The Threat - a review
The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump
by Andrew G. McCabe
This is a great book. An important book. A fun book. A fascinating police procedural. Probably the best of the Trump administration insider books I’ve read recently. The Threat is a superb audiobook.
I purchased both the Kindle and the Audible version of The Threat. The audiobook is read by Andrew McCabe himself. Frankly, this is a fun audiobook to listen to. McCabe is a superb narrator. Normally I buy the Kindle version as well, mostly so I can copy out Kindle notes of passages or quotes I want to keep in Evernote.
McCabe tells a crackerjack, fast paced, story.
Sandwiched between McCabe’s personal story of life in the FBI are superb “How We Work” chapters of FBI procedural. The inside story of the FBI’s response to the Boston Marathon Bombing alone is worth the price of the book. A gift police procedural lovers (think Law & Order).
McCabe’s tale also warms the hearts of those of us who still believe in duty, fealty to the Constitution, honesty, and the rule of law. In a world where few believe in “unselfish service to the nation,” McCabe’s descriptions of the FBI’s processes and policies are gratifying to those of us who still believe in service.
The section on investigating the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. The depth and breadth of expertise, equipment, and manpower the FBI could throw at an investigation is astounding.
I’ll not dig too deeply into McCabe’s tales of his dealing with the Trump administration. Let’s just say that McCabe’s story has the ring of verisimilitude. I will say that his retelling of his dealings with the administration are by turns entertaining and harrowing. The narriative is even more entertaining when heard in McCabe’s own voice in the audiobook.
A continuing theme of this book is the “fog of war,” which McCabe captures perfectly. How does one proceed when action is called for but information is scant on the ground? How does the agency avoid politics when plunked down in the mud hole of politics?
Most importantly, I have a great deal of empathy for the situation the FBI was in during the election.
The founders never anticipated the possibility of a true or suspected Manchurian Candidate making it into the presidential race.
What an impossible quagmire for the FBI to find itself in, sworn to uphold the constitution from all enemies foreign & domestic.
If the FBI announce their suspicions, they will be accused of putting a thumb on the scale. (Particularly after the GOP leadership refused to endorse Obama’s announcement about Russian interference in the election).
If the FBI opened a very limited & very quiet investigation to try to determine if the Trump campaign had been infiltrated by the Russians having it come out sounded nefarious. The FBI used, if I remember correctly, a Georgetown professor. And when that became public, it was made to look as though the FBI was trying to torpedo the Trump campaign.
If the FBI waited until after the election to open the investigation. Then what does the FBI do if they find out the sitting President is a Russian mole?
No doubt the GOP and Trump’s supporters would rally around him. If they didn’t defend the president, then the scandal would be the end of the GOP. And the actions by the FBI would look like an attempted coup. What a miserable choice for the agency.
That’s actually the constitutional crisis McCabe frets over. A demagogue as president poised to become a tyrant.