Is the FBI a Private Investigator? Questions Arise in Unsolved “Death” of DHS Whistleblower

As its name implies, the FBI is all about investigation, but a recent case raises questions about the bureau’s performance in that role.

February 21 marked one year since Department of Homeland Security whistleblower Philip Haney, author of See Something Say Nothing, was “found deceased” in Amador County, California. Initial reports of suicide were false, and the sheriff found a firearm at the scene, along with Haney’s computer, a thumb drive, and a trove of documents. The sheriff gave the devices and documents to the FBI.

Last July, the Amador sheriff reported that the FBI had performed a forensic examination on these items, with results expected in “the next few weeks.” By February 21, 2021, the results had not come in, leaving the case shrouded in mystery. 

According to the local Ledger Dispatch, the documents found at the scene were the manuscript of a new book, also present on the flash drive Haney carried at all times. Last September, the Department of Justice told journalist Rex Hastings these items were “exempt from disclosure” under the Freedom of Information Act.

On February 18, 2021, the Amador sheriff’s office told this writer there was no new press release, and would say nothing else about the case. The FBI also proved evasive. “The Amador County Sheriff’s Office is the agency conducting the death investigation mentioned below and should be contacted directly,” the FBI public affairs office replied in an email, which did provide one detail of significance. 

This was a “death investigation,” the FBI said, similar to the sheriff’s report that Mr. Haney was “found deceased,” as though he had died of natural causes or by accident. Phil Haney was gunned down by a person or persons unknown, which makes the death a homicide investigation. 

That raises questions of motive, and Haney had powerful enemies, inside and outside of government. 

The material on Haney’s devices could shed enlightenment, but after more than a year the FBI is still stonewalling. The bureau thus gives the public a motive to question the FBI motto of “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.” 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.
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