New York – They were America’s finest and brightest and we were all proud of them. Physically fit, intelligent and dashing, they stood for all that was great about America. J. Edgar Hoover had fashioned a remarkable team. Here was a clean-cut agent that could outshoot the devil himself. Here was a science laboratory that rivaled that of Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego – but in real life.
They stood at the height of morality, as they took on and took down numerous public enemies, entire corrupt police forces, the mafia, and spy networks from any and every enemy that our beloved nation faced. And we were so, so proud of them. The very letters “F.B.I.” instilled pride and admiration in the heart of every kid in every schoolyard across the nation.
Yet, somehow, some way, this once mighty force has lost its way. The recent headlines of 44 arrests in one day on account of a certain “CW” is a case in point.
These public servants were supposed to catch criminals, not create or invent them. In the broad net that they had cast, the FBI had caught an 87 year old aged Rabbi that never heard of the word “Gucchi” but allegedly assisted in laundering funds for someone who was involved in forging the brand name. The “confidential witness” had pleaded and begged the old man to assist him so that he could feed his five starving children. The 87 year old man had never committed a crime in his life.
There is no question that many real criminals are caught, people with a predisposition for crime. But let us not cross the line to go after everyone. Let us not lose focus of the mission.
There is something dark and sinister about breaking the law in order to enforce it. There is something wrong about taking people with no predisposition toward criminal activity and having someone beg and plead for them to have mercy so that they could be taped doing a “crime.”
And the careful choreography was vintage Hollywood. Forty four arrests in one day! The perp walks, the timing, the eclectic variety of criminals.
Mind you, the FBI is still a fabulous organization that has done and still does some truly remarkable work. It has captured terrorists before they had a chance to unleash their evil fury. And still does so. It has captured mass murderers, arsonists, hate-filled Klansmen and Nazis, without number. There is no question that the FBI still stands guard for this wonderful nation, vigilantly protecting it, defending it and making it one of the greatest nations in the world.
But we have to be vigilant too. We have to make sure that it not lose its direction. How so? We can dig a little deeper. Who chose the lists of criminals that Mr. Dwek, the CW, had used to bring down? What was the criterion? Methinks, however, that even a Freedom of Information Act request that will be filed fifty years hence will not reveal this information. Why? Quite frankly because it smells. And the FBI will never be caught doing something that smells.
So who chose to go after the son of Rabbi Ovadia Yoseph, the most respected Rabbi in Israel? We shall probably never know. Thank G-d he did not give in to the pathetic tears and cries of the poor father with five young children.
Perhaps the best approach would be to create a new set of guidelines. These guidelines would not entirely forbid the concept of entrapment- because that is a tool necessary to capture potential dangers that may not be headed off in time. What should be eliminated is entrapment of people that did not have a demonstrable propensity toward crime in the first place.
These guidelines should be put in place now. There is no question that this is a critical and necessary correction that must be made in our law enforcement policies. Otherwise, there is the potential of creating an Orwellian police state. We should not go fishing for otherwise innocent citizens utilizing people begging for mercy and assistance for them and their starving children. It is not the American way.
There is a Rabbi in New Jersey who is mourning the moral decline and fall of his son. Perhaps we all should be there joining him. For if the situation continues in this manner, we should all mourn the potential moral decline and fall of our fallen heroic group – the FBI.
It should be our fervent hope and prayer that this wonderful organization that is the FBI get back on track and be the agency it once was – a group of courageous and dedicated individuals dedicated to building the moral fiber and character of our nation. Amen.
Rabbi Hoffman can be reached at [email protected]