Source: TechDirt - Editorial by Kevin Hayden
We’ve discussed this a few times in the past, but the FBI’s main counter-terrorism initiative these days appears to be centered around creating its own terrorist plots to thwart. First, they find clueless, easily manipulated people, who have no actual connections with terrorists. Then, they concoct entire terrorism plots, where every other person is an FBI agent, and any tools, “weapons” and money are supplied by the FBI. Finally, they “bust” the guy just before he carries out the plot that never would have happened anyway. We see this pattern again and again – and each time the press uncritically hypes up how the FBI successfully stopped a real “homegrown” terrorist.
Of course, it’s happened once again, and the basic plotlines are identical to ones in the past. And, of course, the press is describing it like it was an actual terrorist plot, pretending that people was actually at risk.
In the FBI’s latest screenplay, they would have you believe that a 6’5, 350 lb. black man named Shaquille Azir approached a group of five motley Occupy protesters – who are self-described anarchists – and talk them into bombing a bridge with C-4 explosives.
Of course, he would front the money to purchase it (from an undercover FBI agent) and would offer a location to store the explosives, followed by days of talking to the group, encouraging them, and determining a location. Azir has earned over $6,000 for his service to the FBI.
However, he is also currently facing numerous felony charges in a check fraud case. His record shows that he spent several years in prison for robbery and various financial crimes, along with declaring bankruptcy 12 times – twice to clear out six-figure debt!
Oh, sure, Your Honor, Azir is a credible witness and a reliable, vested informant. We promise.
In my humble opinion, this is merely a way to keep the anti-terrorism funding flowing in while offering “terror” headlines. It’s business as usual.
(“Shaquille Azir and the Occupiers” – sounds like the name of a band!)
Glenn Greenwald’s summary of this and other cases is pretty spot on:
None of these cases entail the FBI’s learning of an actual plot and then infiltrating it to stop it. They all involve the FBI’s purposely seeking out Muslims (typically young and impressionable ones) whom they think harbor animosity toward the U.S. and who therefore can be induced to launch an attack despite having never taken even a single step toward doing so before the FBI targeted them. Each time the FBI announces it has disrupted its own plot, press coverage is predictably hysterical (new Homegrown Terrorist caught!), fear levels predictably rise, and new security measures are often implemented in response.
Over the last few years, we’ve noticed that nearly every victory the FBI celebrates against terrorism is actually about stopping its own terrorist plots that it feeds to hapless individuals, often nudging them and pushing them down the road to “become” terrorists, despite commonly displaying little to no aptitude for actual terrorism.
Add the NY Times to the newspapers who are beginning to question the FBI’s penchant for setting up its own plots for the sake of a high profile arrest of some clueless individuals.
The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years – or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.
But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.
As the article makes clear, claims of entrapment rarely work in these cases, but it certainly raises questions about whether the FBI is actually protecting us from real plots or spending time creating publicity stunts that leave some people in jail. No doubt, some of these setups bust people who could potentially be interested in taking part in attacks if they had any real opportunity to do so. But, in most cases, it doesn’t seem like they would ever have the opportunity (unless the FBI was helping). In one case, the judge — even as she was sentencing the guy to decades in prison — admitted that the guy wouldn’t be a “terrorist” if it weren’t for the FBI:
“Only the government could have made a ‘terrorist’ out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope….”
This is the same guy who laughed at earlier attempts by an FBI informant to get him to get involved in a plot.
There’s no doubt that there are real plots being attempted. But wouldn’t the FBI be better off focusing on those, rather than play acting all the time?
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