While nearly everyone knows that the FBI was the premier law enforcement agency used during the civil rights era against Black activists, fewer people know that race within the ranks to this day is still a serious issue.
Look no further than the case of Said Barodi for evidence.
Barodi was an analyst who the FBI fired, and then rehired after he appealed the firing, only to be fired again a few months later.
Said Barodi, a Muslim-American born in Morocco, joined the FBI right out of college and spent nearly a decade working there. During that time he was described as an “excellent” employee and received awards and bonuses on several occasions for being such an excellent agent.
But none of that mattered in the end.
Barodi was on a trip back from overseas, one which he had cleared with his supervisors well beforehand when the incidents took place.
On Barodi’s way home, someone claiming to be a Homeland Security agent stopped him in Paris. The agent wore plain clothes, however, and did not behave in a manner that an agent of that caliber normally would. He even poked a finger in Barodi’s chest and announced to everyone in earshot that he was an FBI agent.
The interaction was so bizarre that Barodi took a photo of the man and wrote a report about it on the plane.
Then, when he later landed in the US, the reception was no better. He was met by even more federal agents and asked to delete the photo from his phone. The agents also made a copy of the report Barodi had written on the plane.
As a result of those interactions, the FBI fired him.
The FBI accused Barodi of “unprofessional conduct” for the Paris incident and “lack of candor” concerning the incident once he was stateside.
For comparison: A white agent who gets drunk and disorderly in an airport, for example, would be given a five-day suspension for that conduct, never fired.
Apparently, double standards are alive and well at FBI headquarters.
Barodi appealed the decision, and after the appeal, things seemed to be going well for a while. The agency reinstated him. All he had to do was wait for them to do a basic security check that should have only taken around 20 days.
He contacted the agency weekly attempting to find out what was happening with the security check for months. Then, in February, almost a year after his trip back from overseas, he received a letter in the mail.
The letter only repeated the initial claims, which the appeals court had ostensibly already cleared him of, and said he would not be welcome back at the agency, after all.
Former FBI Director James Comey knew the truth about the FBI. He called the agency’s lack of racial diversity a “crisis.”
Indeed, of the FBI’s 13,500 agents, 83 percent of them are white, and only 4.4 percent are Black. Considering that Blacks make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, it quickly becomes apparent that the FBI has a race issue.
One of the core problems is that no sane person of color wants to work for an agency that appears to operate to this day to spy on people merely because of the color of their skin.
Sadly, the ones that overcome their fear, mostly end up regretting the decision. Barodi told the Intercept that:
“I wanted to serve my country. I wanted to fight terrorism and fight U.S. enemies and do my patriotic duty, but little by little, I discovered that I’m the target inside. People like me are the target.”
The FBI has stepped up recruiting in an attempt to fix its racism problem. However, until things stop happening as they did to Barodi, the agency is likely to continue to find itself in a serious bind.