He's Fleeing the Interview!
'Member Marge? From Fargo?
That was such a great movie on so many levels. Funny, scary, the sleaziest, most awful aspects of human beings, but also the best things about us too. Characters you gave a crap about. Marge, primarily, of course. She made you believe in cornball things like, I dunno, shining beacons of justice and moral clarity in a cruel and inhuman universe. Stuff like that.
'Member Coleen? From Minnesota?
That would be Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent in Minneapolis who in the three weeks before 9/11 tried desperately to hip the FBI main office in Washington, D.C. to this weird character who wanted to pay $8,000 cash to take flying lessons. ("Just the flying part, please. I don't need no stinkin' take-offs and landings.")
She's also the Coleen Rowley who, in May 2002, wrote a letter to Director Mueller ripping the FBI a new one.
Dear Director Mueller:
I feel at this point that I have to put my concerns in writing concerning the important topic of the FBI's response to evidence of terrorist activity in the United States prior to September 11th. The issues are fundamentally ones of INTEGRITY and go to the heart of the FBI's law enforcement mission and mandate. Moreover, at this critical juncture in fashioning future policy to promote the most effective handling of ongoing and future threats to United States citizens' security, it is of absolute importance that an unbiased, completely accurate picture emerge of the FBI's current investigative and management strengths and failures.
She also was invited to testify before Congress. I didn't see her testimony then, but this evening I watched an interview with her on the PBS program "Now".
Watching the interview, I was irresistibly reminded of Marge. Coleen has that same upper-Midwest accent, only slightly less pronounced. And in the interview, she was wearing a nice if somewhat over-knit dark brown sweater. Here's another paragraph from her letter to Director Mueller:
I have been an FBI agent for over 21 years and, for what it's worth, have never received any form of disciplinary action throughout my career. From the 5th grade, when I first wrote the FBI and received the "100 Facts about the FBI" pamphlet, this job has been my dream. I feel that my career in the FBI has been somewhat exemplary, having entered on duty at a time when there was only a small percentage of female Special Agents. I have also been lucky to have had four children during my time in the FBI and am the sole breadwinner of a family of six. Due to the frankness with which I have expressed myself and my deep feelings on these issues, (which is only because I feel I have a somewhat unique, inside perspective of the Moussaoui matter, the gravity of the events of September 11th and the current seriousness of the FBI's and United States' ongoing efforts in the "war against terrorism"), I hope my continued employment with the FBI is not somehow placed in jeopardy. I have never written to an FBI Director in my life before on any topic. Although I would hope it is not necessary, I would therefore wish to take advantage of the federal "Whistleblower Protection" provisions by so characterizing my remarks.
I love that "I feel my career in the FBI has been somewhat exemplary". Heh. Pure Marge.
Well, speaking of shining beacons of justice and moral clarity in a cruel and inhuman universe, some members of the Minnesota congressional delegation are pushing for Coleen to be appointed to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (created at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission), the purpose of which is to keep an eye on the people who are willing to do anything to our freedoms in order to protect our freedoms.
From the Associated Press:
Rowley, 50, who retired from the FBI on Dec. 31, had written to all 10 members asking them to support her for a position on the five-member board.
"This board is really a good idea, because it's a way to balance and avoid mistakes and abuses that can emanate when you engage in this zealous law enforcement," said Rowley, who lives in Apple Valley, in a telephone interview Tuesday night.
In their letter, which was sent to the White House Tuesday, the Minnesota lawmakers wrote: "Coleen Rowley is an excellent candidate to advise you and our nation as we strive to find the proper balance between our constitutionally protected civil liberties and effective action to stop terrorists."
Rowley was at the center of a storm of questions over the government's handling of intelligence after she criticized the agency for ignoring her pleas in the weeks before Sept. 11, 2001, to investigate terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui more aggressively. He was the only person charged in the United States in the attacks.
Rowley, who was named one of Time magazine's Persons of the Year for 2002 for her whistle-blowing efforts, has recently raised questions about the dangers to civil liberties in the government's pursuit of terrorists. In 2003, she opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
I want Marge on that Oversight Board, but if I can't have Marge then I'm more than happy to go with Coleen. Oh, but wait.
The letter, which was spearheaded by Democrat Martin Sabo, was signed by both Minnesota senators and five of the state's eight House members. Three members did not sign it: Republicans Gil Gutknecht, John Kline and Mark Kennedy.
A spokeswoman for Kline, Angelyn Shapiro, said that Rowley had made "alarmist" comments in criticizing the war on terror.
"As a result of those comments, we don't feel she is the appropriate person to recommend for this position," Shapiro said.
Kennedy and Gutknecht did not return messages left Tuesday evening.
Which funnily enough puts me in mind of Jerry ("He's fleeing the interview!") Lundegaard.