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Tag: Allan Lengel

Column: Retired FBI Agent Calls Gun Control Column “Standard Response of Almost Every Single Liberal”

Bob Fanning was an FBI agent for 25 years before he retired. He is  a resident of Auroa, Colo. His column is in response to a column by ticklethewire.com editor Allan Lengel enitled: “If Dead Kids Doesn’t Do it What Will?

By Bob Fanning
For ticklethewire.com
I must say that I am seriously disappointed that someone with your apparent contacts and involvement with law enforcement cannot come up with something better than the standard response of almost every single liberal politician – “We gotta do something.”
 
Yes, all of these mass shootings are indeed horrible and they do in fact deserve a response by our political leaders, however the typical liberal knee-jerk response for more gun controls is really pathetic. Do you not understand what the term “criminal” means. A criminal is by definition a person who does not obey the law. Passing more anti-gun laws does nothing more than make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain a means of self-protection.

I wish you would read the position paper of the County Sheriffs of Colorado on this issue. It does two things. Firstly, it presents clear and logical arguments as to why the proposed gun laws dreamt up by our politicians and worthless and largely unenforceable. Secondly, it clearly defines the real problem, which is the failed mental health system in these United States.

Examine all the incidents listed in your article and you obviously note that guns are a common denominator. Have you also discovered another common denominator? Seriously mentally disturbed perpetrators, perhaps?

Sorry, but I find your call for more gun laws extremely superficial and trite. I am awaiting your article on the need to something meaningful in this country to identify, diagnose and treat the mentally disturbed people who have committed these atrocities, not the tool that was used.

 

Commentary: 14 Years After the Oklahoma Bombing, We Must Not Forget the Potential of Homegrown Terrorism

 

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — One Friday, two days after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, I was sitting at my desk at the Detroit News  in downtown Detroit when I got a tip that the FBI was raiding a farmhouse in Michigan, and it had something to do with the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma.

In short time, I hopped in a car with another reporter and rushed northward up I-75 to Decker, Mi., a rural farming community two hours outside Detroit, where a guy named Tim McVeigh had hung out with two brothers named James and Terry Nichols.

By the time I arrived, the quiet little community,  flush with lush farms and pickup trucks with rifle racks,  was swarming with reporters and television trucks. Everyone – including the locals — was fixated on the farmhouse nearby that had been  cordoned off and was full of FBI and ATF agents gathering evidence.

I stood on the dusty farm road that day thinking that homegrown terrorism had stormed America in a way never seen before. Eight federal agents were dead. Another 160 in the federal building were too.

I spent the next week in the area of the state known as “The  Thumb”, tracking down leads, staying in a motel in nearby Cass City, where you checked in at the front desk of the bowling alley across the street. (I bowled one of my highest games – 217).

After that week, I went up every week to follow up on leads and to talk to James Nichols, the brother of convicted bomber Terry Nichols. I usually stopped by the Decker Tavern, grabbed a cheap can of beer and talked to folks. The bartender remembered serving beers to Tim McVeigh. She even recalled his brand.

The first night there, a fellow reporter John Bebow and I headed to the Decker Tavern to talk to locals. A Detroit News photographer accompanied us, Joe DeVera, who was Filipino. The bar and the town had suddenly been transformed from an all white community to a United Nations; foreign reporters from Spain and France; Asians , Black and Jews.

The cash register frantically rang all night at the tavern. But the locals seemed less than enthusiastic.  As Joe, the photographer, headed to the bathroom, an elderly local patron at the bar turned to another and noted that there was a “Gook” in the bar.

It struck me that some of the locals had spent their lives avoiding the rest of America – particularly Detroit. Now, with the snap of a finger, the rest of America had come to them. It was an eye-opener to meet the local militias, the unknown Americans that hated the federal government, the farmers who felt they’d been screwed by the government.

The next day, on a Saturday, the swarm of reporters returned to the farmhouse. There were undercover ATF agents trying to blend in, trying to meet the local militias. I knew some of them from back in Detroit. In at least one instance, one those undercover agents got an invite to dinner at one of the locals. When he saw me on a dirt road near the farm, he gave me a look like “stay away, don’t blow my cover.” I obliged.

Eventually, Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted.

Still, to this day, I’m not sure the whole story has been told.

Whatever the case, it’s interesting to note how the homegrown terrorists quickly took a backseat to al Qaeda and the likes after Sept. 11, 2001. For the majority in America, the threat of the Tim McVeighs seemed to have faded.

But one thing we must remember: As unemployment rises, as the economy sinks and as hate groups try to use the Obama election as a recruiting tool, America and federal agencies like the FBI and ATF must not forget or take lightly these domestic hate groups or the fringe members or the “lone wolf” wannabes.  You just never know what they’re capable of.

Just ask the Oklahomans.

Commentary: The Love and Loyalty for Troubled New Orleans Congressman Jefferson Has Faded

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – I always marveled at the voter loyalty Rep. William J. Jefferson generated.  Long after the FBI found $90,000 in marked FBI bills in his freezer in August 2005, many many people in the “Big Easy” still loved him.
Apparently, Saturday there wasn’t enough of that kind of special love to go around. He lost his bid for a 10th term in the general election.
Two years ago, when I was reporter at the Washington Post, I went down to New Orleans to follow Jefferson around on the campaign trail. He seemed like an affable man, humbled by all that he had gone through with the FBI. His homes had been raided. His office had been raided, but he had yet to be indicted.
In the French Quarters, at some of the watering holes, it was easy to find folks who were fed up with Jefferson. But others. Well, they still believed in him. They said they were giving him the benefit of the doubt. One loyalist at a 55-plus apartment building in the Third Ward who had come downstairs to the activity room to hear the Congressman speak, told me:
“All of them are stealing. He just got caught. Since he’s been in office, he’s one of the few black officials who has been able to get in office and do something for the people.”
That opinion seemed to resonate. A few weeks later, Jefferson won his ninth term.
Well, apparently this time, the loyalty had worn thin. Even though demographics had shifted since Katrina, a ham sandwich could have still beaten a Republican in that Congressional district, particularly in this political climate. Instead, it was a Republican who unseated Jefferson. I think in this case, the cry for “change” trumped any anger toward President Bush or the Republican party.
Jefferson now has to keep dealing with his public corruption trial, which should take place some time next year in an Alexandria, Va. courtroom before a no-nonsense federal judge T.S. Ellis III. The case has dragged on, with Jefferson challenging the government in pre-trial motions every step of the way.
Meanwhile, he’s got some company when it comes to legal problems. His sister Betty Jefferson, his brother Mose Jefferson and his niece Angela Coleman were indicted in July on charges of skimming hundreds of thousands of dollars from a non-profit group they controlled. Yes, the Jeffersons are keeping some in the legal community employed.
Sadly, whatever happens to Jefferson, few outside of New Orleans or Capitol Hill will remember him for anything but a little footnote in his life: The guy who hid $90,000 in his freezer.