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The Incredibly Unself-aware FBI

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

While watching a documentary this week called "Mysteries at the Museum," I was struck by an epiphany which helped me to better understand the entire Trump-Russia collusion hoax operation and the FBI's willingness to perpetrate it. The program brought home to me how the FBI is blindingly lacking in self-awareness. And shame.


The documentary is part of a regular program on the Travel Channel that examines very interesting artifacts found in museums and builds out stories by focusing on the artifact featured in each episode. It’s a very cool program for history geeks like me.

So, for example, one episode discusses a handgun that can be seen in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum which was used by Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme to attempt to assassinate President Ford. The episode describes the attempt on Ford's life, discusses Fromme's role in the Manson Family and her continued devotion to Manson following her incarceration. 

The program does a wonderful job of illustrating important scientific or sociological changes that resulted from many of the artifacts it focuses on. One episode looks at the medical records of Mary Mallon, a cook in wealthy New York City households in the early 1900s. Family members in those households where she was employed would fall ill, and in some cases die, from typhoid fever. At least 50 victims associated with Mallon were discovered. 

Eventually an epidemiologist named George Soper traced the common thread among the families to the cook they all shared, Ms. Mallon. Somehow, she herself never showed typhoid symptoms. Nonetheless, she had to be incarcerated for life because of the disease she passed around but was not felled by, out of concern that she would continue to transmit it. She became a cause celebre in the media, who dubbed her "Typhoid Mary." 

Soper's work looking at Mary revealed that a person could carry a disease without becoming symptomatic. He opened up new understandings in the area of bacteriology.


This brings me to the revelation-inducing episode about the FBI. The show featured a plastic garbage bag found in a display at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The bag, we discover, was the crucial piece of evidence that led to the discovery and capture of probably the most damaging spy in American history - Robert Hanssen.  Hanssen had been a mole in the FBI working for Russia for 20 years, passing reams of Top Secret documents to the Soviets, exposing countless classified US government operations, and getting our own spies killed.

Hanssen, coincidentally, was a top agent in the FBI's counter-espionage division, just like Peter Strzok.  And like Strzok, he was considered very bright and very arrogant. He was a rising star. The similarities between Hanssen and Strzok are striking. Strzok was the incessantly texting, hard-charging, Trump-hating FBI counter-espionage agent who was central to the whitewashing of the Hillary email server abuse investigation and helped concoct the bogus Trump-Russia collusion investigation. And just as Hanssen was cheating on his wife with prostitutes, Strzok was cheating on his wife with fellow anti-Trump conspirator, FBI attorney Lisa Page.

Here's where the plastic garbage bag comes in. Hanssen had used it to pass classified documents to his Russian handlers and left two fingerprints on it. The FBI, knowing it had a spy in its ranks thanks to a Russian turncoat, located the bag during its hunt for the spy and found, to its shock, one of its own top spy-hunter's fingerprints on it, those of Mr. Hanssen. 


Similarly, Peter Strzok gifted us with a trove of text messages he exchanged with Ms. Page that have helped unravel one of the other great treacheries in our country's history - the effort to carry out a coup against a duly elected President, Donald Trump.

The unself-awareness part of our story is the fact that the FBI actually donated the incriminating plastic garbage bag from its Hanssen investigation to the Newseum for display purposes, as though the FBI is gloating over the fact that it captured a mole that had been operating under its nose for 20 years. Even Hanssen was stunned by the FBI's incompetence, saying to the agents who arrested him, "What took you so long?"

Did the FBI hierarchy not realize that the Hanssen disaster should have been a great source of embarrassment to them? Will the FBI one day donate Peter Strzok's cell phone to the Newseum if Attorney General Barr finally concludes that Peter Strzok was a traitor on the order of Robert Hanssen? (Oh wait. That won't happen, as the FBI infamously destroyed Peter Strzok's - and Lisa Page's - government-issued cell phones, in another act of hubris.)

Imagine if you discover, through a tip from a neighbor, that your spouse has been a homicidal maniac for the last 20 years. You then go hunting around the house and discover a bloody foot-long knife in the basement, which you dutifully turn over to the police, who confirm that his fingerprints are on the handle. Your spouse is then tied to dozens of murders, convicted and sent to prison for life. Would you then go on Facebook, bragging to all your friends that you helped uncover the killer? That’s the equivalent of the FBI’s plastic garbage bag display.


After watching Robert Mueller's pathetic performance in front of congressional questioners yesterday trying to justify his Special Counsel report’s Trump-Russia “collusion” findings, I am convinced that the FBI will never be self-aware, or humble, enough to understand the gravity of the crimes committed by their top personnel against our country in the last three years. 

Hopefully, Attorney General Barr will use the aftermath of this debacle to strengthen our country, just as George Soper used tragic Typhoid Mary to strengthen medicine and mankind.

William F. Marshall has been an intelligence analyst and investigator in the government, private, and non-profit sectors for more than 30 years. He is a senior investigator for Judicial Watch, Inc. (The views expressed are the author’s alone, and not necessarily those of Judicial Watch.)

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