July 2, 2007, - 4:32 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
In one of the dumber life-imitates-art moves in federal law enforcement, the FBI is imitating part of the “Transformers” movie, in theaters tomorrow (my review coming later today).
The FBI is giving teens as young as age 16 top-secret clearance in a summer program for inner-city high school students from Washington, DC. Like way totally cool, dude. NOT. Hello? Hello? Hello . . . ?
In an agency that missed 9/11, refused to listen to Agent Harry Samit (see also, here) after 70 memos and begging sessions about Zacarias Moussaoui, gave away info to the Russians for 15 years via Robert Hanssen, and engaged in other assorted “Desperate But Not Serious” screw-ups, this one ranks up there with the completely boneheaded.
It’s never a good idea to give someone not completely yet out of the doldrums of puberty, zits, dating, and the prom, access to our nation’s highest secrets. . . let alone, teens from the crime-ridden inner city. It’s only a good idea when it’s part of a fictional movie, as it is in “Transformers,” and even there, though the hot teenage analyst helps save the day, she violates protocol and shares top secret info with her gamer slacker friend in the ghetto.
I can just see one of these 16-year-old, geeky FBI summer camp guy who is probably nerdy-looking as all get out and can’t get arrested. And some slutty woman sent by Muslim terrorists or other criminals seduces him in exchange for his passwords. Don’t think it could happen with these vulnerable kids from the inner city? It happens all the time. Just ask Brian J. Doyle, the then-high-level Homeland Security Official who thought he was talking online to a 14-year-old teen and offered her all kinds of restricted access.
We’re lucky he was actually talking to sheriffs in Polk County, Florida. Oh, and yes, he was not a teenager. But, FYI, they have even less judgment. Why do you think they get into the most auto accidents and pay the highest rate for auto insurance? And from the inner city? Even more likely to violate the conditions of their top-secret level clearance. I mean, don’t you think the high crime rates in inner cities should be a clue? I thought it was the Federal Bureau of INVESTIGATION.
Here’s a hint for the Famous But Incompetent FBI: It has something to do with teen’s prudence . . . or, rather, lack of it.
So who dreamed up this magnet for problems move? Why, none other than FBI Assistant Director Joseph Persichini. Whoever said the cream rises to the top at the FBI? (Someone without a clue, if anyone.)
Call this what it is: extremely stupid affirmative action at the expense of national security.
More on this latest Keystone Koppery from our friends at the FBI:
WASHINGTON – Despite past high-profile security breaches, the FBI is providing top-secret clearances to 50 District of Columbia students this summer. The move is part of a recruiting effort to identify future agents and analysts for the fast-growing bureau.
The program, in its second year, is the only one of its kind in the federal government that grants such access to students, some as young as 16, for paid research and clerical positions, said Joseph Persichini, the assistant director of the FBI who also developed the program for inner-city teens.
A top-secret clearance provides access to guarded government information.
It is the same clearance level granted to select state and local police officials for their increased dealings with the bureau in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
In recent years, some of that information has fallen out of the bureau’s control in the form of lost laptops or because of the actions of the bureau’s own agents. . . .
Persichini said the bureau “wouldn’t involve them in overly sensitive issues.”
He said all of the recruits, ages 16 to 21, are required to pass personal background and polygraph examinations before they are admitted.
“Our goal is to start a pipeline,” the assistant director said, referring to an early recruitment process that would ensure a steady stream of qualified future applicants from varied backgrounds.
“Some don’t make it,” Persichini said of the background checks. “We still ask the drug (use) question.
“What we’re providing here is a glimpse of an opportunity. But you have to show some confidence (in the students) or that opportunity will fade away.” . . .
University of Toledo law professor David Harris, who analyzes law enforcement ethics, questioned whether the investment of such responsibility in very young candidates is worth the risk.
“I’m all for reaching out and getting kids interested in law enforcement at a young age,” Harris said. “But some kids that age can exhibit terrible judgment.”
Criminal Justice Policy Foundation President Eric Sterling acknowledged that while there may be some risk in providing such access, it was perhaps “more valuable for them to be entrusted with the responsibility.”
“It’s laudable that the FBI is reaching out to unusual kinds of constituencies,” said Sterling, whose organization analyzes drug policy and various other criminal justice issues. [DS: "outreach" ad absurdum.] . . .
Half of the students, whose $8-per-hour salaries are being paid by the District of Columbia, will be assigned to the bureau’s Washington field office and the others to FBI headquarters across town, said FBI spokesman Debbie Weierman.
All of them will be detailed to units involved in a range of investigations, from bank robbery to public corruption cases, where they will assist with research, data entry, filing and other tasks.
“This is our chance to provide opportunity to the youth of our city,” Persichini said.
Like I said, I’ve heard of affirmative action. But this is ridiculous.
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