Former F.B.I. Agents Lodge Accusations of Bias Against Conservatives


According to Justice Department records, there was only one Jan. 6-related arrest in the Jacksonville area on Aug. 24: that of Tyler Bensch, who was accused of being a member of a right-wing militia group connected to the Three Percenter movement.

What Mr. Friend omitted from his account — which was published in The New York Post and widely shared online — was that while Mr. Bensch was charged with only misdemeanors, documents in his case say that on Jan. 6, 2021, he posted a video of himself outside the Capitol wearing body armor and a gas mask and carrying an AR-15-style rifle. The documents also say that witnesses told the F.B.I. they had seen photographs of Mr. Bensch carrying a similar rifle at other times.

Former F.B.I. agents who have served on SWAT teams said the use of tactical agents during arrests has nothing to do with the charges someone is facing but is based instead on a risk assessment of the suspect.

“When in doubt, you use SWAT,” said Robert D’Amico, who served on the Miami tactical team for four years and the hostage rescue team for almost two decades. “You never let the charges dictate the tactics.”

Last year, two F.B.I. agents were killed and three more were wounded while serving a search warrant in a case involving child pornography in Florida. The suspect did not have a violent history and had been deemed low risk. The deadly episode illustrated the dangers of serving warrants or arresting suspects considered not threatening. The agents worked for Mr. Piro.

Mr. Friend’s lawyer said his client objected to the SWAT team arrest because he wanted to “de-escalate” the situation and avoid what he described as another Ruby Ridge — a reference to a botched F.B.I. raid on a white supremacist compound in Idaho in 1992 that has becoming a rallying cry for far-right extremists.

The F.B.I. declined to comment on the attacks against Mr. Piro, but three former and current law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters, said he was not under investigation when he retired from the bureau.

Mr. Piro said he was depressed by how some former agents had turned on the bureau.

“I am saddened by their behavior and their total disregard for those who are working for the F.B.I.,” he said, “and those who came before them to make the F.B.I. the premier law enforcement agency in the world.”



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