from the sun's-out,-guns-out dept
Last week, federal agents took down two alleged baddies for doing the thing: impersonating federal agents.
Two men have been arrested for allegedly impersonating federal agents over the course of several years. The FBI alleges that Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 35, have been pretending to be various officers and employees of the U.S. government, including members of federal law enforcement agencies, since February 2020.
The two allegedly obtained paraphernalia, handguns and assault rifles used by federal law enforcement agencies. The FBI claims they used their false associations with the U.S. government “to ingratiate themselves with members of federal law enforcement and the defense community.”
The pair pretended to be DHS employees. Using this limited amount of subterfuge (along with an apartment full of police gear obtained [allegedly] illegally), the duo managed to compromise US Secret Service members as well as another DHS employee. This apparently included a member of the First Lady’s Secret Service detail.
Private surveillance was leveraged.
Other residents in the building said the two — who held several apartments in the building that they said were “being paid for by DHS” — had access to residents’ surveillance cameras, cell phones and other personal information. Authorities later learned that many of the buildings’ residents were in the FBI, Secret Service and DHS. Others were members of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy.
The subterfuge — and the subsequent FBI raid — involved an expensive and exclusive apartment complex in Washington, DC.
The two men — Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 36 — were taken into custody as more than a dozen FBI agents charged into a luxury apartment building in Southeast Washington on Wednesday evening.
“More than a dozen” somewhat underplays what happened here. And, despite the fact this raid involved a “luxury apartment building,” the FBI dressed for war. This photo is from one of the government’s exhibits in the criminal case. Without context, one might assume this photo was taken at the frontlines of the Ukraine war or possibly is a historical artifact, like (for example) the US military taking control of an Iraqi government controlled financial institute.
In this photo (which does not appear to include the entire FBI raid team), there are at least 13 FBI agents visible. It might possibly contain 14 agents, depending on your interpretation of the protruding limbs seen at the right side of the frame. And it doesn’t appear as though the agents photographed are the entirety of the warrant service crew.
The question is why anyone in the FBI thought camouflage gear would be useful or necessary in a situation like this. The agents casually approaching the foyer of this luxury apartment complex don’t appear to be trying to blend in with the environment. When soldiers wear military gear into cities, it’s because that’s often the only option they have. That’s their normal uniform when engaged in combat and there’s really no convenient place to change into something more stealthy/appropriate when on patrol or seeking to secure certain areas.
But FBI agents have plenty of time to plan their tactical loadout. And, despite going no further than a DC apartment complex, the FBI chose to look like an invading force. While they may have been concerned that the suspects had access to guns and police gear, it makes zero sense to walk single file into an apartment complex duded up like Private Ryan.
Ironically, the gear obtained by the impersonators more closely resembled the public’s expectations about law enforcement’s appearance during police operations.
That’s what people expect cops (and the FBI) to wear. Instead, the FBI showed up like it was the first wave of martial law. And, despite being dressed up like an invading force, agents apparently encountered no resistance and took the suspects into custody without a fight. In the end, this looks like sending a bunch of boys pretending to be men to do a man’s job.
The message it sends to the public, however, is damaging. It shows law enforcement officers (at all levels of the government) prefer to present themselves as an occupying force, no matter what potential danger they’re facing.
Then there’s this bit of inadvertent hilarity in the DOJ’s request for denial of bail. Maybe I’m the only one that thinks it’s funny, but here it is:
[T]hey procured, stored, and used all the tools of law enforcement and covert tradecraft: weaponry, including firearms, scopes, and brass knuckles; surveillance equipment, including a drone, antennae, hard drives, and hard drive copying equipment.
You mean, like “hard drives?” This list (possibly excluding the brass knuckles) looks like the sort of thing any American with some tech knowledge might have in their home at any given time. That firearms are deemed “tools of law enforcement,” rather than the natural result of a constitutional right to bear arms is extremely concerning. That the ability to copy data is considered “covert tradecraft” by the FBI is even more alarming. And stupid. (But mostly alarming.)
It’s just not enough to be a cowboy cop anymore. Cops pretend they’re soldiers to psyche themselves up for regular warrant service. Meanwhile, actual soldiers have to pretend they’ve never been deployed to get average Americans to trust them. What a time to be alive.