History Commons Groups

September 23, 2009

In Praise of Wikipedia

I know that Wikipedia takes some stick, in particular from traditional media, about some problems that creep in, but I have to say that I quite like it. Here’s one reason. We have a few entries about an FBI agent called Robert Fuller, who was involved in the failed search for Pentagon hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi in the weeks before the attacks. The entries cover what he did at this time and they’ve been up for quite a while.

However, if you look at the Wikipedia entry on him, you get a brief outline of this and also, tagged onto the bottom, a couple of recent news stories that mentioned him. Specifically, he was involved in the interrogation of celebrated detainee Salim Hamdan (of v. Rumsfeld fame) and failed to read him his rights. In addition, he interrogated Omar Khadr, getting him to incriminate Maher Arar (Canadian citizen rendered from New York to Syria and tortured there, now back home and cleared of any wrongdoing). Finally, there is a story of his handling of an informant who got so frustrated with the bureau that he set himself on fire in front of the White House.

Obviously, you could probably find this by googling around the web, but, when I saw this encyclopaedia entry for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I was pretty impressed they had it all in one place (and with supporting links to MSM stories). Naturally, I have turned this into HC entries (sourced to the MSM entries, not Wikipedia), which are making their way through the system and will probably get published in a week or two.

I was especially intrigued by the Omar Khadr interrogation. Khadr’s claim that he recognised Arar from an al-Qaeda guest house seems almost certainly wrong, and you have to wonder what had happened to him/what Fuller was doing to him to make him say that.

This makes Fuller the second of the US intelligence community officers involved in the pre-9/11 failings to also be involved in controversial detainee issues after 9/11, together with former Alec Station chief Richard Blee. In addition, I have a hunch that the CIA officer referred to as “Michelle” in the Justice Department inspector general’s report is the redheaded CIA manager Jane Mayer writes about in The Dark Side, but that’s just a hunch at this stage.


  1. “Naturally, I have turned this into HC entries (sourced to the MSM entries, not Wikipedia)”

    Wait a minute. Isn’t that called, uh, *plagiarism*?

    Comment by Nihiltres — September 23, 2009 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

  2. >>Wait a minute. Isn’t that called, uh, *plagiarism*?


    Comment by Max — September 30, 2009 @ 11:25 pm | Reply

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