By Michael McKenna – – Wednesday, January 11, 2023
In 1975, Sen. Frank Church, Idaho Democrat, gaveled in a new committee — made up of Democrats and Republicans — that examined illegal and unauthorized activities by the FBI, the Department of Justice and the CIA. After 15 months of hearings, the committee concluded that the FBI and others had often acted illegally, imprudently, and without sufficient authorization from their superiors or from elected officials.
This week, House Republicans established a subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government (whatever that means).
There can be no doubt that the pattern of lawbreaking and indifference to political, social, legal and governmental norms among the bureaucracies of the FBI and the Department of Justice has now become so obvious and so egregious that Congress must examine the activities of those charged with safeguarding the United States and its citizens.
The lengthy and troubling list of criminal and pathological behavior on the part of the federal law enforcement bureaucracies — spying on political campaigns, constructing false flag operations (the Steele dossier), lying to Congress, surveilling reporters, and ignoring illegality propagated by one side of the political spectrum (ranging from firebombing pregnancy centers to being compromised by the human dumpster fire that is Hunter Biden) — is so substantial that it precludes reliance on any specific committee in Congress.
These are just the things we know.
As The Washington Times’ editorial board noted back in August, many of the committees that have jurisdiction over these agencies have already failed to conduct or, in most cases, even initiate meaningful oversight. Some congressional committee members and staff with jurisdiction are themselves part of the
The show that was the Jan. 6 committee did not engender confidence in the ability of Congress to execute oversight without the taint of partisanship. Neither has the recent confirmation that some in government have used social media companies to silence contrary opinions.
To be taken seriously by the voters, however, the special commission or committee or whatever that is empaneled must consist of and be led by serious and sober members. This is not a moment for members who are concerned primarily about their social media accounts. This is a matter of the gravest urgency and will require an equally sober, deliberate and nonpartisan assessment of the depth of the crisis and the changes that need to be made.
Those involved in such an examination should be clear about the stakes. Despite the nonsense on both sides about insurrection (still no one charged with that), elections being stolen, votes being suppressed and democracy dying in the darkness, the real and immediate risk to the Republic is that some of those charged with safeguarding it have, in fact, become its enemies.
The moment requires statesmanship, clarity of purpose, and an approach free of rancor and score-settling. The Republicans should think very diligently about who should participate in such an effort.
Almost 2,000 years ago, the Roman poet Juvenal wrote: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” — who watches the watchmen themselves? Five hundred years before that, Plato grappled with the same question: How does society protect itself from the tyranny of those who wield the legitimacy of law enforcement like a weapon against the citizenry?
No one likes to think of their own watchmen as part of the problem. But at a certain point, facts become inescapable. The only right answer — and the one we face now — is to be fearless and resolute in examining the conduct of the federal watchmen. If we don’t have a system-wide, open, transparent and meaningful examination of the problem now — when the scope and scale of the problem have become obvious to everyone — when will we?
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, co-hosts “The Unregulated Podcast.” He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.