We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
There has been nothing RIGHT at the FBI since at least Whitey Bulger. And Mueller was neck deep in that fraud, corruption, and treason. Yet still good ol' Trey Gowdy continues to proclaim him an honorable man.
I remember some (many) years ago reading an article about the difficulty in allowing judges as gatekeepers in deciding who is and who is not qualified to be an expert witness in scientific matters. As technology advances, it becomes impossible for the layman, even a judge, to understand the science so how can a judge decide who knows what they're talking about? The problem was that judges are no longer effectively functioning as gatekeepers, they tend to let anybody in as long as they can dress their nonsense up in pseudo-scientific rags and your "expert" witnesses are no more than con men for hire.
In the article, in speaking of pseudo-scientific nonsense, they used forensics as an example, pointing out that the FBI lab's dependence on analysis of any number of things was far more art than science - junk science, in other words - and as such should be at least heavily discounted in a courtroom. The casualness with which they threw that in there, as if "everybody knows", or at least everybody in the real scientific community knows, forensics is mostly junk science was what really struck me. The FBI's been living off this Sherlock Holmes reputation for years and it's all been lies.
The biggest problem at the F.B.I. is lack of priorities; and lack of authority. The agency has known for years about borderline illegal backroom deals, such as corporate theft of water in California. But unless they are specifically authorized by certain high ranking officials, they can't go after the big fish.
Enron is a perfect example. If I had to change the F.B.I. the first thing that I would do is alter the chain of command. I would make the agency answerable only to a Congressional Task Force. Then I would send 10% of the F.B.I. to the C.I.A. for training; and vice versa.
After that, I would change the definition of "public corruption" to include salary inflation. Government salaries need to go down at least 30%, and the agency can help by becoming part of that process. I would completely eliminate the investigation of civil rights violations. Instead, I would have agents focus on government payment systems; including welfare, HUD, food stamps, social security, and medicare. Right now they are doing a terrible job of policing these areas.
It's a sad truth that white collar crime in America does not get punished. You get more time for robbing a liquor store than for stealing a million dollars. This happens because lawyers have
hijacked the justice system. You can't go to court without one.
So the next thing I would do is have the F.B.I. design a simpler justice system. After all, who better than they?
Finally, I would change their ridiculous website. It looks like an advertisement for Budweiser. The home page should show the chain of command, the overall philosophy of the organization, how it works, its budget, and pending cases. There should also be a blog where people can criticize the agency without fear of retribution. Let's face it: millions of Mexicans running across the border makes the agency look like a joke.
What you need at the F.B.I. are a few big guns who really know the score; and aren't afraid to get things done.
There was a momentarily famous book written by Sissela Bok, wife of then Harvard president Derek Bok, back in the late Seventies. In it she argued among other things that no democracy could survive unless it required truthfulness from its government officials as a prime value. It was pretty influential for a short period.
We had her book come up twice in cases against the government we handled. The first time we were arguing that there had to be a demonstrated factual basis for the allegations the government made to take civil action against our client. The court held that it was enough for the government to make "findings," they didn't have to show that there was any empirical evidence behind them.
The second time involved an environmental study where the military had cooked the data to make the study falsely come out a certain way, adverse to our client. Fortunately for our client, one of the consultants came forward as a whistle-blower and told them what had happened and we then sued the government. The government argued it was immune from judicial scrutiny into the study. The judge ruled that he would take the government's motion under advisement, but before he ruled he at least wanted to see the supporting data in camera. We then got a phone call from the U.S. Attorney's Office saying they needed to settle the case immediately for national security reasons.
Anyway, in both cases there was an underlying argument about whether the government had an affirmative duty to be truthful.
I'd rather the cure for junk science testimony be better science testimony. I question whether any judge can be much of a "gatekeeper" on this subject.
But it's true that there's a problem with "expert" witnesses. The rules of evidence place strict requirements on fact witnesses, outlawing opinion and hearsay, for instance. Those two rules are relaxed for anyone officially certified by the court as an expert. Experts give opinion testimony all the time, and their opinions are based on information they get second-hand, i.e., what would be hearsay for anyone else. It's necessary for any scientific expert, but it does make their testimony extremely dicey if the opposing side doesn't have the funding and the intelligence to mount an effective counter-attack.
It's a problem that will only get worse as our scientific education degrades.