How The FBI Breaks The Law

On 28th October 2016 Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid accused FBI Director James Comey of breaking the law Soon international media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post and Huffington Post had joined in calls for him to resign for his “crime”

Comey had controversially sent a letter to the US Congress It stated that the FBI was extending its investigation into Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails With the election season in full swing, Democrats saw this as an underhand move to jeopardise Clinton’s chances of winning

Critically, the email violated the Hatch Act – a piece of legislation barring people from using official positions to influence elections Despite this, Comey remains in power, running the FBI This may be revealing of a much darker trend in American politics: a secret and regular law-breaking streak in the FBI Law Professor Richard Painter said the email incident was “an abuse of power for [Comey] to notify members of Congress that the candidate was under investigationThe FBI’s job is to investigate, not to influence the outcome of an election

” Painter was right But, scarily, this was not the first instance of Bureau lawbreaking The Federal Bureau of Investigations is the intelligence and law enforcement branch of the Justice Department It is responsible for “protecting the American people and upholding the American Constitution” It has long been suspected of using criminal methods to achieve its aims

Between 1956 and 1971 the FBI had a covert operation known as “COINTELPRO” This was a secret FBI plot to infiltrate and destroy domestic political organisations Their strategies included phone tapping, planting false media reports, unlawful imprisonment and psychological warfare Even high profile victims were targeted by the programme Agents searched through Albert Einstein’s trash, hunting for “derogatory information” after he criticised America’s role in the nuclear arms race

Martin Luther King was also targeted, with agents spreading rumours that he participated in sordid sex orgies and had secret links to Communist organisations There are many more historical examples of FBI criminal activity against the people it claims to protect Between 1920 and 1933, transporting and selling alcohol was illegal in the USA The FBI deliberately contaminated alcohol supplies with substances like kerosene and formaldehyde, to discourage drinking At least 50,000 people died in excruciating pain as a result of the programme

A 2013 Freedom of Information request by The Huffington Post unveiled unsettling statistics on FBI crime It revealed that its 56 field offices had cumulatively authorised informants to violate the law at least 5,939 times in 2012 alone While the specific crimes cannot be publicly known due to the nature of the work, the types of crimes have been revealed Agents were authorised to buy and sell drugs, plot robberies and bribe government officials, amongst other illegal acts But it does not end there

Historically, the Bureau has allowed dangerous organised crime rings to operate in exchange for information In 1967 the FBI recruited Joseph “The Animal” Barboza to its informant network, while he was serving a life sentence for committing a violent murder When agents discovered he was guilty of another murder, they protected him and let him attend trial as a government witness Based on his false testimony, four innocent men were given life sentences Ultimately the government paid out $100 million in damages for the unjust convictions

In 1992 “Sammy the Bull” Gravano testified against dozens of mafiosi, including John Gotti – head of America’s most powerful mafia family – the Gambinos In exchange, Gravano only served five years for a long list of gruesome crimes, including committing 19 murders Informer rings have also adapted to the Internet age Eric Corley, who publishes the quarterly magazine quarterly “2600” about internet hacking, believes that at least 25% of hackers have been secretly recruited by the FBI These individuals continue high profile hacking, but only to obtain evidence against others in their ranks

In 2016 the huge extent of the FBI informer ring was revealed, when it emerged the Bureau had even recruited tech staff at Best Buy These informants were paid to illegally look through customers’ phones when they were in for repairs and report findings like child pornography Even where the FBI may not be carrying out the crimes itself, they are effectively sponsoring illegal activity In 2007 another Freedom Of Information request revealed that the Bureau has around 15,000 confidential sources It is likely that a significant proportion are criminals, suggesting the Bureau is complicit in an extraordinary breadth of illicit activities

However, given the nature of the FBI’s work, their criminal activities have allegedly been authorised before they take place This means they are not – strictly speaking – illegal The Bureau categorises these crimes as “otherwise illegal activity” to distinguish them from actual lawbreaking Former Attorney General John Ashcroft has previously called for greater “illegal” freedoms for FBI personnel to make their work more effective and efficient Emphasising the importance of this for the greater good, he said, “Agents need to be free to pursue investigations in ways that they haven’t

There have been restraints that a reformed FBI needs to ensure we don’t impose” Furthermore, as an intelligence organisation, collaborating with violent criminals may be a crucial in-road to getting reliable information on illicit activities The FBI has perpetrated a number of far-reaching illegal schemes in the past News investigations have produced astonishing proof that the organisation commits thousands of crimes every year Given the historical precedent of lawbreaking in the Bureau, it is likely that there are many more crimes that have not been disclosed

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