Monday, April 30, 2007

NY Magazine: The Confessor

The Confessor
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Published: April 29, 2007

At this late hour of his life, Charlie Hess said the question “Why?” didn’t matter anymore. After all the years he spent in the F.B.I. tilting at the criminal mind, all his years in private practice running lie-detector tests, his time extracting secrets as a C.I.A. agent in Vietnam, he was no longer interested in “Why?” What counted were simple, incontestable facts: who, when, where, what. Names, dates, locations; cause and manner of death — these were his goals as he tried to flesh out the transgressions of a man who, by his own account, killed 48 people. Robert, can you remember what year that was? Was the body north or south of the highway? Where did you get the ice pick? “Why?” was bottomless and slippery and often fraught with useless moral overtones. “Why?” didn’t close cases. “Why?” was for intellectuals, and Charlie Hess had seen enough of them to say there were two kinds of people: intellectuals and those who got things done.

And it gets better....

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