Examining the FBI’s Plans for Expansion: A Debate for the Public

New FBI headquarters expected to surpass size of the Pentagon

The federal government has plans for a new headquarters complex for the FBI on three sites in Virginia of 58, 61, and 80 acres. That amounts to twice the size of the Pentagon building, which accounts for 29 acres plus a five-acre courtyard. The new FBI headquarters would also surpass the Russian Kremlin, which contains government offices, the presidential residence, auditoriums, an arsenal, a museum, and several churches, all in slightly more than 66 acres. 

Last year the Biden administration claimed the current FBI headquarters “can no longer support the long-term mission of the FBI.” The bureau “has begun a multi-year process of constructing a modern, secure suburban facility from which the FBI can continue its mission to protect the American people.” That gives the American people cause to wonder.

With all its powers, the FBI failed to protect the American people from the massive attack of September 11, 2001, with some 3,000 dead and damage continuing to this day. The FBI also failed to stop the murder of 14 Americans and the wounding of more than 30 at Fort Hood, Texas, in November of 2009. In this case, the FBI knew the shooter, Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan communicated with al Qaeda leaders but dropped surveillance on the Major. 

In a similar style, the FBI failed to protect Americans from terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California, in 2015 (14 dead, more than 20 wounded) and Orlando, Florida, in 2016, with 49 dead. In light of these failures, people might wonder about the bureau’s “long-term mission.”

FBI whistleblowers cite cases where the bureau used “threat tags,” created by the bureau’s counterterrorism division, to investigate parents who had protested at school board meetings. The FBI investigations included a father who had opposed mask mandates and a mother who owned guns and belonged to the group “Moms for Liberty.” If parents thought that was FBI mission creep, it would be hard to blame them. 

Such abuse of authority makes a strong case for downsizing the FBI. For its part, the bureau wants the biggest headquarters in the world and wants to keep the space it already has in Washington D.C. J. Michael Waller suggests actions Congress can take.

Allow no funds to purchase, lease, or develop land not presently owned by the federal government. Allow no funds to design, develop or construct federal property “bound to diversity, equity and inclusion agendas, or any programs that promote or enforce cultural Marxism with tax dollars.” Conduct lengthy, open hearings and a broad public debate about why the FBI needs a headquarters superplex twice the size of the Pentagon. Finally, “don’t appropriate or authorize a penny until the FBI cooperates fully with Congress to identify and hold individuals responsible for political abuses of power and criminal activity within the bureau. It’s as simple as that.” 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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