November 05, 2002

HOW STUPID IS THE FBI? Earlier I ran reports, gleaned from gun-related chatboards, that the FBI was calling up gun owners and harassing them. Now I find this story, reporting that the FBI was "miffed" when one of the people it called responded appropriately:

So, when FBI Special Agent Greg Metzger and his partner arrived at Brown's home for their scheduled meeting, they were greeted by Brown and his wife, Mary, along with reporters and photographers from various media outlets.

As Brown described the situation, the agents were "a little bit miffed."

"They were not happy," he observed. "They just were not interested in being around any cameras."

The agents asked Brown to step outside the home, away from the television crew, to talk.

"Can we, uh ... come here," one of the agents said to Brown. Obliging, Brown stepped away from the door to speak with the agents, but still within view of the camera.

Brown began recapping the agreement he had made with Special Agent Metzger. But when one of the agents realized Brown was wearing a wireless microphone, he stopped the conversation short.

"Do you have a microphone on?" the agent asked as he reached toward the microphone clipped to Brown's shirt. Brown backed away and continued talking, but the agent interrupted him again.

"Can you do me a favor?" the agent asked. "Can you take the apparatus off that you have on? I'd like to speak to you privately."

Brown complied, but only after summoning his wife to serve as a witness to the conversation with the agents. Out of the camera's view, and believing they could not be heard, the agents challenged Brown about the presence of the media.

"They were belligerent, at that point, with me. They weren't threatening me or pushing me around or touching me or anything like that, but their mannerisms and attitude quickly became offended and belligerent," Brown recalled. "I was thinking to myself, 'See, this is what I was afraid would happen if you guys came into my house, especially if I was alone.'" . . .

During that conversation, the agents reportedly admitted that they had seized other rifles, allegedly with permission, to compare them to the ballistic evidence gathered from the crime scenes.

"They said, from some people, they do 'request' to take the gun with them and do 'ballistic fingerprinting,' as they call it," Brown recalled. "I just did not want to have my gun disappear."

Pratt believes the agents "developed an attitude," because Brown challenged their attempts to violate his constitutional rights. . . .

Mary Brown believed the agents were attempting to agitate her husband, hoping he would say or do something to justify their confiscation of his rifle.

"I could tell that they were doing it on purpose and I didn't like what they were doing to you," she told her husband. "So, I decided to just jump right in."

The agents left the couple's property, as they were ordered to do.

Okay, how stupid do you have to be to call -- as apparently was done -- thousands of people and expect it not to be noticed? Especially when those people are gun owners, who tend to be more vigorous in asserting their rights, and harder to intimidate. Haven't these guys heard of the Internet?

Meanwhile -- as I wrote at the time -- the whole project was an obvious exercise in futility. Had they, through some stroke of luck, actually managed to reach the sniper they just would have tipped him off. But, of course, they were following the "angry white male gun owner" profile and had it all wrong anyway. Result: FBI agents wasted their time, the FBI's credibility suffered yet another blow, and the next time FBI agents ask for cooperation from otherwise-patriotic people, they're less likely to get it because people won't trust them. And, based on this behavior, they'll be right not to.

People should be fired for this. But it's just one more among a long, long list of things that people at the FBI should be fired for, but won't be.

Go here and here for my earlier posts on this subject. And don't miss this item on teams of guns-drawn FBI agents swooping on people who dare to open the lid on their cable modems. Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.