Conviction o Terrorists' Reminder of FBI 'Glory Days'
BY K.C. HALLORAN For The Sunday Gazette
Sunday, October 14, 2006
I was with my wife on our way to celebrate her birthday when we
heard the news that the two Albany Muslim men, Yassin Aref and Mohammed
Hossain, were found guilty of money-laundering and other terrorism-related
charges that resulted from an FBI sting.
Before the FBI informant went after these men, they seemed to have
no intention of being involved in anything illegal and, in fact,
seemed to be model citizens. At their trial, they professed to be
ignorant of what they had gotten themselves into when they met with
an FBI informant.
It seems as though the FBI has too much time on its hands, going
after innocent men and tricking them into being a part of an elaborate
scheme. Does this mean that there are not enough "real terrorists" here
for the FBI to go after?
If that is true, then won't such tactics make other Muslims in this
country more ready to become real terrorists? How will the rest of
the Muslim population in America react to the case built against
Aref and Hossain? Are such events supposed to "scare that population
straight?" Or are. such demonstrations of the bureau's prowess
designed to turn at least a part of that population into terrorists,
so that its agents have a real enemy to go after?
Perhaps the FBI has both these aims in mind. Like a winnowing-out
process: the Muslims here who are easily cowed will be certain not
to make any moves or say anything that could be construed as "terroristoriented," and
those who are so outraged by the actions of the FBI will suddenly
be ready to join a terrorist cell. So, perhaps, such a purpose shows
real cleverness on the part of the bureau, though some might say
such cleverness is a waste of time and money.
If this tactic shows the bureau which Muslims to target, then, I
suppose, it makes sense, of at least some kind.
The FBI has a long history of misusing time and taxpayer money,
especially when J. Edgar Hoover was at the helm. Hoover was fixated
about Martin Luther King Jr., and a number of agents were kept busy
spying on him. Hoover even threatened to expose the civil rights
leader's extramarital affairs to ruin his reputation.
From the 1940s to the '60s, Hoover spent too much time pursuing
communists. In 1959, nearly 500 agents were investigating the lives
of Americans suspected of being left of center, while only four agents
were investigating the Mafia It was Robert Kennedy, as attorney general,
who convinced Hoover to go after the organized crime.
During the Vietnam War, the bureau spent an inordinate arnount of
its efforts spying on warprotesters, because Hoover considered them "un-American."
After Hoover died, there was a scramble to secure the 17500 pages
of Hoover's "secret files," generally on the rich and powerful,
but also on ordinary citizens. He kept these files to ensure that
no one could remove him from his imperial position.
Kennedy, Jphnson and Nixon would have liked to fire him, but they
were afraid that the things he knew were too damaging to their reputations.
When Nixon heard Hoover was dead, he used a vulgar epithet to express
his pleasure at hearing the news.
I have always thought it a gross injustice that the FBI headquarters
is named after Hoover, but I suppose it reflects his influence on
the bureau, even so long after his death. His work as the director
at the bureau is legend, and he did a lot of good things, but the
evil he did balances out that good.
We have statues honoring all kinds of charlatans in our history,
so I guess that giving Hoover a building is in keeping with tradition,
and the convictions of Aref and Hossain are too.
Perhaps now that they have disposed of those two "terrorists," the
bureau will come after me and try to entice me into a plot to lob
cow pies into Republican National Committee headquarters.
_ . _ _ .
K C. Halloran lives in Melrose. The Gazette encourages readers to
submit naterial on local issuesfor the Sunday Opinion section.
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