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I only read it for the pictures

In the midst of the back-and-forth about responsibility for 9/11, we might wonder whether it could have been prevented, whether the government devoted enough attention to the problem of terrorism. Then we might wonder why, given the massive federal budget, they couldn't do more. With millions of federal employees, what was the problem?

Well, to get an idea, read this obscene story of government misallocation of resources. (Warning: not office-safe.) For months, an undercover federal agent was paid... to work out at a gym. And it wasn't because members of Al Qaeda trained there.

Ronnie can barely think about tomorrow. The week's workouts have taken their toll -- on his way out he grabs at a twinge deep inside his shoulder that feels like a torn muscle. But there's no stopping now, because Ronnie G. is on a mission. He is actually Iran White, a top undercover cop sure that he's about to crack the biggest case of his career. He has worn a wire and kept a Glock stuffed in his waistband for two months, all in a daring attempt to get close to Anderson and, ultimately, to Bonds himself. White is armed because he's looking for juice: He's on a hunt for steroids.
Yes, steroids. At a time when national security was, and is, of paramount importance, the federal government was, and is, investigating steroid use. What prompted this investigation? Was it a rumor that Islamic terrorists were dealing steroids to fund their operations? Nope; it was just a personal vendetta:
To White, [IRS agent] Novitzky -- who did not participate in this article -- seemed to have an unusual interest in the ballplayer. He mentioned Bonds frequently after a sighting or a Giants game. One day at court Novitzky struck up a conversation with White that went beyond the usual talk-radio banter.

"That Bonds. He's a great athlete," White says Novitzky told him. "You think he's on steroids?"

White took a moment before replying, in his bourbon-and-cotton voice, "I think they're all on steroids. All of our top major leaguers."

Novitzky seemed to care only about Bonds. "He's such an asshole to the press," he said. "I'd sure like to prove it."

Yes, the major investigation was prompted by a guy who wanted to prove that Barry Bonds was using steroids because he wasn't friendly to sports reporters. What this has to do with the federal government isn't exactly clear; what this has to do with the IRS's mission is even less obvious.

Surely, though, other law enforcement officials would inject some sanity into the mix, right? Nope. They were just as eager to go after the steroids. Why?

A few weeks after the April 17 meeting, White, Novitzky and a handful of other agents meet at the San Jose Federal building. According to White, Novitzky names Bonds, Jason Giambi and other major leaguers as targets of the investigation. Cracking down on BALCO just for money laundering would never merit such energy from law enforcement, but a connection to Bonds would launch it into headlines around the country. Prosecutor Nedrow sets the tone. "Gentlemen, this case is going to have to be done by the numbers," he says. "With all of the attorneys and the athletes, everything and everybody will be under scrutiny."
(Emphasis added.) Well, there you go. Headlines. Always an important consideration for law enforcement.

Yes, this is what government is wasting your money on, while claiming they need more money for "first responders" in the event of terrorism.

(The punch line to this joke of a story, incidentally, is that after all this work, Barry Bonds and other athletes were given immunity to testify against BALCO et al. before a grand jury. In other words, the feds couldn't get enough evidence to prosecute Bonds for anything, and indeed couldn't get enough evidence to prosecute the BALCO people without the help of the athletes.)


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