Ilankai Tamil Sangam

25th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

On That FBI Report 'Taming the Tamil Tigers: From Here in the US'

by Sachi Sri Kantha, January 21, 2008

In its 100 years of existence, the celebrated folks who have been named, targeted and harassed by the FBI as “subversives” for their beliefs and deeds surely make a Dream Team of 20th century’s ranking thinkers, literati, scientists, social activists, artists and entertainers. For a sample, I provide the following names who were identified by the FBI as “subversives”: Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Charlie Chaplin, Sinclair Lewis, Carl Sandburg, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Arthur Miller, Jonas Salk, John Steinbeck, Aldous Huxley, Paul Robeson, John O’Hara, Tennessee Williams and Martin Luther King Jr. Now, what would you say? Isn’t the LTTE and Pirabhakaran in great company?

On Jan. 10, 2008, the venerable Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the USA issued a report entitled ‘Taming the Tamil Tigers: From Here in the US.’ To say the least, I was delighted that the LTTE, at last, has received such a meritorious badge from the FBI. As an institution established 100 years ago, I’d say that the FBI has functioned gallantly as the ultimate arbiter of American bureaucratic morals. I repeat that the FBI has been the ‘ultimate arbiter of American bureaucratic morals’ – and not the arbiter of social, academic and popular morals.

Since comedian Woody Allen, in his hilariously entertaining movie Bananas (1971),  made movie fans believe that J Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) - the founder director of FBI - was a fat, black woman (adeptly portrayed by Dorothi Fox), I should note that I have been waiting for a long time for my next belly laugh at the expense of the FBI. And the FBI’s mandarins served this to me as a New Year gift. I have been an LTTE watcher for 25 years and I’d say that only now the LTTE (and its legendary leader V. Pirabhakaran) have measured up as ‘world class’ subversives and extremists.j_edgar_hoover.jpg

This Jan. 10, 2008 report of the FBI on the LTTE would have made more sense if the FBI scribes had provided some context. The website of the FBI has the tag line “Celebrating a Century 1908-2008." In its 100 years of existence, the celebrated folks who have been named, targeted and harassed by the FBI as “subversives” for their beliefs and deeds surely make a Dream Team of 20th century’s ranking thinkers, literati, scientists, social activists, artists and entertainers. For a sample, I provide the following names who were identified by the FBI as “subversives”: Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Charlie Chaplin, Sinclair Lewis, Carl Sandburg, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Arthur Miller, Jonas Salk, John Steinbeck, Aldous Huxley, Paul Robeson, John O’Hara, Tennessee Williams and Martin Luther King Jr. Now, what would you say? Isn’t the LTTE and Pirabhakaran in great company?

To honor the memory of humorist Art Buchwald, who left us on Jan. 17, 2007, and who had the guts to skewer the much-touted FBI’s morals repetitively, I reproduce one of Buchwald’s gems on the FBI. This humor piece penned by Buchwald originally appeared less than an year after the Sept. 11, 2001 events. Buchwald guessed correctly where the FBI’s mandarins had nosed for access to the taxpayer's funds.

‘This is the FBI. An Agent will be with you shortly’

by Art Buchwald [courtesy: International Herald Tribune, June 7, 2002]

Even though J. Edgar Hoover is turning over in his grave, the FBI is changing its ways. The priority now is terrorism, and crime may be on the back burner.

This is what could happen.

‘Is this the FBI?’

‘It’s not Pizza Hut.’

‘I have a tip for you. I just saw John Dillinger, the notorious bank robber, enter a movie with a redheard. He looked armed and dangerous.’

‘We don’t do bank robbers anymore. Did you notice if he had any explosives in his shoes?’

‘He might have. I just wanted to alert you.’

‘Look, mister. If we had to tie up our agents with bank-robbing cases, we’d never find out where Osama bin Laden is hanging out. Call back in a couple of weeks and if Dillinger is still with the redhead, let us know.’

‘Is this the FBI?’

‘All our lines are busy. Please wait for the next available agent. Your call is very important to us and will be taped for our files.’

Twenty-five minutes later someone answers the phone.

‘FBI. I can’t talk to you about drugs because we’ve reduced our drug department to two undercover agents in Mexico.’

‘This is Senator Boogle. One of my constituents was appointed to the Global Warming Committee last year, and he still hasn’t been cleared by the FBI.’

‘We don’t have time to clear people in the government. He will have to wait his turn like everybody else.’

‘How long will that be?’

‘If he’s lucky, we should finish our paperwork by 2005.’

The phone rings again. ‘Mr. Hanssen, the traitor, is unable to come to the phone. He is either in solitary or being squeezed dry by our agents.’

Next call. ‘Have you given any executives at Enron lie detector tests, since they have certainly committed criminal acts?’

‘The FBI has gone out of the white-collar crime business.’

‘Suppose I told you some of their people are terrorists?’

‘No kidding? We’ll get on their case right away.’

‘Am I speaking to the Federal Bureau of Investigation?’

‘Yes.’

‘I just saw Bonnie and Clyde.’

‘So?’

‘They were taking flying lessons in Minneapolis.’

‘Everybody takes flying lessons in Minneapolis.’

The changeover in the bureau is proceeding faster than anyone thought it would. The phones are being manned all times.

One of the most interesting changes is that the FBI has taken the CIA off its most wanted list.

One of the major ones is that the FBI is accepting calls from whistleblowers.

This is something J. Edgar Hoover would never have agreed to.

*****

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