The FBI - Part 1
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Initially, I had planned on reviewing the origins of 9/11, since it is imperative to understand the past before we can comprehend the future. However, upon reflection, since the FBI featured so prominently in subsequent events, it made more sense to examine the FBI first in order to understand why they did what they did, and did not do what they did not do.
It may appear that I have singled out the FBI for chastisement. This is not the case. 20+ years’ association with them has given much more knowledge into their operations and peculiarities than I enjoy with their sister agencies. Unfortunately, you can be assured that the FBI’s actions or inactions are mirrored by the rest of the D.C. bureaucracy. The only exception is the U.S.S.S. (United States Secret Service). After all, you can’t wait for approval in triplicate to take a bullet for the President. Consequently, the U.S.S.S. is ‘proactive’ while the rest are ‘reactive.’
For me there are two FBIs. The first, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is comprised of hard-working, diligent and professional Special Agents. These are the folk pounding the streets, gathering the information and doing all the grunt work. The second, the Federal Bureau of Ignorance, is comprised of Supervisors, A.S.A.Cs (Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge), S.A.C.s (Special Agents-in-Charge) and, God forbid, their seniors.
When a Special Agent (the ambitious ones playing the system) finally joins the ‘old boy’s club,’ the promotion process is rather involved. I have yet to formally verify it, but it is my firm belief that the promotion procedure involves frontal lobotomies.
Upon graduation, the Special Agent immediately morphs into a bureaucrat. Instead of chasing bad guys, his primary purpose is postured to protect his promotions and pensions. He immediately invokes the FBI’s bureaucratic cardinal rule:
“No decision is better than a wrong one.”
Accordingly, practising the C.Y.A. (Cover Your ‘Derriere’ [I’m being polite]) Rule of Survival, after finally acquiring a position of decision, the newly minted bureaucrat adamantly refuses to make one. Since much of the information is time-sensitive, a successful stall will render the data useless and thus no decision is required. No decision is the best of all possible scenarios. After all, you can’t get into trouble if you haven’t done anything.
In its simplest form, the FBI is the Federal Cop Shop. They work like cops and usually travel in pairs like cops (and nuns). Why anyone would want a lawyer running a cop shop is beyond me. I would have gone for a Police Commissioner from a major city. Though perhaps there is some convoluted balance in this; cops arrest people and lawyers get them off.
The Bureau’s founding father and divine dictator, J. Edgar Hoover, did not approve of dissent or free thinking. Specialization was and still is actively discouraged. It was Hoover’s firm belief that enough money, men and time solved all cases. While it worked with Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger, it does not work with either counterintelligence or counterterrorism. Specialization and specific language skills are required.
One day, Hoover received a memo. He read it, wrote his comments in blue pencil and then sent it back to his minions. Since Edgar was the only one in the entire Bureau allowed to edit with blue pencil, everyone knew from when it came. The comment read:
“Watch the borders.”
No one in his right mind was going to question J. Edgar. Therefore, hundreds of Agents dutifully headed north and south to perch on the Canadian and Mexican borders. Unfortunately for them, Hoover had been referring to the borders of the memo, not the American borders.
As previously indicated, promotions are uniquely performed at the Bureau. In order for a Special Agent to become a Supervisor, he or she is required to move to either Washington, D.C. or New York City. These are considered ‘hardship’ posts because of the cost of living. Interestingly, most mates of Special Agents earn more than the Agents do. Therefore, the move can cause a major financial catastrophe.
If an Agent does the time and pays the dues, upon promotion he or she is automatically assigned to a different area. For example, an Agent who spent tens years in Organized Crime, upon promotion, became a Supervisor in Counterterrorism. His expertise in Organized Crime is negated and instead he is supposed to supervise experienced SAs in CT (Counterterrorism) when he has no experience himself.
My main handler and very good friend in the FBI is of eastern European descent, his parents having emigrated to America after World War II. Not surprisingly, he spoke several languages from his parent’s homeland. These were of great interest to the Bureau during the Cold War days. As it turned out he was one of only two people in the FBI who happened to speak a particular language. Accordingly, he was hired by the Bureau under a special language employment programme. Conventional wisdom would have concluded that he would be assigned to the eastern European section or something of that nature, where his special linguistic skills could be utilized.
Big surprise, this did not happen. His first 5+ years were spent in local bank robberies. Now I could have understood this if a band of Bratislavian bank robbers were running rampant in the financial district. Sadly, such was not the case. It was only years later that he was finally assigned to CI (Counterintelligence) and then later to CT (Counterterrorism).
It seems as if I have just barely begun, so there will definitely be a FBI – Part 2. No telling if there will be a Part 3.
Meanwhile I leave you for now with this cheery thought, a description of the Bureau given to me by one of their own:
“The Bureau is like a glacier. It only moves one inch a year, but it always moves forward.”
Did I not read somewhere that the glaciers are receding?
P.S. For those of you who want more than a snappy synopsis of the whys and wherefores of 9/11, I refer you to www.intelwire.com. It is managed by a good friend, John Berger. He is a certified terrorist consultant, who documents his colons and commas. If it's there, you can take it to the bank.
Copyright 2010 Cook Communication