have found themselves in a situation similar to a player who Bill Belichick doesn’t think is giving his best effort. Instead, he participated in the effort, selectively disregarding the FBI’s rules in a way that leaves no doubt about his partisan double standard.

None of this is an accident:

Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI, multiple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election.

Current and former FBI officials, none of whom were willing or cleared to speak on the record, have described a chaotic internal climate that resulted from outrage over director James Comey’s July decision not to recommend an indictment over Clinton’s maintenance of a private email server on which classified information transited.

“The FBI is Trumpland,” said one current agent.

This atmosphere raises major questions about how Comey and the bureau he is slated to run for the next seven years can work with Clinton should she win the White House.

If this doesn’t end the practice of Democratic presidents naming Republican daddies to important executive branch posts, I’m not sure what will. And even more outrageous is the possibility (however slim) that Comey’s next boss might be Donald Trump because of Comey’s indefensible actions.

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  • Rob in CT

    “The FBI is Trumpland,” said one current agent.

    *glug glug glug*

    • MyOhMy

      The law enforcement community, of which the FBI is a part, is Trumpland. Check out the recent incident in which 23 police officers (17 patrolmen, 6 supervisors) in San Antonio were reprimanded for wearing Trump red hats and giving the thumbs-up while they were on duty in his security detail.


      • Rob in CT


        *glug glug glug*

        Sorry, Rob isn’t available right now. Leave a message after the beep.

      • q-tip

        Yup. I work with POs and cops – “Make America Great Again” is said unironically and with pride all the fucking time.

    • CaptainBringdown

      Is it safe to chug booze and sniff glue at the same time?

      Asking for a friend.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        Definitely safer than chugging glue and sniffing booze.

    • ThrottleJockey

      I’m a little skeptical that the FBI is Trumpland. I mean they saw the photo of Obama in Muslim garb that Hill released and yet there’s no evidence that they’ve secretly been investigating Obama for his secret ISIS Manchurian Candidate Terrorist Rabblerousers Connections.

      The allegations that some of them thought the book was a roadmap to a Clinton indictment is disturbing, but I’ve yet to see, ahem, evidence that implicates Comey.

      • efgoldman

        I’ve yet to see, ahem, evidence that implicates Comey.

        Old saying: the fish rots from the head down.
        Comey either explicitly or implicitly condoned what his agency was doing, or he he had/has no control over his subordinates. Either is a firing offense.

        • Ramon A. Clef

          “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate,” is a maxim often quoted in my field.

          • RobertL

            Here’s what the head of the Australian army said a few years ago about the treatment of women in the armed forces: https://youtu.be/QaqpoeVgr8U

            • Ramon A. Clef

              Thanks for that.

        • ThrottleJockey

          I often make the same argument myself. Holder criticized Comey for his decision but didn’t go so far as you. And I’m no Comey fan–I think he’s plain racist and never should’ve been appointed.

          Did you decide to take me up on my bet or are you not feeling sporting?

      • Pat

        Still with the hatred and disrespect for Hillary Clinton, ThrottleJockey?

        Too bad you aren’t the person Barack Obama is.

        • ThrottleJockey

          Why do you get so worked up about a damn abbreviation? Geez…at least focus on something objectionable. It’s not even derisive.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            wrong. you use a nickname for Clinton- one that her supporters use- as you express your dislike and distrust of her. “Patronizing” would be the best thing that could be said for you in this case

      • ColBatGuano

        I mean they saw the photo of Obama in Muslim garb that Hill released and yet there’s no evidence that they’ve secretly been investigating Obama for his secret ISIS Manchurian Candidate Terrorist Rabblerousers Connections.

        WTF is this gibberish supposed to mean?

  • Ahenobarbus

    “Can’t trust a woman in a pants suit. Men wear the pants. The world doesn’t need anymore Hillary Clintons.”

    -Robert Hanssen (at least in the movie Breach)

    • rea

      –Robert Hanssen, the Opus Dei member, high ranking FBI agent caught spying for the USSR

    • Only saw it the once, but I recall that as a pretty solid movie. Based on true events movies are usually pretty flat and paint by number. But Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe(!) were great together.

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        Philippe was really good in Way of the Gun as well.

  • DrDick

    Jeebus! These asshats are doing their best to make Hoover look good.

  • jeer9

    If only the FBI could abide by Belichick’s rules: Stop free-lancing. I don’t care how good you think you are. Follow the plans that are laid down. Do your job.

    But Baltimore and Indy said Hillary deflated those balls …

    • Scott Lemieux

      I think Trump would make Goodell the Attorney General if not for the pay cut.

      • Colin Day

        Does Goodell value power more than money?

      • Halloween Jack

        Trump would make Curt Schilling AG.

      • Ahuitzotl

        Belichick would make a pretty good Chief of Staff

    • MAJeff

      They’re following another “successful” New Englander, and one closer to their hearts, John Connolly.

      • Crusty

        If the idea is that Trump is the thug they are enabling/sucking up to, yeah, I can see that.

  • Jay B

    Under the Greenwaldian theory that all leaks are newsworthy and people don’t simply have the right, but the duty to publish them, I don’t see what’s wrong here.

  • cleek

    doesn’t sound like the problem is the Daddy. sounds like the problem is that LEO’s everywhere are overwhelmingly wingnutty, and that the FBI’s jurisdiction allows these wingnuts to indulge their political fantasies in ways that local LEOs can’t.

    Daddy can’t control them. maybe he isn’t even trying to control them. but who could?

    • AMK

      Our media elites accross the spectrum treat the FBI differently than the local beat cops because the agents wear suits and have four-year degrees–the default setting is less like the Help and more like Our People. Not a good assumption.

    • Derelict

      I’ve always wondered why law enforcement so loves Republicans. Democrats lavish law enforcement will all kinds of money, goodies, perks, and help; Republicans cut federal funding to local law enforcement and do their best to divert everything into block grants so governors can have play money.

      Yet, LEOs hate Democrats.

      • BigHank53

        Believing the accused have rights–that’s a big strike against Democrats. A prime example would be the knee-jerk reaction against Black Lives Matter from folks who claim their life’s calling is to “protect society’s most vunerable”, which apparently means something else when you’re a racist authoritarian.

        It is, in all likelihood, the authoritarian impulse that drives these endorsements. There’s solving–or even better, preventing crimes, and then there’s the opportunity to break some heads. Innocent, guilty, who gives a shit: the head-breaking is where the job satisfaction lies. Trump’s promised them a lot of heads to break.

      • ThrottleJockey

        Because many Dems oppose giving LEOs unfettered power to pummel the poor and minority into the ground. Then, too, many Dems are civil libertarians and, you know, support Miranda.

        Besides the GOP–cough, cough, Scott Walker, cough, cough–knows how to appeal to the Fraternal Order of Police. (aka FAP).

      • Cops think their main job is to shoot black people. Republicans are entirely in favor of cops shooting as many black people as they can.

      • JMP

        Because law enforcement officers are overwhelmingly authoritarian and racist.

  • NewishLawyer

    Of course this is disturbing. If the FBI is Trumpland (along with the rest of law enforcement) and the right-wing has been increasingly dedicated to showing Democrats as being completely illegitimate and putting forward paranoid conspiracy theories on rigged elections. Isn’t it a matter of time before FBI agents and higher ups used their position to undermine the Democratic Party and politicians?

    • Anonymous Troll

      Yes, it’s a matter of time.

      That time began 60 years ago:

      “COINTELPRO (a portmanteau derived from COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert, and at times illegal,[1][2] projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting and disrupting domestic political organizations.[3]”


    • LeeEsq

      All the elements for a rightist coup d’état are in place.

      • ThrottleJockey

        et tu? Really???

        • LeeEsq

          Yes, really. The FBI and other security agencies decided that the Democratic Party is not legitimate and that they have a right to take steps against it and politicians from it. Its a small step to decide on actively working against Democratic politicians in office or actively removing them unlawfully by force.

      • bender

        I think one element is missing, though the ingredients to produce it are readily at hand. Organized bands of thugs to beat up civilians, wreck their places of business, and set fire to their homes at the behest of the rightist leaders.

        Without this, ordinary citizens will come out in the street and demand the restoration of law and democracy, union labor will walk off the job, students will resist, etc. In a country with strong democratic traditions, people have to be physically intimidated into letting democracy go. White racists in the South had the Ku Klux Klan, Hitler had brownshirts. There are plenty of RW militia members who would be happy to support a coup, but nobody has organized them yet.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          but nobody has organized them yet

          One of the few places for optimism is that organizing them will be very difficult. The MJ reporter who spent time in one of the militia groups along the Mexican border noted that the various groups don’t get along at all with one another.

          • so-in-so

            The right (Right?) leader could do it. At least enough to then cull out the ones who won’t cooperate. Fortunately, neither Trump nor any of the rest of the current GOP seems to be the sort.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Yes, reading this blog post the light bulb flickered over my head:

      Most every federal employee should dread the chaos, confusion, and disorder that a rampaging, mercurial Trump could cause to their once-humdrum livelihoods…

      But FBI guys? They get to be the sledgehammer. They yearn to be his sledgehammer.

  • Davis X. Machina

    You have to consider the sheer magnitude, and the unique nature, of the threat, to the American way of life posed by Mrs. Clinton.

    In Hoover’s day, all the FBI had to protect us from was just Hitler & Stalin.

    Salus populi suprema lex, and all that.

    • John not McCain

      Well, Hitler, Stalin, and dress-wearin’ homos like J. Edgar Hoo … well, Hitler and Stalin, anyway.

      • postmodulator

        Much easier to be a national law enforcement officer back when La Cosa Nostra didn’t exist. Or, anyway, it didn’t exist according to Hoover.

        • LeeEsq

          Hoover also thought that the Civil Rights movement was a Communist plot.

        • Yeah, what was that all about?

          • postmodulator

            Not sure. One theory was that mobsters had blackmail material on him. (Cause, you know, secretly gay.) James Ellroy’s theory is that Hoover figured you couldn’t prosecute the Mafia successfully, but the problem with that theory is that it had been done before and has been done since.

            • wengler

              They almost certainly had pictures of Hoover in a compromising position with his boyfriend/husband. The mob used to own all sorts of resorts in Florida and Cuba and it wouldn’t be surprising if they took pictures/video of them when they were vacationing together.

          • BigHank53

            One theory is that the Mafia was heavily armed and not shy about violence, while intellectuals, artists, and career bureaucrats tended to be much easier to threaten and intimidate.

            • The Dark God of Time

              The discovery of the Apalachin meeting pretty much exposed the Americsn Mafia to the public:

              Local and state law enforcement became suspicious when numerous expensive cars bearing license plates from around the country arrived in what was described as “the sleepy hamlet of Apalachin.”[5] After setting up roadblocks, the police raided the meeting causing many of the participants to flee into the woods and area surrounding the Barbara estate.[6] More than 60 underworld bosses were detained and indicted following the raid. One of the most direct and significant outcomes of the Apalachin Meeting was that it helped to confirm the existence of the American Mafia to the public, a fact that some, including Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover, had long refused to acknowledge publicly.[4][7][8]


          • efgoldman

            Yeah, what was that all about?

            Whatever else the mob was, it wasn’t commies.
            Also Lucky Luciano had kept the New York/New Jersey ports open during WW2 by basically ordering the longshoremen’s unions not to strike when they were about to.

            • Gregor Sansa

              Right. That.

              My grandfather was a Hoover protegé. According to my gay uncle with the amazingly good, but often slightly embellished, memory: after my grandfather had basically invented the filing system for fingerprints in DC, he was moved to Chicago for counterintelligence during WWII. His job was to liase with a young mobster, because they remembered all the smuggling routes from prohibition, and so had the best chance of stopping the German agents sneaking in via Ireland and Canada. The young mobster was apparently quite attractive, with great Italian shoes (important in my 2-year-old-at-the-time uncle’s memory), an ebullient contrast to my stoic grandfather (he’d come into the house and shout “Madonna!” to my grandmother). But (this is the part where I’m not sure I believe it, because my uncle’s evidence is quite sketchy) my grandfather and the handsome young mobster were caught in an inappropriate, possibly physical, relationship. My grandfather wasn’t fired due to Hoover’s protection; instead, he was sent to Baltimore in shame, leaving his pregnant wife in Chicago. Since by this time the war was close to over, he wasn’t chasing Nazis anymore, but rather (again, not sure how true) the gay underground of the naval munitions yard.

              This story isn’t completely relevant, but it does show that the FBI and the Mob had interests in common, and yes, it did start with Lucky Luciano.

  • Denverite

    Evidently, if the FBI had a director with any integrity the insubordinate agents would have found themselves in a situation similar to a player who Bill Belichick doesn’t think is giving his best effort.



    • liberalrob
      • Denverite

        Anchorage isn’t too bad. It’s not THAT cold compared to the interior, it’s close to mountains and skiing, and the summers are nice. They should go here:


        • medrawt

          Indeed, my uncle (USAF) was stationed in both Alaska and North Dakota. North Dakota was the coldest, harshest place he’d ever been. In Alaska he did a lot of salmon fishing. And then bought a canning machine so he could bring his catches back east. I was a wee lad at the time, but I believe the story is that one of the cans popped mid-flight, with pungent results.

        • Scott Lemieux

          This seems like a good fit for New York-based agents for Trump on multiple levels:


          • Denverite

            The Eddie Murphy SNL skit when he announces that the Emancipation Proclamation was never signed comes to mind…

          • (((Hogan)))

            In the great tradition of Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe. Oh wait–that didn’t really happen.

        • ColBatGuano

          There’s got to be an active investigation somewhere in western Kansas they could be used on.

        • liberalrob

          The Native Americans of North Dakota have endured enough abuse from the government. Send ’em to Alaska. Or maybe they could establish an FBI office on Diego Garcia and send them there…

          • I like the Diego Garcia idea. There wasn’t any law enforcement at McMurdo Station when I was there. As long as their tour is longer than a year, so they get to enjoy the Antarctic winter, it might be a good place for one or two at a time.

            • postmodulator

              What? With no law enforcement at McMurdo, we’re defenseless against shapeshifting aliens!

              • BigHank53

                McMurdo usually does have someone who has been deputized as a Federal Marshall. The badge and gun live in a safe, and somebody else has the combination.

            • The Brits own Diego Garcia. Security is handled by a detachment of very bored Royal Marines.

              Note: don’t ever try to drink with the Royal Marines. It doesn’t end well.

              • tsam

                For you or them?

              • (((Hogan)))

                I’m surprised it ends at all.

              • wengler

                They’re probably just surly they don’t get a rum ration anymore.

          • bw

            Send them all to Diego Garcia…and then expeditiously give Diego Garcia back to Mauritius or whoever wants it back. After blowing up all the airstrips, naturally.

            • guthrie

              The locals want it back, and have been repeatedly denied the right of return by UK governments who are only to keen to fellate US military interests.

    • tsam


  • CaptainBringdown

    A nation’s topmost law enforcement agency in the tank for a racist, authoritarian, would-be national leader. What could go wrong?

    • cleek


    • Colin Day


  • This is, obviously, really shitty behavior from Comey and his subordinates, but it’s hardly surprising.

    This is the same Bureau whose primary “anti-terrorism” work these days is entrapping Muslim Americans, many of whom later turn out to be developmentally disabled or just plain horny.

    This is the same Bureau that had to admit last year, after years and years of mounting evidence, that their vaunted crime lab is basically a pseudo-scientific house of making shit up that has put thousands of innocent people in jail, and therefore also let thousands of guilty people go free.

    This is the same Bureau whose hippie hatred runs so deep that they routinely send undercover agents into environmental groups in case the tree huggers are up to something.

    This is the same Bureau that had to shell out millions of dollars to one anthrax suspect after they wrongly ruined his life and career. Then they did the same to a second suspect – against whom their evidence was entirely circumstantial – until he killed himself.

    This is the same Bureau that had two different field offices report 9/11 suspects prior to the attacks and ignored them completely.

    This is the same Bureau that had a Russian agent in charge of its counter-intelligence division for the better part of two decades.

    I could keep going (Richard Jewell, anyone?), but you get the idea. And none of this is ancient, J. Edgar Hoover history. These are things that are all from the last fifteen years and/or going on right now. That this department is happy to leak crap about a left of center politician should surprise nobody.

    • Anonymous Troll

      Well said.

      All the criticism of Comey is neglecting the FBI’s long, long history of partisan criminality. It isn’t Comey, it is the entire institutional culture.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        Exactly. Seeing Comey as the problem is like seeing Trump as the problem. Both are entirely predictable results of the cultures of the institutions they lead. And while not appointing a Republican to the head the FBI is, I suppose a start, what really needs to be done is a full housecleaning of the FBI, which would take considerably more willpower and effort on the part of a Democratic President…and probably even more unlikely without a large Democratic majority in the Senate.

    • Hayden Arse

      From Belly of the Beast where there is a devastating take-down of Comey:

      Some facts about James Comey.

      1985: Graduated with a J.D. from the the University of Chicago Law School and clerked for Judge John Walker of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

      1987: After a brief stint as an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Comey was hired by then-U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Rudy Giuliani. He was an assistant U.S. Attorney until 1993.

      1993-1996: Partner in private practice at McGuire Woods in Richmond, VA.

      1996: Deputy special counsel for the Senate Committee investigating the Clintons and Whitewater. Eventually, the process led to appointment of a special prosecutor and President Clinton’s impeachment (for which the Senate acquitted him).

      1996-2001: Managing assistant U.S. attorney for Richmond division.

      2002-2003: U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, where his tasks included supervising the criminal investigation of former President Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich.

      2003-2005: President George W. Bush’s appointee as deputy attorney general — the number two person at the Justice Department — reporting directly to John Ashcroft. He became known for his standoff over the no-warrant wiretapping program at Ashcroft’s hospital bedside. According to one report of that internecine Republican battle, “Comey rushed to the room of his bedridden boss to physically stop White House officials from trying to get an ailing Ashcroft to reauthorize the program.”

      2005-2010: Vice president and general counsel for Lockheed Martin.

      2010-2013: Executive at Bridgewater, reported to be the world’s largest hedge fund.

      June 21, 2013: President Obama nominates Comey to head the FBI.

      July 5, 2016: In a bizarre departure from an investigator’s role, Comey dons his prosecutor hat to announce his recommendation that Hillary Clinton not be indicted for her use of a private email server while Secretary of State. He then offers a similarly unprecedented description of her behavior as, among other things, “extremely careless.”

      July 7, 2016: As Congressional Republicans began investigations into Comey’s recommendation, he testifies that he’d been a Republican for most of his adult life, but was no longer a registered member of the GOP.

      July-September, 2016: Trump and his surrogates, including Rudy Giuliani, blast Comey for not recommending the indictment of Clinton. Calling the failure a “total outrage,” Giuliani said, “As associate attorney and as Jim Comey’s boss for two or three years, I was very disappointed in him. I think if you read it, it’s logically inconsistent. He contradicts himself at least three times.”

      September 28, 2016: For four hours, Comey testifies before the House Oversight Committee, mostly about the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and his recommendation not to indict her.

      October 3, 2016: FBI agents seize Anthony Weiner’s laptop and learn quickly that they include some Huma Abedin emails.

      October 28, 2016: Comey sends his letter to Congress about additional materials that “appear to be pertinent.” Two days later, the FBI obtains a search warrant to see what those emails actually say.

      November 1, 2016: The FBI releases documents responsive to earlier Freedom of Information Act requests relating to President Clinton’s 2001 pardon of Marc Rich. When pressed, the official FBI comment was that its release of the Rich documents were posted “automatically and electronically to the FBI’s public reading room in accordance with the law and established procedures.” This happens, the statement said, on a “first-in, first-out” basis.

      And the FBI twitter account that announced the release? Until October 30, it had been dormant for more than a year — since October 8, 2015.

      • Denverite

        1985: Graduated with a J.D. from the the University of Chicago Law School

        Annnndddd that explains pretty much all of it.

        • random


      • FlipYrWhig

        1993-1996: Partner in private practice at McGuire Woods in Richmond, VA.

        Any chance Tim Kaine knows a guy who knows a guy?

        Kaine then joined the Richmond law firm of Little, Parsley & Cluverius, P.C.[10] In 1987, Kaine became a director with the law firm of Mezzullo & McCandlish, P.C.[10] Kaine practiced law in Richmond for 17 years, specializing in fair housing law and representing clients discriminated against on the basis of race or disability

        • (((Hogan)))

          Comey was probably defending the people Kaine was suing for fair housing violations.

          • Denverite

            You joke but my first thought was that it’s possible. Usually low income housing landlords can’t afford the big firms like McGuireWoods.

            • (((Hogan)))

              Could that be considered pro bono? Or would I rather not know?

              • Denverite

                I mean, it could be, but usually the firms that can afford to write off a bunch of hours on pro bono work don’t waste them on slum lords.

                Though I suspect that in the end, like a lot of the people who do work for Trump, the representation ends up being pro bono in retrospect.

                • (((Hogan)))

                  Well–unpaid anyway. Is pro malo publico a thing?

                • N__B

                  Is pro malo publico a thing?

                  Jack Chick is dead.

      • Colin Day

        You forgot one:

        January 20, 2017 !2:01 PM: President Hillary Rodham Clinton fires Comey in the opening of her Inaugural speech.

        • TroubleMaker13

          Obama should do it. First thing Weds AM.

          • Colin Day

            As someone mentioned earlier, Obama calls Comey in at 7 AM on 11/9 and tells him he’d better have his letter of resignation or he’s fired.

      • MacK

        Missing – the Weiner team in New York invites the Clinton e-mail team in DC to New York to check out what they have – this has been leaked.

      • dr. fancypants

        2010-2013: Executive at Bridgewater, reported to be the world’s largest hedge fund.

        I have a friend who worked there. From everything he’s told me about it, Bridgewater is basically a cult, right down to having to learn and memorize the wisdom of their Dear Leader.

    • Ahenobarbus

      The opening to Chris Cilizza’s latest:

      The FBI has long been an iconic institution in American life. From Elliot Ness to Clarice Starling, the image of the FBI — unflappable, smart and relentlessly fair — has been sterling.

      So there appears to be some dispute over the FBI’s history.

      • Anonymous Troll

        Ness worked for Treasury, not the FBI. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliot_Ness

        We must, however fairly cover both sides of the dispute about Ness’s employment with the FBI.

        • Hayden Arse

          Clarice Starling…. a fictional character. Do you think Cilizza even knows that Elliot Ness was a real person, not just a movie character?

          • witlesschum

            There’s a great scene in Brian Michael Bendis’ Fortune and Glory, his comic about his Hollywood experiences, where he cannot get a movie exec to understand that Elliot Ness was a real person and not created for either the 50s TV show or the De Palma movie.

            So, who knows?

            • Halloween Jack

              I remember that scene, and it’s funny, although in fairness a) the exec could have believed that the company which produced the recent Untouchables movie had the rights to Ness’ life story, and b) the version of Ness that he himself promoted during his life was highly exaggerated and even fictionalized to some extent; he succeeded in persuading the public that he was largely or completely responsible in getting Capone sent to jail, even though Capone’s eventual conviction was the work of IRS agents who got him for tax evasion.

      • osceola

        Anonymous Troll slipped ahead of me.

        Ellot Ness was never in the FBI. He was a Prohibition agent.

        He tried to join the FBI in the ’30s, but Hoover thought he was a publicity hound and wouldn’t hire him. (It was around the time he was hounding Melvin Purvis out of his job for the same offense.)

        • (((Hogan)))

          And there was room in that agency for only one publicity hound.

        • Halloween Jack

          Fun fact: you know who was hired in the 30s by the FBI? Richard Nixon. (His position was eliminated due to budget cuts before he could report for training.)

      • (((Hogan)))

        That is certainly the image that has been relentlessly promoted by the FBI.

        • tsam


          • Vance Maverick

            Yeah, that was the fictional FBI that came most readily to my mind too. Omniscient, goodlooking and mired in murky internal corruption.

      • Tyto

        “With notable rare exceptions…”

    • BiloSagdiyev

      This is the same Bureau whose hippie hatred runs so deep that they routinely send undercover agents into environmental groups in case the tree huggers are up to something.

      Don’t forget the real threat to America! Pacifist grannies!

      I really hope it never happens — but they day might come that another bin Laden level character makes a big attack happen inside the United States. They’re going to wish they weren’t so busy dicking around entrapping treehuggers, spying on grannie peaceniks, and framing half-wit Muslims when they should have been following up on leads.

      (I’m not sure they could have stopped the Tsarnaev thing…. but imagine that, with more moving parts.)

      • Derelict

        The FBI stepped up its surveillance of environmental and pacifist groups as part of its response to 9-11. Did the Bureau ever express regret for dicking around with bong manufacturers (Tommy Chong’s bongs)? Nope. Expect them to double their efforts against domestic “terrorists” who want clean water or who object to sending our young people off to kill foreigners.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Clean tap water from a city-run system for every citizen? That sounds collectivist.

      • Ramon A. Clef

        They’re going to wish they weren’t so busy dicking around

        On the contrary. They’ll salivate at the nearly limitless possibility to indulge their authoritarian wet dreams because terrorism!

  • potsherds

    Could someone with a better grasp of American history, esp re: 1850-1865, and historical U.S. political divisions and American governing norms tell me this isn’t that bad? Because intellectually I’m sure it’s not, but I also can’t convince myself of that, at all.

    • Oh, it’s pretty bloody bad.

    • tsam

      Ok, the FBI under Hoover was much worse than it is now. This is bad, but Hoover actually tried to make Dr. King commit suicide. Seriously. This happened. And I would argue that the divisions were worse in 1968. You had one party shredding itself in the middle of an identity crisis in ’68, while now you have one party that’s fairly unified while the other has just plain gone nuts. McCarthy in the 50s and the Red Scares were way worse than the anti Muslim shit going on now…

      It’s bad, but I can’t think of any part of it that’s worse than it ever has been, aside from one party nominating an outright psychopath for president. I don’t think there’s ever been a bigger embarrassment that close to the office.

      • Lord Jesus Perm

        This is bad, but Hoover actually tried to make Dr. King commit suicide. Seriously. This happened.

        The unredacted letter, in case anyone hasn’t seen it

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Yes. We here all hate his politics… but he’s also just a clown! And it’s amazing that 40% + of this country doesn’t care as long as it makes liberals mad.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          P.S. Our society has given veto power to Nelson Muntz.

      • potsherds

        Thank you!

        I know it’s bad, but I also need reminders that it HAS been worse than it is now.

      • Anonymous Troll

        “Ok, the FBI under Hoover was much worse than it is now. ”

        How do you know?

        The letter to King only came to light because some criminals, terrorists, burgled an FBI office, and stole the files. (See Cointelpro, supra)

        Without exhaustive felonious burglaries we don’t know what is going on now. That is why we need either a bunch of brave burglars or, as others have suggested, a special prosecutor following the Ken Starr model of diligent fishing

        • tsam

          How do you know?

          Well, I guess I don’t.

  • Steve LaBonne

    Example 500 gazillion of why the FBI should have been abolished after Hoover croaked.

    • liberalrob

      So who enforces Federal laws then, the U.S. Marshals? And how would the Marshals Service be any less susceptible to political influence than the FBI?

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Next you’ll be pointing out that if the CIA was abolished, the government would just end up rehiring the vast majority of CIA employees at whatever new foreign intelligence agency was created to replace it.

      • Steve LaBonne

        A new agency should have been created, with strong safeguards against carrying over the FBI’s toxic culture. As we see, with there never having been a clean break, it’s still Hoover’s FBI.

    • rea

      Example 500 gazillion of why the FBI should have been abolished after long before Hoover croaked.

      • Steve LaBonne

        Which of course was never going to happen given all the dirt he had on everybody in DC.

  • Ahuitzotl

    So much for the last shreds of integrity in another government institution. Definitely overdue for a brisk housecleaning at the FBI, starting at the top.

    • Anonymous Troll

      As Charlie Sweatpants points out above the FBI hasn’t had any integrity for more than a half century. If you didn’t know that i worry about whether our children is learning.

  • Bloix

    Obama is spending this week trying to pass the TPP. That’s the way to help get Hillary elected.


    • cleek

      Monday: no events
      Tuesday: Campaigning in Ohio for Clinton
      Wednesday: Campaigning in DC and NC for Clinton
      Thursday: two speeches at colleges in FL


    • Scott Lemieux

      Yes, in a race in which the media isn’t covering policy at all the Commerce Secretary’s speeches in Illinois are surely likely to swing the election.

      • ColBatGuano

        Everyone knows that Obama’s is the Commerce Secretary’s puppet. Wheels within wheels man.

      • Bloix

        He should not be alienating even one left-inclined young voter a week before the election. It’s reckless.

        • Any left-inclined young voter willing to vote for a racist, sexist, fascist lunatic leading a horde of violent, deplorable goons… was probably never actually left-inclined in the first place.

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            It’s not so much that they will vote for Trump as they won’t vote. Or will vote for Stein or a write-in, which is the same thing.

            And yes, I know plenty of genuine leftists who have already done the latter (mostly writing in Sanders.)

  • encephalopath

    It appears that the FBI doesn’t believe the 4th Amendment applies to them anymore. They seem to think they should get to rummage around in people’s stuff without the reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed and without a warrant specifying what materials they get to look at to investigate that crime.

    They think they should get to go on whatever fishing expedition suits their fancy of the moment. Was it always like this?

    Is this a result of the post 9/11 illegal spying by the Bush administration? The intelligence agencies just did whatever the fuck they wanted and Congress retroactive legalized their lawbreaking behavior. Does the current FBI look at that and think, “See, we don’t have to follow any rules.”

    • liberalrob

      Well, we can’t afford to wait for the evidence of drug trafficking to come in the form of a mushroom cloud of cocaine…

    • FlipYrWhig

      They think they should get to go on whatever fishing expedition suits their fancy of the moment.

      Exactly. Don’t they have, you know, “cases” to “investigate”? Or are they poking around Hillary Clinton as punctuation between bouts of lazing about on their well-padded government tucchuses?

    • Scott Lemieux

      Piece of shit books from the Brietbart factory are a kind of probable cause! Eventhelefty Doug Henwood finds it credible!

      • Speaking of Henwood, apparently he’s working with Assange these days.

      • Wow! That article was FAR shoddier than I expected and I was expecting it to be rock bottom garbage.

        I particularly liked the “I won’t quote the content because that would encourage Cliniton folks to focus on the source” bit!

        • Scott Lemieux

          It’s a classic example of Yglesias’s Prime Directive, “We know the Clintons are guilty; the only question is what are they guilty of and when will we find the evidence?” The Breitbart crony didn’t find anything, but he would if he had subpoena power!

      • Lord Jesus Perm

        Far’s left really shown ALL of its ass this election cycle.

        • ColBatGuano

          Never go full baboon.

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  • gratuitous

    I predict that Comey will suffer the same punishment that was visited on Lurita Doan.

  • n00chness

    And now the FBI is leaking on Christopher Murphy so that Rubio can protect his seat by spreading innuendo about “FBI investigations.”

    This is truly a rogue agency. There needs to be Hatch Act prosecutions of the leakers.

    • Oh my goodness we can’t have that. Prosecution of abuse of authority for partisan political advantage under the Hatch act would be a partisan witch hunt, in the way the originally offense totally wasn’t for …reasons.

  • encephalopath

    And let’s think back to July when Comey did his press conference and he went on an on about how terrible people at the State Department were at dealing with classified information and how, even though there was no lawbreaking, they would have received administrative sanctions if they were his people. As if he were the arbiter of proper communications protocol in other agencies.

    And as it turns out he has no control over his own people, who are doing far worse things than what he accused the Clinton State employees of doing, vaguely and with no real evidence.

    Comey’s people are violating criminal statutes by secretly leaking investigative materials and very likely not properly obtained investigative materials.

    Comey can’t maintain order in his own house. Why does this man have any credibility at all at this point, let alone a reputation for integrity?

    • nemdam

      This is what I find the most farcical about all this. Much of the damage Hillary has taken from her email scandal is because Comey validated it despite the lack of indictment. My first thought when he condemned Hillary and the State department about being “extremely careless” was what if we went through Comey’s emails in as much detail as he went through Hillary’s? You’re telling me you wouldn’t be able to conclude he was also “extremely careless”? With the past week’s events, it has now been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Comey is “extremely careless” in how he runs his department. What a joke the FBI, James Comey, and the email scandal have become.

      • MacK

        Oh I think an independent counsel is needed to teach that lesson with a vengeance to the FBI….

    • FlipYrWhig


  • MacK

    What’s very scary about this situation is not just Comey’s letter – but the evidence that Republican FBI agents have behaved inappropriately and in a partisan manner. You now have a situation where they are leaking wholesale against Clinton. It turns out that the team investigating Weiner in New York invited the Clinton e-mail team to come to New York and discuss what was on the Weiner computer, a wholesale violation of the search warrant – and only after did people think – “oops we don’t have a warrant for that….”

    Prior to the assassination of President Garfield the US so called Spoils System operated https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoils_system where each President would fire large chunks of the Federal Civil Service and replace them with trusted members of his own party. The key issue was “trusted,” administrations wanted their people because they did not trust the other side’s. Civil service reform changed that, it introduced the principle that you checked your politics at the office-door.

    The Republican Party, Comey and a cast of FBI agents have recklessly chosen to undermine that principle (and they did so also in the IRS investigation.) The result is to threaten the trust that Democratic office holders need to have in the Federal Civil Service and the FBI, that it will be fair, that it will be even handed. It is a very short journey from there to simply concluding that for a range of senior executive service jobs and positions in organisations like the FBI, Republicans are not eligible because they cannot be trusted to do the job without their politics driving their behaviour. That means no more Republican Secretaries of Defence under Democratic Presidents, no more Republicans as FBI Director, deputy-Director, no more Republicans as CIA Director, etc. Down that path ultimately lies dictatorship … but that is what Republican recklessness is leading to.

    One simple thing Loretta Lynch can do – she can use the independent counsel statute and appoint one to investigate Comey’s conduct and that of the FBI – tasked with getting answers as to whether Comey’s discussions with certain Republicans like Goodlatte before sending the letter influenced his decision, whether he was improperly influenced by Republican members of Congress, whether there was a breach if the Hatch Act as a matter or law or the spirit of the act, whether FBI agents on the Weiner, Clinton and Clinton foundation case had engaged in partisan leaking, etc. Pick someone known to have limited personal regard for Comey too.

    It would be painful (and expensive for Comey, he’ll need lawyers – the legal bill would be enormous) but it is the only way to restore trust in the FBI – and if a lot of agents get fired as a result, well so be it – an object lesson of the dangers in embracing partisan politics as a law enforcement officer. The alternative is accepting the politicisation of Federal Law enforcement, and political litmus tests to join the FBI and regular clean-outs when administrations change.

    And by the way, it is Republicans who should worry most about this – they look to be out of the Presidency if they lose this time for decades.

    • Crusty

      Hasn’t the independent counsel act expired?

  • MyOhMy

    A question for the lawyers in the audience:

    What is the statutory basis for the existence of the FBI? Is it a matter of law passed by Congress, Executive fiat, or what?

    • sapient
    • Crusty


      Act of Congress. But I think the history of it is that it evolved from a few different organizations with different names to carry out federal law enforcement.

    • medrawt

      IANAL, but I believe the FBI’s powers are justified under a generic provision in the US Code which allows the Attorney General to employ law enforcement officers. The predecessor of the FBI was created at presidential request; I don’t know about the process that led to it actually becoming the FBI in the ’30s.

  • Crusty

    FBI culture is very, very 50’s. The idea of a woman boss, let alone woman president is no good.

    • petesh

      I repeat the prayer that lulls me to sleep at night: Please, Hillary, divest yourself of fvcks. I’m sure you have some rage stored up, and please do not take it out on foreigners before you deal with the Bundy gang. Oh, and get a real hardass with constitutional sense to run the FBI.

    • Colin Day

      Don’t they already have a woman boss (Loretta Lynch)?

  • Oh, and get a real hardass with constitutional sense to run the FBI.


    • N__B

      Which one?

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        I like the idea of FBI agents having to report to a Black woman!

        • Colin Day

          They already do

          Attorney General

          • so-in-so

            Which may be why they are so anti-Dem. No way Trump keeps an Obama appointment, OR lets a woman be in that role.

        • Colin Day

          Michelle or Malia?

  • synykyl

    “The FBI is Trumpland”

    I suspect this is true for law enforcement in general, and for the military as well.

    This is why I am deeply concerned by the threats of violence made by Trump and his supporters.

    I don’t think they have the balls for violent revolution, but if they do, I’m not sure we can count on the police or military to oppose them.

  • Bitter Scribe

    Why would the FBI be so hysterical over Hillary’s e-mails?

    • FlipYrWhig

      They’re hysterical that she’s getting away with… something something classified information! Same way The Clintons always get away with something something corruption! And Benghazi!

  • jpgray

    So this is anecdotal and probably worthless. That said….

    In my experience, inside every LEO (sometimes not very far inside) is a would-be wiseguy/gangster that wants his LE org to operate, and be recognized, as the toughest, meanest, baddest gang in business; this includes indulging in regular fantasies about what he and his pals would do to “we all know they’re bad guys” x, y and z if untrammeled by wussy civilians and regs. I don’t know that this phenomenon is exclusively male, but… eh it probably is.

    I believe the vast majority hold that in check and don’t act on it, but I also believe that if that behavior is permitted, encouraged, or praised, the usual restraint of the majority isn’t really going to hold the worst of it back.

    In a way it’s not different from racism or sexism in the broader population in that regard. Restraint on atavistic yawps is a majority trait, but you work the worst people up enough, you validate them enough, and that doesn’t do shit to restrain the actions of the worst in the group. A majority of Bob’s peers thinking but not saying “well Bob, that’s certainly fucked up” doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot to hold Bob back from escalating his behavior under certain kinds of reinforcement.

    • Srsly Dad Y

      And spies and their camp followers (ex-spy contractors) are at least as bad.

  • No Longer Middle Aged Man

    FBIs war on democracy, aided, abetted and promoted by the congressional Republican party. Joe Walsh has one thing right – I’ll be grabbing my musket if Trump wins. Also not paying Federal income taxes. I plan to declare 15 deductions to have zero withholding because, fungoo, if the President doesn’t pay income taxes then why should I. Plus the Repubs starve the beast approach will mean cutting IRS funding even further so it’ll take forever for them to catch up. Time for Dems to actively resist the illegitimacy of Republican administrations.

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