Last year, when B. Todd Jones walked though the big doors on the sixth floor of the U.S. federal building in downtown Minneapolis, many things were the same. The windows in his corner office framed the same urban skyline. The carpets were the same: gray, industrial, all business. The mission was the same: enforcing federal law. And there were still plenty of bad seeds out there committing crimes—and plenty of ways for Jones, a Justice Department veteran, to go after them.
But at the same time, things were different. There was more gray in Jones’s hair. The fraud figures he encountered had more zeros on the end. There was a new No. 1 mission: anti-terrorism. And there was also an edgy, irritated, and rankled vibe, left by Jones’s predecessor, flowing through the office—one that Jones’s very presence was meant to calm.
The last time Jones had been here, occupying the seat of U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota, was back in early 2001. It was a different age—an era when we were still reeling from talk of stained dresses and “right-wing conspiracies,” when we were still irrational and exuberant about the housing market and all things dot-com. It was pre-9/11, before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, before terrorism and homeland security became America’s watchwords, before Alberto Gonzales took charge of the Justice Department and before Rachel Paulose became his agent in Minnesota. It was, in other words, a long, long time ago. And now, nearly 10 years after vacating the position of U.S. attorney, Jones was at it once more. This was round two.
Read the rest in the December issue of Minnesota Monthly.