Trampling on “Every Bright Red Moral and Ethical Line”
How difficult is it to become an FBI agent? If you’ve ever considered the question, the answer is that the procedures to apply for the job are rigorous and multi-faceted. There are a host of written tests, required educational hurdles, filling out the FD-140, polygraph tests, questions and background checks related to visits to foreign countries, details about any money owed to either individuals or businesses or organizations, questions about any prior run-ins with the law, medical and physical testing and testing for drugs. You must, of course, be a U.S. citizen, must be between the ages of 23 and 37, have a four-year college degree from accredited institution, must be willing to serve anywhere the agency sends you. In fact, the screening and training required to become an agent is highly rigorous.
“FBI Special Agents are trustworthy and honorable, and they possess a strict moral compass and a commitment to protecting the nation’s economy and infrastructure, while upholding democracy,” according to FBIAgentEdu. An FBI candidate cannot be delinquent on any debt or have declared bankruptcy. One slip up, and you’re gone from the pool of candidates. Newly assigned agents are paid $43,441 in salary. They put their lives on the line for their country, they work long hours, and have to be on call at an instant’s notice.
By contrast, how difficult is it to become a candidate for President of the United States? The requirements are you must be a citizen of the United States, 35 years old, must be a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years. Of course, no one becomes the President in this day and age without money, a lot of money. Where that money comes from is not vetted particularly well, if at all, as the current inhabitant of the White House has demonstrated. In fact, the norm of a President releasing his taxes so that vetting process could take place was preempted by Trump who refused to show his tax returns or how much came from Putin-directed Russian oligarchs.
Andrew G. McCabe has a new book out that chronicles his FBI experiences and his ouster by Trump in The Threat, How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump. After finishing this non-fiction text, the reader is likely to ask two questions: 1. How it is possible that so much more is required of an FBI agent in a bureaucratic, paramilitary system than is required of the person who holds the highest office in our land, who has seemingly unlimited power and whose ouster may prove impossible with the right political party in place? 2. How did we get to a point where an FBI former Assistant Director writes, “Today the FBI is under attack by the president of the United States.” Let that sink in.
“What I did not expect was the suspicion that so many members of this administration would train on those involved in intelligence gathering. This president has compared the intelligence community to Nazi Germany,” McCabe wrote, adding, “the word of the Russian president more highly valued than the collective opinion of his own intelligence services.”
There is no “both sides” equivocating in McCabe’s revealing book The Threat: “The president has stepped over bright ethical and moral lines wherever he has encountered them. His unpredictable, often draconian behavior is dangerous—a threat to both the Bureau and the nation.” The alarm has been sounded over and over and over again by top security officials. Yet, Americans sit back.
While McCabe must have felt terribly alone and vulnerable through Trump’s attacks on his character and distinguished career, he is not alone. On Meet the Press, Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal discussed the Mueller report and said, “we know he’s indicted 37 people on 199 different counts—including Trump’s inner circle.” Let that sink in, too. Katyal concluded with this devastating statement, “If this is a witch hunt, Mueller’s found a coven.”
The evidence is clear and before our eyes every day while Trump remains in office. The warnings have been shouted by the most respected security officials in our country. The question becomes, when is the breaking point for America and democracy?
Nancy Avery Dafoe