Guarding the Guards

24 January 2023


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Ex-FBI Counter-Intelligence Chief Arrested

Charles McGonigal used to be an FBI agent. During his career, he was involved deeply in counter-intelligence actions. This includes against Oleg Deripaska, the Russian aluminum oligarch. After Mr. McGonigal retired, the Justice Deparment alleges that he broke the law by helping Mr. Deripaska in his efforts to get American sanctions against him lifted. The DoJ also says Mr. McGonigal accepted $225,000 in cash from a former member of the Albanian intelligence service, SHISH. It would appear that Mr. McGonigal, if he did take the money, was dissatisfied with his pension. National security was sold cheaply.

The FBI, of course, needs investigation, just not for the reasons the Republicans in the House want. The anti-Trump claims about the FBI are ridiculous. The agency is one of the most right-wing entities in the country; left-wingers do not go into law enforcement as much as people on the right. The reason is simple. Law enforcement is inherently conservative. It is about upholding the established order. The FBI, since its founding, has spent more time undermining the left than it has actually enforcing the law. From the Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s to the anti-civil rights actions, the FBI is the hard right\'s best friend.

Mr. McGonigal has provided an opportunity to purge the agency of those who let their politics interfere with their duty to the entire nation. He was at the top of the agency in the New York office. He was a man of many years\' experience. He should never have been tempted to sell the nation out. So, what went wrong? That needs to be explained.

The irony here, and the political/legal problem, is that the FBI is responsible for counter-intelligence. Investigating an FBI alumnus in a counter-intelligence action is inherently fraught with risk. Who shall guard the guards themselves?

Mr. McGonigal was involved in a great many highly sensitive investigations, and as a result of his actions, every one of them is tainted and suspect. Those he worked with fall under a shadow of suspicion. Would it be possible for him to do thesee things without others knowing or helping? Just how far does this clear case of corruption go?

This is where it gets sticky. The FBI has a mission that must be performed and at a high level of competence. There are genuine internal and external threats to the security of the Republic. Yet the agents are uniquely positioned to enrich themselves at the expense of the mission. The idea that screening and internal investigations are going to get the job done is naive. The fix is going to have to address the risks while preserving the ability of the FBI to execute its mission.

The obvious solution is for Congress to set up a permanent committee, probably a select committee of both houses, that is reponsible for FBI investigations. It should have subpoena power, and the FBI must be made to honor these subpoenas. As the Trump administration showed, a Congressional subpoena these days is not worth the paper it is printed on.

This, of course, will not happen. A temporary committee is coming, and it will be engaged in a long and pointless fishing trip whil missing the real problems in the agency. The Republiacan majortiy and the Democratic minority are going to botch the opportunity here because they want to score political points on each other. Democracy at its worst.

© Copyright 2023 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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