Weaponizing the FBI

Congressional scrutiny of the FBI is being criticized as a single-party, Republican undertaking; which it is, but the reasons say more about the bureau’s ideological partisanship than the GOP’s.

Consider the FBI’s repeated, heavy-handed intrusions into politically-charged controversies throughout the Trump and Biden years:

  • Its active involvement in the 2016 Russia collusion hoax (an acceptable election denial, apparently);
  • its own collusion (exposed thanks to Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter) with the Biden administration and social media outlets to censor conservative voices;
  • its lead role in helping safeguard Biden’s 2020 election chances by falsely portraying the Hunter Biden laptop as Russian disinformation;
  • its unprecedented raid on the home of former President Trump, in search of classified documents, contrasted with its kid gloves approach to similar classified document stashes in former Vice President Biden’s homes and offices.

All have been blatantly one-sided endeavors in favor of Democrats and the ideological left.

Front and center in this effort, as I’ve written about before, is the FBI’s campaign of domestic terrorism against peaceful pro-life protesters. Questioned by senators about one such flagrant abuse—sending a SWAT team of “20-30 agents,” guns drawn, to arrest Pennsylvania Catholic Mark Houck at home in front of his wife and seven terrified children—U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland repeatedly dissembled, questioning the description of the raid even after Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri displayed “a blown-up photo of fearsome-looking FBI agents with long guns, ballistic shields and bullet-proof vests,” according to N.Y. Post columnist Miranda Devine.   

What dangerous crime justified this show of force? An abortion clinic employee claimed Houck had engaged in disorderly conduct, a charge that even Philadelphia’s District Attorney— “a Democrat, very progressive,” Sen. Hawley noted—had declined to prosecute, and for which a civil suit had been dismissed. After the FBI’s daring early morning raid, it took a federal jury all of one hour to acquit Houck of the bogus charge.  

Ah, but perhaps Hawley inadvertently identified the real trigger of the Houck raid when he displayed a photo of the family “at Mass.”

Did the FBI suspect it might have been a Latin Mass? After all, in January the bureau’s Richmond field office called for targeting “traditionalist Catholics,” including those who favor the Latin Mass.

Yes, some Catholics—including the current occupant of the Chair of Peter—seem to regard even the Church-approved Latin Mass as subversive. But that is a Church matter, into which civil law enforcement has no business intruding. Beyond the obvious violation of the First Amendment, does the FBI have so few legitimate law enforcement concerns that it can busy itself investigating Catholic worship controversies?

If so, maybe it could spend some of its free time and resources as Sen. Ted Cruz suggested: tracking down the violent felons firebombing pro-life pregnancy centers (and vandalizing Catholic churches) in response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

“Why do you send two dozen agents in body armor to arrest a sidewalk counselor who happens to be pro-life, but you don’t devote resources to prosecuting those who are violently firebombing crisis pregnancy centers?” Cruz demanded.

Garland’s answer? According to the N.Y. Post, he said—apparently with a straight face—that pro-life activists commit violations “during the daylight,” when “seeing the person is quite easy.”

So that’s what we need a Federal Bureau of Investigation for? To terrorize and arrest peaceful pro-life protesters because they act in broad daylight and are easy to identity—even when pro-abortion local prosecutors don’t see their actions as “crimes”?

And to just make excuses for failure—with all their powers and supposed investigative expertise—to apprehend violent offenders who bomb help centers caring for women and children?

Such political weaponizing of the FBI is nothing new, of course. As detailed by James Bovard, a prolific author, commentator and member of the USA Today Board of Contributors, it dates back more than 100 years, to the bureau’s “notorious Red Scare raids of 1919 and 1920”; continued through the decades of J. Edgar Hoover’s political manipulations to advance the fortunes of candidates he favored (in both parties), and spy on and even attempt to smear those he opposed; and included, as we know, Hoover’s FBI wiretapping—with authorization from the brothers Kennedy—of Martin Luther King.

Speaking to law school interns about media relations during my time in the Nassau County District Attorney’s office, I explained that, with the DA’s investigative, arrest, prosecution and imprisonment powers, an informed media was one of the vital safeguards against abuse of those powers.

Such safeguards—from government as well as media—are even more essential at the federal level, given the FBI’s “vast power and secrecy,” in Bovard’s words.  

When, instead, a governing elite, with the enthusiastic support of mainstream media, endeavors to weaponize the FBI to enhance its power, advance its ideological agenda, and harass, censor, and imprison those who oppose that agenda, the very foundations of American democracy are imperiled.  

One does not have to be a Trump enthusiast to see how this mutual power arrangement further entrenches the undemocratic deep state, and undermines government of, by, and for the people.

“A mob is a mob,” Bovard quotes a 1920s federal judge, “whether made up of government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals.”

Surely Mark Houck, and other innocent victims of FBI storm trooper tactics, would agree.

Published by Rick Hinshaw

I have spent the last three decades in primarily Catholic communications work: as a reporter, news editor, columnist, and for eight years editor of The Long Island Catholic; several years as co-host and co-producer of The Catholic Forum program on the diocesan Telecare channel; two stints as Director of Communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; and a year as Associate Director for Communications at the New York State Catholic Conference. I also served for three years as Public Information Officer for the late Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, a staunchly Catholic and active pro-life leader. Over that more than 30-year career, I have gained an ever deeper understanding of and appreciation for the moral and social teachings of our Church. In my various roles I have lent my voice to articulating those teachings and their applicability to the critical issues of our time. That is what I intend to do with this blog. Moreover, at a time when our political and social disagreements seem to have degenerated into constant vitriol, vilification, verbal abuse and intolerance of those who hold differing opinions, I hope that this blog can contribute, in some small way, to a restoration of respectful debate and discussion, where we can defend our beliefs forcefully without demonizing any who disagree with us. As a Catholic commentator, that is what I have always striven to do--remembering that even as we are called to stand firmly in defense of our Church, her teachings, and our right to be heard in the public square, we are also called always to be the face of Christ to the world--most especially to those with whom we disagree.

9 thoughts on “Weaponizing the FBI

  1. I have followed much of the Houck case. I was VERY disturbed to see the heavy-handed action of the federal government in persecuting ( not a spelling error) this man, for doing little more than defending his 12 year old son from the ravings of an abortion clinic employee. Its especially shocking that this persecution happened after local authorities dismissed the incident as much ado over nothing. It is lucky indeed that Houck was acquitted. But again we ask, why was a large, violent show of force thought remotely necessary to arrest a man at home with his seven children, and who has never been noted to have been armed? This is the same disgusting tactic used upon President Trump at Mar a Largo recently, as well as on several highly placed Trump supporters during the bogus Russia collusion investigation. These people, after all, are not mob bosses or foreign agents. But then came the news that the FBI was poised to investigate Latin Mass Catholics as white supremacists and terrorists!!! Oh, the horror!! ( I would be laughing at the delicious stupidity of this, if the offense was not so egregiously dangerous to religious freedom, and Catholics in particular.) The mental gymnastics of how that fabricated “connection” was ever made was never explained. Religious people, or, religious CATHOLICS at any rate, are not supportive of anti-government violence. Or of violence in general. There was no sound explanation made of why indeed church vandalism and even firebombing attacks on pro-life centers are never satisfactorily investigated. Nor investigated at all. Well, we know the answer, don’t we? It doesn’t fit their partisan narrative. My late father was NYPD for his entire career, and I always had the greatest respect for the FBI. I no longer do, and my dad must be turning in his grave over where the country is right now. I dont recall who represented Mr. Houck in court. But I would suggest all Catholics and pro-lifers send a donation to the Thomas More Society, which has lawyers who engage to help preserve religious freedom and assist ordinary Americans caught up in such legal travesties. Legal representation for these sorts of false charges can bankrupt an innocent family. Don’t let it happen. We are Americans, and we are better than this. Next election, vote, and help clean out those who support the distortion of our national heritage of freedom.


    1. Thanks so much, Leslie. Excellent suggestion on donating to the Thomas More Society, as more Catholics will surely encounter similar persecutions in the current cultural climate.


  2. Rick,

    As usual you are spot on. But all this stems from massive fraud and corruption in our national and local elections. No other issue in American history matters more than election integrity. If corrupt politicians believe they are no longer accountable to the electorate (as they now do), there will be no check on their tyrannical radicalism (as there now isn’t). This is why, in just a little more than two years, our country has so quickly devolved into a hellish tyranny, where the American family is under a withering attack.

    1. Parents complaining about pornography and Critical Race Theory at school board meetings are being labeled as terrorists.
    2. Parents prayerfully and peacefully defending unborn babies from being slaughtered at abortion mills are being arrested and charged with bogus crimes.
    3. Parents practicing their Catholic faith at the Traditional Latin Mass are being targeted by the FBI.
    4. Children are being groomed and indoctrinated into the homosexual and transgender lifestyles, where their health and lives are put at risk, and where suicides rates are astronomically high.

    We must courageously proclaim the eternal truth of God and restore His moral imperative to our country. Because at its core, this is not a political battle, but a spiritual one. And then we must dismantle the corrupted institutions, roll back the fraudulent election systems, and hold accountable those responsible for the fraud and corruption.

    God bless.


    1. Thanks so much, Connell, you’ve outlined a daunting, but critically important set of tasks. And of course you are right, it cannot be done without prayer, in fact God must be central to our efforts.


  3. Thanks Rick for detailing some of the terrible incidents we are seeing. Most of us are also probably aware of arrests in Britain of people silently praying near abortion clinics!

    For decades we have allowed Marxist atheist professors to overwhelm even so-called Catholic colleges and now the younger generation of Catholics is lost, including much of my own extended family. As evident as this is, the Church has not corrected the situation and no one seems to be responsible.

    Still, we have the spiritual weapon to win. We need to intensify our prayer life, especially with the Rosary as our Holy Mother has so often asked and we so often ignore.


    1. Just so, Walter, the adage has never been more true that we must work as if everything depends on us, and pray as if everything depends on God. We must ask Him to make us His hands, then guide and bless our efforts.


  4. Well-said, Rick.
    Very few in the media pay any attention to the FBI and the US Justice Department harassment of Catholics. Thanks for shedding some light on the issue.
    Msgr. Batule


  5. Rick, now you will evidently need a story detailing the compromising partisan situation with the IRS, who felt the need to knock on the door of a journalist who was at that moment testifying in Congress about the politicization of the government agencies this week. And we DO recall the IRS refusing tax exempt status to conservative organizations during the first Trump campaign, don’t we? The country is in a great deal of trouble. People need to wake up and people need to pray very hard this situation will turn around.


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