By: Casey Harper
A former FBI agent testified before Congress Thursday saying that the FBI manipulated data to make domestic terrorism linked to Jan. 6 seem like a nationwide phenomenon instead of an isolated incident.
The revelation came as part of a hearing held by the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government where FBI whistleblowers testified before lawmakers about abuse and politicization of the FBI. They also testified about backlash they received, even losing their jobs as retaliation for refusing to toe the narrative established by FBI leadership.
Steve Friend, a former FBI special agent who served five years on an FBI SWAT team and five years before that in local law enforcement in Georgia, made the claim about his former agency artificially inflating domestic terrorism data.
“Typically you would investigate Jan. 6 as one case with lots of subjects, but instead the decision was made to open up a separate case for every single individual there,” he said during the hearing. “And instead of, on paper, investigating them from the Washington field office, spreading and disseminating those to the field offices around the country, and if the individual lived in that area.”
“In effect,” he added. “It made it look like there was domestic terrorism cases and activities that were going on around the 56 field offices when in fact the cases were really all from Washington, D.C., and Washington had a task force that was responsible for calling the shots in all those cases.”
Friend said this is part of a trend for the federal law enforcement agency, adding that the FBI’s National Security Branch “has refocused counterterrorism from legitimate foreign actors to political opponents within our borders.”
The FBI had come under heavy fire for politicization on behalf of democratic interests in recent years. More evidence has emerged that the FBI may have played more of a role in inciting the events of Jan. 6 than previously thought.
A Government Accountability Office report released in February found the FBI and Capitol Police were aware of threats ahead of Jan. 6 but did not do enough about it.
The FBI has also been exposed for working with social media companies to censor Americans online, most notably by urging social media companies to shut down the Hunter Biden laptop story just before the 2020 election between President Joe Biden and then-president Donald Trump.
Social media company representatives say they were told by the FBI that the story was Russian disinformation.
That story has since been verified and is not disinformation, but not before the FBI’s decisions impacted the presidential election.
These and other concerns have put the federal law enforcement agency under serious scrutiny, in particular from Republican lawmakers like U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who chaired Thursday’s committee hearing and called the FBI “an agency focused on politics.”
An FBI spokesperson told The Center Square that the agency “has not and will not retaliate against individuals who make protected whistleblower disclosures.”
“While the crimes at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, occurred in Washington, D.C., the reality is many of the people who committed violent acts and other crimes that day traveled to the nation’s capital from multiple jurisdictions across the country,” the FBI said. “The FBI investigates individuals who commit or intend to commit violence and other criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security. We do not conduct investigations based on a person’s views. We are committed to upholding the constitutional rights of all Americans and will never open an investigation based solely on First Amendment activity.”
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