Rolling Stone Highlights FBI's Fascination With Staging Its Own Terrorist Plots... While Ignoring Real Threats

from the feeling-safer? dept

We've been covering for a while now how the FBI keep setting up and stopping its own terrorist plots in order to make headlines. A few weeks ago, the NY Times wrote about this and now Rolling Stone has its own entry on the subject, which goes one step further, noting that while the FBI keeps turning hapless nobodies into terrorists to arrest and splash all over the front pages, it seems to be ignoring groups that actually represent real threats, because they just don't make nearly as interesting a story. Rather, as the article notes, the FBI seems focused on "ideological enemies" to take down, rather than those who are most likely to actually cause harm:
The contrasts are extraordinarily instructive. When federal law enforcement agencies take an affirmative role in staging the crimes, the U.S. Justice Department then prosecutes, leaving more clear-and-present dangers relatively unbothered, the State is singling out ideological enemies. Violent white supremacists are not one of these enemies, apparently – because, as David Neiwert, probably the nation’s top journalist on the subject, told me, the federal government has much less often sought to entrap them, even though they are actually the biggest home-grown terrorism threat. That is unconstitutional, because law enforcement’s criterion for attention has been revealed as the ideas the alleged plotters hold – not their observed violent potential.
At some point, you have to wonder how much longer the FBI will be allowed to keep staging bogus threats just so they can arrest people, while mostly ignoring people who are actually trying to pull off violent attacks within the country.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 3:15pm

    Job Listings

    Just keep watch for a job opening in the FBI for a "Theater Director" or something of that nature--if they're hiring then we'll be seeing many more of these operations.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 3:42pm

    At some point very soon, the FBI is going to stick a toe over the line of entrapment, and one of these stooges is going to get a real lawyer. I will have no sympathy for the FBI as a whole or the agents and bosses involved when that happens.

     

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      Mason Wheeler, May 31st, 2012 @ 3:58pm

      Re:

      I doubt it. There's a reason that, as you admit, they haven't crossed the line into entrapment, and that's because they know exactly what they're doing and they're not *trying* to entrap anyone. (See my comment, below.)

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 4:29pm

        Re: Re:

        I disagree. The publicity itself is an incentive to get cases through the system quickly, and the more outlandish the ideology associate with the case, the better, for publicity's sake. I'm not saying I agree with any of the idiots they're nabbing - I'm a nonviolent noncooperation person myself - but offering firearms and explosives to people who are muttering about how the government is evil is really, really close to the line. I won't use any metaphors, because I think most of them break down spectacularly, but many of these cases are clear-cut examples of encouragement, which is a very small step away from inducement.

        I think it's not unreasonable to wait for an agent to get too eager and cross the line, and for a defense team to not consist of overworked public defenders. One is about as likely as the other, imo, and they'll coincide eventually. I'm a patient person.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 5:05pm

        Re: Re:

        In the land of the plea bargain ? nuff said

         

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        DC (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 6:45pm

        Re: Re:

        They do not universally know what they are doing. Some of them do, some of them are fascists, and some of them are lazy glory hounds.

        They are absolutely trying to entrap. They entice, solicit, plan, and equip the attempts. The guilty to a man are clueless, incompetent losers who were not engaged in terrorism or with "terrorists" until targeted by the FBI (from what I have read: welcome to correction if wrong).

        IANA Civil Rights L. I personally think the judges who rule that none of these cases are entrapment are getting it wrong. Judges are not infallible.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 6:59pm

        Re: Re:

        I'm waiting for the FBI to get caught in their own snare. Somebody will be approached who will go to a local cop who like publicity more than channels. Local cops will arrest FBI role players and then let the fun begin.

         

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    GMacGuffin (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 3:43pm

    At some point, you have to wonder how much longer the FBI will allowed to keep staging bogus threats just in order to arrest people, while mostly ignoring people who are actually trying to pull off violent attacks within the country.

    When they accidentally entrap the kid of some politician or his/her personal fundraiser/lobbyist.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 3:49pm

    But real threats are too hard to stop. Why do we have to do everything? *throws toys out of pram*

     

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    Mason Wheeler, May 31st, 2012 @ 3:57pm

    It's not that simple

    There are a couple things you're overlooking.

    First, calling it "entrapment" is as intellectually dishonest as calling copyright infringement "stealing." Entrapment happens when an officer of the law induces someone to commit a crime that they had no intention of committing, so as to be able to trap them and arrest them. That hasn't happened in any of the cases I've read about. The people the FBI has been... *ahem* working with in these cases were actively looking for ways to commit terrorist acts. And I for one am glad that they keep managing to find FBI agents instead of people who could actually help them!

    Second, and related to the first, is the reason why these people keep looking for help. Unlike violent white supremacists, which already exist in well-established groups in the US, (dating back as far as the KKK if not further,) Islamic terror has no established support network yet. So they have to try to build their infrastructure from the ground up. Viewed in that light, what the FBI is doing is not entrapment at all, but containment, and they're doing a darned good job of it IMO.

    And also, "top journalist" or no, David Neiwert's premise is worth questioning. I don't recall ever hearing about a major, successful terror attack by a white supremacist group in my lifetime. (Certainly nothing on the scale of 9/11!) Nor do I find such a thing likely, as the ideological objective of white supremacists is not to destroy the USA, as it is for Islamic terror, but to turn back the clock on racial policies within the USA. Indiscriminate destruction would work contrary to that goal.

    (And before anyone takes that completely out of context, please note that I am in no way supporting or condoning the acts or ideologies of any white supremacist group. I'm simply saying that Mr. Neiwert's assertion is factually incorrect, as an apples-to-oranges comparison.)

     

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      Kaden (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 4:15pm

      Re: It's not that simple

      Timothy McVeigh & Oklahoma City ring a bell, Sparkie?

       

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        Mason Wheeler, May 31st, 2012 @ 4:38pm

        Re: Re: It's not that simple

        Timothy McVeigh. Bombed a government building in Oklahoma City in retaliation for FBI raids against various anti-government extremist militia groups. Nothing about white supremacists in there as far as I can see. (And still nowhere near as bad as 9/11, though I'll grant it a somewhat distant second.)

         

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          Mason Wheeler, May 31st, 2012 @ 5:00pm

          Re: Re: Re: It's not that simple

          Also, it's worth noting that even if that was not true, McVeigh acted alone. He was not a anything group, and therefore there was nothing to infiltrate. So the FBI focusing on terror groups (of any kind) would not be able to stop "the next McVeigh," because they'd be looking in the wrong place.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 5:06pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It's not that simple

            infiltrate / facilitate

            meh... whats the difference

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2012 @ 4:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It's not that simple

            McVeigh had at least one coconspirator- Terry Nichols. The Feds now track the fertilizers used in the bomb rather closely.

             

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          Kaden (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 5:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: It's not that simple

          You realize that the militia groups in question were of a distinctly caucasian nature, yes?

          You're splitting hairs to an uncomfortable degree in your arguments. Semantics are important in legalese, but perhaps less so in the real world of threat assessment.

           

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          Richard (profile), Jun 1st, 2012 @ 1:18am

          Re: Re: Re: It's not that simple

          And still nowhere near as bad as 9/11,

          If you strip out the element of luck associated with the poor design of the twin towers and count only the deaths on the planes and in the immediate impacts then the two are similar scale.

          You should not give credit to terrorists for things that they are not responsible for.

           

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            Mason Wheeler, Jun 1st, 2012 @ 9:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It's not that simple

            Hard to call it luck when the terrorists planned it out and were literally free as birds once they were in control of the planes. They could have chosen any targets they wanted to. You really think the people who planned it out didn't do any research beforehand?

             

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        Liz (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 4:44pm

        Re: Re: It's not that simple

        He said during his lifetime. Perhaps this individual is younger than 17.

         

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          Mason Wheeler, May 31st, 2012 @ 4:48pm

          Re: Re: Re: It's not that simple

          Nope. I remember when it happened. And from what I've read, he was an anti-government militia sympathizer, not a white supremacist.

           

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            Liz (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 5:00pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It's not that simple

            Associated Press on February 13, 2003 reports that the FBI evidence linked McVeigh to white supremacists.

            The bombing itself was described in the Turner Diaries published in 1978. A known book and source of reference for groups within the white supremacist movement.

            Some articles online (including wikipedia) state that, "McVeigh was reprimanded by the military for purchasing a "White Power" T-shirt at a Ku Klux Klan protest..."

            While his motivations may not have been spurred on by those who believe strongly in this movement of hatred, the associations are there and are very clear.

             

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        Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 5:03pm

        Re: Re: It's not that simple

        Oh, are you referring to the patsy on which the government blamed its false-flag operation?

         

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      Richard (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 4:34pm

      Re: It's not that simple

      when an officer of the law induces someone to commit a crime that they had no intention of committing, so as to be able to trap them and arrest them.

      I agree that these cases are slightly different to traditional entrapment in that they are instead providing the (illusion of) resources to commit a crime they would otherwise have no capability to commit - but it is equally ineffective and immoral.

      Although it is clear that the targets had a general inclination to commit offences, the details were all supplied by the FBI - so arguably the officers have crossed the line into a form of entrapment.

      I'm simply saying that Mr. Neiwert's assertion is factually incorrect, as an apples-to-oranges comparison.

      Ah the old "apples to oranges" argument - go get a new one - it has been debunked!

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 4:36pm

      Re: It's not that simple

      The only high-profile murder of a government employee (and state trooper, actually) on the job in my hometown was committed by a white supremecist who wanted to make his own country. Anecdotal evidence and all that, but I think it's telling that a community fraught with race riots in a strongly mixed setting with a transient immigrant population has white-on-white violence as its main source of murder. Kind of blows the stereotypes out of the water.

      To me, it makes sense to go after the guys who've managed to collect enough guns to start a small war all by themselves, without any FBI help. They're more dangerous.

       

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        Mason Wheeler, May 31st, 2012 @ 4:42pm

        Re: Re: It's not that simple

        Well, when you consider the simple fact that none of these groups who've "managed to collect enough guns to start a small war all by themselves" actually have managed to start any, apparently someone's doing something right.

        And I don't believe the FBI is not going after them, especially as I have seen news reports of the FBI rounding up white supremacists and putting an end to their plots. They just aren't using the same methodologies as they do with Islamic terror, because it doesn't work the same way. As I pointed out, white supremacists have an infrastructure in place already, and they don't need to go looking for outside help.

         

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      Jay (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 4:41pm

      Re: It's not that simple

      Two cases disagree with your premise: Tarek Mehanna, given 17 years for just translating what others are saying.

      Also, another person was captured by the FBI even though he did not want to be a part of the entrapment scheme put forth for him. The irony? He found out about the informant through a google search.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 4:46pm

      Re: It's not that simple

      Oklahoma City, the second deadliest terrorist act was commited by white supremascist.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 4:46pm

      Re: It's not that simple

      Oklahoma City, the second deadliest terrorist act was commited by white supremascist.

       

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      DC (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 6:57pm

      Re: It's not that simple

      "Entrapment happens when an officer of the law induces someone to commit a crime that they had no intention of committing, so as to be able to trap them and arrest them. That hasn't happened in any of the cases I've read about."

      Funny, I seem to recall the cases are generally of an Islamist who is enticed into looking for ways to commit terrorist acts, not already actively looking.

      Even if you parse that very finely, I'm pretty sure none of the convicted were intending to commit a specific criminal act before the FBI stepped in and planned and facilitated a specific criminal act.

      "I hate the USA and I want people to die", even if said out loud, does not rise to the level of intent to commit a crime, to the best of my knowledge.

      Corrections always welcomed.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 1st, 2012 @ 2:19am

      Re: It's not that simple

      Entrapment happens when an officer of the law induces someone to commit a crime that they had no intention of committing, so as to be able to trap them and arrest them. That hasn't happened in any of the cases I've read about. The people the FBI has been... *ahem* working with in these cases were actively looking for ways to commit terrorist acts.

      Actually, this is not true at all. In multiple cases that we've written about and *even in the article linked and discussed above* they show that the individuals were NOT looking to do such crimes, but were convinced to do them, often by the informants.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 4:58pm

    These are not infiltrations of criminals.
    The fbi are preying on the weak minded.
    Getting them to do extremist acts, then arresting them.
    It's completely sick.

    Using cult tactics to turn people into informants .. NO, criminals

    1) Prey on persons with genuine but opposed ideology
    2) Groom them into becoming extreme
    3) Invent a plot for them to act out
    6) Lead them through it
    4) Arrest them
    5) Parade in public to gainer hate for the ideology


    Everyone sees right through it.

    I can see these FBI people being throw in jail for the evil they are doing to people.

     

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    JesseJ, May 31st, 2012 @ 5:06pm

    surprise

    I'm surprised that any of you believe anything you read, see or hear any where, any more.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 5:23pm

      Re: surprise

      It's fucking hard to believe anything nowadays.
      Fact's and omissions of, ruin everything you're told to believe.

      Damn you facts : Ruining our cosy beliefs that we were told to believe.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 5:10pm

    Is anyone else of the belief that the government exists solely to steal money?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 5:13pm

    To paraphrase George W. God and the constitution give us liberty, arms in the hands of the people are the teeth.

    Words have no meaning with out the ability to back them up.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 5:20pm

      Re:

      George W. God. LOL, that's a good one!

       

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        Not That Chris (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 6:08pm

        Re: Re:

        I read it that way too the first time. This is one of those instances where punctuation really comes in handy.

        I'm assuming (ass, u, me, etc.) the line was intended to read:

        To paraphrase George W(ashington)., "God and the [C]onstituition give us liberty, arms in the hands of the people are the teeth."

        BTW, in the course of verifying it was Washington and not another George W, it appears the quote the paraphrase comes from is fake. Also there's no mention of God in any of the variations, so not sure where that came from. But enjoy some free enlightenment.

        Remember kids, punctuation is important.

        "Time to eat, kids!" vs "Time to eat kids!"

         

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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 5:16pm

    A former FBI agent was recently arrested on child porn charges. He is an explosives expert who helped investigate the Oklahoma City bombing. Could it be that the government trumped up charges against someone who might know too much and is afraid of what he might tell?
    Remember the first "X-Files" movie?

     

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      Jay (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 7:25pm

      Re:

      I read that story... It's odd. He's gone missing, his wife is making public statements, and it seems to be a witch hunt, not a rescue... What did the guy stumble onto, I wonder, that made him disappear?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2012 @ 8:13am

        Re: Re:

        The fact that the fertilizer in the 'bomb' was only for cover and detection purposes... the actual explosive was military grade supplied by..... (brb, there's a knock at the door).....


        ajfosdfjrsiowejfioaf
        afjsdaifjias
        dfsadfjios
        arggghhhhhhhhh.

         

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    Gwiz (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 7:07pm

    ....the FBI seems focused on "ideological enemies" to take down, rather than those who are most likely to actually cause harm:

    Well yeah. Because taking down "ideological enemies" is the best way to increase the budget of an armed Federal agency.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 7:59pm

    I blame society...

    step back from the FBI and their showboating for a moment and enjoy the larger picture.

    The picture is if you don't show the Congresscritters and the public something for all of the money they give you, they take money away.
    Desperate to keep the same level of funding, rightly or wrongly, they put on these dog and pony shows. They do what Congresscritters demand. Lets look at the ICE budget shall we?
    Congress demanded X00,000 deportations of the criminal variety illegals.
    We have churn now, where people with the crime of being the right shade of brown, or the right accent are quickly checked and double checked and if they are an illegal and even part of the name matches they vanish into the private prison system while awaiting deportation.
    They have to meet these goals or they loose funding, which might harm other things they do that aren't on the main stage. Mind you they are getting a little extra income now being Disney's private police force, but it is the demands of big visible program "results" that are driving what they do. So what if a teen runaway made up a fake name and we tossed her into another country, we are getting results!

    We demand results, and only recently has the demand for accountability been getting louder as they go after more and more people in crazier ways.

    We have states banning illegals who stole "hard working American's jobs"... and that was best summed up by the farmer standing infront of his field of rotting produce saying it was a good law and well Americans would only do the job for half a day before quitting the back breaking labor for crap wages.

    The media churn is to blame, we often remember the headline not the followup. The Hutari (sp) Militia in michigan. They were going to kill cops and spark all of these race wars!!! The Judge tossed the case because they only talked never actually planned... but the media got fed, and they told us how these crazy militia folks were out to kill us.

     

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      Mason Wheeler, Jun 1st, 2012 @ 9:29am

      Re: I blame society...

      We have states banning illegals who stole "hard working American's jobs"... and that was best summed up by the farmer standing infront of his field of rotting produce saying it was a good law and well Americans would only do the job for half a day before quitting the back breaking labor for crap wages.

      Oh, boo hoo, poor farmer complaining about having to treat legitimate workers with legitimate dignity. I've got zero sympathy for scum who think it's OK to exploit people, to the point where they complain openly about laws that require them not to. We fought the Civil War over that question. It ought to be settled by now.

       

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        That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jun 1st, 2012 @ 2:48pm

        Re: Re: I blame society...

        I believe you misunderstood my example in this case.
        The farmer in my example was supporting the law, even as it was costing him money. I do not know for sure, but one would suspect that there is a system in place to make up for his ruined crop.

        It was an amazing highlight on the claim that illegal workers are "stealing" jobs from hard working Americans. The few who did try the job were unable or unwilling to do it. While the treatment of some of the workers is horrible, some are treated fairly by employers who like the hard working employees who aren't always looking to take a Facebook break.

        The crop rotting in the field is also an amazing example of how people are disconnected from reality. We all want cheap food, and we assume those workers are well paid and well taken care of just like us. It seems to be a standard human response that everyones experiences are exactly the same as our own.

         

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2012 @ 7:03am

    I keep trying to tell people this but they don't believe it.

     

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    phildem, Jun 1st, 2012 @ 11:24am

    the point of these FBI conconcted terrorist 'plots'

    may simply be a method to intimidate grass-roots level folks who are disgruntled with the powers that be.

    In that context, these sexed up 'terrorist hoaxes' are probably working very nicely.

     

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    identicon
    Matthew A. Sawtell, Jun 2nd, 2012 @ 5:45pm

    Hm... "No right wing groups"?!

     

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