FBI Admits It's Not Really About Law Enforcement Any More; Ignores Lots Of Crimes To Focus On Creating Fake Terror Plots

from the how-is-that-making-us-safer? dept

A couple years ago, it was revealed that the FBI noted in one of its “counterterrorism training manuals” that FBI agents could “bend or suspend the law and impinge upon the freedoms of others,” which seemed kind of odd for a government agency who claimed its “primary function” was “law enforcement.” You’d think that playing by the rules would be kind of important. However, as John Hudson at Foreign Policy has noted, at some point last summer, the FBI quietly changed its fact sheet, so that it no longer says that “law enforcement” is its primary function, replacing it with “national security.”

Of course, I thought we already had a “national security” agency — known as the “National Security Agency.” Of course, while this may seem like a minor change, as the article notes, it is the reality behind the scenes. The FBI massively beefed up resources focused on “counterterrorism” and… then let all sorts of other crimes slide. Including crimes much more likely to impact Americans, like financial/white collar fraud.

Between 2001 and 2009, the FBI doubled the amount of agents dedicated to counterterrorism, according to a 2010 Inspector’s General report. That period coincided with a steady decline in the overall number of criminal cases investigated nationally and a steep decline in the number of white-collar crime investigations.

“Violent crime, property crime and white-collar crime: All those things had reductions in the number of people available to investigate them,” former FBI agent Brad Garrett told Foreign Policy. “Are there cases they missed? Probably.”

The article correctly notes that this has had a big impact:

The reductions in white-collar crime investigations became obvious. Back in 2000, the FBI sent prosecutors 10,000 cases. That fell to a paltry 3,500 cases by 2005. “Had the FBI continued investigating financial crimes at the same rate as it had before the terror attacks, about 2,000 more white-collar criminals would be behind bars,” the report concluded. As a result, the agency fielded criticism for failing to crack down on financial crimes ahead of the Great Recession and losing sight of real-estate fraud ahead of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.

The article accurately notes how the FBI has basically started ignoring a tremendous amount of financial/white collar crime, but unfortunately never bothers to do the flipside: to look at whether or not the FBI has been even remotely effective in the whole “national security” aspect that is now its “primary function.” Because, from the evidence we’ve seen, it seems like a disaster. Rather than tracking down and capturing actual terrorists (remember how the FBI knew all about the Boston bombers, but did nothing about them?), it seems like the FBI has been coming up with ways to keep itself busy that have nothing to do with really protecting national security.

So… what has the FBI been doing? Well, every time we hear anything about the FBI and counterterrorism, it seems to be a case where the FBI has been spending a ton of resources to concoct completely made up terrorism plots, duping some hapless, totally unconnected person into taking part in this “plot” then arresting him with big bogus headlines about how they “stopped” a terrorist plot that wouldn’t have even existed if the FBI hadn’t set it up in the first place. And this is not something that the FBI has just done a couple times. It’s happened over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. And those are just the stories that we wrote about that I can find in a quick search. I’m pretty sure there are a bunch more stories that we wrote about, let alone that have happened.

All of these efforts to stop their own damn “plots” screams of an agency that feels it needs to “do something” when there’s really nothing to be done. Thousands of agents were reassigned from stopping real criminals to “counterterrorism” and when they found there were basically no terrorists around, they just started making their own in order to feel like they were doing something… and to have headlines to appease people upstairs. The government seems to have gone collectively insane when it comes to anything related to “terrorism.”

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Comments on “FBI Admits It's Not Really About Law Enforcement Any More; Ignores Lots Of Crimes To Focus On Creating Fake Terror Plots”

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TheResidentSkeptic says:

Under What Program

Anyone who believes bullet #2 has not been paying attention to the new meaning of words from our government agencies.

Let’s see how that really reads…

“We just have a file on everyone IN the united states – citizen or not”

“We just happen to have 350 million files, which just happens to match the number of people in the US”.

Or the other game:

First, define “keep”. Second, define “file”

“we don’t have a FILE on them, just a lot of records about them”.

Hey.. I’m getting pretty good at this game… maybe they will call me and offer me a job – after all, they and/or the NSA have my contact information…

Celeste Guanini says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Under What Program

Yeah- just read anything that Masnick or these other great writers write about the way the FBI and the NCMEC, ICAC et al distribute child porn from their very own Playens there in Virginia, Maryland, and Georgia ( and som of it is even hosted on the servers at the University of Virginia, and more)-and of course in the databases of our pals the Israeli’s an the Ausssies, and the Canadians.

The FBI has the biggest child porn collection in the world, and lots of babies in it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Technically, the NSA collects the stuff and when it finds something interesting it passes it off to the FBI if it’s a domestic matter or the CIA if it’s a foreign one to look into. The ATF’s basic job is that of a tax collector specifically tailored to those taxes created at the end of prohibition including the NFA of 1934 and various other taxes that have been added since then to alcohol, tobacco and firearms. DHS is a “do something” agency created domestically as a knee jerk reaction to 9-11.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

…or drop the ball like they did with the Boston Marathon bombers.

It’s okay to travel to a part of the world known for terrorist activities and return back to the USA and then have a foreign intelligence agency ask the FBI to look into a few guys. But it is not okay for you to travel if the name of your 2-year old son matches a name on the no-fly list and then the same thing happens when he is 8-years old.

Yup, DHS is doing a wonderful job fighting terrorism.

voiceover (profile) says:

As a result, the agency fielded criticism for failing to crack down on financial crimes ahead of the Great Recession and losing sight of real-estate fraud ahead of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.

Yeah, but that white-collar stuff ain’t sexy. Kinda boring in fact. Makes my head hurt just thinking about it. Back to bed.

(the success of American Hustle gives lie to that tho’. Maybe we just need a few more movies with Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams and the FBI might rediscover an interest?)

Anonymous Coward says:

FBI's logic

So in other words.

FBI: White collar crimes, what white collar crimes? They’re too hard to find because they don’t exist.

*Fat wall street banker runs by behind the FBI, carrying large bags of money*

Banker: Woohoo! I’m rich for giving out giant toxic loans to fools who I knew would never pay them back, and then I lied to other buyers and sold the toxic loans at a huge profit, let them take all the loss! And I don’t care that people like me are going to cause a great recession and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of economic damage!

FBI: And anyway, we’d rather put more cooks in the kitchen of national security. Because you know that old saying, ‘you can never have too many cooks in the kitchen’.

silverscarcat (profile) says:

So that's why...

The financial crisis has had zero people go to jail.

Seriously, FBI, I know you can read this, get people to investigate that. There is ZERO chance that the banks didn’t commit crime. In fact, I can point out that they committed theft and fraud with ease.

You can’t crash the economies of Western Europe and North America and not do something illegal in the process.

any moose cow word says:

Re: So that's why...

Technically, with so many statutes on the books, everyone at some point or another has committed a crime. It’s merely a matter of the government not being committed to enforcing the laws. Now, they’re not even committed to enforcing the important laws either. Apparently “nationally security” has nothing to with stopping crime.

afisher says:


The problem is how to FIX the problem. Anyone believe that petitions would work? Changing administration? OK, how about “smaller gov’t”. Anyone here actually believe that we-the-people would actually have a say in who is retired / fired.

There are excellent books on the foibles of the FBI and CIA. Now, some may agree there is a problem, but until we have a solution – we are no better than OWS – although they actually had some positive outcomes.

John Fenderson (profile) says:


You’re looking for a single solution. It doesn’t exist. Real change driven by the citizenry is possible — it’s been done over and over in US history. The thing is that never once did that change come quickly or because of a single kind of action.

The bonfire of change is fueled with lots and lots of kindling. Petitions? Yes. Voting? yes. Writing to your congresspeople? Yes. Demonstrating? Yes. All of these things, and more, are needed — and it works.

People who worry that we have no way to fix the problem are simply ignorant of history (not to mention expressing a fatalism that works to make real change much more difficult.) The way forward is clear, and the past shows us what it is.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

I have read that because of the FBI shifting all their resources after 9/11 for several years child porn also flourished with thousands of “Lolita” and “preteen” sites going unchecked for years. It has probably been more Google’s efforts to report these sites that most of that has been curbed than any efforts by the FBI. Using Windows Explorer which had no Ad Block in the early 2000’s It was not unusual to get pop ups boldly advertizing these sites while clicking on sites that had absolutely nothing to do with any kind of pornography.

Anonymous Coward says:

Like I said before, it’s much easier to go after a non existing problem (or a problem that other agencies are already going after) than it is to go after a real problem (that few others are going after).

“National security” is such an abstract term these days that it can basically involve doing nothing (or, at least, nothing difficult) whereas fraud is a much more practical and common crime and catching those that commit fraud requires some effort.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

and, if you think about it, when the government created the department of homeland security (& the TSA) and it started creating all these expensive national security departments where do you think all that money came from? Some of it likely cut into the budgets of other agencies like the FBI. Now the FBI sees how much these other national security agencies receive and now that the FBI is receiving less they can’t afford to do as much to stop criminals and they want more money like these other agencies so they start playing to the whole national security bandwagon to get more federal funding. The end result is that the Department of national security, by diverting money away from what used to be a more efficient and experienced FBI (among other law enforcement agencies) towards a new and inexperienced department of homeland security, has made us less safe.

and that’s one of the problems with trying to ‘fix’ national security by always creating new agencies. These new agencies cost money and that diverts resources away from existing more experienced and hence more efficient law enforcement agencies towards new less experienced and hence less efficient law enforcement agencies which makes us less safe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not to mention spreading the same amount of resources across more agencies to do basically the same thing creates coordination problem. Each agency has fixed costs before they can become productive and by having multiple agencies do essentially the same thing you are re-duplicating all those fixed costs which means the same amount of money is being used less efficiently and so we are less safe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’re absolutely right. And I’m sure when the government realise this as well, they will react by creating the Security Coordination Agency (to better coordinate the agencies), the Security Training Agency (to ensure the new agents will be as experienced and effective), and the Security Funding Department (to ensure that all the agencies are getting the funding the need) to deal with the problem you just raised.

Anonymous Coward says:

Everyone seems to think terror plots are created to make the FBI’s work easier. As if TPTB really care how hard the FBI works. No-one mentioning that fake terrorism serves to keep the masses scared, controllable and willing to relent unconditionally to any entity that claims to protect them. When the enemy and the guardian are one and the same, we are little more than drone, slave prisoners. It is a totalitarian dictatorship, nothing less. Democracy is a lie, a moral weapon to conquer nations and beings.

Miguel Lahunken (user link) says:

Past Nit Picking

The FBI had a record on me as thick as a telephone book since before I was eighteen years old. What for? A school teacher, who was a freemason, ratted on me for writing in runes, in the Fifties. Why? During World War II, Tokyo Rose told Afro-Americans that they were allies. In reciprocation, some Afro-Americans joinied in communities, rejected the Latin alphabet, and wrote in Katagana, Hinagana, and Kanji. These Afro-Americans were called “Japanese Beetles”. This term came to be used to refer to any American who preferred another script, for personal use, against the Latin alphabet. And, these people were put under surveilance for the rest of their lives. “Big deal”. I give them the “fig gesture”, and I don’t mean the khechari mudra.

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