From the Right



What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws?

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano on

Yet in the current case, the government should be prosecuting its own.

Late last week, an FBI agent admitted under cross-examination that she was asked to alter evidence so as to remove the name of another FBI agent as having been present during a critical government meeting between agents and a confidential source. Obviously, materially altering government records, particularly those likely to be evidence in a criminal case, is a crime.

The same agent also revealed that she was asked to destroy 338 items of evidence -- we don't know if she did so -- by her FBI superiors. As if this were not enough, the same agent revealed that the FBI has been surveilling the communications between one of the Proud Boy defendants and his legal team. Since the latter was done without a search warrant, it, too, is a federal crime.

What's going on here?

What we see here is not only the government breaking its own laws, but the manifestation of a culture in federal law enforcement that it needn't abide the Constitution or federal laws or even societal norms when it engages in prosecutions or surveillance for national security purposes.

This attitude -- law enforcement is free to break the laws it enforces in order to preserve national security -- goes back to the weeks after 9/11 when then-President George W. Bush began his systematic shredding of the Constitution by unleashing federal agencies to spy on all Americans without warrants and the CIA to torture foreign persons in order to gain information about so-called threats to the nation.


Since no one in the federal government after 9/11 has been prosecuted for spying on any of the 330 million Americans -- that's all of us -- whose phone calls and digital communications are systematically recorded, nor prosecuted for torture, is it any wonder that a generation of federal agents has come of age lying, cheating, stealing and getting away with it?

On the torture front, I know of only one prosecution: that of a former CIA agent who revealed torture and named those who participated in it. And from time to time, a rogue FBI agent has been prosecuted for crimes in which the agent unlawfully sought to enrich himself.

But the feds simply see no wrong in their own obstruction of justice. They don't prosecute their own for doing their jobs in contravention of the oaths they have sworn and in violation of the Constitution and federal criminal law they are morally and legally bound to uphold.

What happens when the government breaks its own laws and the law breakers go unpunished? It becomes a precedent and thus a basis for others in government to do the same. That precedent tramples human liberty and makes those in government who do this into tyrants. How do these law-breakers decide whose rights to trample and whose to protect?

Which is more harmful to personal liberty -- thinking and wishing the government ill, or agreeing to uphold the Constitution and then assaulting it?

Copyright 2023 Creators Syndicate, Inc.




RJ Matson Andy Marlette Daryl Cagle Dave Granlund David M. Hitch Drew Sheneman