He faces waves of criticism after raiding Trump headquarters

The FBI... the left hated it in the past, and the right is attacking it now

  • The FBI dealt firmly with Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Reuters

  • Trump has described the FBI as a "corrupt" and "fascist" institution.



Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents are used to facing waves of criticism, but in the history of their agency they have never seen anything like the attacks now launched by conservatives, after the raid on the residence of former President Donald Trump in Florida last week.

Since its founding more than 100 years ago, the FBI has faced accusations in the South from supporters of apartheid, criticized by civil liberties advocates for political activists and African Americans, whose liberation movement in the 1960s it was treated as a threat by the agency. for national security.

But last week's unusual threats came from the FBI's political base, conservative Republicans.

"The world has turned upside down," said retired University of Alaska historian Kenneth O'Reilly, who has written books on the agency.

He added that "the FBI is historically (a deeply conservative institution), with members of both parties in Washington."

But since Trump condemned the institution as "corrupt" and "fascist" after searching his Mar-a-Lago headquarters on August 8 for "top secret" documents he illegally kept, attacks on the agency have not stopped.

Republican National Committee chairwoman Rona McDaniel accused the bureau of "abuse of power."

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, likened the agency to "the secret police of the Marxist dictatorship," while Representative Paul Gosar declared, "We have to destroy the FBI."

And across the Internet, including on Trump's Truth Social, heavier threats came and were actually carried out.

On August 11, a 42-year-old armed man attacked the Cincinnati branch of the FBI, after writing on social media accounts attributed to him that "there must be a strong response" to the raid on Trump headquarters, and "the killing of FBI personnel." ».

But the man failed to enter the agency's headquarters in Ohio and was later killed by police.

A day later, a 46-year-old man was arrested in Pennsylvania for making similar threats.

"If you work for the FBI, you deserve to die," he wrote on social media.

"My only goal is to kill more of them before I fall," he added.

"The FBI, which has been a legend in film and television, is constantly facing criticism from all directions," O'Reilly told AFP.

"The worst period was in the 1960s, when the FBI conducted extensive espionage operations, sought to undermine the civil rights movement, discredit its leader, Martin Luther King Jr., and fueled violence between rival groups," he said.

But the reaction at the time, said O'Reilly, who has documented the FBI's war on the black nationalist movement, was limited to outrage, prosecution and then a comprehensive congressional investigation that exposed abuses.

"He did not use violence against FBI agents," he said.

In 1995, FBI activities caused anti-government extremists to blow up a building in Oklahoma City that housed the FBI's regional headquarters, killing 168 people.

Part of the motivation for these extremists was the institution's mishandling of two hostage-taking sieges in 1992 and 1993 that led to deaths.

But at the same time, the FBI maintained its political and public support.

The roots of the current turn against the FBI go back to Trump's long battle with him, specifically his investigations with hundreds of his supporters who stormed the "Capitol", the US Congress building, in a violent move on January 6, 2021.

O'Reilly believes that it is the public threats made by Trump supporters and politicians that make the current situation difficult.

"I think the vast majority of FBI agents voted for Trump," he said.

"So it seems illogical for the more hawkish elements in the Republican Party that the FBI is a tool of the radical left," he added.

The strong response by the US judiciary to the threats was extraordinary.

Fences were built to protect the FBI headquarters in Washington.

"Violence and threats against law enforcement, including against the FBI, are serious and should be of deep concern to all Americans," the agency's director, Chris Wray, warned.

And the Department of Homeland Security warned in a special bulletin that FBI agents may be in danger.

"I don't remember receiving threats like this in the last several years," Brian O'Hare, president of the FBI's Association, told NPR.

"It is disturbing and unacceptable and must be condemned by everyone who knows about it," he added.

He continued, "This atmosphere in which violence becomes acceptable must be changed." 

• The worst period was in the sixties when the "FBI" carried out extensive espionage operations and sought to undermine the civil rights movement and discredit its leader, Martin Luther King Jr., and fueled violence between rival groups.

• On August 11, a 42-year-old armed man attacked the FBI branch in Cincinnati after writing on social media accounts attributed to him that the raid on Trump headquarters and the "killing of FBI personnel" must "respond strongly".

But the man failed to enter the agency's headquarters in Ohio and was later killed by police.

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