The FBI is an agency that continues to suffer black eye after black eye, and it just took another shot square in the face.
This time, the blow was delivered by an appeals court that ruled that a raid conducted by the FBI violated the constitutional rights of hundreds of Americans.
- The rail
- The ruling
On March 22, 2021, the FBI raided a Beverly Hills business called U.S. Private Vaults, going through 1,400 safety deposit boxes because the agency had learned the boxes were being used by "unsavory characters to store criminal proceeds."
The FBI captured quite the bounty, confiscating roughly $86 million in cash as well as bullion bars and coins, jewelry, and other valuables. The raid was immediately scrutinized and eventually litigated by people who claimed their possessions were taken for no reason at all.
Rather than going through the boxes of targeted individuals, the FBI went through every box, and there were hundreds of innocent people who had their property taken in the process. This was at the heart of the decision by the appeals court to rule in favor of the plaintiffs, citing that the FBI should have had individual warrants for boxes specifically for those individuals tied to criminal activity.
Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Rob Frommer, who represented several plaintiffs, stated:
"This was a resounding victory, not just for our clients, but for the hundreds of people who've been stuck in a nightmare for years because of what the FBI did."
Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. hammered the FBI in his ruling, stating that the actions by the FBI were something that we saw during colonial days, calling it "particularly troubling." He added:
"It was those very abuses of power, after all, that led to adoption of the Fourth Amendment in the first place."
There is clearly a leadership void at the top of the food chain in the FBI, and there has been for some time. We can go back to Comey and company, signing off on bogus FISA warrants during the Trump collusion investigation.
That leadership void has continued under Director Wray, as we still see agents and complete offices acting more like political activists than law enforcement. I still believe the FBI is a needed agency, but I also believe there needs to be a massive overhaul in leadership and a full audit of the agency to track activities to ensure people are not going off campus with investigations and activities.
This is just one more stain on the record of Attorney General Merrick Garland, Joe Biden, and Director Wray. There is simply no accountability in this administration, and there never has been.