Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Friday, June 16, 2006

  Put this in your souvenir collection.

Did you know that Donald Rumsfeld has memorabilia in his office at the Pentagon snatched from the wreckage of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington? Several other government officials, including one top FBI official, have taken similar souvenirs according to the AP. For the moment, however, I'm not concerned with the question whether ghouls are running our country.


The fact that these people had swiped the material illicitly had wider consequences, as you've come to expect with the Bush administration. In this instance, it was enough to cause the FBI to drop a charge it was set to bring against a company that had stolen 45 tons of supplies donated by the public for the rescue effort at the Twin Towers.


The lead investigators for the FBI and the Federal Emergency Management Agency told AP that the plan to prosecute KEI for those thefts stopped as soon as it became clear in late summer 2002 that an FBI agent in Minnesota had stolen a crystal globe from ground zero.


That prompted a broader review that ultimately found 16 government employees, including a top FBI executive and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, had such artifacts from New York or the Pentagon.

"How could you secure an indictment?" FEMA investigator Kirk Beauchamp asked. "It would be a conflict."


While the globe's discovery had been widely reported, its impact on the Sept. 11 thefts had remained mostly unknown.


Prosecutors "and the FBI were very conscious of the fact that if they proceeded in one direction, they would have to proceed in the other, which meant prosecuting FBI agents," said Jane Turner, the lead FBI agent. She too became a whistleblower alleging the bureau tried to fire her for bringing the stolen artifacts to light.



Turner was treated shabbily, to judge by this overview of her Minneapolis investigation, from Whistleblowers.org. We learn here, among further details, that KEI (a disaster supply company based in Minnesota) was raided by the FBI initially because its employees had stolen as a trophy the door from a firetruck crushed at Ground Zero. Caught red-handed, the ghouls accused FBI agents of swiping artifacts too. An investigation followed, leading to an FBI cover-up, and then mistreatment of Ms. Turner when she refused to play along.


Two other whistleblowers in this case, employees of KEI, were badly treated as well. One witnessed the theft of the 45 tons of supplies from New York,  but when they complained to a KEI executive, they were told to keep quiet. Instead they went to the FBI, which began investigating. Per the AP:


The two whistleblowers eventually lost their jobs, received death threats and were blackballed in the disaster relief industry. But they remained convinced their sacrifice was worth seeing justice done.


Except that the FBI office abandoned the prosecution when it became clear that they would have to prosecute government officials as well for theft of artifacts from the disaster sites. The two whistleblowers feel abandoned too. They were hounded and harassed after the FBI raided the KEI warehouse. Death threats; phone calls in the middle of the night; houses smashed open.


To be fair to the former U.S. attorney in Minnesota, Thomas Heffelfinger, he has a cockamamie story to explain away the failure to prosecute the KEI theft.


"At the heart of the KEI case was financial fraud," Heffelfinger said. "It was so bad we didn't need the theft."


Pffehh. What is 45 tons of relief supplies stolen, after all?


"It's illogical" not to prosecute KEI because of the agents' stolen artifacts, said E. Lawrence Barcella, former chief of major crimes in the U.S. attorney's office in Washington. "The fact that FBI agents stole trinkets is an order of magnitude different than a company selling things they steal."


It really does not make a lot of sense to drop the larceny charge against KEI because a lowly FBI agent had swiped a cracked crystal globe from the wreckage. You don't suppose the failure to prosecute had something to do with wanting to avoid embarrassing more important people? In the course of investigating all the souvenirs grabbed by government employees, the Inspector General's Office of the Department of Justice confirmed that Donald Rumsfeld had added several to his collection, including part of one of the highjacked planes.

So the theft of the 45 tons of donated relief supplies was just dropped by the FBI. Some things, they're just better forgotten.

As a result, most Americans were kept in the dark about a major fraud involving their donated goods even as new requests for charity emerged with disasters like Hurricane Katrina.



Artifacts; memorabilia; mementos; art objects; souvenirs; trophies. Pieces of shattered lives.

1 Comments:

  • Well, smintheus, you really do want me to work hard this hot day? I just deleted your kos post from our site, and added this one instead:

    6-17-2006: Inconvenient News: Smintheus: "Put this in your souvenir collection": The links between theft of 9/11 souvenirs, goods donated by Americans to first responders, Katrina, Rummy and why FBI failed to prosecute criminals uncovered by secret investigation. "You don't suppose the failure to prosecute had something to do with wanting to avoid embarrassing more important people? In the course of investigating all the souvenirs grabbed by government employees, the Inspector General's Office of the Department of Justice confirmed that Donald Rumsfeld had added several to his collection, including part of one of the highjacked planes." you really should check out our front page because it looks better there then in this comment.

    ohio? lord, you have my sympathy,i lived in indiana for awhile, so you must have humidity and heat.

    you know, i really do love your writing style and the issues you choose to write about. i think we met on a bad day.

    By Anonymous Patriot Daily, at 7:40 PM  

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