For all the portrayals in movies and stories of governments as faceless machines, any government is ultimately made up of people, and like any group of people, it can knot itself in absurd shapes in the pursuit of petty goals. A case in point comes from journalist Jason Leopold, a regular filer of FOIA requests, who discovered the CIA’s relentless, merciless pursuit of hardened vending machine thieves.
To be clear, the documents Leopold uncovered aren’t about vending machines selling guns. They’re, you know, vending machines, selling cheese curls and candy bars. The issue, as related in exacting detail by the documents, is that some CIA contractors figured out they could get free stuff by essentially turning the vending machine off and back on again. The candy bandits stole roughly $3000 worth of food, which the CIA proved in an elaborate sting where they monitored the vending machines closely with surveillance cameras, and then took the matter to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice, understandably, declined to pursue the case.
Yes, this is patently ridiculous, but it’s a good reminder of two things. The first is the basic humanity of government, in all its silliness and pettiness, although we’d love to see the emails where somebody at the DOJ patiently explains that they’re a little busy to pursue a vending machine theft case. And the other is the stupidity of humanity, because come on, who risks their job stealing Funyuns from the freaking CIA?! If anybody has cameras everywhere, it’s the CIA! Did you need the junk food that badly?
(via Jason Leopold on Twitter)