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Why The FBI Shouldn’t Take A Knee, But Did: Concerns Mount Over FBI’s Role In Protests

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FBI takes a knee in protest

Since President Trump’s speech on Monday night in the White House Rose Garden before he walked over to St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square, Attorney General William Barr has been intimately involved in the government’s response to protestors in Washington, DC.

His directive was to deploy a large number of the 500 FBI Washington Field Office’s (WFO) Special Agents ‘in small to medium groups to patrol the areas most affected as a “show of force.”

This story reflects the concerns among FBI special agents in the field about being put in a situation that could readily create more harm than good. And as Washington D.C. gets ready for its eighth day of protests this Saturday, with hundreds of thousands expected to march down to Lafayette Square, the city’s law enforcement is hoping for the best but prepared for the worst.

According to an FBI official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “Barr has been a consistent presence in the Washington Field Office’s Command and Tactical Operations Center (CTOC), where he has been directly overseeing the operations to deploy law enforcement and military forces around the city to combat protestors.”

There are numerous issues with the deployment of FBI special agents to work on crowd control issues. One example occurred several days ago and was recorded in a TikTok video that showed 10-15 FBI Special Agents, patrol the streets in Washington D.C. Those agents were confronted with a much larger group of protestors who asked the special agents to “take a knee.”

The FBI special agents did just that. All of them.

Without knowing what the Special Agents were thinking, their personal belief system, nor their political opinions, what option did they have but to take a knee, said a source familiar with the incident.

“It is unlikely that they would have incited violence had they not kneeled – but they did not know that for sure.  And, were they willing to risk their lives, and the lives of those protestors who could have been injured or killed if violence escalated,” questioned a retired senior FBI agent who spoke to this reporter.

@sonnywithnochancesTHE FBI KNEELED WITH US IN DC!!!! ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️ ##blacklivesmatter ##blm ##georgefloyd♬ original sound – sonnywithnochances

Inside the Tactical Operations Center, the tensions are also high, as Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray have had numerous disagreements with the use of FBI agents out in the field, noted the source.

The source noted a number of reasons why the use of the FBI Special Agents is problematic

Tactically, FBI Special Agents do not receive any training in riot control, crowd dynamics, or crowd-based non-lethal force tactics.

Unlike the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC, the FBI does not have a “Quick Response Force” capability if some of their patrolling Special Agents were to run into a dangerous scenario that required additional resources.

This was evident earlier this week when a group of Special Agents were deployed to Lafayette Square and, as the protests increased in size and changed location, they were essentially stranded for over 6 hours.

The FBI’s Deadly Force Policy, located here, purposely does not include any reference to a “use of force continuum”.  The Deadly Force Policy is the governing guidance that all FBI Special Agents adhere to during operations.  Without proper training in riot control tactics and the equipment with which to do so, the only default that these Special Agents have is contained in the words of the policy: “FBI special agents may use deadly force only when necessary – when the agent has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the agent or another person.”

When you have a small group of armed law enforcement officers, greatly outnumbered by protestors, it only takes a few violent acts (typically undertaken by agent provocateurs, Antifa, criminals, etc) before law enforcement will respond.  When you have no other option at your disposal other than lethal ammunition in your assigned service weapon, the consequences will be deadly.

Moreover, law enforcement officials say is the larger issue with “FBI Special Agents patrolling the streets at the behest of the Attorney General is that this will forever complicate and diminish the FBI’s most crucial function – Color of Law investigations.”

According to the FBI’s website, “The FBI is the lead federal agency for investigating color of law violations, which include acts carried out by government officials operating both within and beyond the limits of their lawful authority…Those violations include…Excessive force: In making arrests, maintaining order, and defending life…Violations of federal law occur when it can be shown that they force used was willfully “unreasonable” or “excessive”.

So while the FBI is patrolling the streets, “and potentially facing situations where they will be presented with no option but to use excessive force due to their lack of training and equipment, the entire organization will be tainted when it comes to investigating others,” a senior former law enforcement source said.

More importantly, the FBI, which is currently investigating those officers charged with George Floyd’s death, must remain “above the fray” in order to see things objectively and without bias.

However, when you now have video of FBI Special Agents taking a knee in solidarity with protestors protesting against the police charged with Floyd’s death, the perception of objectivity is now completely gone.

Any shrewd defense attorney for the officers in question or future officials charged with Color of Law violations will be able to simply point to this video and say that the organization and its representatives carry an impartial bias against law enforcement officers.

According to a former FBI official familiar with Color of Law investigations, “it is not the Special Agent’s job to express solidarity or ‘take sides’ with either the victim or the suspect.  It is their job to perform an investigation to determine facts, corroborate or refute statements, and present a finding to prosecutors.  If an Agent carries a bias toward one side or another the system will not work.  The FBI must keep its people out of what is directly happening on the streets and focus on what is happening in incidents where excessive force type violations may have happened.  The FBI is not trained to deal with protests, riots, or civil unrest. Period.”

The same former official added “the fact that Special Agents were out patrolling the streets is indicative of the same systemic leadership failures within the FBI that have allowed so many egregious things to happen within the organization over the last decade.  Although the FBI Director reports to the Attorney General and serves at the pleasure of the President, he must advocate for maintaining the integrity of his organization and stand up for what is right.  This responsibility doesn’t just sit with the Director.  Anyone who is serving as in a leadership position in the FBI must do the same.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Screen Shot 2024 03 13 at 9.50.09 AM
Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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