FBI’s integrity is under attack for lack of diversity – By Yvonne Sam

FBI’s integrity is under attack.  What about its continued diversity lack?

By Yvonne Sam

The Bureau has been the least diverse of the federal law-enforcement agencies. Decades of law suits and unfulfilled promised have not moved the needle on diversity.

FBI—Forgetting Blacks Indefinitely.

Recently President Donald Trump launched an unparalleled long line of attacks on the competence and integrity of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the intelligence and security service, whose position has become even more crucial in post 9/11 America, given its focus on counter -terrorism.               

The President contends that unelected personages within the FBI, Department of Justice and other government agencies have entrenched shadowy networks specifically created to subvert his presidency. Some of the recent criticisms levelled at the agency relate to the purported activities of FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, both of whom it was affirmed  following an investigation by the Inspector General of the Justice Department  exchanged text messages strongly indicative of anti-Trump and pro-Clinton bias.

In addition Strzok played an exceptive role in the Clinton investigation, and a subsequent subjacent role in Mueller’s Trump/ Russia Putin probe. Republicans, reverberating Trump’s attacks, have alleged that the FBI’s investigation of the president’s ties to Russia is a politically motivated abuse of power. The President still refers to the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt”, clearly positing that the assault on him is taking its toll on the reputation of the organization.

Last May, the FBI director James Comey was abruptly fired by Mr. Trump, while spearheading an investigation into Trump’s presidential campaign’s possible collusion with Russia to influence the election outcome. Democrats have laid the blame for Hilary’s defeat on Comey’s decision to announce that the bureau was reopening its inquiry into her emails days before the election.

Strzok, the FBI’s No. 2 counter -intelligence agent changed the final draft wording of Comey’s public statement clearing Clinton of criminal charges from “grossly negligent” (a term commonly used in criminal cases) to the softer, non-criminal “extremely careless” wording. This was viewed by Trump supporters as a plan being executed within the FBI to vindicate Clinton, thereby setting the stage to destroy Trump’s candidacy with the Russia investigation.

Adding further insult to the already injured FBI top brass, is the knowledge that FBI Deputy Director Andrew Mc Cabe’s wife Jill, received almost $700, 000 in campaign contributions from the then Virginia governor Terry Mc Auliffe, campaign chairman for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and who onlookers describe as being  close as family to the Clintons.

While Jill Mc Cabe remained well within her rights to run for office, the very acceptance of campaign contributions from identified sources with clear links to the Clintons should have served as a red flag warning to her husband to seek recuse from any involvement in any Trump/Hillary related investigations. It was certainly no business of his to be involved in these sensitive probes that would likely influence the outcome of the presidential election.

Less than two days shy of his retirement Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired the former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe thereby putting paid to the career of an official who had risen to serve as second-in-command at the Bureau. The antecedent of his sensational fall emanates from an internal review conducted by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

The report concluded that McCabe deceived investigators about his part in directing other officials at the FBI to speak to The Wall Street Journal about his involvement in a public corruption investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

Conventionally, the FBI has enjoyed a highly favorable reputation among the majority of America’s citizens. This reputation has endured  despite the Bureau’s disputatious programs that sometimes utilized illegal forms of surveillance and enforcement methods such as was used on Black citizens  lawfully protesting racial segregation, the “red scare” or McCarthyism of the 1950’s, and long haired students and others protesting the Vietnam War. However, there is a grossly overlooked element  in the imbroglio that I would like to highlight for water cooler conversations—the FBI and its longstanding history of failure to diversify its ranks.

According to the FBI’s own statistics, 83% of special agents, 78% of intelligence analysts, and 69% of professional staff are white.The percentage of special agents in the FBI who are white has been growing over the last decade or so. As it turned out James Comey was on the case, in fact, he learnt of his dismissal while visiting with FBI agents in Los Angeles, in preparation for a diversity recruiting event he was scheduled to attend later that evening.

With some 35,000 employees and an annual budget around $9 billion, the FBI has an array of hiring problems, of which diversity remains a persistent one. According to one senior official, the long-standing inability to diversify its ranks is nothing short of an operational risk, which impacts the ability of the agency to understand at-risk communities, infiltrate criminal enterprises and pinpoint emerging threats to national security.

If the truth be told those who currently work for the FBI hire from within their own demographic. Keep it White- Keep It Tight- Keep it Right.   From a historical viewpoint, President J. Edgar Hoover in the 1960’s had steady pressure put on him to hire more black agents. One would think that over the years there would be a steady progression, an increasing percentage of African American agents.

Almost three decades ago, a group of Black agents sued the FBI and won on matters of systemic discrimination. At that time one 1: 20 agents were Black. The numbers were even smaller in the senior ranks. The lawyer handling the cases of the then aggrieved Black employees said that the FBI in order to avoid a law suit would simply promote each agent who had sought his legal help, thereby preventing them from putting together a class of plaintiffs.  According to him there was never a chance to fix the system because the FBI wasn’t really interested in doing that. They just wanted to make the case go away.

The FBI has claimed that it is working feverishly to recruit minorities. AthanTheoharis, a historian who has focused extensively on the FBI, claims that such a factor may be due in part to the FBI’s history of intensive monitoring of civil rights activists, and even more generally African Americans in the past. “That kind of history might be an important factor in discouraging qualified candidates”.  So while the investigation continues into political wrongdoings during the 2016 presidential election, and the lead players are being fired Apprentice style by Trump, it is now blatantly apparent that the demographic makeup of the embattled FBI work force is serving as an outcome determinant. On the other hand it is clear to see that the time has arrived for a greater focus to be placed on diversity. Let not the FBI stand for Forgetting Blacks Indefinitely.

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Comments

  • Deen  On 03/23/2018 at 10:15 pm

    Good article!

  • Hermina  On 03/24/2018 at 9:45 am

    I agree with you Deen. This lady keep this newspaper alive with some extremely insightful articles, hitting the nail not only on the head but well in. Is she Guyanese?

    Keep up the good work lady!

  • Mark  On 03/24/2018 at 10:45 am

    The FBI and any other police agencies in America and Canada are only there to imprison minorities so that the prison-complex will expand power to marginalize the African & Latino communities.

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