By: Meghan Mangini
In the wake of this unprecedented and controversial presidency, the independence of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has never been more crucial.
Regardless of any current matters, the FBI’s independence has been preached since its establishment. Following its founding in 1908, the sole purpose of this branch has been to protect the law and justice of America. As seen with J. Edgar Hoover, to favor a political leader or oneself over the needs of the United States citizens would mean jeopardizing the system of checks and balances America was founded upon. Hoover, one of the first FBI directors, was known to advocate for specific people or causes in efforts to build up his own political strength and he allegedly blackmailed numerous victims including John Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. His actions discredited and undermined those they were directed towards and corrupted some the FBI’s endeavors during that time. Thus, after Hoover led the FBI for almost half a century, all the government decided all directors are issued a ten year sentence to ensure that his or her judgment remains independent from any one president. However, following the shocking decision to cut Comey’s ten year duty short, the rectitude of the FBI grew into a pressing national issue.
In addition to the age-old fundamentals of the FBI, the present political situation has further asserted their core values. Particularly, the importance of the FBI’s autonomy lies in its ability to decipher whether Trump (or any other politician), allowed or encouraged Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. Being that Trump is now in charge of appointing a new director, many worry his judgement will be skewed by allegations against the Republican Party of Russian collusion. If any official of this agency becomes swayed by the present turbulence in Washington, the priority and credibility of this investigation will be lost. In turn, not only will the rudimentary American principles of democratic freedom be shattered, but Putin will use this to ease Western tensions, relieve sanctions, and thus be recognized as a world power who cannot be suppressed by Europe.
James Comey’s recent testimony on June 8 shed light on this topic and hence commenced its dispute. In both the testimony and previous interviews, he has been quoted emphasizing the importance of the FBI’s independence, saying, “I believe that Americans should be deeply skeptical of government power, you cannot trust people in power, the founders knew that...It [FBI] has to maintain a sense of independence from the political forces”.
Aside from the former FBI director James Comey, several other politicians have voiced their opinions on this highly-disputed topic. For instance, Texas Senator John Cornyn dropped out of the running for the vacant FBI director position, stating that “Now more than ever the country needs a well-credentialed, independent FBI director. I’ve informed the administration that I’m committed to helping them find such an individual, and that the best way I can serve is continuing to fight for a conservative agenda in the U.S. Senate.” Similarly, Obama has been quoted as saying an FBI official “has to be someone who is competent and independent to protect this institution,”. Both Obama and Corydon add credibility to Comey’s desires and consequently justify the need for an apolitical FBI director.
With the overall confusion concerning the White House and Russia, the American people deserve the truth. The derivative of this necessary clarification lies in the credibility of arguably the most powerful investigation agency in the world, the FBI. Thus, given the foundation of the FBI, the prevailing governmental investigations, and the plausible insight of Comey, Corydon and Obama, the urgency for an independent FBI has never been more prevalent. America was built upon freedom and justice. And by maintaining the virtue of these crucial concepts, United States citizens can rest assured that the prosperity of their nation will only manifest itself for future generations to enjoy.