Whenever a prominent organization is thrust into the spotlight for an embarrassed situation, there is always the supposedly face-saving option: sensitivity training.
That's what Starbucks did after an embarrassing incident with a racial overtone. Now, the FBI is going Starbucks.
Although FBI Director Christopher Wray didn't call it sensitivity training, that seems to be what he has in mind to address problems of apparent bias revealed in the Inspector General's report on the agency's handling of the Clinton email investigation. Here is part of what Wray said:
Because change starts at the top—including right here with me—we’re going to begin by requiring all our senior executives, from around the world, to convene for in-depth training on the lessons we should learn from today’s report. Then we’re going to train every single FBI employee—new hires and veterans alike—on what went wrong, so those mistakes will never be repeated.
Third: We’re going to make sure we have the policies, procedures, and training needed for everyone to understand and remember what’s expected of us.
- Drilling home the importance of objectivity—and of avoiding even the appearance of personal conflicts or political bias in our work;
- Ensuring that recusals are handled correctly and effectively—and are clearly communicated to the appropriate people;
- Making all employees fully aware of our new policy on contacts with the news media, which I issued last November—and making clear that we will not tolerate non-compliance;
- Ensuring that we follow all DOJ policies about public statements on ongoing investigations and uncharged conduct; and
- Ensuring that our employees adhere strictly to all policies and procedures on the use of FBI systems, networks, and devices.
Please–FBI agents, investigating the most sensitive matters there are, need to be schooled in the ethics of fairness and objectivity?
Apparently, it's that bad.
By all means, yes, hold training sessions. But these are matters that should have been made clear when an agent was hired and should be part of the culture of the FBI.Wray's remarks accidentally admit the truth that the FBI has fallen short, at least in the matter the IG addressed, of its own standards.
But maybe FBI agents and other government bureaucrats do need some sensitivity training–training that teaches them not to look down on the people for whom they work–that would be ordinary Americans. The disdain FBI agents showed in their emails for the people who pay their salaries is shocking:
The [FBI employees] overs also criticized Republicans, conservatives, and Trump voters. In early 2016, they complained about the annual March for Life. Page told Strzok, “I truly hate these people. No support for the woman who actually has to spend the rest of her life rearing this child, but we care about ‘life.’ Assholes.” (Strzok then joked about canceling the permit for the event.) During the primaries, Strzok remarked, “the Republican party is in utter shambles. When was the last competitive ticket they offered?” Then in August 2016, Strzok texted Page, “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support . . . .”
. . .
The day after the election, one FBI officials lamented, “Trump’s supporters are all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS that think he will magically grant them jobs for doing nothing. They probably didn’t watch the debates, aren’t fully educated on his policies, and are stupidly wrapped up in his unmerited enthusiasm.”
So ordinary people smell bad to those whose salaries their tax dollars support?
The FBI agents' sneering about ordinary Americans put me in mind of Lois Lerner, the former IRS agent who was involved in the targeting of tea party groups. I blogged previously on Lerner's hateful comments about conservatives, made in emails from a European trip.
I was most amused by her snobbish comment about an “Edwardian English village” with big houses “which have been ruined by letting "the hoi paloi live there!” ( We average Americans are hoi polloi is Lerner's view, so it is funny that she misspelled "palloi" and included a grammatically incorrect article– "hoi" is the Greek article. Snobs, at least try to get the grammar and spelling right before you treat us like morons!)
How on earth did we create a well-paid bureaucracy that looks down upon decent people?
Maybe sensitivity training is needed after all.
Read what happened when she took some Harvard kids to the heartlands.