Trusting the unprepared and other modern American mistakes

I am off for my annual fall trip to Cincinnati.

The old home keeps getting older, as well as its occupants. Principally my mom, who will be 88 next month!

But I will file at least one column from the alleged heartland, where the populace in general is fatter and, in their professed support for Georgie, Dick the C. and Rummy, obviously fatter-headed.

A recent report released by the FBI forced me to remember Li'l Georgie's about-face on the issue of Osama bin Laden. I'm sure you remember how our esteemed president declared war on terrorists and said he wouldn't rest until bin Laden was dead and buried.

Then, within a year, when we couldn't find old Osama, Bush started claiming Osama wasn't important.

Well, the FBI must be reading Georgie's manual on backtracking.

Immediately after a report was released to the press noting that only 33 folks in the entire agency speak Arabic-you know, the language spoken by alleged terrorists held without trial in Cuba and points west-the FBI, 12,000 strong, which means 11, 967 don't speak any Arabic at all, claimed it is "not crucial to know Arabic."

Must be why we did so well sniffing out the 9/11 terrorists.

I think I side with Daniel Byman, a Georgetown U. associate professor who heads the school's Security Studies Program.

"The FBI's failure to attract Arabic speaking agents is a serious problem," Byman said. "It [language proficiency] gives you extra cultural knowledge and sensitivity. It makes you more sensitive to nuance, which is what investigations are often all about."

This latest attempt to bury bad news in a blanket denial reminded me of a time 33 years ago when I, just out of Uncle Sam's clutches, holding tightly to my honorable discharge, went into a Cincinnati ghetto to buy some marijuana. (I haven't smoked in 30 years, but right after Uncle, I liked my pot, and unlike poor Bill C., I did inhale).

After making a purchase, I was walking around the predominantly African-American 'hood where my connection lived when I saw two white guys in cheap sportcoats parking a plain green, late-model sedan.

Their short hair and their car screamed, "COPS."

"Hey, man," one of the fellas said to me, "do you live around here?"

I tossed my long hair into the wind and said that no, I was heading to the University of Cincinnati, less than a mile away.

"I just got out of the Army and I am gonna go to school on the G.I. Bill," I said.

"We are looking to score some marijuana," one of the fellas said.

I acted righteously indignant and started looking around as if I were searching for a cop.

That's when, after a pregnant glance at each other, the boys flashed their badges.

They were undercover officers. I don't remember if they were Cincinnati police, Hamilton County police or the FBI.

What I do remember is how lamely they did not fit in.

Their clothes, their car and their language were foreign to the neighborhood.

It makes me think of FBI agents tromping around the Middle East not speaking the language of the people they are supposed to be investigating.

Once, around 1934, when the FBI caught Dillinger, the agency was some outfit, though. You gotta give them that.

But instead, you might prefer to add them to the list of the unprepared, like Rumsfeld, who thought Iraq would be over after a couple months of "shock and awe."

Add them to the list Georgie W., who declared the war in Iraq over more than three years ago, before another 2,500 Americans would be butchered, holds pride of place on.

"Trust the unprepared-we'll tell ya everything is cool!" is a lot closer to the truth than shock and awe. In whatever language you can say it in.

Dennis Wilken is a novelist and freelance journalist living in Queen Anne. Give him a piece of your mind by sending an email to the address at[[In-content Ad]]