When conservatives spoke of the “deep state” last year during the transition to the Trump Administration most liberals sneered in derision. The idea was laughed-off as a kooky theory of conspiracy theorists, without any real merit. Now, in light of the newly-released FBI memo that outlines the politicization of the bureau, the idea that rogue bureaucrats abuse their power to persecute political adversaries doesn’t seem so far fetched. This ought to scare every single American citizen.

Evidence has now established the fact that the FBI, under James Comey, was used as a political weapon. This is not an attack on the majority of the men and women working at the bureau, but a statement of fact about its leadership under the Obama Administration. The document released Friday outlines how the FBI used a dossier paid for by the Democratic Party, containing the tainted “intelligence” work of Christopher Steele, was used to obtain a FISA court warrant to spy on American citizens working for the then-Republican presidential candidate. This is a scandal worse than Watergate, yet the media remains largely mum on its impropriety and, likely, illegality.

When agencies of government, particularly law enforcement agencies, are weaponized it makes us more of a banana republic than a republic. Political surveillance, imprisonments, and prosecutions are expected in Maduro’s Venezuela, not in Washington. The equal application of justice is essential to the maintenance of our republican institutions, as the rule of law is required to trump political factionalism. Absent major changes at the FBI, and reforms to the FISA court system, all Americans will find it difficult to trust these critical institutions again.

Sometimes satire tells a deeper truth in these circumstances than normal news publications. Take, for example, the recent piece in The Onion where FBI Director Christopher Wray is quoted as saying that “Making this memo public will almost certainly impede our ability to conduct clandestine activities operating outside any legal or judicial system on an international scale.” While Wray never actually said this, the response from too many bureaucrats and, most Democrats, effectively means exactly what the above satirical quote suggests.

In order to restore law and order, not to mention the public trust, the FBI needs to clean house of the members of what former counterintelligence officer Peter Strzok and his accomplice Linda Page referred to as the “secret society.” Those responsible for obtaining a surveillance warrant against Trump campaign officials using a fake intelligence dossier must at least be fired and, perhaps, prosecuted. And there must be new safeguards implemented to ensure that this sort of systemic abuse of authority never takes place again in our nation’s federal agencies.

We are a republic, and a republic only stands so long as private virtue is preserved and public trust perpetuated.