Every member of Congress swears under oath to uphold the US Constitution. So, it’s always concerning when one of them makes public remarks that undercut, rather than reinforce, the Constitution’s protections. Rep. Liz Cheney is the latest to do so.
Amid enormous backlash against the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, the GOP congresswoman spoke out against those criticizing the agency.
“I have been ashamed to hear members of my party attacking the integrity of the FBI agents involved with the recent Mar-a-Lago search,” Cheney tweeted. “These are sickening comments that put the lives of patriotic public servants at risk.”
I have been ashamed to hear members of my party attacking the integrity of the FBI agents involved with the recent Mar-a-Lago search. These are sickening comments that put the lives of patriotic public servants at risk.
— Rep. Liz Cheney (@RepLizCheney) August 11, 2022
It’s disturbing to see Cheney conflate First-Amendment-protected criticism of government officials with endangering the physical safety of others. This is the same dangerous “speech I don’t like is violence” conflation we regularly see from progressives.
The congresswoman is well within her rights to dislike the criticisms others are making—even find them “sickening”—but she should explain her disagreements, not suggest that others’ arguments are a threat to public safety. That’s the first step toward censorship.
What’s more, Americans have plenty of legitimate reasons to question the FBI’s integrity.
Remember, former FBI agents were punished for falsifying warrants in order to spy on members of Trump’s campaign orbit during the “Russiagate” investigation. Other agents had text messages leaked which made their anti-Trump animus clear.
More broadly, the FBI has had its integrity called into question time and time again thanks to its own misdeeds. These include botching the infamous Larry Nassar case, spying on millions of Americans’ texts and emails without a warrant, and more.
Frankly, Americans should be skeptical of the FBI’s integrity, if they’ve been paying any attention the last few years.
That said, the threats against the FBI we’re seeing are absolutely unacceptable. For example, the deranged attempt by an armed man to breach an Ohio FBI field office this week should absolutely be condemned by all of us. If all Cheney had done was condemn these threats, I wouldn’t be criticizing her, I’d be in agreement.
But the congresswoman is attempting to castigate all criticism of the FBI’s integrity as if they’re all threats—when in fact, this criticism is both well-warranted and constitutionally protected free speech. These cynical comments betray Cheney’s oft-touted commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law.