Regular readers will know that I like to blame the FBI's current dysfunction on the practice of "parachuting" top management in who are predominantly former federal prosecutors--a disproportionately liberal demographic at odds with Bureau culture. Add to that the now top heavy presence of attorneys and a revolving door between FBI and DoJ, as well as the practice of many of these same people rotating between government service and the private sector. Think, at the Director level, Mueller, Comey, Wray. All have gone through that revolving door of private law practice and government office. Add to that some of their top legal people--Andrew Weissmann and Aaron Zebley. And then there's the lower level types--Lisa Page, Trisha Anderson. And the list goes on. It has led to a radical cultural change at the FBI, which now has an institutional culture that is informed by the prosecutorial mindset of 'anything goes for a conviction that will enhance my career.' That change came on top of the institutional change that emphasized career advancement as a professional manager rather than developing a specific expertise. Together it has spelled disaster.
For some time Shipwreckedcrew has been having a dialogue on this subject on his twitter thread: What's wrong with the Bureau. As a former prosecutor, SWC is sympathetic to the Bureau, although he speaks as an outsider. Just the fact that he uses the phrase 'gun and badge' rather than 'badge and gun' tells me that he's an outsider. It may seem like a small thing, but it jarred on my ear. Nevertheless, he sees the Bureau's problems in ways that are similar to the way I view them. His solution is to appoint as Director someone who rose through the ranks.
That does hit on some of the problems I've described, but unfortunately the problem is bigger than that and won't be solved that easily. In a sense Louis Freeh is the proof of what I'm saying. Freeh had started his career as an agent and was supposed to bring with him the understanding of the agent point of view that SWC talks about. Of course, Freeh had quit the Bureau because he failed to make director in five years, or whatever his master plan was. Under Freeh, problems simply metastasized, even though in his previous life he had been an agent. He lacked a broad understanding of the Bureau's mission. His tenure culminated with the Robert Hanssen debacle. Nuff said. Lots of other things went wrong.
Unfortunately, nothing in life is so simple as the suggested solution of putting an agent in charge of the FBI. By now the Gramscian long march through the institutions--spearheaded by the takeover of Human Resources officers and the career support people--has also marched through the Bureau. The Bureau, like any other social institution, will ultimately reflect the society around it, and so the solution can only be cultural--and those types of solutions are precisely what the Progressive takeover of our legal system is in place to prevent. Trump's latest executive orders may begin to have a salutary effect on that, but at best we're looking at a years long struggle. Many years. To think otherwise is simply naive.
Nevertheless, you may be interested in SWC's latest exchanges on this topic. I've put it in Q & A form, with SWC being "A".
Q: Most law enforcement agencies are headed by people who have been on the gun & badge side themselves. But the FBI and a few other fed agencies seem to pick a lot of prosecutors or ppl who’ve been attornies [sic] for most of their professional life. Agents would prefer one of their own.
A: This is a much bigger issue than most understand. The "gun and badge" folks have less interest in the "politics" of the position. But POTUS has always looked for a "political" actor for the job. It's a mismatch that hurts the environment.
It's like if all the "Generals" in the military were civilians.
Q: The very thing people are complaining about now is the result of picking people from the outside.
Q: You're an institution man. That doesn't make your views more "justified," it exposes you to the same errors in judgment necessitating inspectors general. The same kind of thinking that causes people to compromise themselves because they place an organization above individuals.
A: Not true. It gives me a window into why the Bureau is dysfunctional in some ways. Public assumes one thing -- but public lacks facts. Facts show problems originate elsewhere. Correct those and public perceptions will change.
Q: I know nothing how the internals of the FBI work, but it seems to me this type of in house hire should be a major field office director, like Ted Gunderson was supposed to be.
A: Agree--the individual must COMMAND respect from the rank and file to get them to perform. Bringing in outsiders who lack the necessary POV of the working agents is detrimental and creates a division between working agents and senior management. "Us v. Them" = blame shifting.