An open letter to the FBI agent who resigned because of Trump
02/05/18 11:50 AM
Until recently Josh Campbell was an FBI special agent. He was appointed in 2008 and stationed in the Los Angeles field office. He also once served as a special assistant to James Comey. He is now most well known for a New York Times op-ed, “Why I am leaving the FBI.”
In the wake of Comey’s firing last May, he wrote another piece for USA Today — a glowingly sympathetic tribute to the just-relieved director, “James Comey is no showboat.”
What struck me odd at the time — having retired in 2015 after serving for 25 years in the FBI agent and executive management ranks — was this: Who afforded a GS-13 bureau employee the privilege to have a personal opinion piece published?
An official farewell soiree flyer from the FBI’s Los Angeles office announced that party attendees could “celebrate [Josh’s] new endeavor defending the Bureau as a CNN Law Enforcement Analyst.” Well, knowing how difficult it is to break into the television analyst ranks, and having the privilege to work at CNN as a full-time contributor since last May, I graciously extend a hearty welcome
But, Campbell’s explanation for resigning talks of “reluctantly turning in his badge” and “leaving an organization he loves.” He describes his voluntary, unforced resignation as “painful.”
He describes ignoring the counsel of “a small number” of onboard and retired agents who gamely advised him that FBI agents should keep their heads down and ignore the maelstrom that is the current president’s rhetorical attacks on certain senior leadership. And as he flatly states in the piece about those who disagree with him: “They are wrong.”
Why the sudden urgency to quit, you ask?
Well, as Campbell notes, “So I can join the growing chorus of people who believe that the relentless attacks on the bureau undermine not just America’s premier law enforcement agency but also the nation’s security.”
And having served for a full decade in the special agent law enforcement ranks, Campbell now views criticism of FBI leadership as a “threat to national security.”
Now, I do not know Campbell and some may view him as well intentioned. Comey — the man Campbell spent a year working for — certainly does. In another curious twist, Comey tweeted Campbell’s piece on Friday, adding his personal imprimatur, lamenting how Campbell would be missed at the FBI and noting, “his voice is an important addition to the national conversation.”
Comey’s public commendation to an agent who elected to resign is unusual.
But allow me to share another side of the debate that some, like Comey and Campbell, feel is settled. Many of us have watched the proceedings these past few years with disgust and revulsion. They are angry and disillusioned for different reasons than the ones described by Campbell, and certified by Comey.
Many of us await the impending report from the Office of the Inspector General that will, hopefully, answer some questions about glaring instances of politicization within the senior ranks of FBI and DOJ.
If the nine troubling encounters Comey described with the president occurred exactly as he recounts them, leaving him feeling “uneasy” — as he testified — why didn’t the 6’8” head of the world’s premier law enforcement agency directly confront the president?
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