About a month ago, reports surfaced that the FBI tracked falafel sales in San Francisco with the hopes of unearthing Iranian secret agents in the Bay Area, much to the collective "nuh-uh!" of an unsurprised nation. Well, after several weeks of intensive research, the FBI PR department has determined that the FBI did not engage in such practices and would like to tell everyone that tracking falafel sales with the hope of finding terrorists is just plain silly:
We at the FBI were surprised to read about a supposed FBI program to monitor the sales of Middle Eastern food products in the San Francisco Bay area in support of counterterrorism intelligence gathering ("FBI Hoped to Follow Falafel Trail to Iranian Terrorists Here," November 2, 2007).
Having never heard of this, I spoke to the counterterrorism managers, who in the story were identified as having hatched the plan, as well as everyone else who would have had any knowledge of it. Nobody did. At one point in the story, writer Jeff Stein opines "as ridiculous as it sounds," in reference to the alleged food monitoring plan, which reportedly was described to Mr. Stein by "well-informed sources."· FBI Response to Congressional Quarterly Article [FBI Press Release]
In this case, too ridiculous to be true.
While the story may have been the source of some amusement, I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight on something that touches on something so important as national security and civil liberties.
· Really, America? [~ESF~]
· Follow The Falafel Trail [Huffington Post]