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 suspended FBI whistleblower Stephen Friend.
Their heartfelt messages, obtained exclusively by The Post, show a deep and widespread anguish about the politicization of the FBI.
“It’s time to stop the FBI from being the enforcer of a political party’s ideology,” says Ernie Tibaldi, a retired agent from San Francisco. “We need to reestablish the FBI as the apolitical and independent law enforcement entity that it always was.”
He expressed gratitude to Friend “for having the courage to stand up to the corruption that has taken over the leadership of the FBI.”
Many former agents hailed Friend, a SWAT team member in Florida, as a “hero,” after he was punished for refusing to participate in what he regarded as unnecessarily heavy-handed SWAT raids over Jan. 6 misdemeanors.
In his whistleblower complaint to the Department of Justice inspector general, Friend alleged that the FBI has been manipulating case-file management in order to falsely inflate the threat of domestic terrorism, and using unconstitutional, excessive force against political dissenters.
Terry Turchie, former deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, describes Friend as “a model example of what FBI agents nationwide should be.”
“Moral courage, leadership in the face of pressure, and true to the Oath of Office FBI agents take to defend the United States Constitution and protect America and its citizens.
“I am beyond proud to offer him my support in the decisions he had to make.”
Turchie, who led the Unabomber task force, says he didn’t even use a SWAT team in 1996 to arrest Theodore Kaczynski, a violent domestic terrorist who had killed three people and injured 23 others.
“No real FBI agent would defend the position of using SWAT teams to arrest non-violent senior citizens and others with political opinions not currently tolerated by this administration, compounded by the idea that many of these cases involve misdemeanor criminal charges.
“This activity actually generates tension in communities and increases the potential for tragic results and injuries to FBI agents and citizens.”
Five former SWAT team members in Friend’s support group agree that raiding a nonviolent person on a misdemeanor offense was wrong and potentially dangerous.
“I was involved in numerous arrests where we never used any SWAT teams,” says retired Special Agent David Baldovin, who served from 1969 to 2000, including 25 years in SWAT.
“The current use — or should I say abuse — of Bureau SWAT teams has been outrageous.”
Baldovin expressed thanks to Friend “for having the courage to say ‘hell, no’ to the current bunch of FBI bureaucrats and tyrants,”
“They do not exemplify Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity, but you, sir, certainly do . . .
“The SWAT colleagues of yours who agree to participate in these police state tactics are doing the same thing as those in Germany who participated in war crimes. ‘Only following orders,’ right?”
Another SWAT member, retired Special Agent Bob Fricke, who served from 1987 to 2008, says: “When I see the FBI using extreme SWAT tactics on elderly and other citizens who pose no physical threat, it makes me sick. It has to be purely political . . .
“I participated in many searches authorized by legally obtained search warrants . . . [All] included serious felonies. The only time I recall participating in a pre-dawn raid in which we all wore body armor and needed SWAT team . . . assistance involved an extremely violent motor-cycle gang . . .
“I believe Special Agent Friend is an American hero. He is a shining example of what I attempt to inculcate in my students, honor above self.
“Our founding fathers wanted people of high moral character to serve the American people. It is good to know that people such as Special Agent Friend still exist. May God protect him and his family.”
Former Special Agent Brian Shepard, who also served in SWAT, had this message for Friend: “I highly commend your courage! I am standing with you all the way.”
In a 30-year career in law enforcement, SWAT team member Greg Dillon served in the FBI just five years to 1990, before he, too, was forced to become a whistleblower. His book, “The Thin Blue Lie: An Honest Cop vs The FBI,” is a searing account of falsified affidavits, corruption, coverups and retaliation.
‘A brave stand’
“I served on SWAT teams in the Alexandria Division and the Washington Field Office. In state service, I served as a supervisor in a Fugitive Unit and later in a Gang Unit. Rarely were SWAT teams used to effect an arrest; those rare circumstances were reserved for career criminals with a history of violence, those known to resist to arrest, or suspected of being heavily armed.
“I applaud Steven Friend for adhering to his moral compass and taking a brave stand few are willing to make. Hopefully, his courage will inspire other colleagues to step forward in support.”
Gary Karns, another former SWAT team member, said Friend’s actions were “an act of patriotism. To stand by your principles during these times is the honorable and right thing to do. God Bless you.”
Former Special Agent Dewanna Jackolski was damning about the current state of the Bureau: “FBI Agents pledged to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. [We] did not pledge unquestioning loyalty to any supervisor, director, President or political party.
“The oath does not state that we are to obey orders if those orders are being used to persecute individuals who disagree with the actions and policies of the politicians in power. There comes a time and place where our conscience, morality and humanity demand that we speak out and condemn the actions of this FBI.”
Urey Patrick, a supervisory special agent who served in the FBI from 1973 to 1996, says: “The FBI has mutated over the years. [When I joined, it] was an independent investigative agency essentially devoid of political partisanship, subordinate to but not subservient to the DOJ . . . Since then, it has inexorably devolved into just another supplicant agency doing the bidding of whatever political regime is in control of the DOJ.
“I don’t know if that is irreparable or not, but I do know that, if there is to be a restoration of FBI integrity, honor and calling to duty, it will be only because of men and women like you [Friend]. For what it is worth, I am with you . . . in any way I can be — as are countless others.”
Retired FBI agent Steve Nash kept it short and sweet: “If no one speaks up, evil wins. I support the truth
‘A police force for the Dems’
Terry Turchie, the FBI’s first head of counterterrorism, and a retired front-line agent of almost 30 years, feels it is his moral duty to support embattled FBI whistleblower Stephen Friend, and he has been contacted by dozens of current and former agents wanting to help.
Serving agents with whom he has been in contact, “believe the FBI is wrong to be doing these things, but simply are fearful of speaking up for now.”
Turchie points out that the FBI has a long tradition of whistleblowers. In the past, FBI agents of integrity “did attempt to fight back” to stop the bureau abusing its powers.
After 9/11, for instance, FBI employees, including the management of the New York Field Office, sounded the alarm over the abuse of national-security surveillance powers, warning then-Director Robert Mueller that the bureau “should not be opening counterterrorism investigations based solely and exclusively on National Security Agency intercepts of conversations of US citizens,” says Turchie.
“Mueller rejected that advice.”
In 2013, when Mueller retired, hundreds of FBI employees signed a letter to incoming director James Comey, warning him about “political bias and political compromise of the FBI,” and saying that Mueller had led the bureau in the “wrong direction . . . as a result of its transformation from a law-enforcement to an intelligence organization.”
Comey did not even acknowledge that he had received the letter and the FBI continued down the same ill-fated path to this day, with current director Christopher Wray “doubling down on that course.”
“The FBI has been collapsed into nothing more than a police agency for the Democratic Party,” says Turchie. “Many of us feel that over the decades [we have seen] the complete compromise of the bureau.”
More than 20 FBI whistleblowers have come forward to Republican members of Congress in recent months, and Turchie says those numbers will grow.