Recently, I have inadvertently come across gossip within our agency critical of our female agents from which I quote: "The sad part is we have females like ... wearing gold badges; these females are gutless and worthless."
This jejune and discursive gossip has little validity measured by either truth or realism and can be regarded as mainly a continuation of extraordinary irresponsibility. Nothing could be more fallacious and insidiously deceptive for it maliciously misrepresents the females of our agency with whom it was my privilege to serve for they had the feeling of Hotspur; they invested their strength, their spirit and at times even their lives into mission accomplishment.
Early one morning before the workforce arrived in our Miami office Carol Cooper left our group area and walked down to the first floor to copy serial numbers of a large flash roll we intended on using later in the morning. A goon had somehow breached security and gained access to our building. Much to his surprise he stumbled across Carol whose back was turned to him. Seeing the sizeable stack of money he began pummeling Carol as he stuffed money into his trousers. Despite agonizing pain from a couple of broken ribs Carol valiantly fought back beating her assaulter to the ground.
In a dimly-lit West Dade car lot Carol met up with a couple of heavily armed dealers and by sheer wit and gutsy acting skills made the world's largest undercover seizure of more than 3 million Quaaludes. Not to be one to rest on her laurels, Carol continued to cut a bypath through Florida traffickers by seizing hundreds of pounds of methaqualone, enough to manufacture over 11 million Quaaludes. Carol was hospitalized when she inadvertently was exposed to these injurious chemicals. She was a dynamo, negotiating for the seizure of 20,000 pounds of marihuana; generating case after case. Not being selfish, Carol would share with other group members the many informants she generated from the prolific cases she initiated. Always a team player, Carol would, without hesitation, help anyone in the office; often putting her own cases on temporary hold.
One humid, sultry night in Miami we were confronted by an armed gunman. We were both faced with a possible cross fire which Carol quickly resolved by dropping to the ground as I fired heavy .45 ACP slugs from my 1911a1 into the desperado's face. In another Miami gunbattle Carol showed her pluck and spunkiness while a SWAT officer and I shot it out in a backyard with a fugitive murderer.
Later as an ASAC in the Oakland Division I worked with two agents with poise, dignity, personality and venturousness, Alicia Lopez and Jeanie Choy. They both possessed an agent's greatest virtue, a sense of vocation. Alicia and Jeanie were proven case makers, well respected by their peers. When the opportunity presented itself to attend basic FBI SWAT they both readily stepped forward. After first passing the strenuous physicals tests they spent two weeks honing their tactical skills and then onto the gut wrenching trials of rappelling off six story buildings, standing out on the skids of a Huey 800 feet in the air and in another exercise fast roping onto the roof of buildings.Snce tactical skills are perishable, they continued their arduous training cycle several days a month with SWAT teams throughout California.
Then came the ultimate physical challenge, attendance at the vaunted, yet feared, San Bernardino S.O. Survival School. Day Six began as a rosy dawn swallowed the darkness of the night, The agents were on the land navigation course in the blistering desert heat where the unknown is the real destroyer of courage, an illusion created, no doubt, by the silence and the limpid air. They stopped in the hallow beside a dried up creek bed. On the farthest bank was an up thrust of knee-high boulders. Luckily, a light breeze carried the sound of a curled rattler just before it struck. Quickly, a teammate fired snake shot from his pistol, taking off the rattler's head.
As time progressed, Alicia's career took her to Bogota, Colombia while I placed Jeanie in charge of a task force of hardened street narcs who immediately accepted Jeanie as their leader.
Paulette Rodriquez received her undergraduate degree in archeology/anthropology. One of her professors solicited volunteers to accompany him on a dig in a remote area of Mexico. Although fluent in French, Paulette only knew the rudiments of Spanish. Always willing to seek a challenge, Paulette volunteered and was off to Mexico. As they excavated through the ruins Paulette learned the value of taking detailed, precise notes and the importance of cataloging evidence, all of which would put her in good stead later on in her professional life.
Setting aside her archeologist endeavors Paulette signed on as a clerk/typist at the American Embassy in Mexico City, later transferring to our office in Guadalajara. After living in Mexico eight years, Paulette came to Chicago. Her proven talents were readily recognized and she became an Intelligence Analyst, consistently demonstrating extraordinary administrative and organizational skills. In particular, she excelled in harmoniously working with agencies whose culture were completely different than hers; forcing her to understand the impact of issues from her counterpart's view and not necessarily from her own perspective.
Paulette learned how to accomplish extensive analytic work with a paucity of resources. Simply, there were never enough agents, tools or money to accomplish all that was demanded of her. Through self introspection, she learned to be flexible and to change her goals to fit the resources at hand; to be an entrepreneur, doing what was actionable when she could not do what seemed essential.
Perhaps her singular most significant accomplishment happened outside our agency when she chaired the Community Action Drug Coalition in her town to serve and educate all inhabitants and groups regarding substance abuse by promoting prevention, treatment and education. Paulette achieved her ultimate goal to decrease the incidence of drug use in her community. A most sterling and noble undertaking.
On the last day of her life Meredith Thompson restlessly got out of her bunk, opened the screen door to her hooch being careful not to let it slam closed so as not to wake her sleeping Snowcap teammates. Walking around the chest high sandbag barrier Meredith gazed up at the pale quarter moon which added its glow to that of the twinkling stars. She shivered briefly over a fleeting premonition, a feeling she had never before felt. A sense of her impending death. Quickly forcing this from her sub conscious she did some stretching exercises in preparation for leading her teammates in their hour long calisthenics prior to setting out on the day's mission.
Later, at their assembly point, prior to departing camp, Meredith did a function check of her weapons. She pulled back on the bolt to her M4, letting the bolt slide forward chambering a round. Next, she chamber checked her Glock 17. Each team member inspected their individual equipment insuring all was a go since once in a firefight in Peru's Huallaga Valley there was no 911 to call. Meredith looked into her team leader's dark eyes which said that he had seen more than his share of hell for each mile he had covered on Snowcap was blood slick and replete with hazards. She knew they all prided themselves on being a hard charging, kick ass team.
As Meredith was preparing herself to go into combat several thousand miles away in our nation's capitol our agency Suits were just then strolling into their office armed with their favorite caffe latte and cream cheese bagel. Sitting at their desks they hurriedly scanned the morning cable traffic to see if any vacancies had opened which could significantly advance their careers.
A few hours later at the age of 33 Meredith lay dead on the floor of the jungle surrounded by the bodies of her four teammates. Nearby, the shallow runoff to a spring gurgled out from beneath a rock's ledge. In the distance there was a rumble of thunder and a rising wind that brought promise of a stormy night. At the close of the day big gray clouds billowed in from the Amazon and a warm drizzling rain fell, washing over their bodies.
By this time the Suits had huddled together discussing possible strategies that might distance themselves from responsibility. As the Suits arrived home to be greeted by their families, Meredith's were answering to an ominous knock on the door.
Whenever a warrior dies in battle their loved ones always question: was their death needless, was it in vain? Thumb quickly answered this question by abolishing Snowcap with the lame excuse that Snowcap had been drawing away valuable resources from his more important programs. To the uninformed this may have sounded reasonable. Again, as in the past, Thumb was less than forthright for he concealed a valuable truth: Congress had funded 200 agents positions to make up the shortfall created by staffing Snowcap. Thumb failed as a leader for the drug war must be waged with vigor, decision and unshaken will, one must not grope or vacillate.
Applicable to Meredith and her four Snowcap teammates General Moshe Dayan once wrote: "Death in combat is not the end of the fight but its peak, and since combat is a part, and at times the sum total of life, death which is the peak of combat, is not the destruction of life, but its fullest, most powerful expression."
Respect is a warrior's core value. We all share a common humanity and therefore command a level of respect. By their actions not only Carol, Alicia, Jeanie, Paulette and Meredith, but all females, deserve our respect. There is no room for gossip amongst warriors.
Frank E. White