Trump Versus The F.B.I.

| February 4 , 2018 , 12:24 IST

President Donald Trump has declassified a memo written by the Republicans, that accuses the FBI of abusing its powers. It blames the FBI and the judiciary of using a Democratic party funded report to obtain a warrant that gave permission to spy on an aide to Mr Trump.

The Democrats have raised an alarm asking the President not to use the memo as a mere pretext to fire the special counsel investigating an alleged Russian involvement in President Trump’s campaign in the US election. They warned that not conceding to their request could trigger a dangerous constitutional crisis. In response to the Democrats’ allegations, President Trump, of course, denied any such linkage.

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The role and mission of the FBI has undergone a transition since the September 11 attacks. Until then for most of its first 90 years, the FBI had mostly been a law enforcement agency focused domestically on solving crimes. But the international plot that led to the deadly September 11 attack brought about a top-to-bottom change in the way that the United States approached counterterrorism issues. The FBI was given the mission by the former Attorney GeneralJohn Ashcroft and President Bush to not just investigate attacks, but to stop plots before an attack took place. The FBI, a traditionally domestic law enforcement agency transformed into an international intelligence agency. It began to take down corrupt organizations, street gangs, drug cartels, organized crime families, by starting on international linkages and working their way in.

Anywhere in the world, a large part of democracy’s commitment to justice is meted out by the state through the judiciary and the country’s premier investigative agencies. But is the supremacy of investigative agencies in cases of dispute with elected members in government, incompatible with the democratic system of governance?