In January 1975, Senator Frank Church, a Democrat from Idaho, gaveled in a new bipartisan committee — the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence. Fifteen months later, the select committee eventually concluded that the FBI and others for years had acted illegally and with insufficient oversight from their superiors or from elected officials.
If that sounds familiar, it should. (RELATED: MIKE MCKENNA: The Speaker Vote Reveals A Lot About The House’s Underlying Dysfunction)
Earlier this week, the House of Representatives established within the House Committee on the Judiciary the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. Leaving aside the messaging problem with the name of the subcommittee (no one understands what “weaponization” might mean in this context), the scope and composition of the subcommittee will pose a challenge.
That said, the creation of the select subcommittee is welcome. The amount of criminal and questionable behavior among the FBI and the Department of Justice is so overwhelming and obvious that Congress must take action.
We know that some in the FBI and the DOJ tried to select the president in 2016 and 2020 and helped fabricate evidence (the Steele Dossier) to do so. We know that some in law enforcement and the intelligence community have committed perjury before Congress and the FISA courts. We know that former senior members of the intelligence community intentionally obstructed efforts to thoroughly examine the contents and provenance of Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election.
The FBI has used the CIA and NSA to surveil American citizens. The intelligence community has surveilled Congressional offices. The Department of Homeland Security surveilled reporters and others. The FBI surveilled presidential campaign staff in 2016.
Multiple elements of the federal government have used social media companies to silence their opposition. FBI agents have violated the bureau’s own rules almost 750 times in recent years while conducting investigations involving individuals engaged in politics, government, the news media, and religious groups. Federal law enforcement has ignored crimes propagated by one side of the political spectrum (think firebombing pregnancy centers or the 2020 riots).
We are still awaiting a complete inventory of the illegalities that no doubt will surround the human dumpster fire that is Hunter Biden and his laptop.
Right now, we are in the middle of a demonstration of politicized law enforcement. The FBI essentially kicked the door in at Mar-a-Lago searching for classified documents, while Team Biden has been allowed to conduct their own search on their own timetable for illegally-held documents.
Salting the wound, the media and federal law enforcement — despite knowing about the illegalities almost a week before election day — kept the potential criminality of Mr. Biden or his cronies secret until after the 2022 elections.
That’s quite a list, and it includes just the things we know.
Unfortunately, the scope of the select subcommittee is unclear, and its leadership (and membership) may not have the necessary skills (or desire) to complete the task at hand.
The Republicans will probably focus on mostly trivial issues and vengeance. They should focus on educating voters about the very real risks posed by the involvement of law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the political arena. They should expand the topics and agencies examined.
When people with guns and badges decide who is going to lead the country, it is inevitable that the country will eventually have nothing but barracks emperors. If we don’t put the leash back on the agencies now, we may never get another chance.
This is not a moment for members whose primary concern is their social media accounts.
This moment requires a sober, deliberate, non-partisan and expansive assessment of the depth of our crisis and the changes that need to be made.
Statesmanship, clarity of purpose and an approach free of rancor and score-settling is essential.
We have a rare, and perhaps singular, opportunity for a systemic, transparent, expansive and material examination of a fundamental threat to the republic. It would be tragic to waste it scoring partisan and trivial points and not addressing the actual existential threat to the republic.
Michael McKenna is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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