Charles McGonigal, who headed the FBI’s counterintelligence operation in New York, before being arrested for working for a sanctioned Russiagate oligarch and accepting $225,000 in cash from a former Albanian agent which he allegedly kept wrapped in rubber bands at a small Brooklyn apartment where he spent time with his mistress, is another chapter in a familiar story.
It’s a continuation of the sleazy affair between the FBI’s Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, which helped unwind Russiagate, or the FBI’s Robert Hanssen, who spent much of the Cold War peddling our national secrets to the Russians and hoarded cash while visiting strip clubs.The FBI missed McGonigal, allegedly turned in by his mistress, much as it missed Hanssen until it had exhausted every other possible alternative. Russiagate has ushered in the exposure of a parade of FBI officials, McGonigal, Strzok, McCabe, whose violations had gone unnoticed. At the bottom of it all, the tawdriness of McGonigal hooking up in an FBI vehicle and dispatching agents to drive his mistress around, or Hanssen sharing nude photos of his wife in chat rooms, was the smallness of the men in contrast to the seriousness of their responsibilities. Under the suits and ties are men who know all too well the measure of their unworthiness. They sell out their country to afford a nicer house, a boat or a mistress. They have affairs and lie about them. The Russians don’t have to go to any great lengths to compromise them because they have already compromised themselves. They go through the facades of church or politics, but they don’t really believe in anything. Hanssen was outwardly churchgoing, but dove into the sewer. McGonigal’s mistress describes him as “apolitical” and that’s probably true. Even the anti-Trump antics of the Russiagaters was not born out of real passion, but of a career establishment. Over much of a century, we have built a massive establishment that consumes enormous resources, wields vast powers, but, except when the Left seizes the wheel, is on autopilot. The national security manned by men like McGonigal, McCabe and Strzok, or, for that matter Comey and Wray, is an institutional entity, not a patriotic enterprise. It has no more affinity for America than it does any other country. Its men and women do their jobs, which are hazardous to the mind and the soul, until the task of dealing with the worst of humanity, traitors, drug dealers, con artists and government officials, decays their morals and convinces them that there is no real right and wrong, that the world just consists of those who take what they can get. And so they start taking too. The shady packets of hundred dollar bills handled by McGonigal and Hanssen resemble how the criminals they came after handled things. The great men of the FBI descended to the level of those they had hunted and turned to the country’s enemies to finance their lifestyles. Patriots are not infallible or always moral, but they possess a sense of higher duty, not just to an institution like the FBI, but to the nation, and an understanding of why the war matters. Men and women who grow morally calloused, who have no particular allegiance or sense of why it’s important that America win and our enemies lose, will fall sooner or later. Their time in the FBI just provides them with the information and skills to effectively sell out their country. The FBI, like most of our government’s institutions, is suffering from a moral crisis of patriotism. Our national security state, like our military, exists for reasons that are not meaningfully clarified. The long twilight struggle against Communism gave way to national tensions with geopolitical rivals like China and Russia, to a more ambiguous battle against Islamic terrorism, in which our leaders are unwilling to name the enemy or define the stakes. When there’s no moral clarity at the top, how can there be any moral clarity within the FBI, the CIA or the military? After 9/11, the FBI was tasked with fighting Islamic terrorism, but without ever calling it such. Its leaders see Chinese, Russian, Qatari and other enemy nations bribing our elected officials right and left, taking over our economic and educational infrastructure, while they can do nothing about it. Can they really be blamed for falling into cynicism about their mission? Like many failed states, we’ve become rotted through with cynicism and corruption. No matter what the FBI officials, reporters or politicians say to justify the Biden family’s dealings in public, privately they become more convinced than ever that there’s no such thing as ethics or integrity. To live and work in D.C. for a decade while still retaining your principles is all but impossible. And that is why we have the government that we do. The FBI is no worse than any other part of it, but its people can cause a lot more damage by spying, by targeting political opponents and by destroying the public’s trust in another celebrated institution. The trouble with it, as with the whole government, is that it doesn’t stand for anything larger than punching the clock. Patriotism doesn’t mean a blind conviction that there is nothing wrong with America, but the sense of mission that the country and its people matter above all else in the world. Men and women who don’t believe that have no place in the government. The FBI’s real failure isn’t national security, it’s national morality. And it’s a systemic national failure. The essence of any organization, from the local fast food joint to a military capable of striking any place in the world, is morale. The greater the individual responsibility of any member of an organization, the greater his morale should be. The measure of a rotten organization is that the sense of duty actually decreases the higher up you go. That is how you end up with a military whose ground forces risk death but whose generals push wokeness. Or police officers who respond to shootings but whose leaders take a knee to BLM rioters. Eventually the soldiers, like Russia’s troops, find ways to avoid the fighting, and the officers, like those in Uvalde, refuse to go into a situation where they might be killed. The fundamental question is whether America is worth fighting for. The FBI leadership has answered in its own way that it’s not. Everything else follows from that. Like the rest of our society, it has lost its way, its sense of what matters and why those things matter. Our government is a massive system filled with small men who never rise to the moment because they don’t see that it’s there. They fall for every woke scam that travels across the D.C. cocktail party circuit, taking a knee for BLM, studying “white rage”, and endorsing the transgender movement, because they don’t really believe in anything. Certainly not in America. America desperately needs a government that believes in it, whose men and women can rise above the pettiness to take risks and make sacrifices for something more than themselves. That’s something we ask of the 18-year-olds sent to fight and die on foreign soil, but we don’t ever ask it of the men wearing suits and earning six figures in Washington D.C. It’s time that changed. National security without patriotism is just a perpetual abuse of power. Men with power, but no patriotism, are only one offer away from treason. And we should not be surprised when it happens. We will either have a government of patriots or a government of tyrants and traitors.