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The FBI - Part 2
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As I previously indicated, this is NOT an article on Bureau-bashing. What occurs at the FBI is no different than what is happening at our other ‘intelligence’ agencies. I just happen to know the workings at the Bureau better than some of the other agencies.
A short history lesson…
J. Edgar Hoover established a “Force” of Special Agents on 26 July 1908. On 16 March 1909 the name was changed to Bureau of Investigation. On 1 July 1932 it was again changed to the U.S. Bureau of Investigation. Finally, on 1 July 1933, it settled on the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It took them almost a quarter of a century to get the name right. Why then is it so surprizing that they do not operate at the speed of light?
Their initial charter was to protect the United States from internal threats. Accordingly the CIA was left to handle the rest of the world. Sometime in the 1980s, the FBI, in addition to their initial duties, was charged to “reduce the threat of terrorism in the United and against U.S. persons and interest throughout the world.” Since they had no experience in this area and their Supervisors etc. probably thought the world was still flat, they turned to international businessmen for help. I was one, especially since I was coming and going from the Soviet Union at that time. They found that out through Customs entry and departure records. Thus began our long association.
Another piece of trivia:
Approximately 2 months before 9/11, more precisely on 17 July 2001, the FBI reported their findings after conducting an inventory of items in their custody. Unfortunately, 184 laptop computers and 449 firearms turned up ‘missing.’ Care to guess how many of those firearms showed up in subsequent crimes?! It must have been rather embarrassing to have police departments run the fingerprints on the various weapons, only to discover FBI fingerprints plastered all over the guns.
At the time of 9/11, the FBI had approximately 12,000 Special Agents and 16,000 Professional Support Personnel. Makes one wonder if every Agent gets his/her own secretary? From what I could tell that was not the case. Most every Agent I talked to typed his own reports.
According to Federal law, law enforcement people are supposed to retire at age 57. It had been traditional in the Bureau to receive an extension if an Agent chose to continue working. Beginning in 2002, the Bureau began enforcing the retirement age rule, having discovered, probably from their accountants, that they could get 2 new Agents for the price of an experienced one. Not surprizingly, they began retiring the old pros at the rate of approximately 1,000 per year. Estimating that the average Agent served roughly 15 years, they were retiring about 15,000 years of experience every 12 months. Centuries of experience and expertise were going down the tubes. Maybe it’s just me, but if I had been royally caught with my pants down on 9/11, I would have been doing my damnedest to retain every bit of expertise I could capture. Sending a bunch of new guys into the field without proper supervision and direction, let alone experience or expertise, is not going to get the job done. To me, getting the job done is the primary issue.
As I have previously stated, I have enormous respect for the Special Agents out on the streets. They are your FIRST line of defense from terrorism. Without them, their paper-pushing superiors would have no paper to push or no decisions to delay. Therefore, it behooves us to take a quick look at the obstacles they must overcome daily to try and perform their duties.
Let’s say that you are a Special Agent in New York City. You have been following a suspicious fellow, defined in FBI-ese as a ‘person of interest.’ You discover that he has moved to Los Angeles. So what do you do? Pick up the phone and call your CT counterpart in L.A.? Wrong. You go to your boss and beg for permission to call L.A., since you are not allowed to call any other offices without papal blessing and probably a consenting adult.
At one major urban FBI office, they had about 15-17 SAs handling CI (Counterintelligence) and CT (Counterterrorism). Care to guess how many computers they had? Two with Internet service. (The FBI has their own internal system. It doesn’t work well but they have one.) It sounds worse than it is because in order to go on the internet, each Agent must either receive a papal blessing or have a case number.
Case numbers mean everything in the Bureau. You cannot work on a project without a case number. You can’t get a case number without sufficient reason, i.e. information. It’s a ‘catch-22’; you can’t get a case number without information and you can’t get information without a case number. Getting a case number assigned should be simple. Wrong! If a case number/file is opened then it becomes official, subject to review. Since every case should have a successful conclusion, no one wants to assign a number to a case which is not certain to generate a positive ending. On average, it take 2-3 months to get a case number, though I once got one done in 2 weeks, probably because the guy was getting ready to flee the country and I nagged them everyday. It did have a successful conclusion; he got busted.
I had hoped to finish up the FBI in this article. Apparently that will not be the case. There are still a couple more points which need to be addressed before we move on to the origins of 9/11. Until next week, adieu.
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.
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