Who Polices the Police?

Victor Davis Hanson,

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was supposed to run a narrow investigation into accusations of collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russian government. But so far, Mueller’s work has been plagued by almost daily improper leaks (e.g., “sources report,” “it emerged,” “some say”) about investigations that seem to have little to do with his original mandate.

Now, there are leaks claiming that Mueller is going after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for his business practices before he entered the Trump administration. Specifically, Mueller is reportedly investigating Flynn’s security assessment and intelligence work for the Turkish government and other Turkish interests. Yet possible unethical lobbying on behalf of a NATO ally was not the reason Mueller was appointed.

The Roman satirist Juvenal famously once asked how one could guard against marital infidelity when the moral guardians were themselves immoral. His famous quip, translated roughly as “Who will police the police?” is applicable to all supposedly saintly investigators.

Independent counsel Ken Starr was supposed to look into Bill Clinton’s supposed shady Whitewater dealings in Arkansas. He ended up investigating every aspect of Clinton’s life, including his many sexual escapades.

No doubt Clinton was a philanderer. But it was not Starr’s mission to prove to the nation what it had already suspected when it voted Clinton into the Oval Office.

In 2003, Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed as special counsel (by now-notorious former FBI Director James Comey) to determine whether Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, had illegally exposed the allegedly covert status of CIA operative Valerie Plame. As with the Starr investigation, Fitzgerald soon presided over a media circus.

When the investigation was over, Libby was charged on five counts even though Plame may not have been a covert CIA agent at all. Also, it was reported early in the investigation that Fitzgerald knew someone other than Libby was almost surely guilty of first leaking Plame’s status (Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage).

But Fitzgerald was desperate for a big administration scalp. So he continued to lead an investigation that resulted in Libby’s conviction on four charges — in part based on Libby’s supposed disclosures to journalist Judith Miller. In her memoir, Miller later disavowed that Libby had ever given her classified information.

Special counsel investigations are only as good as the society at large that orders them. The idea that a godly inquisitor, invested with extralegal authority, can somehow use superior wisdom and morality to solve an unsolvable ethical problem is a stretch.

Usually, these chasing-your-own-tail appointments are born out of media and political hysteria. The special counsel immediately feels enormous pressure to find anything to avoid being accused of running a “whitewash” or wasting time and money.

If the original investigation finds little traction, the all-powerful special counsel then ventures into ever new territories — apparently on the theory that everyone has at least something to hide in his past. Or the special counsel tries to cross up panicked targets in order to find inconsistent narratives that can be banked as fallback evidence of lying or hiding something that was not necessarily a crime to begin with.

Yet counsels themselves are not above reproach. Starr later voiced regret about venturing into Clinton’s tawdry sex life. Fitzgerald did not disclose that he had targeted the wrong leaker. In unethical fashion, Fitzgerald never brought charges against Armitage, who lacked the sensational media buzz that had surrounded Libby.

In predictable fashion, Mueller himself may soon be the target of inquiries. He came to the job in part because his old acquaintance and successor at the FBI, Comey, testified that he had deliberately (and perhaps illegally) leaked to the press his notes on private conversations with Trump, whom he had just assured was not under investigation.

The stated aim of the Machiavellian Comey was to force the appointment of a special investigator — which turned out to be none other than his friend Mueller.

In the charge/countercharge swamp of Washington insider politics, Mueller’s prior tenure at the FBI during the Barack Obama administration may likewise come under scrutiny.

Mueller was serving as FBI director when the Obama administration approved a deal allowing a Russian company, Rosatom, to buy a Canadian company that owned the rights to a large share of U.S. uranium supplies. Before the deal went through, the FBI reportedly learned that the head of a Rosatom subsidiary was corrupt and that Rosatom officials knew about the corruption. It’s unclear whether Muller’s FBI alerted the administration about its findings. Did Mueller wrongly slow down the investigation, or was he sidetracked by higher-ups? Why did his investigation amount to nothing?

Will officials soon be investigating for collusion the current investigator of collusion? Do we now need a special, special counsel?

The point is not that Mueller may have acted unethically, but that he, in theory, could be policed just as easily as those he polices.

If we have lost faith in our institutions, then creating starry-eyed new ones will not solve the problem, given that the fault is in ourselves.

  • TwoElks

    The Untouchables are now the Untrustables. What was once one of America’s finest government agencies has been brought down by greed and corruption done by both political parties !

  • DrArtaud

    A motivating saying in my life, from a Protestant minister that died during WWII in a German concentration camp, is:

    “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    I’m recently disaffected from Gateway Pundit, after the moderators failed to enforce their own commenting rules concerning harassing other commenters. Mind you, 25+ years in the mill, I’m OK with any harassment, providing the site doesn’t selectively remove material and allow insults from others that support their world view.

    A Note on Gateway Pundit Moderation

    One commenter took umbrage to my holding police accountable, he felt they’re hard workers and should be given a break. Yet, examples of corrupt and evil police are easy to find. RedElephant just carried a story on the black democrat chief of police in Charlottesville admitting:

    BREAKING! – Charlottesville Police Chief Admits He Ordered Stand-Down ‘Let Them Fight, It Will Make It Easier to Declare An Unlawful Assembly’

    And, on my parting comments on Gateway Pundit, I provided an example of a woman framed by 3 or more police for causing an accident really caused by the officer. They were videoed in their car framing her, her lawyer found the video, and charges against the woman dropped, two police officers fired, and served a short sentence in jail.

    Police are definitely the protected class in Conservative Commentary. I support the police, have written long comments in support, but quite frankly I’m beside myself to understand how, after these riots arranged by police, forcing Trump supporters into antifa then standing down, Conservative media in general still shows this unflagging support.

    Corrupt law enforcement is repugnant, for people in power to abuse that power for convenience, political purposes, kicks, or just because “they can” should be opposed by every responsible citizen.

    A corrupt FBI is the worst, and they have a history of FBI crime labs customizing results for prosecutors (i.e. convicting possibly innocent people) and of sending innocent people to jail. In one case, 4 innocent men went to jail, and the FBI knew they were innocent. 30 years in jail, 2 died in prison, and the “informant” the FBI was protecting killed another or others after the innocent men were jailed.

    We’re not talking about the mythical honest FBI agents we see on TV, we’re talking tawdry, cheap, politically affiliated, men and women. Are they all like that? Well, prior to this Russian witch hunt, I’d said no, but anymore, I’m not sure, and the reason is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote at the beginning of this comment.

    This, while comey still there:

    FBI Deputy Director Snaps: In Anti-Trump Tirade, McCabe Professes Hatred for U.S. President to FBI Colleagues

    Senior intelligence sources said that embattled FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe openly professed his disgust for President Donald Trump at a senior staff meeting while loosing his cool demeanor in the process.

    McCabe, the second in charge of the FBI, ranted at a staff meeting a week after Trump’s inauguration (approx Jan 27) about the newly sworn-in president, catching many FBI agents off guard with his anti-GOP vitriol.

    And this, after comey was fired:

    Why the FBI might wage “war” on Trump — and how they would actually do it

    It’s not often that you hear members of the FBI threatening to go to war with the president….

    “[Trump] essentially declared war on a lot of people at the FBI,” an anonymous FBI official told the Washington Post. “I think there will be a concerted effort to respond over time in kind.”

    ….Interim FBI Director Andrew McCabe told Congress last week that “the vast majority of employees enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey.” Reports from inside the bureau suggest horror and rage after the firing; one agent told the Daily Beast that “everyone feels like there has been a death in the family.”

    Credit where credit is due, and accountability where accountability is due. As Conservatives, we should oppose corruption wherever it occurs. The extent of the bias in the FBI just about warrants it’s elimination by Congress and a new agency with special protections added, of course precluding the use of any of the current leadership. Inspector Generals seem to have a tradition of impartiality. It’s time we have a premier law enforcement agency capable of doing the same.