Hat tip Chris
I have learned of the recent arrest of a former DEA agent, Mark Ibrahim, for his alleged involvement in the Capitol Hill riot that occurred on January 6, 2021. I also saw the interview of Ibrahim and his lawyer this week on Fox News. As a retired DEA agent, I feel compelled to look further into this and comment-though at this point, I don't feel like I have all the facts.
First my attitude toward the incident in general. I do not support the acts of those who entered the Capitol and engaged in rioting. I do support the rights of those who peacefully protested, listened to President Trump's speech, and walked to the Capitol to peacefully protest. Those who broke into the Capitol and engaged in mayhem were wrong, and I have no problem with their prosecution based on their own individual actions.
I do share concerns of many that those charged are being treated differently than the BLM and Antifa rioters in other cities like Portland, Oregon. They seem to be getting a pass both at the local and federal levels.
As I understand it from the interview of Ibrahim on Fox News, he is specifically charged with some sort of offense relating to accessing some restricted Capitol property or structure outside of the actual Capitol building. He insists he engaged in no rioting, did not enter the Capitol, and disapproved of the rioters' actions. He also said that he went there with a friend (an FBI informant) and that his intent was to protect people. He was not on actual DEA duty at the time. According to the linked article, he was stationed in Los Angeles at the time and was on leave when he traveled to Washington. Ibrahim is facing a possible 15 years in prison.
At this point, it might be a good idea to review the Hatch Act, which limits the participation of federal employees in political activity. Even those government employees with "further restrictions" (I am not sure if DEA is in this category-the FBI and Secret Service are) are allowed to attend political rallies.
Since Ibrahim was a recent hire and still on probation, he could have been discharged more easily than one not on probationary status. In other words, agents in their first year of service don't enjoy the same job protections as others.
One thing that bothers me is the photo of Ibrahim exhibiting his DEA badge and firearm, Not that he wasn't entitled to be armed and carrying his badge. Agents do that routinely. It may be argued that he used bad judgment in allowing that photo to be taken and that he should have left the Capitol area as soon as he saw things get out of hand. Then again, I wasn't there with him, so I can't say with 100% accuracy.
Should he have been fired? Had he not been on probation, probably not, but when on probation, showing bad judgment can result in termination.
Should he have been charged? Based solely on what I have seen, no. The problem here is that this incident has been handled in a climate of hysteria. I do not see the reason for holding (at least some of) those charged in solitary confinement. Where are the BLM and Antifa rioters in solitary confinement? Based on what I have seen thus far, the prospect of Ibrahim getting 15 years in prison seems preposterous.
Unless the government has video of Ibrahim engaging in rioting and destruction, I do not see the reason for charging those who simply walked to the Capitol to demonstrate. Prosecution should be limited to those who engaged in trespass, violence, and destruction. Unless something else emerges, I would guess-and hope- that Ibrahim is acquitted.