Two drunks get on a city bus. It starts up, drives away, and a short time later, the passengers begin disrobing. They have revolvers strapped to their hips, radio gear, maybe Uzis. Seeing this, the drunks get nervous, get up and start pulling the overhead chain. They're desperate and want off the bus. The bus driver is knocking over garbage cans making his turns on the city streets. He yells back at the drunks "Hey, quit playing with the bell!" One of the passengers approaches the drunks. He's carrying a shotgun. "Do we know you?" the passenger says to the drunk. Now the drunks begin to pull the bell so hard they nearly rip it off its moorings. The passenger with the shotgun yells "Hey Phil, stop the bus. We got a couple of riders here." According to Ronald Kessler in his new book The Secrets Of The FBI, the passengers were FBI agents on a stakeout. The bus picked up the two drunks by mistake. Is this any way to run a government agency? Got that right. Welcome to the post 9/11 world of keeping America safe.
As Mr. Kessler indicates, this is not your grandfather's FBI. They think out of the box these days, and do imaginative things like staging fake car accidents to find terror suspects. They can and will impersonate almost anybody, although not a journalist or members of clergy. And female agents are not permitted to use sex to entrap a subject. So, if in doubt about who your date really is, kiss her. If she's FBI, she can't respond.
As to the question everyone has been wondering about, on page 17 we get: "Every other week, agent Louis Grever meets with his counterparts at the CIA". So yes, there is sharing of intelligence information, which was generally not the case prior to 9/11.
The FBI also doesn't like barking dogs, and will use tranquilizer darts to silence them. Other times they encounter more exotic species. On page 22 we get agent Mike McDevitt: "I hear all this noise ...I have a penlight in my mouth... I turn my head towards that... I see these orange eyes looking at me... a jaguar in a cage."
There are rewards that go beyond the tangible. Grever: "You love getting the phone call at home, grabbing your bag, and telling your family, `I gotta go! They need me! The country needs me!" When there's nothing more to learn about someone, the FBI clamps on the cuffs. "The day we arrest someone is the day I can't collect against him anymore," according to FBI assistant national security director Art Cummings II.
Overall, this book will answer most questions about the FBI's mission and its handling of important cases, including the hunt for Osama Bin Laden in Chapter 21. One new battleground is cyber terrorism, and industrial espionage, especially signals emanating from China. "We are being flooded, absolutely flooded by predominantly Chinese cyber attacks," Cummings says.