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OPINION

Whistleblower Puffery – FBI Director Summons Bureau Jet to D.C. Area Airport to Dodge Traffic?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Paul Sakuma

Last Thursday The Daily Wire published a piece alleging that FBI Director Christoper Wray blithely summons the FBI’s 60 million dollar Gulfstream 550 jet from Manassas Regional Airport to Reagan National Airport (DCA) simply to avoid traffic. I mentioned this headline to a media colleague and she responded with snickering and laughter. 

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It’s a preposterous assertion, made by an adolescent personality playing at very serious game. 

“‘The FBI jet is being used, I believe, in a grossly mismanaged way,’ FBI agent Kyle Seraphin, who was suspended from the bureau last year, told The Daily Wire. ‘Chris Wray has a jet fly from Manassas, Virginia, to Reagan National Airport, because he doesn’t want to sit in traffic.’” 

There are two possible explanations for this patently absurd statement. First, it’s possible Seraphin is ignorant. That’s unlikely since, by his own admission, he was assigned to the Washington Field Office’s Surveillance Squad (SOG) — a squad of incompetents and misfits as Seraphin described on Dan Bongino’s radio show and podcast.

As a member of SOG, Seraphin had tangental knowledge of the G550 and some of the reasons for its location in the Manassas area. As an aside, Seraphin seems completely oblivious to the irony pregnant in his description of SOG agents as incompetent — since he was assigned by WFO management to an alleged rubber-gun squad. In any case, ignorance doesn’t seem like a plausible explanation for Seraphin’s statement to The Daily Wire. 

Second, it’s more likely Seraphin is fully aware of the absurdity of his headlining statement and decided to fashion something he knew would create “buzz” and generate clicks. This would suggest The Daily Wire was duped by a source presumed to be reliable and inadvertently published a narrative designed to mislead and inflame the public. 

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I have a great deal of personal knowledge and experience with the G550 and FBI Dignitary Protection Operations. Seraphin has none. I was assigned to the FBI Attorney General’s Protection Detail for three and a half years, during AG Holder’s term. 

Most people don’t know the FBI provides 24/7 dignitary protection for the FBI Director and for the U.S. Attorney General. These detail members are dedicated men and women who risk their personal safety to ensure the security of both presidential appointees. They perform the same tasks as the U.S. Secret Service’s Presidential Protection Detail. 

The G550 is a multi-purpose jet used not only by the FBI Director, but also by the Attorney General, and in support of FBI investigations. Prior to 9/11, security regarding the Director and the AG were left, for the most part, up to the protectee’s discretion. 

For instance, former Director Louis Freeh declined a protection detail, carried his own firearm, and flew commercially. But, he was also a former FBI agent — a precedent the White House would be wise to revisit. After 9/11, congress mandated 24/7 protection for the FBI Director and the AG. It’s not up to them how they fly, drive, or even shop at the mall. The Protection Detail is always present. 

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Seraphin has regularly published the G550’s departure, arrival times, and routes on social media using a publicly available app. By calling inordinate attention to this, he’s raising the risk profile for not just the FBI Director and the Attorney General, but also for those detail agents assigned to protect them. As a former detail member, I find this practice to be repugnant and without any possible excuse. 

Though it may be accurate to report that the G550 was shuttled from Manassas to DCA 140 times during 2022, this number would include travel for the Attorney General, for the purposes of supporting FBI investigations, or for other reasons unrelated to the FBI Director’s transportation. 

Additionally, location of the G550 at Manassas is, in part, a matter of cost-effectiveness. Maintenance considerations, hangar costs, the absence of landing fees, and co-location of other assets make it far more attractive to hangar the jet there. Seraphin may be ignorant of all this, but that’s the danger in relying on information from a suspended junior agent.

The assertion that the Director is “avoiding traffic” withers under the light of cursory analysis when one considers that the Director travels in a motorcade equipped with emergency equipment. When deemed tactically necessary, lights and sirens may be activated to facilitate the seamless movement of the motorcade. Dead stops in traffic pose a security threat. Put simply, stationary targets are a lot easier to hit. It’s up to the discretion of highly experienced agents to activate emergency equipment, based on considerations of public safety and dignitary security requirements. 

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In addition to The Daily Wire quotes, Seraphin has promulgated material on social media that is both reprehensible and dangerous. He has repeatedly posted photographs of currently employed FBI agents performing investigative tasks, and has gone so far as to identify them by name, division, and squad.

Though the photographs were obtained in public or in private spaces by individuals lawfully present, this does not justify Seraphin’s publicizing the identities of former colleagues . He has hidden behind a tissue of excuse, claiming that uniformed police are regularly photographed. 

Although uniformed police are regularly photographed, the images aren’t typically promoted on social media for the specific purposes of sensationalization and identification. Seraphin’s conscience may no longer be sensitive to this betrayal; nonetheless, his actions raise the threat profile for the street agents he claims to champion.  

There may be real abuses of privilege by current FBI and DOJ officials, but the propaganda Seraphin is peddling isn’t an instance of purposeful waste. Hyperbolic statements of this nature only benefit the author. Seraphin, and those who have platformed him on social media, should feel deeply ashamed. 

Mark Twain once said, “It’s a lot easier to fool people than to convince them they’ve been fooled.” The issue of FBI politicization is too important to be overshadowed by disingenuous publicity hounds, thirsty for the mesmerizing glow of klieg lights or the titillation of social media adulation. 

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