Federal Bureau of Investigation

Out of Joint
January 26, 2004

The sunburned Englishman sat at the bar of the Peponi Hotel in Lamu, nursing a vodka-and-grapefruit-juice cocktail and sucking on an Embassy cigarette. A former resort owner who sold out a couple of years ago but still pays regular visits to this island off the Kenyan coast, Gerald had recently returned from a fishing trip to the neighboring island of Kiwayu—a journey that had turned up unsettling evidence of the changes creeping into the region. The Kiwayu beach hotel was deserted, he said, except for a pair of FBI agents who had converted their bungalow into a listening post.

Basket Catch
September 01, 2003

How good an ally is Yemen's government?

The 9/10 President
March 10, 2003

It disappeared so quickly that it is easy to forget the bipartisan patriotism and common purpose that existed in Washington immediately after September 11, 2001. Perhaps the most memorable event from that period was the gathering of members of Congress from both parties on the steps of the Capitol to sing "God Bless America." Another such episode--little-noticed, but actually more remarkable--occurred the following month.

February 17, 2003

Al Sharpton is a world-class bullshitter. In a devastating 1996 review in these pages, Jim Sleeper noted that Sharpton's first autobiography, Go and Tell Pharaoh, included lies about his age (36 at the time, not 38), his residence (Englewood, New Jersey, not Brooklyn, New York), and even his motivation for writing the book (Sharpton attributed it to his 1991 stabbing; Sleeper showed that Sharpton hatched the idea months before that).

Moral Hazard
November 18, 2002

The death threats began shortly after September 11, 2001. Every few days, for about four months, Khaled Abou El Fadl would receive an angry, anonymous phone call at either his San Fernando Valley home or his UCLA office. In his e-mail inbox, he found ominous messages from obscured sources with warnings such as, "You know what we're capable of." At first, the pudgy, 39- year-old professor of Islamic jurisprudence dismissed the calls as harmless outbursts at a tense moment.

Noise Pollution
November 04, 2002

In the weeks leading up to the October 12 bombing in Bali, warnings of pending terror flooded U.S. intelligence channels. Analysts from the National Security Agency (NSA), the CIA, and the FBI combed through threats suggesting that car-bomb attacks, hijackings, and kidnappings were planned against Americans on three continents. The volume of electronic and telephonic communications--what intelligence professionals call "chatter"--between assumed Al Qaeda operatives spiked in late September.

The Rescuer
October 28, 2002

A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust by David S. Wyman and Rafael Medoff (The New Press, 269 pp., $26.95) Twenty-five years ago, while researching Holocaust history for the Joint Distribution Committee in New York, and as I was preparing to immigrate to Israel, I came across a clipping from The New York Times from 1936.

July 08, 2002

INDUSTRY STANDARD: When President George W. Bush announced his reorganization of homeland security this month, he resorted to a venerable Washington trope: an eminence- filled commission. The new Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) is charged with generating counterterrorism strategy and overseeing creation of the new department. As he surrounded himself with the newly minted HSAC--including UBS PaineWebber Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Grano Jr. and former Energy Secretary James Schlesinger--Bush announced, "You all can play a very useful role in this process.

Private Enemy
July 08, 2002

It is June 2005. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy goes on a fact-finding mission to Guantanamo Bay, where he meets with Al Qaeda prisoners of war. Furious over Leahy's refusal to confirm federal judges, President George W. Bush plots revenge. When Leahy arrives at Washington Dulles International Airport, he is arrested by military police on the grounds that he has passed information to the enemy and is therefore an enemy combatant.

Finger Tip
June 24, 2002

On its face, Attorney General John Ashcroft's plan, announced last week, to fingerprint about 100,000 foreigners visiting the United States each year sounds prudent. Since "fingerprints don't lie," as Ashcroft recently put it, fingerprinting visitors from Arab and Muslim nations should be a reliable way of identifying terrorists who would otherwise quickly disappear inside the country. In fact, until recently even liberals endorsed this logic.