Accuracy in Media

Time magazine’s honoring of three women, including Coleen Rowley of the FBI, as “Persons of the Year,” may not be enough to save the agent’s job. The magazine reported that Rowley “talked to Time, her first interview, with great trepidation. She is afraid of being fired and afraid of appearing self-serving.” The magazine added that Rowley has “been stung by a nasty backlash within the FBI. In early June, an associate called to say high-level FBI agents in Washington had been overheard discussing possible criminal charges against her.”

This is the agent in the Minneapolis office of the FBI who revealed that the bureau ignored clues that could have led to the unraveling of the 9/11 terrorist plot. She wanted national headquarters to investigate Zacarias Moussaoui before 9/11 took place. He was indicted after 9/11 as the alleged 20th hijacker. But that was too late to save the lives of nearly 3000 people.

So the real story is that a truth-teller in the bureau is still living in fear and could face criminal charges for blowing the whistle. Doug Grow of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has reported that “in the midst of her testimony in Washington early last June, the FBI seemed to deliver a pointed message to Rowley that she was on her own. During a break in her testimony, Rowley had gone to FBI headquarters. Rather than provide a vehicle or any sort of escort for the agent when she left the FBI building, Rowley was left to fend for herself. She stepped out the door and into swarms of TV news crews. The situation was so chaotic that Rowley was concerned that some of the TV people might be injured by passing traffic.”

Grow reports another message was delivered to Rowley when the FBI gave an award and cash bonus to FBI official Marion (Spike) Bowman. Grow noted that, “Bowman heads the FBI’s National Security Law Unit. That’s the unit that blocked Minneapolis agents from pursuing their suspicions about Moussaoui.”

Speaking of persons of the year, Human Events has run a story by former Attorney General Edwin Meese giving Attorney General John Ashcroft “Man of the Year” Honors. Meese says that Ashcroft “has led the way in the fight against domestic terrorism…” and that he “…has shown a sensitivity and understanding of the fundamental principles of liberty that undergird American freedom.” We have great respect for Ed Meese, who was a great Attorney General himself. But Ashcroft’s record on terrorism doesn’t deserve “man of the year” honors.

The perpetrators of the anthrax attacks remain on the loose, and the FBI has been chasing former government scientist Steven Hatfill for months without coming up with any charges or even evidence. Thanks in part to Ashcroft designating him as a “person of interest” in the case, Hatfill has lost two jobs, and his career and reputation are in ruins. Meantime, evidence mounts of Al Qaeda interest and expertise in chemical and biological weapons. Hatfill should have been working to defend us from that threat. Instead, he had to worry about Ashcroft and the FBI. It’s no wonder Rowley said agents joked about bin Laden sympathizers in the FBI.

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