The FBI has been in the news a lot lately, but the lack of competence in Law Enforcement agencies is frightening.
During my time in the military, I was for most of that time an ordinary Military Policeman. Like most, I took an advanced qualifier course; I was a Traffic Accident Investigator. The training was decent, until we got to role playing and rules of evidence. The rules we got, but the role playing was utterly amateurish — something I learned from more experienced MPs. I didn’t do a whole lot of investigating, but what little I did carried a frightening amount of weight in the system. When I saw that, I tried to avoid doing any more traffic investigations, but was very careful when I did them.
They told us, “Have confidence in yourself.” What they meant was to consider yourself bullet-proof the way some Marines are trained, only applied to the use of authority. My issue was not a lack of confidence, but a very real assessment of my own skills. I could ruin a soldier’s career through carelessness or out of casual spite, and was expected to enjoy that role. The other MPs did just that, and were held up as role models.
I couldn’t wait to get out of that job, and out of the military. With very badly messed up knees, they wanted me to stay in for the next promotion. It was insane. How were they going to use a middling sergeant MP who walked with a cane at best and permanently so? In military terminology, I had a “P-4 Profile” on my legs. They literally offered me a bonus to stay and take the next assignment in rotation. Insane. Were they so desparate for warm bodies, anyone who had not gotten into trouble?
But with all my poor level of experience, I recognized even worse training and intelligence in FBI investigations. I’ve had a chance to look through some leaked or published reports where some supposedly senior field agent made incredibly insipid conclusions from traffic collision evidence which was part of some larger case. He could not have passed the silly course I took.
Now I’m doing part-time computer service. I would not qualify for the Geek Squad; I’ve not had any of the official courses offered. And frankly, I don’t know what some of them know. But I’ve already fixed a couple of systems they messed up — silly stuff. I’ve also been willing to salvage something when they would have wiped and re-installed, and I took less time. But I’m the first to tell you I’m no great technician. I’m just a short distance ahead of your average power user. Your average power user knows more than the vast majority of FBI field agents.
Truly talented agents are so rare, they either get promoted out of the field, or they get a real job somewhere else. What’s left? The stories aren’t that hard to find on the Net. Their best computer forensic folks in the field use a software package they barely understand. Most of them can’t tell you where Internet Explorer saves cookies, or where to find the various compressed data files which index them. They have no idea how to run Regedit and scan for keywords. A tiny minority may be aware you can hit F8 on boot to get into Safe Mode. Grandmas learn some of this at the local library free community classes.
Instead, they take a one- or two-day course with their new forensics CDs and consider themselves Computer Forensics Technicians. It’s the same system used by civilian policemen all over the US.
Extrapolate this. Most state and local police departments host expensive seminars run by “terrorist experts” who have never spent a single hour studying case histories of terror attacks. They’ve never worn even a private security badge, but they train police chiefs. They come up with these brilliant plans where a role-playing “terrorist” invades a public school, and not even the teachers know it’s just a drill. How many kids know the difference between blanks and bullets? And how many of them will have nightmares and very real trauma because the system trains them to be emotionally vulnerable?
But watch the fellows picked to play the responding officers. It’s all about protecting themselves. That’s the mantra they keep repeating under their breath: “officer safety!” Terrorizing the victims further is taken for granted. Just the regular school patrol officers show up fully armed, with body armor and everything except specific SWAT gear. Protect the public? No, protect government prerogatives, which includes protecting their own butts first. Compare that to the guy who was piloting the Goodyear blimp which burned and crashed Sunday in Germany. These cops are not heroes.
Yet you will find yourself facing an insufferable arrogance and even outright hatred from FBI agents, if you ever meet any. Victim of a crime? You are the first suspect. Want to help out with special expertise? They don’t need you. This is so common it’s a standard joke in every speciality of human endeavor after one attempt to help the FBI or any other police agency. The biggest braggart and idiot on any forum or mailing list is probably FBI or some other “Law Enforcement Officer” (LEO).
“I’m with the government, and I’m hear to FUBAR your life.”
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