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The FBI's Transformation, from National Police to Domestic Spy Agency. Part One: "Disruption"


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TK News by Matt Taibbi

A Florida FBI agent blows the whistle on a Bureau that's stopped worrying about making cases, shifting resources to a vast new mission: domestic spying without predicate. Part one of a series

Matt Taibbi

Nov. 10 2022

Part one of a series.

 

Late on an October morning in a quiet neighborhood near Daytona Beach, Florida. FBI agent Steve Friend sits in his kitchen, fidgeting. He’s a wiry, energetic man, built like a marathoner, not muscled up but exuding fitness, not a sitter. This is not a person meant for desk work, much less staying home all day. But as a whistleblower whose name has been all over media after a complaint about statistical manipulation and other problems in the January 6th investigations, this will be his lot for a while.

By that morning, the first rush of news stories about Friend’s case already passed. CNN and MSNBC demonized him, Fox hailed him as a hero, but the furor was beginning to die down. What a whistleblower talks about in this inevitable moment will say a lot about his or her motivation. Looking out a window into the stillness of his suburban neighborhood, Friend shook his head.

“I love my job,” he said, sighing. “I was living my best life as an FBI agent. I was coming home every day, and my kids were my biggest fan club. Like, ‘Daddy, did you put the bad guy in jail?’ And I thought, ‘Man, this is it.’”

It’s not the tone of a disgruntled malcontent, but someone who made a reluctant journey to whistleblower status, beginning with a whirlwind series of events that brought him and his family out of the Midwest to north Florida less than two years ago. He worked a child pornography detail before being transferred to the assignment that would upend his life: investigating J6. The FBI not only took Friend off vital work chasing child predators to pursue questionable investigations of people maybe connected with the Capitol riots (often in some misdemeanor fashion), they used dubious bureaucratic methods he felt put him in an impossible spot.

Essentially, the FBI made Friend a supervisory agent in cases actually being run by the Washington field office, a trick replicated across the country that made domestic terrorism numbers appear to balloon overnight. Instead of one investigation run out of Washington, the Bureau now had hundreds of “terrorism” cases “opening” in every field office in the country. As a way to manipulate statistics, it was ingenious, but Friend could see it was also trouble.

(Snip)

 

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