The FBI is in deep trouble. Even as it is desperate to assure
Americans that its crack investigators can prevent terrorist attacks, it
can't figure out if the July 4 Los Angeles airport shootings were terrorist
acts. "We're not ruling out hate crimes. We're not ruling out terrorism
completely," Special Agent Rich Garcia told reporters on July 5.
I understand that the U.S. government hasn't been able to find
Osama bin Laden -- or what's left of him.
But can't it find a dictionary?
When Hesham Mohamed Hadayet shot and killed Yaakov Aminov, 46,
and Victoria Hen, 25, at the El Al airlines ticket counter, he committed a
"hate crime." It also was an act of terrorism.
The real question -- and the one the feds ought to concentrate
on -- is: Did Hadayet have any help?
(Maybe he acted alone. Maybe not. Al Hayat, a London
Arabic-language newspaper, has reported that Hadayet met with Ayman
al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's right-hand man, in 1995 and 1998.)
To be fair, I should point out that the FBI isn't the only
government entity that prefers not to speak ill of the Glock-toting dead.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer announced, "There is no evidence, no
indication at this time, that this is terrorists." Sure, there's no
evidence -- other than the fact that an Egyptian immigrant showed up armed
with two guns and a knife at the ticket counter of the Israeli national
airlines at an airport previously targeted for a terrorist attack during a
major U.S. holiday, and proceeded to shoot people.
Hadayet didn't need to write a manifesto to make his hatred of
Agent Garcia has said Hadayet may have had "an abnormal reaction
to being despondent."
Here's what's wrong with the FBI talking about a murderer's
personal problems. First, since Hadayet is dead, the FBI doesn't have to
mince words lest they sabotage Hadayet's right to a fair trial.
Second, defense attorneys are supposed to present likely motives
and mitigating factors that evoke sympathy for the criminal. The FBI
shouldn't be taking on the defense attorney's role. Law enforcement is
supposed to be more interested in what happened -- the murder of innocent
people -- than the vile excuses for it.
Garcia would have done better to tell the press that the FBI
wasn't sure if the attacks were sponsored by a terrorist organization, but
that the bureau does know that two people were M-U-R-D-E-R-E-D.
And it doesn't matter to the corpses if Hadayet was "despondent"
or if business or personal problems contributed to Hadayet's desire to kill
people while striking a blow against Israel.
Of course, the FBI doesn't want to seem anti-Arab or
anti-Muslim. But when law enforcement has to appear, well, blind, why bother
trying to hide the obvious?
I also understand that the U.S. government doesn't want
Americans to panic, stop flying and derail any economic recovery. So, let
the White House and Gov. Gray Davis try to downplay the attack. But not the
FBI. Not an FBI that is trying to appear more credible and less
The FBI should stick to fighting crime, and leave public
relations to the Chamber of Commerce and political correctness to the ACLU.