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martes, 27 de febrero de 2018

Report: FBI had disturbing history of sexual misconduct under James Comey

The FBI motto is, “Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity,” while the white parallel stripes seen on the FBI seal are said to symbolize cleanliness and truth. However, under the administrative direction of FBI Director James Comey, the federal law enforcement agency has failed to live up to even the most rudimentary standards of decency and honor.

As former President Barack Obama’s head of the most powerful police agency in America, Director Comey oversaw an organization that was highly partisan, politically corrupt, vindictive and evasive of internal review. Yet, these institutional flaws were not the only defects challenging the integrity of the bureau; enforcement summaries recently furnished by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) illustrate how Comey allowed a systemic culture of sexual misconduct to permeate the agency, resulting in the sanctioning of at least 14 employees since 2014.   

Feds Gone Wild

Even before the inspector general’s shocking disclosure, it was no secret that the FBI had an infidelity problem within the senior ranks of the agency.  Section Chief Peter Strzok maintained an ongoing affair with FBI attorney Lisa Page that coincided with their role as lead investigators in the Hillary Clinton email scandal and the Trump-Russia collusion probe. Texts messages shared between these paramours demonstrated that their passion for each other was only exceeded by their hatred for Donald Trump.

However sordid and unbecoming this romantic fling may have been, it barely skimmed the surface of the cesspool of debauchery within the FBI.

To his credit, and without any cooperation from the FBI, Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz found and published at least 14 instances of sexual misconduct within the FBI. In each instance, the OIG listed acute ethical violations involving either “members of the Senior Executive Service” or cases involving a “significant public interest.”

The most recent investigation concluded by the inspector general was posted to the DOJ’s website just last week and detailed an inappropriate sexual relationship between a special agent-in-charge and his subordinate. The investigative summary states that:

… a Special Agent in Charge (SAC), who is no longer an FBI employee, had provided a substantial amount of personal funds to a subordinate with whom he was engaged in an inappropriate romantic relationship.

The OIG found that the former SAC was providing financial assistance with the SAC’s own funds to a subordinate with whom he was engaged in an inappropriate romantic relationship. FBI policy prohibits a supervisor from engaging in a romantic relationship with a subordinate. On one occasion, the SAC misused his official government vehicle in connection with the relationship, which also violated FBI policy.

In another case concluded in October 2017, a Chief Deputy U.S. Marshall engaged in “sexual activity with numerous different women within government space.” The accused subject then attempted to contact his love interests in an attempt to “impede” the investigation by coercing them to lie to OIG investigators.

The cover-up

There was undoubtedly a leadership deficit within the FBI which allowed these types of affairs to proceed unpunished for so long. But was Director Comey responsible for this inaction?

Most certainly. Perhaps the most explosive charge forwarded by Horowitz was that Comey attempted to derail the OIG investigation, and he alleged in his final report in 2015 that his office’s ability “to conduct this review was significantly impacted and delayed by the repeated difficulties we had in obtaining relevant information from both the FBI and DEA as we were initiating this review in mid-2013.”

Comey’s FBI initially refused to supply investigators “with unredacted information that was responsive to our requests.” Even after months of frustrating negotiations with FBI counsel resulted in concessions, investigators “found that the information was still incomplete.”

The FBI director had the complicit reinforcement of another Obama-era underling notorious for her complicated relationship with ethics. One of the first formal acts of Attorney General Loretta Lynch as head of the DOJ was to distribute a memo advising law enforcement personnel that they were free to redact documents and withhold files from the inspector general.

Due to the bureaucratic guidance of both Comey and Lynch, Horowitz contends that his ability to investigate the case of sexual harassment was frustrated. He wrote in his report that:

The OIG’s ability to conduct this review was significantly impacted and delayed by the repeated difficulties we had in obtaining relevant information.

As a result of Comey’s intransigence, Congress was ultimately compelled to pass the Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2016 which mandated that all federal departments provide inspectors general with complete and unredacted records.

Above the law

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley (R-IA) denounced the Comey-led effort to stifle OIG investigations at a hearing regarding this matter. He said:

The FBI is not above the law. FBI employees cannot legally be spending their time withholding and reviewing documents before providing them to the IG. However, this is exactly what the FBI has been doing.

As noted by Horowitz, extra-marital affairs and allegations of sexual harassment within the FBI “undermines its credibility.” Any time an agent who is privy to classified information puts himself in a compromising position, he is subject to influence from foreign spies.

Consequently, the culture of sexual impropriety which was permitted to poison the integrity of the bureau under Comey’s administration endangered U.S. citizens and was an issue of national security.

Nonetheless, there were no prosecutions among the cases investigated by the OIG. While many of the senior leaders within the FBI who allowed these ethical violations go unpunished for so long were replaced with the incoming Trump administration, there are still career bureaucrats who survived the transition and remain working in the federal police force.

It’s time to drain the swamp — once and for all.