FBI agent and whistleblower Steve Friend finally turned in his shield and firearm this week and said sayonara to his friends at the J. Edgar Hoover Building. It would be safe to say there weren’t many of them left. Still, it could be said that one of the agency’s most prominent whistleblowers went out with a bang, leaving behind a plethora of concerns and questions in the wake of his high-profile exit.
Friend – who was put on a lengthy suspension without pay – used his departure as an opportunity to blast the FBI for creating a quota system that encouraged agents to “pursue frivolous cases or delay action on real crimes to attain statistical goals,” according to one conservative website. The agent also maintained, “I had a personal experience where I was told to delay indictments of subjects, because we’d already met our quota for the year. We wanted those numbers to count to the next fiscal year.” This parting shot was made during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, which is looking into alleged politicized investigations at the Bureau.
Previously the federal agent claimed the agency violated the civil liberties of those targeted by the FBI for their involvement in the events of Jan. 6, 2021, at the US Capitol. On the John Solomon Reports podcast, Friend asserted that the SWAT teams used to apprehend nonviolent J-6 offenders were designed “to gin up statistics that would make it look like America has a more serious domestic terrorism problem than it does.”
In 2022, the whistleblower wrote, “I believed the investigations [of Jan. 6] were inconsistent with FBI procedure and resulted in the violation of citizens’ Sixth and Eighth Amendment rights. I added that many of my colleagues expressed similar concerns to me but had not vocalized their objections to FBI Executive Management.”
Whistleblower – The Lonesome Cowboy
Dispirited by the lack of support from active agents at America’s top cop shop, Friend stated that he wasn’t getting much help regarding his accusations against the agency because “There’s a really great opportunity [at the FBI] to be overpaid and underworked and it’s a sweet gig. And a lot of people don’t want to give up that paycheck.” Nevertheless, the New York Post reported in 2022 that “Thirty former FBI agents, including a retired deputy assistant director, head of counterterrorism and five SWAT team members, have spoken out publicly in support” of Friend.
Much of the whistleblower’s defense has come from retired agents. “It’s time to stop the FBI from being the enforcer of a political party’s ideology,” Ernie Tibaldi, a retired agent from San Francisco, told the Post. “We need to re-establish the FBI as the apolitical and independent law enforcement entity that it always was.” Tibaldi was also quoted as expressing his “gratitude to Friend for having the courage to stand up to the corruption that has taken over the leadership of the FBI.”
Friend served as an agent with the FBI for five years and maintained he was given high-performance marks until he began to air his grievances about how the J-6 investigation was being handled. The agency has not charged him with any wrongdoing during his tenure at the Bureau, and laws are in place to prevent punishing a whistleblower.
For its part, a statement by the FBI countered that they don’t discuss personnel issues in detail with the media, but there can be little doubt the agency is pleased that Friend – who became a thorn in its side – is saying goodbye.
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