That doesn't mean everyone in D.C. agrees with the bureau's politicization, but anyone who doesn't is afraid to say so publicly because they are aware of what will happen to them and their careers if they speak out.
But one former National Security Council member under then-President Donald Trump is not afraid to say out loud what scores of people inside the D.C. beltway are thinking: The FBI, in its current version, has to go.
Speaking to the National Conservatism Conference in Miami, Fla., this week, Michael Anton said that the 17 U.S. national security and intelligence agencies are essentially worthless on the international front and instead have been weaponized against the American public, making it way past time to get rid of many of them, or at least severely limit their power.
Conservatives are critical of federal agencies, particularly those focused on domestic affairs such as the Environmental Protection Agency, but tend to have a more positive view of agencies involved in national security and defense, according to Anton. He said this needed to change and advocated for an overhaul of agencies including breaking up the CIA and possibly abolishing the FBI.
“I think we need to have a serious national debate: Do we need a federal law enforcement agency? It’s not clear to me that we do,” he said. “State law enforcement agencies can do most of the legitimate functions of the FBI. If we conclude that we do need an FBI, then it has to be purged … the people who are responsible for so much of the nastiness of the last five or six years have got to be punished, and then the FBI needs to be refocused on law enforcement only, specifically those things that states can’t handle very well.”
Anton went on to tell conservatives that they ought to be more skeptical of, and concerned about, the "security state" -- federal agencies that have a direct or indirect role in the country's national security -- because they routinely fail to keep Americans safe, go all-in to intervene in as many foreign countries as possible, and operate against American citizens.
“The FBI is the only agency in the national security bureaucracy that’s allowed to do counter intel operations on U.S. soil. It does it very badly and it tends to use those powers against Americans, so let’s just get rid of it," Anton said.
After noting that the FBI and CIA have been politicized and weaponized against the citizens they are supposed to serve and protect, Anton added that in some cases in the past, the agencies have performed as they were designed to do. But top officials in both have adopted a pro-interventionist foreign policy for decades, resulting in the loss of American lives overseas and trillions of dollars in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, spending 2o years in the latter and more than a dozen years in the former following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And now, the agencies are advocating spending billions to defend Ukraine.
“We spent 20 years in the Middle East essentially, and we have nothing to show for it. We lost trillions of dollars and something like 7,000 American lives. Nobody can count the number of lives lost by Iraqi civilians, Afghan civilians, and so on. The national security state wanted this,” Anton continued.
“When pressured on this, they will try to explain to you that this is all very important … the entire world is a vital national interest; we have to be involved everywhere, and if we aren’t the world will collapse and the United States will collapse with it," he said, adding that while presidents are supposed to be in charge of the intelligence agencies, they essentially operate on their own.
“On a flow chart, it looks like the president is their boss. In real life, the president has limited power to tell them what to do. In real life, they’re run on a kind of consensus,” he said.