The FBI’s Stalinist Homeland Security Theater

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The FBI’s Stalinist Homeland Security Theater “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” — George Orwell, Animal Farm A few days after bombs ripped apart two apartment buildings Moscow , residents of Ryazan — a town 100 miles southeast of the Capital City — were alarmed to find several suspicious-looking figures loitering near a 13-story apartment complex. After police arrived on the scene they extracted three large sugar sacks from the high-rise. An examination of the sacks found that they contained hexagen — the same high-yield explosive that had been used in the Moscow terrorist bombings just a few days earlier. The police arrested two of the mysterious strangers, who immediately produced credentials issued by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB. Within a few hours high-ranking FSB officials intervened to free their operatives, claiming that they had been involved in an innocuous “training exercise.” “This was not a bomb,” insisted then-FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev. “The exercise may not have been carried out well, but it was only a test, and the so-called explosive was only sacks of sugar.” There was at least one lapse in efficiency on the part of the FSB: The agency neglected to retrieve the detonator, which remained in the custody of the local police. Leaving aside the fact that tests had confirmed the presence of hexagen inside the “dummy” bomb, Patrushev didn’t explain why the FSB would attach a genuine detonator to phony explosives. Nor did he explain why the Security Organs insisted on collecting the “sugar sacks” and keeping them under armed guard at a nearby military base. Patrushev’s account didn’t satisfy one of the paratroopers given that peculiar assignment. The soldier smuggled a small sample collected from one of the sacks to a laboratory, and the resulting analysis confirmed that the substance was hexagen, not sucrose. The Ryazan “training exercise” took place on September 22, 1999. During the previous two weeks, hundreds of people had died in the Moscow apartment bombings. The FSB, acting with what could charitably be called indecent haste, destroyed both of those crime scenes before critical evidence could be collected. Shortly thereafter, six Chechen separatists (five of them in absentia) were accused of plotting the terrorist rampage. Invoking the need to avenge the innocent dead, Moscow carried out a punitive invasion of Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim province whose population has long sought independence from Russia. This series of events struck many in Russia as bit too tidy. In a house editorial published the day before the “training exercise” in Ryazan, the Moscow Times observed that “the bombed-out shell of the apartment block on Ulitsa Guryanova was destroyed in a controlled implosion, reducing to rubble the remains of the building and irreparably buying beneath it any remaining traces of evidence  — just ten days after the explosion. Workers at Kashirskoye Shosse, meanwhile, began clearing the rubble from the site as early as September 13 — the day of the bombing.” As the Times pointed out, the FSB’s insistence that the case had been “solved” was impossible to reconcile with the fact that “untold traces of chemical residue, fingerprints, technical fragments, [and] hair and DNA samples that were present at the [bombing] sites are now irrevocably lost.” “Is this ignorance?” asked the Times . “In the capital city of a country where the…

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The FBI’s Stalinist Homeland Security Theater

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