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It's a bad time to distrust FBI

May 17, 2001

It's a bad time to distrust FBI



No kidding, Timothy McVeigh's execution is now scheduled to occur on my birthday, which makes me a little nervous.

I hope they don't grab the wrong Tim.

Well? With our FBI, anything is possible.

How annoying would that be? - they're going down their day-planner for the 11th and see the name Tim and without bothering to find any supporting documents, the first thing you know is I get juiced and McVeigh gets a card.

Well, I guess it isn't "juiced" anymore, now that we've humanely swapped the electric chair for lethal injection. For him they ought to give both - electric injection.

Understandably, people are mad about this. I have a friend who thinks they should put McVeigh in an unlighted cell, then tell him that he is to be killed by a bomb that will go off at some unspecified time in the future. Then every 45 minutes or so they drop a metal pie plate on the floor.

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If necessity is the mother of invention, then vengeance is the mother-in-law.

But it will all be over soon. I'll be one year older, and he'll be one day deader.

That is if the FBI ever stops chasing its tail long enough to get the job done. The reason the execution is now coinciding unpleasantly with old No. 42 is that the date had to be moved back after 3,135 pages of FBI investigatory paperwork showed up missing.

We've all misplaced a paper or two. But 3,135 of them? That many pages makes Stephen King look like a pamphleteer. By the way, did anyone look behind the copier? Heck, for all we know, in 20 years John Doe No. 2 might turn up in a file cabinet in Denver.

The FBI made a mistake, fine. So make another mistake and hold the execution May 17. I don't want to have any connection with this goon.

And really, what can be in the new-found documents that would make a difference - that on the day of the bombing, eyewitnesses can place McVeigh touring the Antietam Battlefield?

The FBI says these papers aren't all that important - like notes from when they interviewed McVeigh and asked him the question about his favorite tuna recipes. But still, it's an inexcusable procedural glitch that's turned the case on its ear.

This has to be killing the FBI field officers, all of whom I've met have been frighteningly professional. It would be as if you were a really good automobile mechanic, but after you fixed the car the owner came around poured sugar in the gas tank.

Obviously, it's been a rough few years for the FBI. From botched raids, to spies in the attic to "Honey, I Lost the Affidavits," it points to an all-powerful agency that's out of control. And that's scary.

Some have blamed a "cowboy mentality" within the halls of the nation's top crime-fighting organization.

Makes me wonder what they used to say 100 years ago about renegade, out-of-control cowboys.

"Yup, that Buffalo Bill, he has a real Minuteman mentality, know what I'm sayin' Tex? Yessir, a real Founding Fathers mentality."

But it looks as if the cowboys are about to be roped.

Let's just say that if you're a get-tough, crime-fighting, rights-depriving, privacy invading, "lock 'em up and throw away the key" organization and you find yourself under investigation by the Republicans, it's safe to say you have probably overstepped your bounds by a rather significant margin.

Ah, for the good old days when the FBI and its director Louis Freeh could just blame everything on Janet Reno.

But at least in 20 years I'll know the answer to a good trivia question: On which day was Timothy McVeigh...

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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