Federal Bureau of Investigation

How Would Humans React to Extraterrestrials?
April 11, 2011

Earlier this month, the FBI uploaded hundreds of archived reports about UFO sightings and investigations to its new "Vault." (Other topics in the Vault include the FBI's fight with the KKK and the 1997 shooting of rapper Notorious B.I.G.) Though the most famous documents, such as the Hottel memo, have been publicly available for some time, they make for entertaining reading, and, somewhat inevitably, the documents have provided fuel to the UFO existence fire.

Gangster Paradise? Not Quite.
January 25, 2011

Some cities have all the fun. Last week, the FBI arrested 125 suspected Mafia members across the Northeast—the largest mob bust in history. New York was, as usual, well-represented in the Mafia round-up, with no less than 34 made guys from the city’s five crime families dragged off to jail. Also getting in on the action were Providence (83-year-old Luigi Mannochio, accused of shaking down local strip clubs) and Newark (various union officials charged with extorting longshoremen). But, once again, Washington, D.C., wasn’t in the mix. No mobsters here. So what gives?

The Idealist
January 13, 2011

The bomber carried balloons. They were silver and purple, and when he stepped inside the parking garage, they flitted and danced around his head—obscuring his face, as well as his intentions. It was October 2008, just after 4:30 on a Wednesday afternoon, and the workers in the office tower above the garage in suburban St. Louis were still at their desks. Only surveillance cameras saw the man with the balloons as he hurriedly walked to the parking space marked “654,” knelt down, and placed a wicker basket next to the driver’s side door of a late model Acura TL.

Crime Conundrum
December 22, 2010

In December 2008, just a few months after the U.S. financial system imploded, New York City was hit by a flurry of bank robberies. On the Monday before New Year’s, four banks were attacked in an hour-and-a-half; one daytime raid took place just steps from the Lincoln Center in downtown Manhattan. The week before, San Diego had seen four bank holdups in a single day. Criminologists wondered if the holiday spree was the first sign of a looming crime wave in recession-battered America.

Rosenbergs Redux
December 06, 2010

In March of 1951, a young Jewish couple from New York City, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, both secret members of the American Communist Party, were tried in Federal Court for “conspiracy to commit espionage.” The Rosenbergs were accused of having passed secrets pertaining to the atomic bomb from Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, who worked in a lab at Los Alamos, to the Soviets. In June of 1953, all legal appeals having been exhausted, the Rosenbergs were executed, becoming the only American civilians executed for espionage by the United States government.

The Debt Commission's Gaping Flaw
November 12, 2010

Stan Collender identifies the biggest hole in the center of the debt commission's plan -- it wrenches billions of dollars out of the domestic discretionary budget without saying what functions will be sacrificed: The plan calls for a substantial reduction in federal employees.  A reduction in employees generally results in the government relying on more outside consultants to get the work done but, in addition to the recommended reductions-in-force, Bowles-Simpson also calls for a significant cuts in the use of contractors. The combination of those two seems to indicate that the now smalle

Could Florida Actually Elect Rick Scott?
November 02, 2010

Maybe President Obama has some regrets about decisions he's made this campaign season and maybe he doesn't. Me, I have at least one very big one. I never got around to writing about the gubernatorial race in Florida. Not only is it the state where I grew up and where most of my family still lives.* It's also the state where the Republican candidate is former health care executive Rick Scott.  Fortunately for me and for any Florida voters who may be reading this blog before they head to the polls, Andy Kroll of Mother Jones has published a nice primer on Scott's career.

America May Have Overreacted to September 11 … but Americans Didn’t
September 11, 2010

Did America overreact to September 11? In a recent column in Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria answered that with an emphatic and mournful “yes.” In Mr. Zakaria’s telling, we’ve squandered billions of dollars heedlessly feeding our national security bureaucracies, which hardly provide us, as the French nicely put it, a very good rapport qualité-prix. Worse, we’ve created an intrusive, abrasive, civil-rights-mauling security and intelligence apparatus that “now touches every aspect of American-life, even when seemingly unrelated to terrorism.” Mr.

What Is Moderate Islam?
August 11, 2010

Is the “Ground Zero Imam,” Feisal Abd ar-Rauf, a moderate Muslim? I do not know. I have yet to read his books or peruse his speeches and sermons in all the languages that Mr. Rauf uses. Some of his short essays and interviews in English suggest that he is a preacher of moderate disposition and views.

The Blago Trial: The Defense’s Hail Mary Pass
July 28, 2010

Click here to read Margo Howard’s assessment of the opening statements in the Blagojevich trial and here to read about the craziness that occurred during the first round of closing statements. Click here for her first, second, third, and fourth dispatches from the actual trial. Oh, thank goodness Sam Adam, Jr. has returned to deliver the defense’s closing, even after Judge Zagel impugned his legal masculinity at the end of the last session.