FACT CHECK: Did The FBI Become A 'KGB-Type Operation' Under Obama?

Hours after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified to Congress Wednesday that FBI special counsel Robert Mueller “is running [the Russia investigation] appropriately," a Fox News guest compared the FBI to the KGB, the notorious, Soviet-era secret police force.

Is it true? Let's see:

THE CLAIM

On Wednesday night, Tom Fitton, president of conservative organization Judicial Watch, took the rhetoric up a notch when he compared the FBI to the Soviet-era spy organization.

"I think the FBI has been compromised," Fitton said on Fox News @ Night. "Forget about shutting down Mr. Mueller. Do we need to shut down the FBI because it was turned into a KGB-type operation by the Obama administration?" 

THE CONTEXT

As the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign ratchets up, Republicans have taken every opportunity to portray the special counsel and his team as biased.

Recent reports of anti-Trump texts among the FBI team may even have lent a modicum of credibility to the bias claim.

Fitton's leading question follows a similar segment on the conservative network a week earlier, when Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett said "the FBI has become America's secret police" and compared the FBI to "the old KGB that comes for you in the dark of the night, banging through your door."

So what was the KGB?

As defined by the Cold War Museum, "The KGB was the world’s largest spy and state-security machine, involved in all aspects of life of everyday people in the Soviet Union." The KGB was governed by a specific directive, but it was never published or made available to the public. 

The KGB acted as a secret police force whose main goals were to keep dissenters quiet by any means necessary. Those who did not fall in line were murdered, tortured and sent to labor camps with conditions so brutal that many committed suicide. 

The FBI, on the other hand, is governed by publicly known law. The organization's leaders are often called upon to testify in a public setting, and many FBI operations have been made public record. The organization does not torture American citizens for voicing opinions, no matter how far outside the mainstream or how potentially offensive they might be to the government.

THE BREAKDOWN

Simply speaking, Fitton is incorrect. President Barack Obama did not turn the FBI into the KGB.

Indeed, the fact that Fitton was permitted to voice this claim on cable television is proof itself that America does not have a secret police force trying to suppress dissent. Were Fitton living in Russia when the KGB was active, he would have found no platform to voice his claims and likely would have faced fatal consequences.

The Obama-era FBI certainly deserves criticism, specifically for its handling of investigations into Russian interference during the 2016 election and Hillary Clinton's emails. But there is no comparison between the FBI and KGB.

THE VERDICT

We rate the claim as false.

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President Obama turned the FBI "into a KGB-type operation"
Fox News
Wednesday, December 13, 2017