FBI agents are required to take an oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” One would hope that the agents would understand that oath to include the First Amendment, but that raises the question — what rights do FBI agents think the First Amendment actually protects, if they think of it at all?
Properly understood, the First Amendment elevates the rights of the individual above the reach of the state. It protects the rights of Americans to freedom of religion, speech, press, petition, and assembly. Each of these First Amendment terms had an established meaning before they were written into the Constitution. For example, freedom of speech had its origins in the right of members of Parliament to criticize the King without being sent to the Tower of London. And, freedom of the press protected not Big Media, but every individual who wanted to lay his views before the public through pamphlets and the like. Both of those speech and press rights protect robust criticism of government.
Now, government is changing the meaning of those constitutional terms. Lawyers and judges, with no respect for truth, have made Swiss Cheese out of the First Amendment text. No matter what the text of the First Amendment may require, they can find a way around its clear meaning. Remember what Bill Clinton said when asked if he had been lying about his White House indiscretions? He replied: “It depends on what the meaning of the word is, is.” Clinton followed in the path of Humpty Dumpty who said: “When I use a word … it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
The real problem is that protecting the constitutional rights of Americans is an afterthought when compared with one of the FBI’s central, but unspoken, responsibilities — to tamp down criticism of government. How does it do that? The way that it always has — by surveilling us and then instilling fear into the hearts of those who speak against government. If our response is to fear the consequences of speaking out, we silence ourselves. In that way, the FBI “chills” speech.
The groups that the FBI targets over the last century have moved from anti-World War I activists, communists, civil rights supporters, socialists, Vietnam War protestors, and draft dodgers. Under the Obama and Biden administrations, their focus has been on militia members, “domestic terrorists,” MAGA Republicans, constitutionalists, gun rights advocates, and election protestors. Under Obama and Biden, FBI efforts to suppress protected political speech have skyrocketed.
The FBI is making widespread use of private informants to report on their neighbors who have political views that differ from those of the administration. The FBI has “wide leeway…to use informants when investigating citizens based on their ideological beliefs.” As whistleblower Chris Stevens has revealed, during the Obama administration, he was asked to become an informant within the Northern California Militia. The FBI asked Stevens to keep spying on the group even after his investigation failed to find any probable cause. “I was just a human recording machine paid by the government to go into people’s lives and befriend them and find out what they were thinking,” Stevens said. His infiltration of militia groups contradicts the FBI’s claims that federal law enforcement does not investigate Americans based on ideology alone.
Another whistleblower revealed that the FBI characterized a veteran-organized group called “American Contingency” as a “domestic violence extremist” group, continuing to do so even after concluding that the group “desires to assist Americans in preparing themselves for catastrophic events and not to overthrow the government.” On September 14, 2022, House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote a letter to FBI director Christopher Wray to defend the group, noting that “the FBI opened an investigation into an American citizen — and deemed him a potential ‘threat’ — simply because he exercised his First Amendment right to speak out in protest of the government.”
It is past time for us as patriotic Americans to stop our self-censoring. We need to speak up, to be loud and effective critics of government abuses. True, the FBI may spy on us and hear what we say. And the FBI may knock on our door, or worse. So this is a good time to remind ourselves what God says: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. Another translation puts it this way: “God has not given us a spirit of cowardice….” It’s time to put away fear and put away cowardice. It is a certainty that if we don’t find the courage to use what Freedoms we now have, soon we will lose those as well.
We must recognize and accept the fact that the FBI doesn’t care about us — it serves those who seek to rule over us and control our lives. The FBI has become the tip of the spear of the “enemies domestic,” which they promised to defend us against. Until we can dismantle the FBI once and for all, we must stand for truth, and accept whatever the consequences may be.
As has been said before: “If not us, who? If not now, when?”