FBI agent, suspended without pay, cites agency’s motto: ‘Fidelity, bravery, integrity’

by WorldTribune Staff, October 18, 2022

A Florida FBI agent who was suspended without pay for blowing the whistle on what he said are the bureau’s violations of the 6th and 8th Amendment rights of Jan. 6 defendants offered a reminder of what was long considered the nation’s premier law enforcement agency is supposed to be about.

“We took an oath, before our family and our friends and the Lord Almighty, and we are supposed to be people of integrity,” suspended FBI Special Agent Steve Friend told Just the News. “And that’s not a leisure pursuit. And if you are indeed a person of fidelity, bravery, integrity — the FBI motto — and you have to be willing to do things that aren’t easy, especially when they’re as simple as stepping up and pointing out when we are not meeting the standards that we have set out for ourselves.”

FBI Special Agent Steve Friend

Friend said he had received outstanding ratings his entire career until he went to his supervisor to file an objection to being listed as a managing agent for Jan. 6 suspects in Florida while the investigation was being run by other agents in Washington, D.C. He said the construct violates the FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide that is the bible for all agents.

“That’s when I said to myself, ‘Look, we’re not running these cases ourselves, and that’s outside the rule, and we are setting ourselves up for a major fall,’ ” Friend said in an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast. “So I brought that to my supervisor’s attention about my concerns, about not following FBI rules. I brought my concerns about potentially abusing power to him.”

After filing a whistleblower complaint with Congress, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, and the Department of Justice inspector general, Friend’s security clearance was suspended, leaving him sidelined on the job without pay.

Along with the violations of Jan. 6 defendants’ rights, Friend said in the complaint that the FBI was inflating the statistics for domestic extremism in the U.S. by sending Jan. cases to field offices instead of keeping them in Washington.

“I just could foresee a pretty easily avoidable or bad situation where Steve Friend is the case agent on John Smith, who’s being prosecuted for Jan. 6,” he explained. “And then I’m put on the stand, because it’s my case. And you know, the defense attorney says, ‘Agent Friend, what did you do? You’re the case agent.’ And I would say, ‘I didn’t do anything.’ ‘Well, did you make this decision?’ ‘No, I didn’t.’ ‘Did your supervisor approve that?’ ‘No, he didn’t.’ And it just seemed like that was to be a massive problem.”

Friend, who served for five years on an FBI SWAT team in Omaha before transferring to Florida in 2021, said he ultimately declined to participate in any more Jan. 6 cases but told his supervisor he would do any other work as required.

Friend said he also raised concerns about the use of tactical teams to arrest Jan. 6 defendants when there were less-intrusive and less-dangerous methods available.

“One of our considerations is there is an unnecessary risk of danger,” he said. “And I said, frankly, we’ve been fairly lucky that we haven’t created a Ruby Ridge scenario where somebody is coming back from a hunting trip, and then all of a sudden, there’s a tactical team at their door with a Bearcat. And that can be completely avoidable, especially if we have an open line of communication with this person, we’ve spoken to them, and they have counsel, and we could bring it to easy resolution.”

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