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Shackled & Shorted
Federal Fixits - Part 2

by Christian Cobar


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Why We Should Expect Another 9/11

                        Article #21 –

Federal Fixits - Part 2

Shackled & Shorted


                                       Chris Cobar

As mentioned in the previous article, for me at least, the FBI comes in two flavours:  the Federal Bureau of Investigation, comprised of its low-level Special Agents who pound the streets and do the stakeouts and the Fumbling Bureaucracy of Ignorance, made up of their management (or mismanagement), who spend their time pondering their promotions and pensions, while protecting their derrieres.

This article will deal with the former FBI, the folk who actually do the work and the obstacles which they have to overcome or circumvent to perform their functions.  Over my ‘career,’ I have worked with approximately 25-30 special agents of different departments, spread out all over the countryside.  To my mind, this is a pretty fair sampling.  The vast majority have been good to work with, though I did run into a couple of hot dogs along the way.  I suppose that should be expected.  Anyway you add it up, I count myself fortunate.

In a letter sent to me on 15 April 1996, the Assistant Director, National Security Division, D.C. defined the FBI as follows:

“…the FBI is the lead agency responsible for combating terrorism within the United States.  Additionally, the FBI has responsibility for investigation of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and facilities overseas.”

In addition to the above, the FBI handles fraud (with the USSS), organized crime, white collar crime, bank robberies, meth labs and a host of other crimes which I can’t remember off the top of my head.

Their CI (Counterintelligence) and CT (Counterterrorism) departments are handled differently from the others.  All the other departments enjoy complete ‘carte blanche.’  This is to say, that they are allowed full rein to pursue any investigation in any manner they deem advisable without management micro-mismanaging them.  Not so, with CI and CT as evidenced below:

Both Special Agents Coleen Rowley and Kenneth Williams were hindered and or stopped in doing their duty.

For Coleen Rowley, she was thwarted by the D.C. dips in her investigation on the ‘20th 9/11 Hijacker,’ Zacarias Moussaoui prior to 9/11.  As you will recall, Moussaoui wanted to learn to fly airplanes, but didn’t need to learn how to land or take off.  (Anything wrong with this picture?)

Agent Kenneth Williams confirmed in his July, 2001 memo that large numbers of Al-Qaeda operatives were taking flying lessons in American flight schools.  He was ignored.  (Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt.)

Only CI and CT had to justify their investigations.  Somehow, sometime early on, they had to prove to their mismanagement that their investigation had merit.  If they were unable to do so, the investigation was shut down.

I hope someone out there can explain this, because I don’t understand.  Fraud, bank robberies, white collar crime, etc. are all of such major importance that everything is fast-tracked and free of interference.  However, CI and CT have to get permission to do their duty.  Does this not mean that bank robberies and the rest of local crimes are of more importance than national security?

Yes, I do understand that bank robberies and meth labs or not nice, but when was the last time almost 3,000 people died because of either of them?  What am I missing?

One would think that assisting those who are in the business of protecting our national security,would get anything and everything that they need.  Sadly, this was not the case.

One of the Bureau’s 8 key main offices averaged 16-20 agents in the CI department.  Care to guess how many computers with internet access they had?  Try 2.  Talk about learning to share!  At the 10 to 1 ratio, the agent would get more time on the computer if he went to the local library.  At least there he would have been given a full hour.

As previously referenced, the FBI conducted a complete inventory of stuff held in their lockup and released their findings on 17 July 2001.  449 firearms and 184 lap top computers showed up ‘missing.’  I don’t know about you, but I now understand where the laptops went.

If you put this into military terms, it’s like sending 10 soldiers into the field and then asking them to share the same rifle.  Definitively not the most productive plan.

Doesn’t it make you wonder where the 449 firearms went?  Do you suppose they have to share their guns as well?  Now there’s a scary thought.

We can bail out banks, prop up our automakers and Lord knows who else, but we cannot afford computers for our national security?  Any wonders on why 9/11 happened?
As you can probably imagine, the promotion process within the Bureau is a bit bizarre.  If you are a Special Agent, but aspire to become an ASAC or SAC, you would have to be prepared to suffer for a while.

New York City and Washington, D.C. are defined as “hardship” posts because of the cost of living and the fact that no one in their right mind wants to move there.  This creates staffing problems for Headquarters, since anyone with a modicum of common sense wants the hell out of Dodge.

The bureaucratic solution was simple; anyone who wants a promotion must pay his dues, pack up his family and move to either NYC or DC.  Since most mates of the G-men make more money, this places an additional burden on the families, who have it bad enough as it is.  After all, the FBI is no 9 to 5 job.

Adding insult to injury, every candidate is required to change his discipline.  For example:

You have spent the last 10 years working Latin American counterintelligence in Miami.  You have learned your territory and developed your assets.  You move to DC.  Do you remain in CI?  Hell no, you’re assigned to bank robberies.

This would have done me in.  At one time, I was a Regional Manager (RM) for Asia, Australasia, the Middle East and French-speaking Africa.  The RM for Europe resigned.  The company, thinking they were giving me a major plum, offered me the position.  I had just spent 18 months traveling the turf and getting to know my agents, dealers, distributors and reps.  Yes, the Vietnam War was still going on, but I wasn’t dropping by Saigon, so it was a moot point.  Why would I possibly want to start over from scratch?  I actually, finally, knew what I was doing.  I declined.

O.K., you’ve paid your dues and performed your penance.  You are ready to leave Dodge and be reassigned elsewhere.  Can you go back home?  No.  You’ve just won a multi-year stint in Butte, Montana.  It makes even the military look good.

Here it is, short and simple, let CI and CT rejoin the human race, leave them alone and let them get on with it.  Make sure that they have everything they need and don’t make them change disciplines. 

Trust me; in CI and CT you want ALL the expertise and experience that can be mustered.  You’ll never have enough as it is.

Until next time.


Thanks for your comments, please keep them coming –
Chris Cobar:

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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 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

Chris Cobar Articles
Article 1 Why we should expect another 9/11
Article 2 The FBI - Part 1
Article 3 The FBI - Part 2
Article 4 The FBI - Part 3
Article 5 The Origins of 9/11 – the Early Years(Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet-Afghan War)
Article 6 The Origins of 9/11 –The First World Trade Center Bombing – 1993
Article 7 Bojinka, Part 1 - The Killing of a Pope & 4,000+ Passengers
Article 8 Bojinka, Part 2 - Aftermath of an Almost Massacre
Article 9 Bojinka, Part 3 - After the Aftermath – Confusion & Craziness
Article 10 Oklahoma City Bombing - Homegrown Terrorism or ?
Article 11

Bin Laden on a Silver Platter - Why We Refused

Article 12 1995–1998 – Escalation to Disaster
Article 13 1999 - Pre-2001– Escalation to Disaster
Article 14 1999 - Pre-2001 – Assaults on America & Americans
Article 15 2001 – Prelude to Mass Murder
Article 16 2001 + : Denial & Devastation - Part 1
Article 17 2001-2004 : Denial & Devastation - Part 2
Article 18 Iran – Mecca of Mayhem & Murder - Part 1
Article 19 Iran – Mecca of Mayhem & Murder - Part 2
Article 20 Federal Fixits - Part 1
Article 21 Federal Fixits - Part 2 - Shackled & Shorted
Article 22 Federal Fixits - Part 3 - Agents & Assets
Article 23 Federal Fixits - Part 4 - Babel
Article 24 Political Correctness vs. Profiling
Article 25 Department of Homeland Security - To Be or not To Be
Article 26 Diplomats vs. Dips
Article 27 "Pats" vs. "Pros"
Article 28 Anniversaries & Addenda
Article 29 Middle East Melee
Article 30 Bin Laden’s Dead: Good News/Bad News