Monday, May 21, 2007

Paranoia and The FBI

Most Americans know how our national security apparatus went berserk after 9/11. We can see the results of this in all of our airports as well as on television every night when we watch the news of our current debacle in Iraq.

Those of you in the Washington, DC-area, got to see our city turned into a fortress.

Ghastly concrete barriers were erected all over the place... the U.S. Capitol building had it's beautiful tree lined entrance dug up and destroyed (which still breaks my heart) in order to build a monstrous underground boondoggle visitors center... many of our beloved monuments were encircled in concrete, protected by Police officers... armed with rifles!

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The Headquarters building of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (the J. Edgar Hoover building) was no different. It was already fortress-like (and damned ugly) to begin with... it only got worse.

Nearly a year after 9/11, a journalist of my brief acquaintance was about to interview a senior FBI official, and while he was about to enter the building from the E street side, he noticed that the huge American flag that had been draped across the building, looked odd.

He began counting the stars in the blue field, and concluded that the flag only had 48 stars. That's right, the FBI had trotted out a flag that was made before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the union as states.

What a bunch of boneheads.

But, wait... it gets worse!

While he counted and re-counted the stars, trying to make sure he was right, some people in the Hoover building noticed his intent observation and notified the FBI's uniformed police (didn't know they had them, did you?), and as he was about to enter the building, he was "detained" for quite a while, and had his journalist credentials for the building revoked (albeit temporarily).

All for counting the stars on a flag.

Paranoia is a bad thing.


steph! said...

My husband and I are taking our children to DC next week for a vacation - and your post makes me so sad! I worked in DC about 10 yrs ago and have a love affair with the monuments. I hadn't realized that these types of changes were made to the city.

I also remember driving down Pennsylvania avenue...and the concrete barriers there still bum me out.

cathouse teri said...

I fully agree.

Which is why I love the movie, "V for Vendetta."

Janet M Kincaid said...

Guess I won't be taking pictures of the FBI Building ever again. Sheesh. Damn Patriot Act!

Janet said...

Memo to self: Do not let Mom count stars while in Washington next week.

jessabean said...

So true...DC is so ugly, it's hard to appreciate the good parts sometimes.

I've lived in the area for 3 years and I'm just now starting to see the "cool" side of the city. I just refused to believe it was anything other than an cold, lifeless cesspool of government workers on a power trip.

The FBI building just makes me shudder.

Terri said...

Oh boy.

One of my best friends just got back from spending a week in D.C. and she LOVED IT! She can hardly wait to go back... she went on and on about how beautiful it is there...

but then again.. she's from this hell hole called Las Vegas.

Jenn said...

How absolutely ridiculous.

Gunfighter said...


The monuments are still beautiful, especially at this, perfect, time of year. Just be aware that they are there... and most of the rifle-toting people are gone... or at least not visible anymore.

The post-9/11 overtime bill for my brethren was making the government nauseous (and paying for my vacation property!).

Pennsylvania ave is still closed, but it looks more like a park than a closed street, now.

Janet K, if they lock you up, tell them you know me... what a minute... that might be a bad thing. Remind me to tell you about my near-employment with the FBI.

Janet O, make sure that you have my number locked into your phone in case your mom goes to the pokey.


DC? Ugly? Persih the thought! I still think the city is beautiful (mostly).

(and not all of us government people are on power trips. Some of us actually believe in the concept of public service.)


DC is a wonderful city. Different, but wonderful.


Lawyer Mama said...

The other Steph here! We're in DC pretty often, so I'll be sure to let you know next time we pop up.

The concrete barriers do make me sad. I remember how annoyed I was when they closed Pennsylvania Avenue, but now it's nice. Especially in the Spring. And you don't have to worry about being mowed down by DC drivers. Losing the trees up to the Capital buildling was a mistake though. And all the paranoia in the world can't make us perfectly safe.