The following is an opinion piece by FBI Special Agent Stephen Friend, who was suspended after objecting to a number of practices within the agency.
The Oath of Office is Not an iPhone User Agreement
by Stephen Friend (indefinitely suspended FBI Special Agent)
Twitter: @RealStevefriend; Truth-Social: @Real_SteveFriend
Legend holds that when George Washington was inaugurated as our nation’s first president, he improvised, “So help me God” as an addendum to the presidential oath of office. Unlike Washington’s wooden teeth or cutting down the cherry tree, the factual basis for this account is still hotly debated. Nevertheless, America’s ensuing Presidents, elected officials, military members, and civilian government workforce continually honor the tradition by pledging:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
Recent events in Arizona as well as my own experience as an FBI whistleblower warrant an examination as to whether America’s officials still honor their respective oaths of office.
Mohave County Arizona Board of Supervisors held a late November meeting to certify the 2022 election results. Many voters and officials held misgivings about possible fraud and there was public pressure to delay the certification. However, delaying certification beyond November 28th arguably represented an act of malfeasance of office by county officials- a class 2 misdemeanor under Arizona law. Mohave County certified the results. But after voting in favor, County Supervisor Ron Gould somberly remarked, “I found out today that I have no choice but to (vote in favor of approving the canvass), or I’ll be arrested.”
Regardless of one’s opinions on Arizona electoral hijinks, Gould’s decision ranks as a gross violation of his oath of office. Elected Arizona candidates swear a loyalty oath before assuming office. The would-be officials solemnly swear they will “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the state of Arizona…” My question for Supervisor Gould is, if he honestly believes nefarious activities influenced the outcomes of the 2022 election and infringed on citizens’ rights, didn’t his oath of office preclude him from voting to certify? I do not begrudge Mr. Gould’s desire to avoid a misdemeanor arrest. But he undoubtedly placed his personal welfare ahead of his fundamental responsibility as an elected Board of Supervisor member.
My decision to become an FBI whistleblower was largely driven by a devotion to my oath of office. I expressed this sentiment repeatedly to every level of my chain of command. I sincerely believe that the FBI’s improper management of January 6th investigations and aggressive arrest tactics against January 6th subjects are violations of citizens’ Sixth Amendment due process rights and Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. When my supervisors ordered me to engage in January 6th arrest operations, I noted the order violated my oath of office and refused to participate.
I anticipated an FBI retaliation and it ultimately arrived in the form of an unpaid, indefinite suspension from duty. But unlike Gould, I place my oath ahead of my professional well-being. While my family and I are now suffering financial hardship, I do not question my decision. The oath is the oath.
Financial privation aside, the worst cause for alarm is the thunderous silence from my FBI colleagues. I expected my fellow FBI Special Agents to follow my lead. After all, we were all vetted as people of integrity. We all swore the same oath. To my great sorrow and complete chagrin, the “fine men and women of the FBI” left me in the cold.
I contend that the oath of office has not simply lost its luster. It has completely morphed into something unrecognizable from the dignified and grand words once uttered by the father of our nation. Today’s intonements are tantamount to clicking “Agree” on the latest iPhone update. No one reads the contract. Instead, we all immediately agree. We are all hellbent on attaining the latest technological innovations and willing to sacrifice whatever personal data Apple requires for the privilege.
Similarly, swearing today’s oaths is a means to an end instead of a portentous pledge to the nation. The ends are obvious- lucrative government salaries, generous pensions, and nearly invincible job security (except for FBI whistleblowers).
The crucial question is, what are public servants sacrificing on our behalf when they click “Agree” to their oath? In the case of Mohave County, it may be fraudulent election results. For the FBI and January 6th subjects, it is the civil rights for which our forebearers pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.
As I write these words, thousands of Chinese citizens protest their tyrannical government. It is an uphill battle against an authoritarian Communist regime. The fight is made indelibly harder when companies like Apple (which long ago clicked “Agree” to the terms and conditions spelled out by the Chinese Communist Party in exchange for access to 1.4 billion potential customers) are complicit with the CCP in thwarting dissent.
This is a rhetorical call to arms for my fellow government employees. Unlike China, America is a constitutional republic. If we hope to retain our form of government and maintain citizens’ freedoms, elected representatives must cease clicking “Agree” and afford our oaths of office all due honor and regard. The rights of “We The People” are worth more than the latest iOS app updates and camera enhancements.
This opinion article may be linked to or republished in its entirety with appropriate attribution to Stephen Friend at SharylAttkisson.com.