In a normal job interview, it'd count against you if you bragged about your ability to interrogate detainees at Guantanamo Bay. But Washington State Patrol doesn't conduct normal job interviews.
So what is the highway patrol (a flat-brimmed group many readers might associate most with the bored pranksters in Super Troopers) need with an ex hand from Guantanamo?
Post 9/11, the Bush administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice came together to create 75 intelligence gathering groups called Fusion Centers. Ours, the Washington State Fusion Center (WSFC), is headquartered downtown at 3rd and Spring.
The ostensible purpose of these bureaucratic mash-ups was reflected in their name. The centers were created in order to better encourage local and federal agencies, normally too territorial to swap valuable intelligence, to make nice and share. (Or fuse, if you will.)
At least that was the idea, anyway.
Instead, as has been well-documented by our own Rick Anderson, the WSFC's most public work has been less than impressive.
In 2007, the agency and the FBI launched a global manhunt to track down two suspiciously dark-skinned men who'd been seen snapping pictures on a Seattle ferry. The photo-takers turned out to be two European businessman on vacation; in other words, tourists.
Then in 2010, Anderson wrote a cover story on the WSFC's role in a sordid scheme to spy and falsely arrest anti-war protesters. The fallout: $400,000 in tax-payer funded legal settlements and an embarrassing (for him) exchange between our photographer and an FBI agent.
Recently, Wikileaks was forced to take down the trove of information, which included resumes, confidential evaluations, and letters of recommendation. But now we have it.
Which means that I know that an intelligence analyst named Kia Graham worked on "over 100 strategic interrogations of high-value human intelligence targets" at Guantanamo. Specifically, Graham was involved in a technique known as "separation," the often brutal isolation and interrogation of detainees.
We also know that future employee Donald H. Castanares' qualifications list him as a black belt martial arts instructor. And that Benny DePalmo's resume boasts that he's an "expert with 38 cal revolver, 9mm automatic pistol, 9 automatic machine gun, police baton, 12 ga shotgun."
It's not a surprise that nearly all of the WSFC applicants have military experience, or brag about things that might seem foreign to average citizens. In the world of law enforcement, what might seem strange to some is an asset. But what's scary is that these people are landing at a department whose role seems undefined, and whose track record, at least thus far, makes me feel less safe, not more.