Sunday 20 August 2017

Former FBI agent says America is in midst of a 'civil war without the guns'

US President Donald Trump Photo: PA
US President Donald Trump Photo: PA

Rebecca Lumley

America is in the midst of a “civil war without the guns” under the Trump administration, according to a former FBI profiler.

Jana Monroe said the country is “very polarised”, to the degree that “has not been seen before”, just days after FBI director James Comey was fired by President trump.

Speaking to Richard Mulcahy on Dublin City FM, Ms Monroe said she was “surprised but not shocked” at the abrupt dismissal of her former FBI colleague, who is believed to have been fired due to steering investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia.

The official reason for Mr Comey’s dismissal stems back to improper conduct when investigating Hillary Clinton’s private emails, which were released just a few days before the presidential election last November.

It is widely understood, however, that Mr Comey was fired because of an investigation into allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in order to influence the outcome of the election.

Ms Monroe said Mr Comey’s dismissal was unsurprising because of the way he “highlighted” himself through his involvement with both investigations.

She said: “The reason I say I was surprised and not shocked, I’ll take it back to the July 5 press conference which Director Comey had regarding the Clinton emails, and then the subsequent media highlighting himself and the FBI. That’s basically unprecedented.

“Most people, if you would ask what former Director Mueller (or any others) looked like, they wouldn’t know because traditionally the FBI is still apolitical and makes every effort to stay out of the media because they’re an independent, unbiased investigative agency. But he highlighted himself and that’s quite controversial in many respects.”

Ms Monroe noted, however, that the manner in which Mr Comey had been let go was unorthodox.

She said: “The part that I still find very difficult to understand is the approach or the manner in which he was let go.

“It seems like a poor way to approach that.”

It has been widely reported that Mr Comey was speaking to agents in the Los Angeles FBI field office when news of his dismissal appeared on the television. He later received a letter from President Trump, stating that he was “not able to effectively lead the bureau” and ordering his immediate dismissal.

Questions have subsequently been raised about the FBI’s independence in relation to the President’s power, but Ms Monroe was confident about the bureau’s future.

“Everybody has a boss, everybody reports to somebody, including the president.

“There was a statement made (in Trump’s letter) about “not being loyal”, but in my opinion the FBI should absolutely not be loyal to the president or to anyone. Again, it’s an independent, fact-finding agency and it stands for fidelity, bravery and integrity, integrity being what we’re talking about here. So I think there is independence.”

She continued: “Obviously if you can have a good relationship with the Whitehouse, that’s going to be better for everyone but if someone is stepping over the line, and I think this could be construed as that, then there needs to be pushback.”

Ms Monroe joined a small minority of female agents when she began her career and made her mark as one of twelve original FBI profilers. She worked as “the only female” at Quantico, Virginia and trained Jodie Foster for her role as an agent in the film Silence of the Lambs.

She later served as assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division. Speaking about the worldwide cyberattacks that occurred this weekend, Ms Monroe advised taking simple precautions for online security.

She said: “It’s the simple things, such as not clicking on things that you’re not aware of, not changing passwords, not giving your passwords out. All things that sound simple but when you look at and follow the trail of so many of these huge hacks and disruptions, it’s predominantly people error.

“You can have some of the best systems in the world and if your people aren’t trained or they get lazy or they don’t do what they’re supposed to do, that’s when you have an opening and that creates a vulnerability.”

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