Tuesday December 27, 2022
“Conspiracy theorists … feeding the American public misinformation” is a familiar attack line for anyone raising free-speech concerns over the FBI’s role in social media censorship. What is different is that this attack came from the country’s largest law enforcement agency, the FBI — and, since the FBI has made combatting “disinformation” a major focus of its work, the labeling of its critics is particularly menacing.
Fifty years ago, the Watergate scandal provoked a series of events that transformed not only the presidency but federal agencies like the FBI. Americans demanded answers about the involvement of the FBI and other federal agencies in domestic politics. Ultimately, Congress not only investigated the FBI but later impanelled the Church Committee to investigate a host of other abuses by intelligence agencies.
A quick review of recent disclosures and controversies shows ample need for a new Church Committee:
The Russian investigations
The FBI previously was at the center of controversies over documented political bias. Without repeating the long history from the Russian influence scandal, FBI officials like Peter Strzok were fired after emails showed open bias against presidential candidate Donald Trump. The FBI ignored warnings that the so-called Steele dossier, largely funded by the Clinton campaign, was likely used by Russian intelligence to spread disinformation. It continued its investigation despite early refutations of key allegations or discrediting of sources.