20 February 2003
Federal Bureau of Imagination
Reason Magazine's weekly newsletter takes the FBI to task for its recent bobblings of the terrorism ball, and part of the problem, apparently, is that the Bureau is actually listening to persons in custody:
A captured terrorist has no conceivable interest in supplying the FBI with accurate information on future attacks. He does, however, have an interest in diverting resources from actual attack plots, scrambling security assets so his cohorts still in the field can observe how they operate, and inducing general panic via grand claims about a "dirty bomb" set to explode in New York or Washington.
A recommendation that all such claimants be polygraphed doesn't strike me as particularly useful the limitations of the polygraph are fairly well established by now but what is needed, it appears, is not so much the ability to verify a terrorist's claims as the ability to see why those claims are being made:
The terrorist views himself as a prisoner of war, and like many POWs, he will continue to look for ways to confound his enemies. The FBI needs to understand this very simple concept and break away from its bureaucratic inertia. A third false alert based on sketchy, untested claims should see FBI Director Robert Mueller and his deputies sacked and replaced with individuals committed to something other than ass-covering and empire-building.
Meanwhile, enjoy your Orange.