But the FBI guys - that was a bit of an eyeopener. Last night we learned about hate crimes and about FBI work overseas. Someone asked why sexual orientation wasn't one of the protected classes for federal hate crimes. He was informed that it "never" would be, because President Bush has stated that he won't sign any legislation like that that comes to him. Uh, sir, I think there's a time limit on Bush. [Full disclosure: Unless the FBI knows something we don't know.]
The last speaker of the evening was a big talker, friendly, funny, a little off the cuff. He used to be on this elite FBI Hostage Rescue Team, or HRT. (In my line of work at my day job, that means hormone replacement therapy.) There's only one national team, based in DC, and he showed footage of people dressed in black body armor, wearing helmets and face masks, bursting through doors and shooting machine guns and being lowered on ropes from helicopters. High adrenaline (and I would venture high testosterone) stuff. So he recently spent a few months in Iraq guarding FBI agents there. He talked about how they kept a perimeter around them when they traveled, and the more he talked, the more I thought Blackwater. I was smirking to myself, thinking everyone would be in agreement with me - or not even thinking, just used to being on the same page with the people around me. I mean, for me Blackwater is that drunken guy who killed the Iraqi VP's bodyguard and then got shipped home to Seattle and never even charged. Blackwater are the people unnamed diplomats describe as "trigger-happy cowboys." Blackwater is who killed all those poor civilians who got caught in that intersection and couldn't get away.
Our FBI guy said, "I know you guys have been hearing a lot about Blackwater. But let me tell you, they are god-damned heros."
The truth probably lies someplace in between. And maybe it always depends on where you are standing - or if you're the one holding the gun.