Little Learning is a Dangerous Thing

I don’t need to tell you that, what determines a man’s legacy is often what isn’t seen.

J. Edgar Hoover

Back in an age when people actually read newspapers dirt got buried on Saturdays. It was said to be the most unread copy of the week. When compromising stories couldn’t be spiked by the brass in public relations—from Wall Street to the Pentagon—they’d scheme to adjust a revelation’s timing. Damage control everywhere found the seventh day holiest. That ploy is a little dated—dailies presently take themselves a lot more seriously than readers might. In any case, the Federal Bureau of Investigation came up in two different articles in the December 5 Washington Post. Neither of them was anything the alpha-bureaucrats at 935 Penn wanted in circulation.

The first story US seeks prison term for former FBI lawyer, from page A-2, concerned defendant Kevin Clinesmith. He admitted falsifying a statement that was used seeking a renewed FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Clinesmith claimed ignorance of the full facts in altering an official email and pled guilty. This is from defense counsel Justin V. Shur in a sentencing request cited in the Post article: Behold the Monster: Co... Lauren, Jillian Buy New $28.00 (as of 05:17 EST - Details)

“By altering a colleague’s email, he cut a corner in a job that required far better of him. He failed to live up to the FBI’s and his own standards of conduct,”

The other article from the 5th leaves you asking, what “high” standards? It brings up an institutional failure with stakes of life and death—for scores of women. The undue, politically motivated, surveillance of one man is paltry by comparison.

The front page piece Indifferent Justice Part 2: Fatal flaws in the system left a killer on the loose, covers Samuel Little. This is the man—you may have heard—now recognized as the deadliest serial killer known yet in US history. By 1985 he had lengthy rap sheet across numerous states. Many of the offenses were violent and he’d been tried twice for murder. After near deadly rape attacks on two different women in San Diego Little received a 19 month sentence that reportedly “devastated” prosecutor Gary Rempel. Starting with paragraph 12 after the jump, the FBI gets mention:

“Rempel called the FBI in July 1985 and asked Little be added to ‘their nationwide crime profile,’ according to a typewritten summary of the case he prepared at the time. Kenny Mack, a Florida sheriff’s investigator aware of Little’s connection to several murders in the South, said he, too, flagged the FBI in the mid-1980’s.

Neither man ever heard back, and it is unclear what steps, if any, the FBI took to investigate Little. At the time, the agency was in the process of launching the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, designed specifically to identify serial killers and rapists.”

Later in the report, although the source is unclear, Little had reputedly confessed to 60 dead victims way back in the 80’s, Mack and the FBI resurface in the story:

“…Mack, the retired Alachua County, Fla., sheriff’s investigator who worked the Mount case, says he called the FBI’s national Behavioral Science Unit in Quantico, Va., about the 60-women story – as well as the killings in Gainesville and Pascagoula and Ocala, Fla., killing in which Little was suspected. Little has since confessed to all three.

Mack remembers an analyst saying the agency would look into it. He figured an FBI agent might reach out at least to get fingerprints, photos or background information. But, he said, ‘we never heard another word.’”

Serial Killer Samuel L... Maravich, Larry Buy New $18.95 (as of 05:17 EST - Details) Does any of this sound unfamiliar? National stories where the Bureau comes out looking sharp—or adequate— are the exception to my reading experience. We could really use an official score keeper. Conventional media is not up to the job. Ineptitude in American hierarchies tends to be treated as anomaly no matter how common it is. If the Feds were being tried on a charge of competence they’d be acquitted for lack of evidence.

The FBI did respond to the WP story–by Mark Brennan, Wesley Lowery and Hannah Knowles—in a way that only amplifies their organizational demeanor of indifference and arrogance:

“In a statement, the FBI declined to address the matter further, saying, ‘The FBI has a longstanding practice not to confirm or deny inquiries regarding specific investigative matters.’”

Who owns the FBI? Is it the employees or the ones paying their medical and pensions? Did the WP staff talk to a spokesperson for a branch of the US Department of Justice? The above statement sounded a lot more like an apparatchik from the NKVD making a pronouncement to TASS. DOJ mouthpieces are rarely tight-lipped when they think they’ve scored an investigative coup. Remember all the inside dope that was spilled during the Richard Jewell investigation? Little claims he took his last victim in 2005—that leaves the Bureau with 20 years of dormancy on the matter to answer for–at a minimum. Will the media press this and hold them accountable? Past performance from the unfake news fraternity inspires little confidence of that.

Institutional mass media constantly fails the public putting stories into proper perspective when the scoop finally spills to them late in the game. Particular indulgence is always allowed for the Bureau.

Early in 1974 Dusko Popov’s autobiography Spy/Counterspy went on sale. Its pages revealed that Edgar Hoover had been informed of Japanese interest in Pearl Harbor’s defenses 3 months prior to the attack on December, 7 1941. Hoover had been dead less than two years at the time—if he had still been alive Popov’s book probably never would have made it to press. Further research showed that the information was doctored before others saw any of it. All references to Pearl Harbor were redacted from what JEH passed on to anyone else in the US government. Media power houses haven’t strained themselves making this scandal common knowledge. History textbooks for kids leave Popov’s name out. Films depicting the day FDR said would “live in infamy” have yet to cover the sordid details of official culpability.

J. Edgar Hoover: The M... Curt Gentry Best Price: $2.00 Buy New $15.99 (as of 11:35 EST - Details) Far from humbled by later events Hoover upped the ante blaming FCC director Lawrence Fly’s obstruction of illegal wiretaps. He continued to press this phony vendetta—holding full knowledge of his own perfidy—for years after the war. What does this tell us about the character of a man who had been handed an explicit warning of the impending attack—that he refused to share with his superior in the White house or military intelligence? 2,403 Americans died that day while Hoover retained his position for nearly 31 more years. This isn’t even the full context of his betrayal—the FBI director fought tooth and nail against any trespass by fledgling intelligence agencies on his turf for the rest of his life.

Meanwhile, the US media was fed a bogus story of thwarting Operation Pastorious, a Nazi sabotage mission that, if successful, would have impeded US aircraft production for months—among other potential consequences. Its leader, George Dasch, had actually, just as Popov tried to do, handed the FBI everything on a silver platter. Their initial input amounted to answering the phone. They came close to botching that task. Dasch was an American citizen who had been misled into returning to Germany, the country of his birth, for a better job. His actions once back on US soil, proved those of a conscientious and loyal double agent each step of the way. Despite possessing large amounts of cash and substantial ordnance not one US asset was harmed.

Hoover was completely oblivious to that accomplishment–making all the facts conform to his PR needs while suppressing many relevant ones. With the tap of communication entirely in Hoover’s grip the bureau came out looking foolproof on American front pages. Their actual investigative role amounted to taking dictation.

Considering the exposed conditions of the Nazi’s carefully chosen targets, Dasch, if anything, was an American hero. Under the circumstances amateurs could have pulled the plot off. With characteristic Edgarite treachery the director went so far as to push for Dasch’s execution. Would it be wide of the mark to diagnose a sociopath without a conscience? This spy lore is well known to any serious student of WWII. There is no good reason the story is still arcane. The fact that it is works for JEH fans who still dismiss it as a conspiratorial myth. Who can provide a legitimate excuse for the Federal Bureau of Investigation surviving WWII?

The FBI always retains the full rights to its stories; that explains why they invariably come out so fuzzy.  It is far from clear if this federal agency missed not one, but several, grand opportunities to prevent the first World Trade Center bombing—the truth is probably clarified tacitly by all the effort G-men expend covering their tracks. An NYT article from 1993 provides a zany description of the bureau’s use of undercover source Emad Salem. He had infiltrated the conspirators and repeatedly notified handlers of bombs in the process of manufacture. The Feds went fickle on him a few months before the bombing. As usual their side of the details is confusing, incomplete and dismissive.  Federal management suffers the same affliction ailing all modern mega-organizations. The ones doing heavy-lifting get over administrated and under supported.

Salem’s undercover worked started after El Sayyid Nosair assassinated Meir Kahane in November 1990. Emad befriended the men in the assassin’s circle. Before that 47 boxes of documents in Arabic were found in Nosair’s residence. With a man deployed in a life threatening deep cover operation—a layman would foolishly expect those papers to be a high priority. Instead, they—and the clues their text contained–remained in federal possession untranslated until after February 1993 when the attack occurred. The Burglary: The Disc... Medsger, Betty L. Best Price: $1.54 Buy New $13.15 (as of 05:17 EST - Details)

All the days leading into and out of 9-11 are a blur as the FBI tells it. The public never gets anything close to resolution concerning Colleen Rowley, Sibel EdmondsAbdullah Higazyabandoned leadsRobert Wright or the lack of coordination with CIA. This was failure equal to the one at Pearl Harbor. The difference being 9-11 was a result of incompetence—we think–rather than the treason of December 7. In FBI defense, since these kinds of disastrous outcomes always result in more funding from the Hill—where’s the motive to save American lives?

The only thing that comes out pellucid when Feds describe their involvement is that they are always nearby–as the plots proceed anyway. A classic case took place in Garland, Texas shooting May 3, 2015. Elton Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi drove into Curtis Culwell Center lot the day of a Mohamed drawing contest. It was held to challenge the Muslim ban on drawing the prophet. Trouble was expected and when the two men fired on police return fire quickly killed them after a security guard was wounded. An FBI informant pulled up in a vehicle directly behind the assailants as the assault began. He later claimed no knowledge of what Simpson and Soofi—who wore body armor and possessed 6 guns with 1500 rounds of ammo—had in mind that day. It seems odd—did he believe the two devout Muslims would hand in entries for judgment in the competition? He had worked with them for 2 years. What was their presumed purpose at the Culwell Center?

Numerous other cases could be cited here—in fact nearly every case where the Bureau makes the news concludes without explanation, consequences or reprimand after grossly incompetent or criminal behavior. That’s why Lon Horiuchi remains in the Federal murderers protection program to this day—evoking another case of federal evidentiary smoke and mirrors.

Going by everything that’s been made public the FBI first became aware of Samuel Little in 2013. That was eight years after his last murder and 28 after G-men were put on his trail from two different LEO sources. This information is conveyed to the public from deep in the pages of an obsolete medium. In later installments of the Post’s series we learn of the FBI’s heartrending efforts updating loved ones to the fate of Little’s victims. If listening to a maniac fess up 15, 20, 30 or 40 years too late is the proper role of our uber-enforcement agency their budget is overdue for serious retrenchment. As far as the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program is concerned we are entitled to a 100% refund.

The very media entities that are now demanding sole entitlement to a broad audience—“fake” news being such an unprecedented threat—have been gratefully swallowing lame answers from the FBI for generations. Those responses were generally reciprocal to the quality of the questions.

Anyone who isn’t scared of socialism better take a closer look at the Feds. We are all forced to buy their product while they decide how much to tell us about what it’s supposed to be.

Political Theatre

LRC Blog

LRC Podcasts