Sunday, June 27, 2010
Who do you call when the FBI is closed for the weekend?
My first inclination was to call the FBI for help. The attack on me, after all, seemed to cross state lines. And, as one who still has faith in our Federal Government, and who remembers Eliot Ness and "The Untouchables" from 50 years ago, I wanted the guys who busted Al Capone working for me. (So what if Scarface Al was convicted only for tax evasion. He did go to jail.)
The FBI's website says they "enforce the criminal laws of the United States. We currently have jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal law." I wasn't sure exactly which of the hundreds the attack on me would qualify as, but it seems to involve slander, hate crime, cyber-crime, copyright violation, and -- if the perpetrator is who I think he is -- disability insurance fraud.
Alas, the man who answered the phone in the closest FBI field office told me to call back on Monday, and that my "local police department is the first line of protection."
That was more frightening than comforting.
I was seeking investigation, arrest, prosecution, conviction and punishment. When he mentioned "protection," I was scared shitless, with a vision of crazed villagers with torches, pitchforks, shotguns and nooses massing in front of my house. Maybe also a cross-burning on my lawn, a horse head in my bed and evil graffiti on my house, for good measure. I didn't even think about what could be done to our cars or be dumped into the pool. I can be victimized in many ways.
I quickly reached a comforting female voice at the local police department. I was told that an officer would be right over, and that I'd get a phone call when he was nearby so I'd know that one of the good guys, not a crazed villager, was ringing my doorbell.
Officer Billy Simpson (whom the other cops call "Homer," of course) spent about 90 patient and caring minutes in my house. I showed him the web pages that were directed against me, the messages from friends that told me about the problem, and I printed out pages for him to take with him. While he was here, his walkie-talkie announced an alert for a shoplifting suspect -- much more typical local crime than what had hit me.
He asked me if I knew or thought I knew who was behind the cyber-attack.
I told him that there was only one obvious suspect, and he was a very obvious suspect.
This is not the time or place to identify the alleged perpetrator (I love that phrase, but this is the first time I've ever used it when I was not telling a joke or discussing an episode of NYPD Blue or Law & Order).
I'll just say that the suspect is a hate-filled wacko who knows how to use a PC, and has the talent and time for orchestrating elaborate scams.
After a while, Officer Billy and I were joined by Sgt. Patrick Tierney. The sarge was about a generation older than Billy, and seemed more like a detective than a "uni" (uniformed officer) -- as Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) would have said on Law & Order.
I asked him for his card and he smiled as he took it from his shiny brass card case and held it so that both Billy and I could see it. Billy had no reaction, but I -- closer to Pat's age -- immediately smiled, too.
His card was illustrated with two horses' heads. I doubted that they represented the horse's-head-in-the-bed from The Godfather. They were more likely an homage to the business card of TV's Paladin, wonderfully portrayed by Richard Boone (a genuine descendant of frontiersman Daniel Boone) from 1957 to 1963. Paladin's card showed the chess piece and the inscription, "Have Gun, Will Travel. Wire Paladin, San Francisco."
(Smutty Miami Beach comedienne Belle Barth told audiences that Paladin's wife was hooking while he was out chasing bad guys. The wife's card, according to Belle, said, "Have crack. Will shack. 'Til the schmuck with the gun gets back.")
I was comforted by this bit of lightness in a day when I felt my life was in jeopardy, and I started singing the theme from the ancient TV show:
"Have gun will travel reads the card of a man.
A knight without armor in a savage land.
Paladin, Paladin, Where do you roam?
Paladin, Paladin, Far, far from home."
I had not heard nor sung those lyrics in nearly half a century, but they came right back to me.
So what if the Feds don't work on Saturday. I had Paladin on my side! It felt good. I wrote out a statement describing the events and saying I wanted the scumbag arrested. Paladin/Pat said the department had people who could figure out who was behind the web attacks on me. It was time to kick perp ass!
(more to come)