Does The FBI Deserve $11.3 Billion? – OpEd


Citing threats to public safety and national security “so elevated all at once,” FBI director Christopher Wray seeks a budget of $11.3 billion, a 6.1 percent increase over fiscal year 2023. While members of Congress think it over, they might run a few questions by the director.

Last August in Utah, an FBI SWAT team killed Craig Robertson, a 75-year-old woodworker, for threats against Joe Biden he had allegedly posted on line. Utah Sen. Mike Lee wonders if the shooting of Robertson was justified, but Wray has kept rather quiet about the killing.

The agency tasked to protect the president is the Secret Service, so why did the FBI mount this deadly operation? Has the bureau conducted an investigation of this shooting? Will the FBI release the autopsy report? Who gave the order to use deadly force? Did the FBI shooter or shooters receive any kind of commendation?

“The mission of the FBI is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.” If so, why is the FBI arresting pro-life activists such as Mark Houck for simply exercising their right of free speech? Last year Houck was acquitted on federal charges stemming from a 2021 incident in Pennsylvania. Has that challenged the FBI over the wisdom of this policy? Are parents who protest peacefully at school board meetings really domestic terrorists and violent extremists?

“Ahead of the threat through leadership, agility, and integration—outlines the FBI’s desired strategic position,” reads the FBI’s vision statement. “The FBI will achieve this by continuously evolving to mitigate existing threats and recognizing and anticipating threats it has not yet seen.” The people have a right to wonder how this vision plays out in reality.

In 2016, actual terrorist Omar Mateen gunned down 49 people and wounded more than 50 others at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Why did the FBI fail to prevent this act of terrorism? Why did the FBI play no role in the takedown of Mateen?

In 2015 in San Bernardino, California, terrorists Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik murdered 14 people and wounded more than 20 others. Why did the FBI fail to prevent this mass murder? Why did the FBI play no role in the takedown of the terrorists? As in Orlando, that was accomplished by local police, with no civilian casualties.

Russian intelligence warned the FBI about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Why did the FBI fail to prevent Tamerlan and brother Dzhokhar from bombing the Boston Marathon in 2013? The attack claimed three lives and wounded more than 250 others.

In 2009, the FBI was aware that U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, a self-proclaimed “soldier of Allah,” was communicating with al-Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki about killing Americans. The Washington office of the FBI judged that Hasan was “not involved in terrorist activities” and dropped the surveillance.

On November 5, 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas, Hasan murdered 13 American soldiers, including Pvt. Francheska Velez, who was pregnant. The more than 30 wounded included Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who took seven bullets from Hasan.

Who gave the order to drop the surveillance on Hasan? Was any FBI official disciplined, demoted, or dismissed over that failure? Why did the FBI fail to stop the massive terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, and the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993?

That year the FBI was involved in the assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in which military tanks were deployed. Seventy-five people perished, including 25 children.

The year before in rural Idaho, the FBI deployed military force against the family of Randy Weaver. FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shot dead Randy’s wife Vicki as she held her infant child. The mother was unarmed, not under arrest, and not wanted for any crime. Snipers are trained carefully to “acquire” the target, so slim chance the shooting was accidental, as the FBI maintains.

Director Wray, who was never an FBI agent, is doubtless aware of this incident. What are his views on government deployment of military force against civilians? The people have a right to know, especially in an election year.

Members of Congress might also ask Christopher Wray if the FBI has covert operations such as “Crossfire Hurricane” or “Midyear Exam” in the works against any candidate, member of Congress, or private citizen. The people have a right to know.

Threats to national security may indeed be escalating in 2024. So are threats to the rights and freedoms of the people. Congress should hold off on the $11.3 billion until Christopher Wray answers some hard questions about the FBI’s actual record upholding the Constitution. To guard against mounting security threats, the incoming Congress might look for better ways to spend $11.3 billion.

K. Lloyd Billingsley

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.

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