The FBI Is a Ruling Class Cabal of Spies, Provocateurs and Executioners...
Now Trump’s Trying to Make It His Gestapo

January 8, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


Trump and his allies in Congress and the media have launched a coordinated, escalating assault on the Federal Bureau of Investigation—the FBI. And they’re also targeting special counsel and former FBI head Robert Mueller. Mueller is investigating possible Russia interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump and his campaign colluded with it.

Over the holidays, Trump went after deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, claiming he was politically biased and helping to conduct a partisan witch hunt against him while letting Hillary Clinton slide. He bellowed that the agency’s reputation is in “tatters,” and has called for a house cleaning of top FBI leadership. He denounced charges of collusion with Russia as a hoax and declared: “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department” (which oversees the FBI).

The FBI: Bastion of Truth, Law & Justice... or Ruling Class Agency of Spying, Repression, and Murder?

In the face of these assaults, the FBI’s liberal (and right-wing) defenders portray the agency as a bastion of the rule of law, justice, and honesty against the Trump/Pence regime’s lawlessness and lies. And this is how the FBI has been portrayed through the years by countless bourgeois politicians and in the media.

But what does the FBI’s actual record show? That from the day it was founded in 1908 right up to today, the FBI has been this system’s political police!

This is the organization (originally called the Bureau of Investigation) that in 1918 rounded up some 50,000 people suspected of evading the World War 1 draft. That arrested 10,000 for allegedly being communists or anarchists in the Palmer Raids of the 1920s. The organization that carried out a massive anti-communist witch hunt and smear campaign in the 1950s.

COINTELPRO—Covert Operations, Dirty Tricks, Outright Executions

This is an organization that set up a covert program—COINTELPRO—to target, infiltrate, spy on, and disrupt civil rights activists, antiwar protesters, radicals, and revolutionaries. Under this program, the FBI orchestrated a smear campaign against Martin Luther King Jr. and tried to drive him to suicide. It did drive the actress Jean Seberg to suicide because she dared support civil rights and Black liberation struggles.

Under COINTELPRO the FBI helped the Chicago police set up and carry out the cold-blooded execution of the revolutionary Black Panther leader Fred Hampton on December 4, 1969. The FBI had planted informants in the Chicago Black Panther chapter, and one of them had become Hampton’s bodyguard. He gave the FBI and the Chicago pigs floor plans of Hampton’s apartment, and then drugged him the evening the execution was set to go down.

Author Peter Matthiessen documents the scores of murders of American Indian Movement (AIM) members provoked by FBI dirty tricks, spreading rumors, and pitting people against each other, and its framing of political prisoner Leonard Peltier. (This was in retaliation for the AIM's powerful 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, and the deaths of two agents there.) And the list of low-life, double-deal shit goes on, and on.

Robert Mueller and James Comey:
Carrying Out Bush’s Post-9/11 Fascistic Expansion of Spying, Torture & War

What about Mueller, who headed the FBI from September 4, 2001 until September 4, 2013? And what about his successor James Comey, who was fired by Trump earlier this year? Both are being portrayed by the Democrats and the mainstream media as stellar public servants, beyond reproach.

Mueller, with Comey at his side, helped preside over and implement the George W. Bush regime’s massive, fascistic leap in surveillance, spying, torture, and repression following 9/11 under the Patriot Act and other draconian measures, and helped enable the “intelligence”—i.e., lies—used to sell the criminal 2003 invasion of Iraq which has devastated literally millions of lives.

In a damning account, former FBI agent turned whistleblower Coleen Rowley details that among other things:

Mueller knew, for instance, that Vice President Dick Cheney’s claims connecting 9/11 to Iraq were bogus yet he remained quiet.... In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Mueller directed the “post 9/11 round-up“ of about 1,000 immigrants who mostly happened to be in the wrong place (the New York City area) at the wrong time. FBI headquarters encouraged more and more detentions for what seemed to be essentially P.R. purposes.... [T]he FBI overstepped the law improperly serving hundreds of thousands of “national security letters” to obtain private (and irrelevant) metadata on citizens, and for infiltrating nonviolent anti-war groups under the guise of investigating “terrorism.”... Comey signed off on a number of highly illegal programs including warrantless surveillance of Americans and torture of captives. Comey also defended the Bush Administration’s three-year-long detention of an American citizen without charges or right to counsel.

Comey has been hailed for rushing to the hospital bedside of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2004. There, with Mueller’s backing, he convinced Ashcroft not to extend a program giving the Bush regime extraordinary powers under a “state of emergency.” But Rowley exposes this as a sham:

The mythology of this episode, repeated endlessly throughout the press, is that Comey and Mueller did something significant and lasting in that hospital room. They didn’t. Only the legal rationale for their unconstitutional actions was tweaked.

Mueller was even okay with the CIA conducting torture programs after his own agents warned against participation. Agents were simply instructed not to document such torture, and any “war crimes files” were made to disappear. Not only did “collect it all” surveillance and torture programs continue, but Mueller’s (and then Comey’s) FBI later worked to prosecute NSA and CIA whistleblowers who revealed these illegalities.

Under Mueller, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, along with state police, worked to criminalize and disrupt political protest—in one notorious instance, infiltrating and carrying out preemptive raids and arrests of activists and independent journalists throughout Minneapolis/St. Paul (the Twin Cities) before the 2008 Republican National Convention. It also targeted Muslims, carrying out widespread spying in mosques and infiltrating Muslim communities.

Comey Targets the Righteous Ferguson Uprising

As for Comey, after he’d become head of the FBI, how did he respond to the righteous uprising against wanton police murder sparked off in Ferguson, Missouri, in the summer of 2014 and spread across the U.S.? Comey warned of a “Ferguson effect.” He wasn’t talking about how police across the U.S. were murdering young Black men just like Darren Wilson had murdered Michael Brown in Ferguson. He was condemning people videotaping and protesting against police! Comey claimed this increased crime by “making the police think twice.” This was justification for the pigs continuing their aggressive, brutal policing of the ghetto with full impunity.

To this day, the FBI is STILL using informers, entrapment, and all kinds of fuckery against ecological groups, Muslims, protest groups at the major political conventions, etc. And who knows what other police state moves are going on that haven’t yet come to light—including against radical and revolutionary groups of all kinds.

Trump’s Problem with the FBI? It’s Not Yet the Regime’s Gestapo

Trump and his regime aren’t attacking the FBI for this ugly history of spying, dirty tricks, smear campaigns, and violence against opponents and critics of this system. They’re not slamming its role as one of the rulers’ key tools of suppression and control. And they’re not going after the FBI simply to discredit Mueller’s investigation and create a justification for firing him if the Trump/Pence regime deems that becomes necessary.

They’re attempting to turn the FBI into the regime’s Gestapo—wholly beholden to the Trump/Pence executive branch and its fascist core, one where Trump will have the “absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.” As we wrote in “The Firing of James Comey: The Dangers, the Openings, the Need to Act“:

In firing Comey, Trump is not simply seeking to block investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election in favor of Trump, along with possible collusion by people close to Trump. He is flouting and shredding norms established in the wake of the 1972-1973 Watergate scandal and resignation of then-President Richard Nixon—who had fired a special prosecutor investigating criminal activity on the part of the Nixon election campaign, including a subsequent cover-up.

More ominously, Trump is seeking to bring a key element of the repressive apparatus of the state, the FBI, under the air-tight control and deployment of the regime. To remove the slightest independence the FBI might have and to be able to wield the FBI to target, harass, and suppress any and all enemies of the regime’s designation. This is part of the direction and momentum of fascism. The FBI is no friend—it is a monstrous enemy—of the people. But Trump’s maneuver poses real dangers to the people. (See the sidebar featuring an excerpt from Bob Avakian on why the imposition of a fascist program on society requires going after and replacing the norms and institutions of bourgeois democracy, especially those that pose obstacles, like the press, the judiciary, and other sections of the ruling class.)

A Trump purge of the FBI, firing Mueller or shutting down his investigation could represent another, very dangerous leap toward full-out fascism. Some of its targets may be members of the ruling establishment—leading Democrats, liberal-leaning institutions, prominent figures. But the sharp edge of fascist repression will also be turned up against the masses of people and their organizations. Both are part of attempting to stomp out opposition and lock down society. (See, “‘It can’t happen here’? Sorry—It IS Happening Here. In One Year, the Trump/Pence Regime Has Made Huge Leaps in Forging the Repressive Machinery of a Fully Fascist Society.”)

Sharpening Divisions at the Top, Potential for Upheaval From Below

Mueller’s investigation and Trump’s attacks on it and the FBI represent a sharp battle within the ranks of the U.S. ruling class. This isn’t a battle for truth and justice. This is a battle among oppressors over how to cohere and rule U.S. society, how to maintain their system’s legitimacy, and how to advance the interests of U.S. capitalism-imperialism.

The escalation of Trump’s assaults has sparked broad anger and concern. The Democrats are trying to resolve this crisis in ways that strengthen their system, and that keep the outrage and actions of the people within its channels. This is tied in with focusing people’s anger against Trump around his alleged Russian connections and his supposed “lack of patriotism.” This keeps things within a framework of ultimately defending, rather than questioning and even resisting, the imperialist system that brought forward the Trump/Pence fascist regime. So the Democrats are demanding the Mueller investigation continue, directing people’s hopes and energies toward the 2018 elections, and remaining largely silent about Trump’s attacks on the FBI.

As we wrote earlier this year:

Even though these are largely the terms of opposition right now, there is the turmoil at the top... there is the flux at the bottom of society... and there is no saying what potentially could come out of this situation if people do what is actually needed.

What is needed: As the Call to Action of Refuse Fascism states, to “ORGANIZE: working with all our creativity and determination toward the time when millions of people can be moved to fill the streets of cities and towns day after day and night after night, declaring this whole regime illegitimate—Demanding, and Not Stopping, Until the Trump/Pence Regime Is Driven from Power. This is what is needed, nothing less.”



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