My favorite Bookworm has, as she often does, inspired an article. In an article titled: Middle class suicide; or he who pays the piper calls the tune, Bookworm speaks to her early experience as a new attorney in a large law firm. Discovering a senior partner engaging in corrupt, and provably illegal, practices, she, and the many others that knew, did nothing:
This episode from my past makes me doubt very strongly that Hillary Clinton will be indicted. I know that the rumor mill keeps saying that FBI agents, from Comey on down, will quit if Loretta Lynch lets Hillary walk. Some of the FBI agents whispering this to friendly reporters may even believe that they’ll quit.
Mostly, though, this is a bluff. Why? Because the people talking about quitting are middle-class people with mortgages, and school fees, and insurance, and all the other expenses that keep us in the middle-class living up to our own expectations. If Hillary really does walk, 99% of those ‘I’ll quit if she’s not indicted’ agents will manage, very quickly and easily, to convince themselves to stay in their jobs, and get their salaries and pensions.
Bookworm is right on both counts, though there are other reasons unique to law enforcement, and particularly the FBI, involved. Unlike what many believe, law enforcement jobs tend to be hard to get. They are relatively few, and entrance requirements, particularly compared to many other middle class vocations, tend to be high. This is particularly true for the FBI, which requires, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Most police jobs don’t. The FBI is also discriminating in terms of initial qualifications. In any given year, the Bureau may hire only people with accounting degrees, or people with specific language abilities. People with substantial law enforcement experience are not necessarily attractive to the FBI, as they tend to see them as likely to have unwanted habits. They prefer to build agents, from the ground up, in their own image.
Most FBI agents—not all—tend to see themselves as very special indeed, the absolute pinnacle of law enforcement. Compared to most law enforcement officers, they make very good salaries, and their benefits and pensions, like most federal employees, are generous. Bookworm again:
(By the way, I’m not trying to assert that I occupy any moral high ground here. I have absolutely no idea what I’d do were I in their shoes. I do know, though, that it would be very difficult for me to make a big show, one that might come to nothing, knowing that I might blow my comfortable lifestyle sky-high, leaving nothing but dismal gray confetti in its wake.)
We middle-class people — the ones who collect paychecks for showing up and doing our job — are not paying the piper. We’re not entrepreneurs who get to make our own decisions. Instead, we are dependent on the good will of the very people who may stand accused of corruption. It’s the government, the high-level management, the business owner, who pay the piper and call the tune. We just dance. And if we miss a step, we’re out on our derrieres with nothing to show for all the skillful dancing we did for so many years before we alienated both piper and payor.
In law enforcement, officers, the people that do the work, often see irregularities, less often, illegal behavior by their superiors. In many cases, the things they see are, at the very least, morally wrong, things they firmly believe, as honest public servants, the public should know. But they say nothing, for all of the reasons Bookworm mentions. But there is more.
In law enforcement, officers are dependent upon each other for their very lives. That threat is always there, unspoken, but real enough. It wouldn’t take overt acts to endanger lives. Taking a few seconds longer than necessary, seconds no one could ever quantify, to respond to a call for assistance, could result in serious injury or even death.
In the FBI, some investigations are done on the highest political levels. The sheer number of serious crimes committed by high level political figures that are swept under the rug in various ways are stunning. “Oh, but the press would never let that happen!” Oh yes they would, particularly if the politicians involved are of the right party. Agents stationed in DC, or other places where national level politicians roam, know precisely how careful they must be, and how quiet.
Do not doubt, gentle readers, that honest FBI agents—and that is the overwhelming majority—have been very disturbed by the degradation of the rule of law under Barack Obama. However, they also know that the FBI, and particularly the DOJ, are salted with Obamite true believers, people who in many cases are stealthy. Honest agents can never be sure who will inform on them. The wrong word, even the wrong attitude during a lawless administration can be a career ender. If Loretta Lynch is inclined to allow Hillary Clinton a pass regardless of how badly she has damaged American national security, she will face no real consequences, and even if a Republican is elected president, she’ll be out of sight, out of mind in months. We should not forget, however, that Hillary did not act in a vacuum. If she is culpable, a great many of her minions are surely culpable. If Hillary gets a pass, all of them will too. Lynch can’t take a chance on minions speaking the truth if they’re not going after Hillary.
So given all of this, why shouldn’t ethical FBI agents blow up their careers for the public’s right to know? Because they know they can’t trust the media. Because they don’t know–can’t know–exactly who they can trust. Because they know much of the public could care less, and they also know that if they don’t stay on the job, it will become occupied, more and more, by unethical political hacks. If they remain, they can at least keep something of a lid on the worst excesses. However, political, unlawful corruption isn’t their only concern. Sometimes the problem is just plain old human stupidity and incompetence. Bail out and not only do they harm themselves and their families, they leave behind people less honest and ethical than themselves.
Besides, the smartest people understand that in the last eight years, the rule of law has all but been abolished. No matter what they do, it may never be fully restored. Maybe the best they can do is help keep things from getting any worse. Maybe that’s enough to save a generation, perhaps two.
Sometimes, there are no good options, just less bad ones.