Jim Cavanaugh always was a lawman’s lawman — a career official of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) who was in on some of the most celebrated cases of criminal extremists in this country’s recent history. Before retiring this spring after 33 ½ years with the ATF, he worked as a top official on the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas; the five-year hunt for white supremacist abortion clinic bomber and cop-killer Eric Rudolph; church burnings around the country; and the hunt for the Unabomber. Last year, before his retirement, Cavanaugh was recognized for these contributions with the International Association of Chiefs of Police Civil Rights Award for his fight against radical-right extremists.
Last week, Cavanaugh published an essay on the ongoing controversy about the planned Islamic Center in New York City and the apparent spate of anti-Muslim hate crimes. Cavanaugh points out that Al Qaeda extremists no more represent Islam than Klan terrorists represent Christianity. “Muslims don’t feel responsible for 9/11 because they are not — not any more than Christians feel responsible for the terrorist acts of the Ku Klux Klan.” Read the whole essay here.