Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

March 5, 2001

Spy Scandal Reveals Deeper Problems with Federal Police Agencies

The recent FBI spy scandal continues to make national headlines, particularly given FBI director Louis Freeh's statement that the damage done to U.S. intelligence was "exceptionally grave." While it's certainly tragic that a veteran FBI agent allegedly sold high-level secrets to the Russians for years, the greater tragedy is our government's continued intervention in the domestic affairs of virtually every nation on earth. Corrupted spies simply are an inevitable by-product of our own government's relentless quest to police the world.
The fundamental question has been ignored by the press. The real issue ought to be simple: Why is a domestic law enforcement agency involved in international espionage at all? In other words, why was the accused FBI agent spying on foreign nations in the first place? Surely the CIA and the Department of Defense are charged with that task. Since the ostensible mission of the FBI is to police crime here in the U.S., how on earth would an FBI agent obtain information that was so valuable to the Russians?
The answer, of course, is that federal police agencies like the FBI, DEA, and BATF have enormously expanded their jurisdictions. Director Freeh has opened FBI offices around the world in recent years; presumably his agents are involving themselves not only with international crime and terrorism, but also with wholly domestic crime in foreign countries. This deployment of hundreds of agents abroad should trouble any American concerned with the sanctity of national sovereignty. Our government hardly can expect other nations to respect our right to manage our domestic affairs when we meddle so aggressively in theirs.
It is important to understand that the Constitution contains no express authorization for federal police agencies. Article I section 8 sets out the only federal crimes, namely counterfeiting, piracy, and treason. The Founders intended all other criminal matters to be policed by the states themselves, not by federal agencies. The unconstitutional federalization of purely state criminal matters has enabled the FBI and other federal police agencies to operate far beyond constitutional limits. Apparently the FBI now considers foreign espionage part of its mission, which mirrors the unfortunate expansion of unconstitutional foreign aid and global interventionism by Congress.
Just as Congress abandoned the Constitution to create the domestic welfare state, so too has Congress sacrificed constitutional principles to advance the global warfare state. The use of domestic agencies to engage in international espionage demonstrates clearly the mentality of our federal politicians and bureaucrats. To them federal power is limitless, to be used without regard to constitutional restrictions. The media plays along by focusing on the lurid details of the accused agent's activities, rather than the larger constitutional issues. In short, we should expect the federal government to continue intervening in the internal affairs of other countries. We are likely to see more spy scandals. The current news will be forgotten quickly, but similar abuses inevitably will result from our arrogant and misguided foreign policy.
Washington politicians may not question the wisdom of using domestic federal agents to spy on our neighbors, but many Americans understand the dangers posed by having FBI agents advance an interventionist foreign policy and globalist agenda. Perhaps this latest scandal will cause some of our policy makers to reassess the proper role of our domestic police agencies and the proper approach for our foreign policy.