Peter Strzok, the FBI official who displayed gross incompetence and extreme bias in pursuing his duties as the Bureau’s deputy assistant director of counterintelligence, has finally been relieved of his duties. His firing follows that of former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who were also fired for a combination of lies (under oath, in McCabe’s case), incompetence, and poor leadership.
The Trump administration has cleaned house and installed new management at the top. But now the FBI must fix its institutional issues. Over the past couple of years, there have been countless examples of the FBI failing to live up to its reputation as America’s greatest domestic law enforcement agency. The FBI, as an institution, has been dogged by missed opportunities, blunders, deadly mistakes, communications errors, transparency issues, and an overall failure to prioritize the chief threats to the nation.
On the one hand, the FBI has showcased its success in stopping several plots against the nation. However, when it comes to the most violent, widespread, successfully executed attacks against innocents on American soil, the Bureau has developed a reputation for being missing in action when it is most needed.
The FBI still has provided virtually no answers in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, which killed 58 people and injured hundreds more. Both the FBI and local law enforcement have failed to determine the shooter’s motive for the attack. The FBI has remained almost entirely silent on the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, other than promising that a report will be published after the one-year anniversary of the shooting, which falls on October 1.
This month, the FBI reportedly failed to act when presented with evidence that an apparent jihadi compound had been set up in a remote area of New Mexico. As the FBI was reportedly pondering what to do, local police were forced to raid the facility. They later discovered the body of a deceased child in the compound. Legislators from both parties have become increasingly frustrated by the FBI’s lack of transparency in the compound investigation.
FBI officials failed to investigate and pursue action on several tips related to Parkland, Florida, school shooter Nikolas Cruz. Orlando jihadi Omar Mateen was also on the FBI’s radar prior to his decision to shoot up an Orlando nightclub, but the feds pursued no action until it was too late.
Of course, these are only a few of the high-profile law enforcement mistakes the FBI has made over the past couple of years. There’s also the investigations side of the Bureau, which completely botched the Clinton investigation while simultaneously devoting unprecedented resources to running down leads on political opposition research that made wild, grandiose — and to this day, completely unsubstantiated — claims about Trump-Russia collusion.
The FBI has undoubtedly been strengthened by the firings of Strzok, Comey, and McCabe, who seemingly ignored the law enforcement agency’s mission and repurposed the Bureau’s priorities in a hyper-political effort to undermine the candidacy — and later, the presidency — of Donald Trump. Now it’s time for the FBI to get back to doing what it is supposed to do: protecting the nation against our biggest domestic threats. Is Director Christopher Wray up to the task?