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Opinion: Blaming, targeting FBI agents is as wrong as it is dangerous

Cincinnati Enquirer 8/22/2022 Dan Sewell

The day after an armed man was killed after earlier trying to breach the Cincinnati FBI field office on a reported mission to kill agents "on sight," we happened to be driving through West Virginia and passed an exit for a road named "Jerry Dove."

I knew the name, but couldn’t immediately place it. My wife Googled: "Jerry Dove was an FBI special agent…"

I quickly finished the sentence: "…who was killed with Special Agent Benjamin P. Grogan in a shootout with heavily armed serial robbers near Miami, Florida, on April 11, 1986, in what became known as the FBI’s bloodiest day."

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I had covered that case extensively for The Associated Press while based in Miami.

Some 130-140 rounds were exchanged in five minutes, with five agents also wounded before seriously injured agent Edmundo Mireles emptied his service revolver into a car the two men with superior firepower were trying to escape in. The two men had been leading secret lives as violent robbers of banks and armored cars before Mireles killed them.

The FBI headquarters in Sycamore Township, Thursday, August 11, 2022. Mid-morning, a man, dressed in body armor, tried to get through the visitor screening facility. He fled up I-71 toward Clinton County. © Liz Dufour/Cincinnati Enquirer The FBI headquarters in Sycamore Township, Thursday, August 11, 2022. Mid-morning, a man, dressed in body armor, tried to get through the visitor screening facility. He fled up I-71 toward Clinton County.

Mireles joined a tradition of FBI agents who have taken down some of this nation’s most dangerous criminals, going back to early 20th Century gangsters John Dillinger, "Baby Face" Nelson and "Pretty Boy" Floyd.

Dove, 30, of Charleston, West Virginia, and Grogan, 53, of Atlanta, were added to the FBI’s Wall of Honor for agents who died in service.

It has grown considerably since, now totaling 88 after two agents were killed last year while serving search warrants in Sunrise, Fla.

The 42-year-old Columbus, Ohio, man killed Aug. 11 by police in southwest Ohio was triggered by the FBI raid Aug. 8 on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. − some 60 miles north of the FBI building named for Dove and Grogan.

The agents in Florida had search warrants issued by a federal judge who concluded they had probable cause for the search the Justice Department has since said was for top secret and other sensitive documents improperly taken from the White House.

The raid caused an uproar from Trump and his supporters, and off-the-rails comments from extremists comparing agents to the Nazi Gestapo.

"The FBI has gone rogue," claimed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia. Greene, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., were among those calling for defunding the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In this still image taken from WKEF/WRGT video, an FBI agent stands guard as members of the FBI Evidence Response Team work outside the FBI building in Kenwood, Ohio, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022. An armed man decked out in body armor tried to breach a security screening area at an FBI field office in Ohio on Thursday, then fled and was injured in an exchange of gunfire in a standoff with law enforcement, authorities said. © Courtesy WKEF/WRGT via AP In this still image taken from WKEF/WRGT video, an FBI agent stands guard as members of the FBI Evidence Response Team work outside the FBI building in Kenwood, Ohio, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022. An armed man decked out in body armor tried to breach a security screening area at an FBI field office in Ohio on Thursday, then fled and was injured in an exchange of gunfire in a standoff with law enforcement, authorities said.

FBI Director Christopher Wray − who was appointed by Trump − called the overheated rhetoric "deplorable" and agents were warned to step up precautions for their personal safety and their families’.

That was followed after the Cincinnati FBI building incident by a bulletin warning of "unprecedented" levels of threats against agents on multiple social media platforms.

Over the years, the FBI has investigated a variety of suspected crimes, including involving radical leftists.

Maybe Marjorie Taylor Greene is sort of a soul sister with Professor Angela Davis, a Black radical feminist once on the FBI’s "Ten Most Wanted" list?

Gangsters don’t like them, either. The critically acclaimed 1997 movie "Donnie Brasco" starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino was based on the true story of agent Joseph Pistone, who infiltrated the Bonanno crime family, gathering evidence resulting in scores of convictions.

Had Pistone been detected by the brutal crime family, he would have surely been put to "sleep with the fishes," likely after horrifying torture.

Chris Hoffman, special in charge, FBI, left, and David M. DeVillers, US Attorney for Southern District of Ohio, discuss corruption chargers against Jeff Pastor, city council member and Tyran Marshall Tuesday November 10, 2020. © Liz Dufour/The Enquirer Chris Hoffman, special in charge, FBI, left, and David M. DeVillers, US Attorney for Southern District of Ohio, discuss corruption chargers against Jeff Pastor, city council member and Tyran Marshall Tuesday November 10, 2020.

And more recently in Cincinnati, it was the work of undercover FBI agents that led to corruption charges against three Democratic council members.

Back in the late ‘90s, I was coaching youth baseball in the Atlanta area. One player had the ideal Dad − he helped me out in practice, he never complained or second-guessed me out loud, and he was just a nice guy.

Also, I eventually learned, he was an FBI agent.

At times he gave me tips for news coverage. I saw him outside the federal courthouse, wearing his suit and sunglasses, and giving no sign of recognition.

I assume he has retired by now, but imagine if you were an FBI agent today with a young family and wondering what an extremist cranked up by reckless rhetoric might try to do to them?

Everyone, regardless of your politics, should respect agents for doing their duties.

Asked about the FBI search, Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., made that point.

"My first reaction is to stand with the men and women of the FBI, who are simply doing their jobs," she said Sunday on NBC’s "Meet The Press."

Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, spoke out Monday, calling the attempted attack on the FBI Cincinnati office "very scary." He said any attack on law enforcement "is a horrible, horrible thing and we certainly denounce that type of activity."

But other Ohio "law-and-order" politicians were, sadly, mostly quiet about the threats.

Dan Sewell writes a regular Sunday political column for The Enquirer. He can be reached at his personal email, dsewellrojos@gmail.com.

a man standing in front of a building: In this Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 photo, Associated Press senior correspondent Dan Sewell poses for a photograph outside the scene of a shooting that occurred the previous week at Fountain Square, in Cincinnati. "Over four decades with The Associated Press, I have many times thrown clothes into a bag, withdrawn a wad of cash, and stuffed my laptop with notebooks and pens before rushing by car or plane to a terrible event in someone else's hometown, state or country," said Sewell. "This time, it was in my town." (AP Photo/John Minchillo) © John Minchillo, AP In this Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 photo, Associated Press senior correspondent Dan Sewell poses for a photograph outside the scene of a shooting that occurred the previous week at Fountain Square, in Cincinnati. "Over four decades with The Associated Press, I have many times thrown clothes into a bag, withdrawn a wad of cash, and stuffed my laptop with notebooks and pens before rushing by car or plane to a terrible event in someone else's hometown, state or country," said Sewell. "This time, it was in my town." (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Opinion: Blaming, targeting FBI agents is as wrong as it is dangerous

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