Where Are the G-Men of Yore?
When I was a boy, the world seemed to be a different place. Sometimes I think it is because I was young and naïve, and other times I think it was just easier to determine good from evil.
The FBI was one of those agencies that seemed to rise above the fray. Every bad guy had to look over his shoulder in fear, and every little boy wanted to be like the G-men they saw depicted on the silver screen or on their TV.
When did the FBI turn into the Secret Police? When was it OK to kill without recourse or review, and who polices themselves without controversy or bias?
Recently the FBI was involved in the murder of an unarmed Chechen man whom they were questioning in Orlando, Fla. in regard to the Boston Marathon bombing. To be fair, the Chechen man may have had a knife; however, he was shot multiple times, including being shot in the back of the head.
Supposing this was the only incident; it would be enough to warrant outrage from citizens one and all. But 150 separate shootings have been recorded from 1993 to early 2011, when agents fatally shot 70 “subjects” and wounded about 80 others. Every one of those episodes was said to be justified. The really scary part is that the FBI is the only agency investigating its own actions.
As a boy, if an FBI agent turned up at my door, I, and my family, would have been honored to welcome him into our home without reservation or fear. Fast forward to now: if the FBI showed up at my door today, I would be afraid for my life.
Any agency that is self-regulating and without checks and balances is a disaster waiting to happen—or, in this case, a mess that needs cleaning up and oversight by the Justice Department. The FBI can regain the trust of the people it serves by accepting the fact that it is not above the law.
The Boston Marathon Bombings and Iraq
The Boston Marathon bombings that hit close to home forced us to feel the shock, terror and sadness that results from violent acts. We have now experienced what the peoples of some other countries endure more frequently and on an even larger scale.
In remembering the nightmarish terror of the Boston Marathon bombings, I hope we can all know what the people of Iraq must be dealing with when roadside car bombs killed 69 people on Aug. 11, or when revenge bombings killed 58 people on July 30, or when violent bombings killed 38 people on July 15. I could go on, but this wave of bloodshed has cost almost 700 lives in July and almost 3,000 since April.
Why did we suffer a bombing in Boston, and why does Iraq continue to suffer in ways we can now more closely relate to? If we are smart enough to put a man on the moon, then we must also be smart enough to know that today’s violence is driven by two inescapable truths of life: that violence breeds more violence, and that violence only escalates.
The US-led violent invasion of Iraq in 2003 created a nuclear amount of vengeance, reprisal and revenge that has led us to where we are.
Hopefully, our more comprehensive understanding of violence will lead us as a nation to refrain from being so trigger-happy when nations disagree.
In our August 15 news brief, “Academy at Swift River Closing,” we erred in describing the school’s location. While the academy’s academic and maintenance facilities were situated on in Cummington, as we reported, the main buildings, including all dormitories, eating facilities and business offices, were on 400 acres in Plainfield. The academy, which had a peak enrollment of more than 100 students, not 65 as we reported, also had land in Ashfield.