selection to the FBI is by no means guaranteed, but through persistence
and talent he passes the rigorous requirements and is duly installed as an
FBI agent, beginning his initial assignment in rural Missouri.
Whitcomb’s ground-floor law enforcement experiences and “personal- and
respectful-style” law enforcement would doubtless make for informative
and useful reading among law officers and police buffs; this book is
well-recommended for them.
several successful years in the FBI field office, Whitcomb takes the next
step, undergoing the daunting training and comradely abuse to become an
FBI Hostage Rescue Team operator.
All the Bad Guys with Precision Shots to the Head
are two sub-units within the HRT. The Close Combat Team is the group you
see in full combat gear, M-5 machine pistols at the ready. They storm the
building, usually blowing down the door.
Once inside, they do an immediate threat assessment and rapidly
kill all the bad guys with precision shots to the head. This is the
“fighter jock” wing of the HRT and Whitcomb – who comes across
through Cold Zero as assured and
confident - was slightly disappointed that he wasn’t assigned to this
unit. Instead, he was assigned to the Sniper team, which members don’t
blast through the front door. Instead they “sneak-up” on an objective,
find suitable positions, and set up their specialized rifles for
observation, and if necessary, taking out criminals with a long-range shot
to the base of the brain. During advanced sniper training at which he
excels, Whitcomb learns to love being a sniper.
is his role as an HRT sniper that brings Chris Whitcomb to the front lines
of two of the most controversial incidents in the Bureau’s history.
Here, one senses that despite useful and detailed information about
both of these deadly operations, Whitcomb purposefully obscures certain
critical aspects of these events both to protect himself and his beloved
Agency. One does not however get the sense that Whitcomb is “hiding”
anything and it seems he did not directly shoot anyone at either location.
And it’s understandable given the extremely probing Ruby Ridge and Waco
investigations that one surmised may never truly “close,” Whitcomb
recognizes that anything he reveals beyond the so-called “record” will
be taken out of context and possibly generate entirely new investigatory
episodes. The criticism the
FBI endures for its actions during these incidents do take a personal toll
on Whitcomb, who in his despondence over the Bureaus’s actions, takes
life-risking chances in his HRT training.
Eventually he burns out altogether, but his solid Bureau record
takes him in new directions within the Bureau.
published in 2001, the final portions of Cold
Zero have relevance in light of the terrorist attacks on the World
Trade Center. Whitcomb describes how he became a communications liaison
within the Bureau’s newly formed “Critical Incident Response Group”
(CIRG). CIRG hopes to implement the lessons learned from such operations
as Ruby Ridge and Waco, in addition to unsnarling the inter-agency tangles
that inevitably accompany a major operation involving several local,
state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
A friend who is a Port Authority NY/NJ Detective Sergeant confirms
that on 9/11/01 and immediately following, the speed with which the FBI
was able to set up a fully operational command post, practically
overnight, and the mission-focused operation it almost instantly became.
Though the detective is not certain of author Whitcomb’s direct
participation during the WTC attacks (Whitcomb remains an FBI agent as of
this review) he can attest that the FBI CIRG which Whitcomb helped create
continues to play a vital if unsung role in helping bring the terrorist
network to justice, and keeping the investigation moving forward.