First of all, what thief or spy would be crazy and stupid enough to slip into a brightly lit conference and steal the counter-terrorism chief's briefcase? Moreover, since the source (if you believe it) claims O'Neill got up from his seat during the conference to answer a page; this implies that it would have been rude for O'Neill to call from where he was -- probably a speech was taking place. If that was the case, any movement in the room full of the country's top cops and spooks would have been easily recognized, particularly if the intruder wasn't on the guest list (how does a thief, or anyone, just "slip in" to an FBI conference and walk away with the counter-terrorism chief's briefcase?!). Who could possibly believe that such a high-ranking official wouldn't have a detail around him who would watch his things in the extremely unlikely event that he would leave his briefcase behind to answer a page? Cheryl Thompson, her editor at the Washington Post, and everyone who read it, apparently.
Reading this again reminds me why I do believe more and more in conspiracies: in America you can get away with literally anything, so long as you're not having sex or taking drugs -- that is, so long as you're not enjoying yourself! Any conspiracy, it seems, can be hatched right in front of the American public's faces, and they wouldn't believe it or wouldn't care.
This account stinks. It's unbelievable. That it's a plant is obvious; the bigger question is, why would whoever planted this story not even bother coming up with a believable plot?
The answer is evident in the Post''s story. If you have a mainstream press as obedient as America's, you don't even need to bother being clever when you plant stories. Thirty years ago, the Post brought down President Nixon. That scared the American elite, including the publishing magnates. Ever since, journalists have been trained to worship and respect power, and those who question official versions of events are labeled "conspiracy theorists" and "lunatics," relegated to marginal publications and poverty. Serious people seriously believe that there are no conspiracies in the US government; governments around the world are constantly hatching conspiracies, and through history we know that politics has been a conspiracy Olympics. American business, particularly at the higher levels, is nothing but plots and conspiracies. Yet for some reason, you'd have to be crazy to believe that American officials hatch conspiracies, cuz, you know, it would like, get out in the press, and, like, people would be really upset.
Go back and read this story again and tell me you can read the Post or the Times with a straight face. These days, when a government official wants to plant a story, he doesn't even have to be clever -- he can be sloppy, and it'll still get in the press, no questions asked.
Only that could explain how the Washington Post could continue with this account and not fear for its own reputation:
The thief, who has never been caught, took the briefcase to another hotel, left it and stole another case, sources said. When the owner of the second briefcase returned, he opened it and found documents he didn't recognize and called hotel security. Hotel security then reviewed the contents and realized the information was confidential and notified the local FBI.
"It probably looked to someone like a laptop," an FBI source said.
O'Neill's case was returned to him within 90 minutes after it was taken, sources said. "Nothing was tampered with," an FBI source familiar with the matter said. "I'm fairly confident the thing was retrieved intact."
[...] O'Neill, 49, began at the FBI as a civilian and became an agent in 1976, an official said. He announced last week that he was retiring at the end of this week, officials said.
O'Neill investigated the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen last year and the bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, in 1998. He also investigated Osama bin Laden, who allegedly operates terrorist camps in Afghanistan.