- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Challenging Moose

The epilogue to the newly released paperback edition of Ronald Kessler’s “The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI” (St. Martin’s Press), claims it was a senior FBI agent — not Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose — who led the Beltway sniper investigation.

“While the public face of the effort was Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose, Gary M. Bald, a six-foot-three-inch-tall agent, headed it,” the best-selling author of “Inside the CIA” writes.

Which has us wondering if it shouldn’t be the soft-spoken, scholarly looking Mr. Bald — not Mr. Moose — who should be pocketing a six-figure advance for writing about the sniper shootings. Mr. Moose recently opted to step down from the force so he could write the book.

Mr. Bald was appointed special agent in charge (SAC) of the FBI field office in Baltimore in September 2002. A former SAC in Atlanta, he had most recently been an inspector in charge of evaluations of FBI field offices. Previously, he headed the FBI’s investigation of corrupt agents in the Boston office.

In addition, Mr. Kessler charges that former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh’s “aversion” to equipping the FBI with modern technology hindered the sniper investigation.

“For want of a modern computer system,” the author writes, “more than 100,000 tips to the telephone hot line at the Washington Field Office were taken down on paper forms that made carbon copies. The forms were faxed to police departments, where they had to be copied and faxed again to investigators.”

Mr. Kessler says leads had to be stored on Rapid Start, the FBI’s “primitive computer system that had been built to get around the disastrously flawed Automated Case Support System. Rapid Start soon became overloaded and would not take more data.”

Blessed with Reagan

We had written this week how popular the name “Reagan” is becoming in this country — especially for girls.

Since then, we’ve heard from the parents of a dozen babies named Reagan, including Jeff Lungren, communications director for the House Judiciary Committee.

“Thought you might enjoy this picture of Reagan Maria Lungren, born Oct. 23, 2002,” says the proud Capitol Hill aide.

Meanwhile, David Wetzel of Wichita, Kan., writes to say that his now 22-month-old son Reagan actually saved his daddy’s life — not once, but twice.

“In January 2001, I was employed with a major financial-services firm when a career opportunity became available which would have relocated me and my wife to the World Trade Center in New York,” says Mr. Wetzel.

In fact, the couple excitedly agreed to accept the position and relocate to Manhattan. But within 48 hours of their life-altering decision, Marietta Wetzel learned she was pregnant. After much thought, they decided to stay in Kansas.

Their child was due to be born in August 2001, and they decided on a name — Reagan, after the 40th president of the United States. Around that time, Mr. Wetzel was advised of meetings he’d have to attend in both Trade Center towers in New York Sept. 10-14.

“Marietta was envious,” he said. “I was going to actually get some rest, when I wasn’t out having fun. I might even get over to Yankee Stadium.”

But Reagan was late, and when doctors set a Sept. 7 date to induce labor, Mr. Wetzel canceled his trip. Finally, Reagan arrived, weighing in at 10 pounds, 13 ounces.

Late in the morning of September 11, “after an astonishing lack of sleep,” a bleary-eyed Mr. Wetzel was awakened by his mother-in-law and told the tragic news.

“I was speechless,” he said. “By this time, both towers were down, and I was immediately in tears. I had the usual litany of questions. Then it hit me. Twice in the last nine months, my son Reagan, who was only four days old, had kept me out of the Trade Center. Twice. What a blessing.”

Whatever works

Yesterday marked the debut of a new political Web site — www.PoliticsUS.com — produced by the Publius Group, which earlier launched state-based political Web sites in New Jersey, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

Besides collecting “all the political news you need to know,” the site presents its own stable of columnists, primarily campaign operatives, including former Republican National Committee spokesman Bill Pascoe, former Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman, former Bush administration aide Donald Trigg and Democratic strategist Ken Snyder.

There’s also a column by an anonymous editor who uses the pseudonym “Publius.”

“By remaining cloaked and nonpartisan, he’s able to get information out of people in the know that they wouldn’t dare give a known journalist,” says Mr. Pascoe. “Sounds screwy, but it works.”

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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