Michael Tabman

Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

The Kavanaugh Case: A Confirmation of Hypocrisy

In Crime and Security on September 20, 2018 at 7:55 am

I started the day speaking with KMBZ radio about the Kavanaugh accusation. The questions were what is being debated: Can the FBI investigate? Should the FBI investigate? Is this matter too old to be investigated? Does it matter?

The FBI can investigate an allegation this old. This is not a criminal investigation; it is a background investigation for a presidential appointment. That is an FBI duty; I have done those. It will be difficult. If the event happened, it is unlikely any physical evidence will discovered. But there may be witnesses and other tidbits of information that add credibility to the accusation. Yes, it is possible that this was not uncovered during previous background investigations, especially since so few people would have witnessed the event.

The FBI should investigate. This is a serious accusation against someone who is about to take one of the most powerful and respected positions in our country. The accuser is a respected member of the community with no apparent motive to lie.

For an FBI Agent applicant, such an accusation certainly would have been thoroughly investigated. Kavanaugh should request an FBI investigation.

For the accuser to appear without an investigation will result in the expected “He said, she said.” The accuser will be dismissed and it will be a waste of time.

We deserve to know the truth – to the best of our ability. There is no rush, vis a vis Merrick Garland. Even if this event did occur, would it derail his nomination? Maybe not. But, if it did, what about the denial? Does truthfulness matter?

Irrespective of your political beliefs, you must recognize this hypocrisy and abuse of power and process. Would you tolerate this from the opposing party?


A Political or Apolitical FBI?

In Crime and Security on December 15, 2017 at 1:36 pm

“So, I can assume you’re a good ole, dedicated Republican like the rest of us?”

That was said to me by a subordinate while meeting me for the first time after I reported for duty as a manager of an FBI office.  Later, I heard through the very reliable grapevine that he was concerned that he erred in his assessment of my politics and how I would respond. But, that same grapevine assured him that I would never allow that to enter in to my management decisions. He became one of my most trusted and relied upon subordinates.

“I am big supporter of the Republican Party.” “I donate regularly the Republican Party.” I heard these comments often from FBI Agents. There was nothing illegal or inappropriate about such comments. FBI Agents are allowed to express political thoughts and support candidates – but not as an FBI Agent and not on FBI time or expense.

During the Clinton presidency, FBI Agents’ dislike for all-things Clinton was no secret; it was palpable. Condemnation of Clinton and anyone who supported him were fair game for casual conversations.  During George W. Bush’s tenure, any criticism of the president was met with disbelief as if such speech was treasonous. The FBI never moved to quash the expression of such personal and/or political beliefs.

There is no secret that law enforcement is traditionally comprised of conservative Republicans. After 24 years in the FBI, I do not need to take a poll to know that is true in the FBI.

FBI agents with clear preference for Republican politics, are the same agents tasked to investigate public corruption or people with outspoken political views. I do not recall discussing whether these agents should be barred from conducting such investigations or if there should be a political litmus tests for investigating political corruption. Political leanings were never considered a barrier to a fair and unbiased investigation. Agents were never questioned about their political views before being assigned to political corruption cases. That is probably illegal.

If we are to make the argument that investigators and prosecutors cannot fairly do their jobs because of political leanings, campaign contributions or personal observations of candidates, then every conviction for public corruption or politically charged crimes must be re-investigated. From this moment on, investigations must be conducted only by those who can prove they possess no political preference.

Good luck.

President Trump Fires FBI Director Comey

In Crime and Security on May 10, 2017 at 3:45 pm

NPR interview: https://www.npr.org/player/embed/527803573/527803583

Trump fires FBI Director Comey

In Crime and Security on May 10, 2017 at 1:04 pm

My appearance on KCTV5: Trump fires FBI Director Comey

A New Reality Show

In Crime and Security, Uncategorized on February 25, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Fake news, alternative facts

Made-up terrorist attacks

You think it’s funny, don’t you laugh

Here’s what I tell my staff

When operations go astray

Blame it on the CIA

When we get caught in a lie

Blame it on the FBI

When the White House looks like a mess

Blame it on the naughty press

CNN left at the door

C’mon Fox, you get some more

Report the news as I say

You’ll see Spicer another day

Kellyanne was very nice

But she became my Susan Rice

Travel bans and devious capers

Hey there hombre, where are your papers?

Black, Jew, Hispanic, Muslim

I love them all, well some of them

They can live the American dream

If they jump on board the Trump machine

I love the Bible, that’s no bluff

Two Corinthians was close enough

I love the disabled, don’t get me wrong

Teasing him only made him strong

Me, a misogynist? That’s not fair

Just because I grabbed you there

Show my taxes? I claim audit

Without proof to support it

Divest myself, I know I must

Gave my kids a “near-sighted” trust

When I speak, I only vent

My minions will tell you what I meant

I’ll make America great again

Executive orders and my pen

An amazing cabinet I will amass

Chosen from the privileged class

What the president does, he is right

Who else said that?  What was his plight?

Don’t support me?  I’ll get your name

Then good luck getting off that plane














Faulted By Innuendo – the new FBI?

In Crime and Security, Uncategorized on October 31, 2016 at 7:29 am

When reading my blogs, please understand that I never take a political position.  I prefer to focus on crime and security matters, providing my insight based on my experience and expertise.  You may agree or disagree, which is the point of the blog – to inspire intelligent and civil discourse.  The deep political divide of our country does not allow that, so I avoid politics.  While this issue touches the political scene, my opinion and analysis address only the recent actions of FBI Director Comey and is not intended to support either political party or candidate.  I have never met Director Comey and was long retired from the FBI when he became Director.

When Director Comey first announced that the FBI recommended to DOJ that Hillary Clinton not be prosecuted regarding her private e-mail server, my first impression was that Comey did what he had to do.  Specifically, he offered his opinion as to Clinton’s carelessness and what she should have known.  This was necessary to quell the political outrage he knew would follow.  Yet within the hour, after considering what I had learned during my 24 years in the FBI about what the FBI should and should not say, I changed my mind.

Comey’s judgement and opinion were important and properly considered in his discussions with FBI Agents and DOJ prosecutors.  But those opinions were appropriate only behind closed doors.  The FBI Director is not the Chief Scolder.  If not charging someone with criminality, his job is not to publicly say what someone should have known, should have thought or should have done.  His personal assessments are not for public consumption.

As an FBI Special Agent in Charge, I spoke before the media many times, though not on matters of such political importance.  My training and experience dictated that I report only the facts as we knew them and what the FBI had done and will do.  I was never authorized to provide my personal assessment of what someone should have done or should have known.  Such discussions were conducted only internally when addressing internal FBI matters.

Just as Comey was assessing Clinton’s thought processes, he left the public wondering about his thought processes.  Republicans thought he contradicted himself; Democrats thought that he took a political shot at Clinton.

Then Comey took the extraordinary step of notifying Congress of “…the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.  Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether this material may be significant.”  The letter noted that the FBI had yet to assess the importance of the emails.  That says a lot of nothing relative to the FBI investigation of Clinton’s private e-mail server.  Again, he created questions instead of answering them.  We do not know if there is anything incriminating in these emails, but Comey’s letter has fueled speculation.

Generally, the FBI does not acknowledge the existence of an investigation.  One reason is that it does not make good investigative sense to do so.  Another reason is the realization that an FBI investigation will put a cloud over somebody and tarnish their reputation, when the investigation may not yield any incriminating evidence.

Now we must consider what Comey should have known.  Should he have known that such a letter would be used for political purposes?  Should he have known the letter, despite broad and unspecific wording would be viewed as accusatory?  Comey again left the public wondering as to his motivation.  Was he trying to influence the election?

Irrespective of your political affiliation and whether you believe your candidate will benefit from Comey’s letter, you should reject Comey’s letter as, at a minimum inappropriate and not what the FBI stands for.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch reportedly disapproved of Comey’s letter.  I wonder if it was simply a disagreement; or did she, as his boss, direct him not to send that letter?  If the latter, Comey was insubordinate.

This was a serious error that put the political neutrality of the FBI in question.









Who Started the Fire?

In Crime and Security on July 11, 2013 at 9:16 am
The IRS is in a mess
It didn’t pass the fairness test
TSA can grope your crotch
Stroke your boobs and steal your watch
DEA will get your stash
Cancer’s no excuse for grass
Try to build a cherry bomb
ATF will raid your farm
Try to make a private call
The NSA will hear it all
Email, snail mail
The FBI is on your tail
Sharia law is at the door
Religious freedom is no more
We will take your DNA
Ship you to Guantanamo Bay
The Bill of Rights got no clout
When Uncle Sam wants you out
If you don’t cease and desist
Your name goes on another list
Don’t ask for food you can’t afford
Or you’ll get the water board
Pro life, anti choice
Who really has a voice
Democrats have no deal
GOP just won’t yield
President is met with scorn
‘Cause we don’t know where he was born
Grab your guns and arm your crew
Those Blackhawks are after you
And when you think that this will pass
The CIA will drone your ass…
~Michael Tabman
In the spirit of Billy Joel’s, We Didn’t Start the Fire

The Last Criminal Profile

In Crime and Security on February 17, 2013 at 8:32 am

          In October 2012, I wrote a blog, Can Criminal Profiling Really Identify a Murderer? premised on an FBI Psychological Profile that seemed unusually inaccurate. In that blog I also cited other examples of “off the mark” profiles.  After that blog, two media outlets invited me to discuss profiling.  One host asked me to identify any case that had been solved via a criminal profile.  I could not think of one.  That does not mean it hasn’t happened, only that in my experience I was not aware of any.  At that time, and continuing through today, there is a serial killer on the loose in Long Island, NY.  This killer’s profile, which identified a number of specific traits, some apparently from physical evidence, has not yet yielded an arrest.

Though not a profiler, through my 24 years of FBI experience, I have worked with profilers and have seen the process in action.  Profiling is not an exact science, and the best efforts of the most highly trained will have errors – they are only human.  I respect and admire the training and expertise of criminal profilers.  However, I am starting to seriously question the value of these profiles, though they make for great entertainment.

After the ex-LAPD Officer turned killer Christopher Dorner died, his profile became media fodder.  His manifesto showed an angry and pathetic side to him.  He was labeled an “injustice collector” and other catchy phrases.  Yet, with all that retrospective understanding of his personality, nobody saw this coming.  As I watched this sad story unfold, I reflected back to only a few months earlier when I discussed Cops Gone Bad with msnbcnews.com. How did these police officers escape getting “profiled” during their psychological assessments? With Dorner’s predictable suicide, so ended his rampage with no justice for those killed and no hope that we can avert another mass killing.  Does profiling him and those like him serve any useful law enforcement purpose?

While researching cases that had been solved directly by criminal profiling, I found some interesting tidbits.  The only case I found in which there was a claim of profiling leading directly to arrest was from the 1940s – 1950s.  The subject of this case was George Metesky, dubbed the Mad Bomber.  Metesky planted bombs in popular New York City venues over the course of 16 years.  Prior to identifying Metesky, the NYPD employed a psychiatrist to profile the Mad Bomber.

The profile included such descriptors as: “male, possible motive: discharge or reprimand, feels superior to critics, resentment keeps growing, present or former Consolidated Edison worker, probably case of progressive paranoia.”  The Mad Bomber’s letters to newspapers and left at bomb sites, made clear allusions to his employment at Con Edison and his belief that his employer had wronged him.  After publicizing some of the Mad Bombers letters, a clerk at Con Edison identified former employee George Metesky as a suspect by poring over worker compensation files.  While the profile accurately predicted many personal traits, there is debate as to the role it played in solving the case, as many aspects of the bomber were revealed through his writings.  The Mad Bomber profile also noted that he was probably neat, unsocial and single.  Metesky planted his first bomb when he was 37 years of age.

During the 1990s, we were terrorized by the Unabomber, sending bombs through the mail.  Various profiles of the Unabomber included terms such as, “Male, single, meticulous, trouble with romantic relationships, loner and paranoia.”  While the profile did contain several similarities with the person convicted, ultimately, the Unabomber was identified after his manifesto was printed in the newspaper and his brother recognized the writing as that of Ted Kaczynski. Kaczynski began his bombings at age 35.

Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers, fit many of the above noted characteristics.  His arrest was the result of a failed abduction attempt and subsequent traffic stop by police.  Bundy’s first murder was committed when he was 28 years of age.

Serial Murderer David Berkowitz, known as the Son of Sam, terrorized New York City at the time I was a college student, frequenting the areas where Berkowitz was known to strike.  As Metesky and Kaczynski, Berkowitz sent letters to the newspapers.  His profile shares many similarities as the others.  He was caught by an observant passer-by and a parking ticket.  He committed his first murder at the age of 23.

And now we have Christopher Dorner, a single male, aged 33.  He too was described as paranoid; not by a profiler, but by an ex-girlfriend.  How much of Dorner’s profile is consistent with the others?  Did understanding him help us stop anything?

Articles entitled, Psychological profiling ‘worse than useless’, Criminal profiling: the reality behind the myth and The Criminal Profile Illusion – What’s Behind the Smoke and Mirrors? have titles that are self explanatory of their contents.  Another paper, Psychological Profiling also questions the value of the criminal profile.  In my blog cited above, I noted a time when I relied on a profiler for helping design an interview strategy in a mass murder investigation.  The profiler was very helpful, though there was no need to “profile” the killer.  We knew who he was and he was dead.

There is no harm in having a criminal profile, but I now believe it is more show than substance.  I do not see that a criminal profile will directly lead to an arrest.  I prefer to see such expert resources design useful methods for detecting and preventing violent acts.

Please allow me to offer my “profile of the profile.”  It may be valuable to finding the still unidentified Long Island serial killer.

–          Male

–          Single

–          Began killing in mid 20’s to late 30’s

–          Signs of paranoia

–          Blames others for real or imagined wrongs

–          Troubled interpersonal relationships

–          Neat, organized

–          Above average intelligence

–          Will be identified and arrested by means other than his profile

I do not intend to make light of serial killers.  I do not mean to disparage the hard work of well-intentioned and highly educated criminal profilers.  But, I find it important to shed light on what I believe is reality versus myth.  The “Criminal Minds” effect may be as real as the “CSI Effect” and that can only have a detrimental effect on criminal prosecutions.

The Criminal Profile vs. The Criminal ~ Can A Criminal Profile Really Identify a Murderer?

In Crime and Security, Uncategorized on October 28, 2012 at 10:04 am

Ten-year-old Jessica Ridgeway was abducted and killed in Westminster, Colorado.  Her dismembered body was found and a 17-year-old has been arrested, reportedly having confessed to the murder.  Body parts were found in the suspect’s house.  Who would commit such a horrifying and brutal crime?  What is the criminal profile of this kind of pedophile murderer?

The FBI released a profile of the suspect of the Jessica Ridgeway homicide.  I recently discussed criminal profiling with a local news station.   The question asked was whether we can truly profile a criminal; how accurate are these profiles?

The FBI profile stated that the individual may suddenly change his appearance or leave town.  Though I am not a profiler, in my 27 years of law enforcement, I do not recall that as the profile of a child murderer.

In New Jersey, only days earlier, 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale was murdered by two brothers from the neighborhood, aged 15 and 17.  Last year, in Brooklyn, NY an 8-year-old boy was kidnapped and murdered by a member of a close knit and trusting religious community.  His body was also found dismembered in the perpetrator’s house.  Children are most often victimized by people who are known to the family or are neighbors.  Law enforcement always considers that the perpetrator may participate in the search for the child.

The FBI Behavioral Science Unit is the leading criminal profiling entity.  They are highly trained and well respected in the criminal justice community.  Criminal profiling is a valuable law enforcement resource.  But, criminal profiling must be viewed from the proper perspective – it is not an exact science; it is not as accurate, specific or detailed as television would lead you to believe.

As a rookie FBI Agent, my first exposure to criminal profiling was after we experienced the stabbing murders of female bank employees.  The profile concluded that the perpetrators were clearly heterosexual, drawing an analogy between the stabbings and sexual penetration.  The perpetrators were found to be two homosexual partners who killed the women after they made fun of the killers, who were bank customers.  In 1993, in Long Island, NY, 12-year-old Katie Beers disappeared.  When the police first searched the home of her kidnapper, they did not find her; she was hidden in a specially constructed “dungeon” beneath the house.  She was eventually rescued by police who would not be deterred.  Explaining the failure of the first search to find Katie, the police stated that they had been distracted by an FBI profile which stated that pedophiles usually did not hide children in their homes. 

In 2005, as the Special Agent in Charge of the Red Lake High School Mass Shooting, I requested the assistance of a profiler.  We did not need a profile of the shooter; he was dead.  We needed a strategy to get teenagers to cooperate with us.  The profiler designed a very creative strategy, which worked.

Everyone knows about the “CSI effect;” how television has affected judges and juries who expect law enforcement to solve crimes within minutes, based on technology that does not exist.  Profiling has experienced the same misperception.  Criminal profiling is a valuable law enforcement resource, performed by trained personnel, but it has its limitations and is not fool-proof.  Solving crime still needs the basics – beating the bushes, interviewing people and employing old fashioned police-smarts.

Please visit michaeltabman.com for more information.

Mafia Hitman – Only 10 Years in Jail

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2012 at 6:21 pm

            The news recently reported that Dominick Cicale, who snitched against Bonanno Crime Family Boss “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, despite Cicale’s conviction for two homicides.  Was that a fair deal?

The fight against the mob, drug traffickers and gangsters has often required the cooperation of informants, also referred to as rats, snitches, moles and other terms for those who turn against their colleagues to protect themselves.  Many people do not like the idea of law enforcement making deals and working cooperatively with violent criminals.  Working with informants is a dirty and high risk business.  I have previously blogged about the dangers of working with informants.  In my first book, Walking the Corporate Beat: Police School for Business People, I chronicle stories of FBI-Informant relationships gone awry and the fall-out.  Yet, the bottom line is this – many high profile investigations, from the mob to terrorism, would have never been successful if not for informants.

Informants are generally working in their own best interests.  They are usually criminals; otherwise, they would not have gained the trust of the criminals on whom they are snitching.  They often lie, mislead and do what it takes to make things work for themselves.  It is up to the experienced law enforcement officer to work through those challenges by controlling the informant, using wiretaps, polygraphs and sometimes other informants to verify the information.  Relying solely on the word of a self-serving informant would not only be irresponsible, it would most likely end up in a failed prosecution.  Juries do not like informants.

Is it fair to reduce the sentences of informants who have committed violent and other serious offenses? No, it is not fair.  But, it is necessary.  Without their cooperation, without some deal making, we would not get the bigger fish.  That is a hard concept to swallow, but it is the reality of fighting crime.  The mob, as with other organized criminal enterprises, is difficult to penetrate.  Without the cooperation of snitches, we would always be one step behind.  It’s a dirty business, but someone has to do it.

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