Michael Tabman

A Political or Apolitical FBI?

In Crime and Security on December 15, 2017 at 1:36 pm

“So, I can assume you’re a good ole, dedicated Republican like the rest of us?”

That was said to me by a subordinate while meeting me for the first time after I reported for duty as a manager of an FBI office.  Later, I heard through the very reliable grapevine that he was concerned that he erred in his assessment of my politics and how I would respond. But, that same grapevine assured him that I would never allow that to enter in to my management decisions. He became one of my most trusted and relied upon subordinates.

“I am big supporter of the Republican Party.” “I donate regularly the Republican Party.” I heard these comments often from FBI Agents. There was nothing illegal or inappropriate about such comments. FBI Agents are allowed to express political thoughts and support candidates – but not as an FBI Agent and not on FBI time or expense.

During the Clinton presidency, FBI Agents’ dislike for all-things Clinton was no secret; it was palpable. Condemnation of Clinton and anyone who supported him were fair game for casual conversations.  During George W. Bush’s tenure, any criticism of the president was met with disbelief as if such speech was treasonous. The FBI never moved to quash the expression of such personal and/or political beliefs.

There is no secret that law enforcement is traditionally comprised of conservative Republicans. After 24 years in the FBI, I do not need to take a poll to know that is true in the FBI.

FBI agents with clear preference for Republican politics, are the same agents tasked to investigate public corruption or people with outspoken political views. I do not recall discussing whether these agents should be barred from conducting such investigations or if there should be a political litmus tests for investigating political corruption. Political leanings were never considered a barrier to a fair and unbiased investigation. Agents were never questioned about their political views before being assigned to political corruption cases. That is probably illegal.

If we are to make the argument that investigators and prosecutors cannot fairly do their jobs because of political leanings, campaign contributions or personal observations of candidates, then every conviction for public corruption or politically charged crimes must be re-investigated. From this moment on, investigations must be conducted only by those who can prove they possess no political preference.

Good luck.

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Where have you gone King Solomon, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you…

In Crime and Security on July 9, 2017 at 6:23 pm

While partisan politics ebb and flow, few would argue that we have hit a low point in our national divide. So much so, that the recent shooting of Republican members of Congress raised the question as to whether the level of hostility contributed to the shooting. Then, we were encouraged that this tragedy would give rise to a new level of civility and cooperation. It didn’t. Recently, some with whom I have spoken had to be reminded of the shooting.

Party loyalty, on both sides of the aisle, is and always will be counter-productive, at least for our citizenry. The inability to disagree with party positions, except at great political peril, suppresses intelligent discourse and meaningful change becomes elusive. Though recently and admirably, some Republicans have publicly distanced themselves from the president’s infamous tweet targeting a female newscaster with words fit for an obnoxious teenager.

Many articles written before the election recognized the threat of a Trump presidency, using descriptors such as demagoguery and dark ages. Those who did not support Trump believe those predictions have come to fruition. Trump’s base denies it.  They follow the lead of their new, self-anointed king. Following Trump’s lead, they blame the media, liberals and all who “just don’t get it.” They play Trump’s game of projection and reside in one of the most dangerous states of all: denial. The denialism has presented itself by refusal to acknowledge:

  • What their outrage would be if the situation was reversed.
  • That they are rooting against their own best interests.
  • That lies are not the truth, that superlatives and promises are not accomplishments.
  • That the president’s actions and words are beyond the pale of decency and the concepts of democracy and freedom.

This is not to say that President Trump does not have good ideas or has not made some accomplishments, yet they are obfuscated by his impulsive behavior. We must look at our state-of-affairs in totality.

Historical analogies to his suppression of the media are disconcerting as are comparison to modern era dictators. Trump’s rhetoric can and will lead to violence. Trump’s base explains his vitriolic messages as fighting back, or funny, or creative use of social media. Yet, such messages from opposing views are hateful, disgusting and reveal the ugly side of all who do not bow to Trump. Many studies conclude that hate crimes have been on the rise since the Trump candidacy and presidency. Yes, we can argue cause and effect. But, all of us are influenced by the words of our leaders.

“Trump is just being Trump” is neither an excuse nor an explanation of such puerile behavior; it is rationalization.  He is the president.  He must rise to the occasion. Trump must become a president, not mold the presidency into his image. The distressing scene of the president’s cabinet fawning over him was a national humiliation. Trump has crowned himself king and his base has hailed him. We must now turn to the sage words of a true king. King Solomon told us that there is a time for everything.

In Ecclesiastes 3, King Solomon tells us, in part, that there is

“…a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

…a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,”

Time for the latter options has arrived.

The Russia Probe

In Crime and Security on June 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm

I discussed the FBI Russia Probe with MSNBC…

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