Home / World News / Anger, fear, work — and fears of lasting damage – The Denver Post

Anger, fear, work — and fears of lasting damage – The Denver Post

WASHINGTON – In the 109 years of the FBI’s existence, it has repeatedly come under fire for abuses of power, privacy or civil rights. From Red Scares to recording and threatening to expose the private conduct of Martin Luther King Jr. to benefiting from bulk surveillance in the digital age, the FBI is accustomed to intense criticism.

What is so unusual about the current moment, say current and former law enforcement officials, is the source of the attacks.

The bureau is under fire not from those on the left but rather conservatives who have long been the agency’s biggest supporters, as well as the president who handpicked the FBI’s leader.

Republican critics charge that the birth of the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government was fatally infected by the political bias of senior FBI officials – and President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that the release of a memo on the issue “totally vindicates ‘Trump.’ ”

Bureau officials say the accusations in the document produced by House Republicans are inaccurate and – more damaging in the long term – corrode the agency’s ability to remain independent and do its job.

One law enforcement official summed it up bluntly: “There’s a lot of anger. The irony is it’s a conservative-leaning organization, and it’s being trashed by conservatives. At first it was just perplexing. Now there’s anger, because it’s not going away.”

On Friday, FBI Director Christopher Wray sent a video message to those he leads, urging them to “keep calm and tackle hard.”

“You’ve all been through a lot in these past nine months, and I know that’s been unsettling, to say the least. And the past few days haven’t done much to calm those waters,” Wray said. “So I want to make sure that you know where I stand, and what I want us to do.”

Most FBI agents see their mission as fundamentally nonpolitical – ferreting out wrongdoing, even when that occurs inside political campaigns or government.

For decades, the FBI has been trusted to investigate corruption inside the government, even at the highest levels, including the White House. In the 1970s, the FBI’s probe of the Watergate break-in led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon. In the late 1990s, President Bill Clinton came to detest then-director Louis Freeh, but their distrust did not lead to withering public attacks from the president himself.

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