The FBI Chief

Kevin Williamson says he should be canned.

I’m no big fan of Wray (or opponent, either), but I don’t think this particular incident, that happened not long after he came into the job, justifies his firing per se. I guess if he’d come in with a writ to clean house at the FBI, it would be more justifiable. But if I were Trump, I’d put him on notice. At a minimum, if he wants to keep his job, he’d better come up, very publicly, with a clearly effective plan as to how he’s going to prevent this sort of thing from continuing to happen. After all, it’s about the fourth time they’ve screwed the pooch on this sort of thing, and dozens are dead and injured, from the Boston Marathon to south Florida.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Jeez: “Minnesota Terrorist Let Go After Telling FBI She Wanted To Join Al Qaeda And Wear Suicide Belt.”

[Update a few minutes later]

Not FBI related per se, but related: IRS resistance to tax reform (or IRS reform):

[T]he IRS is already playing games with the GOP tax reform.

Just a week after passage, the IRS rushed out guidance declaring that most taxpayers couldn’t deduct prepaid 2018 property taxes on their 2017 returns to claim that benefit before the new law kicks in. The IRS decided this with no input from the White House or other agencies. IRS bureaucrats—many of them implacably opposed to his White House and bitter over recent congressional oversight—will have plenty of opportunity to cause trouble with its interpretations of a complicated tax reform. …

The swamp is rarely drained, for the simple reason that it takes rare and extraordinary governance. It requires leaders who are willing to offend institutions and top advisers, expose internal abuse, and willingly surrender unjustifiable powers. Today’s Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are examples of what happens when those leaders follow the far more common route of succumbing to the natives.

Mr. Mnuchin’s Treasury can make the successful rollout and implementation of the Trump tax reform a priority, or it can roll to an IRS bureaucracy. That ought to be an easy call.

That’s the task for Wray as well, if he wants to take it on. He should be considered on probation until we see something positive happen. And he doesn’t have to wait for Horowitz’s report on malfeasance in the election to start to clean house with the terrorism reports.

[Update a while later]

Uh oh…Sessions is going to investigate the FBI’s failure to fully inform the FISA court on the nature of the data provided for the warrant.

[Update a while later]

End the 911 Syndrome at the FBI:

But what also sticks in my mind is a simple fact: Not one person in the federal government was fired on account of 9/11.

I’m not the only one who feels that way. During his presidential campaign, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) noted that the FBI had caught the “20th hijacker” a month before his comrades launched their deadly carnage on 9/11. “The FBI agent who caught him wrote 70 letters to FBI headquarters saying we should look at this guy’s computer — get a warrant — and they never did.” Senator Paul told CNN’s Jake Tapper in 2015. “That was a huge failure, and I never quite understood why no one was fired over 9/11. . . . And there were some mistakes. We also had a report out of Arizona of people trying to fly planes but not learning how to land them.”

As bad as those mistakes were, the Bush administration made them worse. It took 411 days for it to finally agree to form a commission to look into how 9/11 could have happened. Compare that with the six days it took to form the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The 9/11 commission ultimately did a credible job, but it was hobbled early on for lack of money. The government initially allocated only $3 million for its work, later raising it, under pressure, to $11 million. Compare that with the commission that investigated the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia in 1986. That was a tragedy that killed seven brave Americans, and we spent $50 million to find out what happened.

Since 9/11, we have seen many tragic events fueled by bureaucratic bungling, followed by a complete lack of accountability. The cycle has repeated itself over and over.

…When only small fry are let go, the complacency among upper management remains and problems are swept under the rug. Only with new blood and a fresh approach can systemic problems within a bureaucracy be addressed.

Even though he has been on the job only six months, FBI director Christopher Wray has already shown a reflexive desire to evade congressional oversight by ignoring House subpoenas to the FBI in the Steele-dossier matter. The FBI turned over the documents, after months, only when the House said it would to hold Wray in contempt of Congress. That attitude shows that Wray has little desire to cut to the heart of the FBI’s problems and may even be an accessory to them.

Congress should demand a response from Wray, immediately.

[Update Tuesday morning]

Uh oh. A judge’s order in the Flynn case may reveal more wrongdoing on the part of the FBI.

9 thoughts on “The FBI Chief”

  1. Minnesota Terrorist Let Go After Telling FBI She Wanted To Join Al Qaeda And Wear Suicide Belt.

    Well, it wouldn’t be Minnesota Nice if they were mean to Muslims.

  2. I’m not buying the IRS argument. Their guidance was that only those state and local taxes assessed and paid in 2017 could be deductible in 2017, and unless that runs against prior practice (which is not claimed in the article), it doesn’t appear to be contrary to the intent of the tax bill. When the tax bill was written, the state and local tax deduction was intentionally removed in order to help make the numbers work. It was a balancing act — or perhaps an unbalancing act given that the net result was a deficit increase, but they were targeting a maximum allowable increase.

    Imagine if the IRS had allowed deduction of prepayment of unassessed state and local taxes. (Could I have claimed several years of prepaid property tax if that had worked out to my advantage?) That would have run contrary to the spirit of the tax bill and even more voices would have said that by running the deficit numbers up even more, they were trying to make the tax bill’s effect look worse than intended.

    And as for the claim that the “IRS rushed out guidance”, the bill was signed on 22 December, so urgent guidance was needed. Had the bill been put together earlier in the year, many states and localities would have had time to offer early assessments, but the complaint then would have been that the states were exacerbating the increased federal deficit in an act of resistance against the administration.

    This current complaint just appears to be someone looking for enemies of the state in every crevice and is yet another symptom of the general paranoia which continues to grip this nation.

  3. The only way to stop abuses of power at the IRS and other agencies is to shrink their size and power. Always left out of media coverage, is that the Obama IRS targeted Jewish groups opposed to the Iran deal. That isn’t just normal partisanship or being confused about classification of Tea Party and Democrat activist groups, it was in support of secret program being run by Obama, meaning it came from the top. The same groups were likely spied on through FISA requests as well.

    Why wouldn’t the IRS join the resistance? Everyone abusing power during the previous administration got promotions and bonuses while the DOJ killed any investigation. Why wouldn’t resistance DOJ do the same thing today?

    I am not sure what to do about the FBI but not holding people accountable for mistakes isn’t a recipe for change.

  4. This really doesn’t seem that hard. It wasn’t “the FBI” that didn’t respond to warnings about this kid, it was several actual people at the FBI. I don’t know who they are, but Christopher Wray does. He should do an impromptu review and then fire them if appropriate. It shouldn’t take more than a few days.
    Pretend they’d said something not politically correct – it should be like that.

    1. I have a lot of problems with the FBI’s incompetence and openness with the public. But really, what MikeR has is the simplest solution for this latest outrage. The initial story that came out of the FBI was total BS, and that story changed within 24 hours. People need to be canned. If Wray won’t do it, then let it be him. But I’m fine with him if he just takes action to get rid of the dead wood.

  5. What MikeR said: there is a serious lack of punishment to the individuals involved. In the same manner that people glowingly talk about how Big Company Inc. is fined money when all of those charges will be passed on to the consumers and/or stockholders. Until jail time for white collar executives, business or government, happens it is a kabuki play.

  6. I think punishing the individuals involved is a good thing. However I also dislike the notion of sacrificing a few underlings so that the Big Shots survive and can say they did something.

    Incompetence and laziness (or worse) that leads to this sort of disaster should be deeply punished all up and down the line. People will act better if there are severe consequences for failing which result in mass shootings.

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