Whenever it was time for Lori Mody to listen to then-New Orleans Congressman William Jefferson’s shakedown spiel, she would get wired up and jump in a car with FBI agent John Guandolo.
One time, Guandolo waited outside for four hours while Mody regaled Jefferson with tales of her problems with men.
Guandolo could have vouched for her on that score, for he had failed to grasp that an order to go undercover with a confidential informant was not meant to be taken literally. When Mody was not jumping into a car with Guandolo, she was jumping into bed with him.
By the time the trial got underway in 2009, their dalliances had come to light, Guandolo had resigned and the feds, who described Mody in a memo as “volatile and vulnerable,” scotched plans to have her testify about delivering marked bills to Jefferson. The tapes she made at the tête-à-têtes to which Guandolo had driven her were admitted in evidence, however, and what the future held for Jefferson was abundantly clear. He is now doing 13 years.
Guandolo’s subsequent career path was less predictable. He now belongs to a cadre of self-styled experts on Islamic terrorism who appear to make a fat living on the lecture circuit. He also offers training sessions to police forces.
Guandolo, according to press reports, was a counterterrorism expert in his FBI days, which would have made him an odd choice as Mody’s chauffeur, but he was certainly on the look-out for a Muslim menace back then. Mody, who was perhaps less flighty than the FBI gave her credit for, said no when Guandolo asked her to contribute $75,000 to an antiterrorism group headed by a man named Emerson.
That would have been Steven Emerson, a former journalist who has written six books on terrorism and has testified before Congress as an expert on the subject despite a long record of getting the facts wrong. As early as 1993, he was making a fool of himself by identifying the first World Trade Center bombers as citizens of one of the former Yugoslav republics. Undeterred, he went on to blame the Oklahoma City attacks on “Middle Eastern” figures. Saudis were responsible for the Boston marathon carnage, he confidently asserted.
Conscientious news organizations are therefore disinclined to trust Emerson, so he is reduced to bloviating on Fox News, as he did last week when offering his insight following the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. He has so outdone himself this time that he has become a transatlantic laughing stock.
Muslims have taken over western Europe, which is riddled with “no-go zones,” Emerson said. His interviewer did not bat an eyelid when he added, “In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones; there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in. And parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire.”
Emerson’s observations occasioned considerable mirth in Birmingham, which is England’s second-largest city and has a Muslim population of around 20 percent. And, although it is not difficult to find a mosque in east London, no religious police were spotted when yours truly, in natty but blatantly secular attire, strolled the streets there a couple of months ago.
Even Prime Minister David Cameron could not forbear to weigh in. Cameron said that, on hearing Emerson’s remarks at breakfast time, he had “choked on his porridge.” Cameron declared that Emerson “is clearly a complete idiot.”
If Mody was watching, she must have been glad she hung on to her 75 grand. Her old friend Guandolo has written about the Charlie Hebdo killings online, but has not matched Emerson’s idiocies. Not this time, anyway. Perhaps Guandolo is still smarting from the ridicule he suffered after denouncing John Brennan as a secret Muslim convert when President Barack Obama nominated him to head the CIA. Let us hope Guandolo was more careful to check the evidence before he made an accusation in his FBI days.
He may have lacked the character for that line of work, but he is clearly cut out for his current one.
James Gill’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.