Money Well Spent
Wow, FBI agents have a job that might suck worse than anything that we do…
The special agent called me right when I got to work this morning on my cell (which I had left with him). He didn’t want to talk on the phone but was clear that this wasn’t about me, my work, or anything like that. He asked if we could chat in person and I arranged for a post-lunch meeting since I didn’t have other meetings this afternoon.
He and another agent (they really do come in pairs!) came out. The other guy was obviously the engineering guy out of the two of them. It turns out that the address in question is the one that I had when I was an undergraduate at the University of Washington between 1991 and 1993. They said it turned up in a file on someone’s hard drive. This is the period that, using that I address, I posted a lot on usenet, was a moderator for a few newsgroups, and posted quite a few pagan and other files from my old BBS (like the original text version of TAZ that I posted). I’ve seen my original headers preserved in text file versions of these posts. I told them about this. They asked a few questions about contacts overseas. They asked me if I might have had any political discussions or arguments with anyone (clearly not asking about my beliefs, I think it was more looking to see what I’d done with that address). I told them that I had and summarized the categories of things that I used to post a lot about (politics, paganism, anthropology, how I hated nazis, etc). They asked a few questions about whether I was a programmer back then (which is ‘no’) and the whole thing was relatively casual. I watched them take notes and there weren’t many.
It was pretty obviously a “hey, we found this e-mail address in this file, go find who owned it” suckage job. They were up front that they wouldn’t be able to talk about the case since it was sensitive and ongoing and then added that it wasn’t their personal case so they didn’t have a lot of detail anyway. We exchanged business cards and I got to ask them things like “Are you really special agents? Are there not-so-special agents?” They either appreciated my humor or pretend very well for the sake of the government.
Your tax dollars sent these two fine men on a two hour plus round trip to meet with me. It is good to know our money is well spent.