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Fumbling Bureaucratic Incompetence

April 27, 2013

[J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense on Broad View, KRNG 101.3 FM Reno. Listen live Saturdays at 11:00 AM Pacific Time.]

In the wake of the Boston bombing, it's time to recognize an awkward fact: the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the national crime investigation force which doubles as an internal intelligence agency, is utterly incompetent. The FBI is a joke and it has been for a long time.

Of course, this flies in the face of 75 years of propaganda telling us they're the best crime fighters on the planet. In movies and television shows, the FBI image is sterling. They bring expertise, they bring money, and they bring all the latest crime fighting science, right? The image is so good because the FBI has people who are paid to make sure Hollywood portrays them that way... but that image is a long way from reality.

When you sit back and ponder your knowledge of the fabulous FBI, you probably think of Eliot Ness bagging Al Capone in 1931, the FBI going after the Mafia in the 1960s, their wonderful scientific forensics lab at Quantico that's supposed to be the best in the world, and their profilers who catch serial killers by psychoanalyzing them. Those are the four pegs upon which FBI caps are hung. Here's the truth about all four:

One, the FBI never bagged Al Capone. Eliot Ness and the FBI threw a ton of money, a truckload of manpower, and a warehouse full of J. Edgar Hoover's peevish temper tantrums at the Chicago mobster and got nowhere. Al Capone laughed at the FBI and mocked them. The Treasury Department finally got him for tax evasion.

Two, while the FBI was supposedly winning the war against the Mafia in the 1960s, the Mafia took over Las Vegas, thrived financially, and somehow managed to assassinate President John F. Kennedy and his younger brother, (the FBI's boss and the Mafia's primary nemesis) Attorney General Bobby Kennedy. If that's winning the war, I'd hate to see what losing looks like.

Three, the FBI forensics lab has had zero credibility in American courtrooms ever since 1975 when Special Agent Thomas N. Curran was found to be routinely lying under oath in capital murder cases. Mr. Curran had no forensics training and didn't even perform many of the tests about which he was testifying. Later, two technologies the FBI used to convict thousands of people—voiceprint spectrography and metallurgical analysis of bullets—turned out to be completely bogus. In the 1990s the FBI forensics scandals got so bad there were congressional investigations and they were forced to make reforms but we currently have another scandal playing out, this one involving hair and fiber analysis that may have led to tens of thousands of improper convictions. Right now, there's nothing a defense attorney wants more than an FBI forensics guy testifying against his client, that's how bad it is. An FBI forensics guy testifying against your client is like having the Pope give the guy a character reference.

Finally, number four, those profilers. We see them in mystery novels, TV shows, and movies all the time. Alex Cross is a famous FBI profiler—so is Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs—but like the characters in the CBS television show Criminal Minds, they're fictional. Ever seen a real FBI profiler catch a serial killer? Me neither.

The problem with the FBI is something that happens to all government organizations when they get large: they turn into ponderous inefficient bureaucracies more interested in protecting themselves than the original mission. After the Boston bombing, we learned the FBI was warned multiple times by the Russians that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a bad guy, but the FBI did nothing. The FBI is staffed with lawyers—that's who they like to hire. Lawyers think like lawyers, not cops. And they're members of a giant bureaucracy, don't forget, so they think like bureaucrats, too. Sending lawyer-bureaucrats to investigate crimes is like sending polar bears to Miami Beach. For instance, the FBI has rules that forbid pairing the word "Muslim" with the word "terrorist" so how in the world could they effectively question a Muslim terrorist? How would they even word the report if they did suspect something?

Spectacular FBI failures are as common as rain in April. Remember the siege in Waco, Texas, where the FBI attacked a religious cult and killed 76 men, women, and children? How about Ruby Ridge, where an FBI sniper killed the wife of the guy they wanted while she was standing in her doorway holding a baby?

And in a situation that mirrors the Boston bombing, the FBI was warned about the 9/11 hijackers beforehand and did nothing then, too. In other words, an unarmed woman holding a baby was considered a dire threat but Arab-speaking thugs taking private lessons to fly airliners, who seemed strangely uninterested in the part about how to land the airliners, were not worth bothering about.

The letters "FBI" stand for Fumbling Bureaucratic Incompetence—that's the harsh reality—and if anyone at the FBI is upset with that statement, well... my name is Geraldo Rivera and I live in New York.

That's... today’s dose of common sense.

"Bureaucrats: they are dead at 30 and buried at 60. They are like custard pies; you can't nail them to a wall." — Frank Lloyd Wright

"The way I understand it, the Russians are sort of a combination of evil and incompetence... sort of like the Post Office with tanks." — Emo Philips


From Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA       

May 4, 2013 - It is the FBI's fault Kennedy died. The agent assigned to investigate Lee Harvey Oswald said "he was not a serious threat." – Devin C., Washington

April 27, 2013 - Geraldo - sometimes people in your life make a profound statement to you, that the impact of the wisdom of the statement stays with you forever. Many years ago, I had a boss who looked across his desk and said to me "nothing gets done smoothly or effectively when it's done by a committee." I don't know if that was his original thought or he borrowed it from somewhere else. It doesn't really matter, because the wisdom of that statement is so right on. Our government, and all their various departments and divisions, is nothing more then a bunch of committees. – Pam T., Virginia

April 27, 2013 - Can't believe it. The right and the left agree? How about the guy in Texas who was executed due to FBI bogus arson "science"? Or the men doing life because of bogus dental bite "science"? Then there are those weird folk who claim all of 9/11 was an FBI/George W. Bush plot to get us into Iraq and that's why the warning signs were ignored. Me, with the two Boston guys, I'd just say they were ignored because they were white. If they were a couple of Pakastani handkerchief heads running a 7/11 or a Dunken Donuts they would have been locked up long ago. – Jeffrey F., Chicago

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