Review of FBI (CBS) – A New Dawn, S1 E12

Recap:  When an alt-right provocateur is murdered after giving a speech at a university in New York City, Maggie and OA investigate the school’s more extreme political groups and rely on OA’s sister, Amira, a student, for help.

ReviewFor educational purposes, I made a few reality check notes:

When I watched the preview for this episode, I wondered where the story would venture. I was aware that hate speech itself is not a crime— the FBI is sensitive to the importance of freedom of speech and other civil liberties in the United States.

When they arrived on campus, OA and Maggie probably did not have jurisdiction to initiate an investigation into the murder of the university’s guest speaker. They had no intelligence indicating the involvement of a hate group, nor was the victim a member of a protected group. Additionally, according to the civil-rights section on the FBI website, state and local law enforcement agencies, handle the vast majority of bias crime investigations throughout the country.

However, a drive-by where armed men shoot at FBI agents. . . Yeah, that’s a crime. OA and Maggie also established jurisdiction to open a case once they determined the arson/murder was committed by a suspected domestic terrorism organization.

During the episode, Maggie states that she’ll enter the group’s safe house and, “Plant the wire and get out.” Not so fast, Maggie. That’s not how it works. It’s not that simple. There are rules and procedures that must be followed first. In the 1970s, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the practice of wiretapping radical domestic groups without first obtaining court approval, even if they were considered dangerous to national security.

The Court held that wiretapping of domestic radicals who have no foreign ties can be done only by obtaining a warrant just like the ones used by the FBI to investigate and wiretap organized crime. And, will someone remind SAC Mosier that warrants are prepared by the U.S Attorney Office, with the investigating agent as the affiant, but warrants must be approved by a judge.

To learn more about how the FBI uses electronic surveillance, listen to FBI Retired Case File Review – Episode 123: J.J. Klaver – Electronic Surveillance, Fort Dix Six Case.

Of course, I have to address the newly created database of enemies. What? Where does analyst Kristen find these search tools? If such a resource actually existed (it doesn’t), some people might be more careful about what they say on social media. Haters beware!

Another solid episode of FBI.


(Disclaimer: If you are watching FBI simply to be entertained, don’t read this review. I’m here to educate and provide a reality check for those who want to learn about the real FBI. My reality checks should not be confused with criticism. I like this show and believe that it’s a powerful promo for the real FBI. I’m excited that a new generation is watching and perhaps deciding they want to be FBI agents when they grow up. Attempting to create an accurate portrayal of an FBI investigation is an impossible task if the investigation must be solved within less than an hour. Corners must be cut, and creative license must be used to move matters along quickly. I get it. I really do. However, to counteract the “CSI Effect” this sometimes creates, I’m going to, respectfully, point out a few issues.)

Join my Reader Team to get the FBI Reality Checklist, and discover 20 clichés and misconceptions about FBI in books, TV, and movies. 


Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 250 episodes available for free on all popular podcast apps.


  1. pascal carcanJanuary 24, 2019

    I have not yet seen the series but according to your analysis, there is an uncountable number of errors in each episode, which existed less in the series “Law and Order” from the same Producer Dick Wolf.

    1. Jerri WilliamsJanuary 24, 2019

      The things I bring up are more like shortcuts than errors. Compromises the writers have to make to tell the story in a tight time frame. Law & Order makes them too. I’m providing the facts for those (like you) who enjoy learning how the FBI really works. Thank you for reading my review!


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