Politicians, CIA directors, and now FBI agents have reminded the American public time and again that no one, regardless of their position of authority or power, is above sexual misconduct.
CNN reported Friday that a confidential FBI internal disciplinary report was recently distributed to employees with the aim of preventing future inappropriate behavior. Misconduct outlined in this report includes paying for sex, drunk driving, and using government-issued phones to send tawdry text messages and nude photos. So much for “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity” – the FBI motto.
According to the internal report, from 2010 to 2012, the FBI disciplined a little over 1,000 employees for a variety of misdeeds and violations, such as engaging in a romantic relationship with a known drug dealer, involvement in a child pornography sting operation, and emailing nude photographs to an ex-boyfriend’s wife. The FBI Agents Association, an organization devoted to advocating for active and former FBI agents, did note, however, that the ratio of disciplinary problems among FBI agents is one of the lowest in comparison to other federal government and private sector organizations.
Though men in positions of power typically seem to be the ones to get involved in these lurid situations, such as former CIA director General Petraeus or the U.S. secret service agents who brought prostitutes to their Colombian hotel room in April, it appears that misbehavior among FBI employees befell both men and women. One woman, who ultimately received a 10-day suspension, used her personal cellphone to send nude photos of herself to several colleagues, which obviously disrupted the productivity of those squads for that day. Of the FBI’s approximate 36,000 employees, around 16,000 are women.
CNN managed to obtain a copy of an internal disciplinary report that cites a number of cases of FBI employees sending coworkers unsolicited money shots.
When public figures, especially members of an agency designed to enforce and uphold federal law, behave in ways that seem more fitting for high school co-eds, we have to wonder whether they are truly fit to serve. And yet on the other hand, it seems like many individuals have been unable to resist such questionable decision-making, considering the behavior of past presidents, congressmen, and prime ministers.
In fact, it is probably more perceptive to consider how power makes these women and men feel as though they are above the law, ethical and otherwise. Evidently, with power comes a sense of entitlement that obscures rational deliberation on consequences and morals.
This assertion is by no means meant to excuse the behavior of the FBI agents in question. Explicitly addressing how authority and influence affects behavior should hopefully inspire a more honest conversation about accountability and integrity.