- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2002

FBI disinterest
Michael Norman, who in his "semi-retired" spare time enjoys turning discarded computers into functioning tools, often donating them to poor schoolchildren, has happened across the carcass of one eye-opening machine in a Dumpster next to a Dunkin' Donuts in Schaumburg, Ill.
Now if he could only get the FBI to take a look inside.
"Complacency, along with a 'brush it off, let it pass' attitude through ignorant oversight, could most easily reward us with a September 11 repeat," Mr. Norman tells this column.
This particular computer find was "totally cannibalized all the internal components were gone except for the internal aluminum frame itself," he explains. "Seeing it that way and thinking it to be totally 'stripped,' I started to turn and walk away but caught a glimpse of something attached to the partially hidden carcass as it lay in a pile of debris. Stretching into the Dumpster I picked out the hard drive."
Because it looked new, he took it home and threw it into a desk drawer, making a mental note to "check it later." Later came on Friday night, June 28 less than two weeks ago.
"Now why in the world would someone throw away a perfectly good, and not cheap, hard drive?" the Illinois man asked himself as he opened the hard drive.
The first thing to pop up on his monitor was Windows 98, and Mr. Norman had to get past the user's name and password. "No problem," he says.
It turns out the first name of the person it was registered to was "Imran" (we have decided to withhold the man's last name). "Now comes the interesting part," Mr. Norman says.
"On the hard drive was the same name that appeared at the password, only now it had 'Major General' before it. There is a file with photographs, one of which shows this person holding an AK-47 rifle. Other pictures show him amidst groups of Arab-type individuals. There are three pictures of him sitting in the pilot's seat in the cockpit of an aircraft. And there are programs on this hard drive relating to airplane and pilot lessons."
What Mr. Norman viewed next was equally disturbing: links to pages called "Air Disaster," "Covert Operations," "Scorched Earth," "Flight Simulator," "Garmin Flight Trainer (400 Series)," and "No. 1 News Resources of Pakistan."
He studied the hard drive until 3:35 a.m. "I could not help thinking that this computer was torn apart with a purpose in mind by someone who suddenly felt the need to protect himself from exposure to any attachment, to any form of terrorism," he says.
Up early that morning, he telephoned the FBI office in Aurora, Ill. Hearing a taped message, he notified the FBI in Chicago, but the woman who took the call seemed uninterested and "hung up," he says.
A few hours later he called the FBI again. This time another woman listened to his story and commented about the number of "crackpots" in the world. She dismissed the call. Apparently there will be no FBI report, and certainly no investigation, Mr. Norman says.
"I realize all this may turn out to be absolutely nothing," he says. "But what aggravates me is that during this most critical moment in your and my America, even the world, our president is telling us, the American people, on an almost weekly basis, that situations could possibly arise which may test the mettle of every American citizen man, woman, and child.
"Now I feel we should heighten our senses, become aware and alert and immediately responsive to individuals and/or activities that suddenly do not seem to fit the norm. And we should all, each and every one of us act."

Shunning God
Several U.S. senators have become "afraid" and "cowed into silence" when it comes to God and their faith, says Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican and a practicing Catholic.
"We have media and culture that beat us up continuously to drive God out of the public square," the senator said at a recent conference at the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington. "Systematically, they get people not to speak the truth people get cowed into silence."
One thing Mr. Santorum says he likes about George W. Bush is that he's "not afraid to say the G-word."

Analyzing Al
Regarding our last column, in which Jonathan Coopersmith, a history professor at Texas A&M; University, took us to task for repeating the old line about Al Gore asserting to have invented the Internet, reader Richard Evans writes:
"Since you got a professor of history to make a comment about the phrase, 'I took the initiative in creating the Internet,' why don't you get a professor of English to make a comment about history? Seriously, you could interview a professor of English to see whether the phrase, 'I took the initiative in creating the Internet,' actually can be interpreted as 'I created the Internet.' It sounds like the same phrase to me.
"Webster defines initiative as '1: an introductory step.' This makes the phrase into, 'I took an introductory step in creating the Internet.' It still sounds to me like [Mr. Gore] was involved in coding and wiring."


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