Orlando no longer means Disney World and vacations. Recent events have destroyed such memories and replaced them with images burned into our minds of innocent young people in the prime of their lives, mowed down by a shooter.
It’s frightening to see that radicalized Muslims, as well as young alienated Americans are susceptible to the lure of terrorist groups. Unpredictable violence causes everyone to feel vulnerable and fearful during such turmoil. We wonder where the next terror attack will be.
The police and the Federal Agencies created to protect us must be involved. Those in law enforcement are people, just like you and me, who have been trained to solve crime, prevent terrorist attacks and protect the innocent. They’ve been taught to investigate, using whatever techniques the experts have determined are successful, to find the criminal. That is, of course, what they should do.
During a police investigation, officers talk with family and friends connected with a suspect. They ask questions of people who work with the person. Others are interrogated to see if there are more individuals involved with the crime being investigated. All this is logical and reasonable, if you are following along public events as they happen and are not personally involved in a law enforcement inquiry.
Many years ago, during the Vietnam War, my brother-in-law didn’t show up for his induction into the Army. Our phone was tapped and our mail was opened and read upon directions of the FBI. I was questioned by the FBI agent investigating the whereabouts of this nineteen year old draft dodger. At twenty-two, I was easily intimidated by such a stern authority figure. We had no idea where my husband’s brother was and they eventually gave up.
Twelve years ago, I was a Person of Interest with the Federal Authorities. The agents working with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) thought I must know what my then husband had been up to. They were sure I must have known about his secret life. I must have known about all the CDs he’d created from internet pornography sites that he’d stashed in the basement, his closet, and other hiding places.
Looking back now, with less emotion than I felt at the time, it was a logical step for them to be suspicious of me, the wife. Offended, enraged, and terrified was what I felt when I was told by my lawyers that Federal Agents were thinking of arresting me, thinking of charging me with…something, thinking of dragging me before a grand jury and on and on. It was as if they had brainstorming sessions to imagine what legal action they could take next to try and find out from me, what I knew. It mattered not one bit that I was the wife who had no idea what he had been doing.
This old event, usually dormant in the bad-memories-file stashed away in my brain, surged out when I read about the massacre in Orlando and how the authorities would be interviewing the shooter’s ex-wife. As Omar Mateen beat her before their divorce, it seemed unlikely that she would assist him in his murderous attack. Then later, I read that agents would speak with his current wife.
Perhaps she had some involvement. Maybe she was involved and they should interrogate her. Perhaps she was completely innocent, like me, and had to suffer the frightening experience of law enforcement surrounding her, treating her like a criminal.
I imagine the authorities would treat her much worse than what I experienced. For all the negative feelings I had about my lawyer, he did his job and kept the authorities away from me. All I heard about was their threats, their intent, and their strategy, none of which actually happened.
They just raised my personal terror to an ‘orange’. Remember those days, when color determined how much risk there was of another terror attack? Orange meant there was high risk. That’s what life seemed like for me. I wonder what Omar Mateen’s wife felt initially. If she was guilty of assisting him, my sympathies would evaporate. If she was innocent, I can only imagine the pressure she is still experiencing.
In 2013, the investigators scrutinized the Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnev’s wife to see if she knew what he’d been planning. After it was determined that she most likely had no knowledge of his intent, speculation faded. I had an immediate sympathy for her and strongly related to her position of being the wife, who must have known what her husband was planning. I wrote her a letter that she may or may not have received. Perhaps Homeland Security seized it. I’ll never know.