Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Masquerading FBI

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Masquerading FBI

Article excerpt

G-men in the press box at an Idaho trial were busted by reporters. Now it's time for Director Freeh to crack heads.

This summer's favorite police ruse is an old and dangerous game: posing as journalists. It happened first and most dramatically this June in Luxembourg when police used the promise of a televised news interview to lure out a former mental patient who took children and teachers hostage at a day care center. Police commandeered equipment from a real TV news crew, dressed up in their jackets and press credentials and hid a gun in the camera. When the man emerged to be "interviewed," the faux reporters shot him in the head. Barely two weeks later, police in New Jersey used exactly the same tactics as they tried to lure out a man who had killed his wife and was holding his son captive.

And now the feds have been caught attempting the same stunt. Seven agents of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) were assigned to keep tabs on the skinhead supporters at the trial of Aryans Nation leader Richard Butler in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, a couple of weeks ago. A helpful Kootenai County deputy, who later said he wanted the agents to "blend in" with photographers, issued the agents photo I.D. press credentials that were the only way the media could attend the heavily secured trial. The agents happily sat with the press until real journalists tumbled to the scam and complained to the sheriff. To his credit, the sheriff revoked the credentials.

But to the great discredit of FBI Director Louis Freeh and BATF Director Bradley Buckles, the federal agents had no hesitation whatsoever about posing as journalists. …

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