Politifact delivered a pants on fire slam to Fox News on Friday because one of its commentators asserted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has become America's secret police. The FBI has legions of new champions nowadays among liberals and Democrats who hope that its probes will end Donald Trumps presidency. This is a stunning reversal that may have J. Edgar Hoover spinning in his grave.
In order to boost the credibility of the FBIs investigations of the Trump team, much of the media is whitewashing the bureaus entire history. But the FBI has been out of control almost since its birth.
From 1956 through 1971, the FBIs COINTELPRO program conducted thousands of covert operations to incite street warfare between violent groups, to get people fired, to smear innocent people by portraying them as government informants, to sic the IRS on people, and to cripple or destroy left-wing, communist, white racist, antiwar, and black organizations (including Martin Luther King Jr.). These operations involved vast numbers of warrantless wiretaps and illicit break-ins and resulted in the murder of some black militants. A Senate Committee chaired by liberal Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) issued a damning report on FBI abuses of power that should be mandatory reading for anyone who believes the bureau deserves deference today.
The so-called fact checkers insists that any comparison of the FBI and KGB is ridiculous because the FBI is subject to the rule of law and is democratically accountable. But there is little or no accountability when few members of Congress have the courage to openly criticize or vigorously cross-examine FBI officials. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs admitted in 1971 that Congress was afraid of the FBI: Our very fear of speaking out (against the FBI) ... has watered the roots and hastened the growth of a vine of tyranny ... which is ensnaring that Constitution and Bill of Rights which we are each sworn to uphold. The FBI is currently scorning almost every congressional attempt at oversight. Thus far, members of Congress have responded with nothing except press releases and talk show bluster.
Politifact repeatedly scoffs at the notion that the FBI is a secret police agency such as the old KGB. And since the FBI is not as bad as the KGB, lets mosey along and pretend no good citizen has a right to complain. A similar standard could exonerate any American president who was not as bad as Stalin.
In the 1960s, some conservatives adorned their cars with Support Your Local Sheriff bumper stickers. How long until we see Priuses with Support Your Secretive All-Powerful Federal Agents bumper stickers? But those who forget or deny past oppression help forge new shackles for the American people.