Did The FBI Get Confused And Arrest One Of Its Own Informants For Helping Create One Of Its Own Plots?

from the wtf? dept

For a few years now, we've been writing about how the FBI has been arresting a ton of people for "terrorism" who were really guilty of little more than being gullible and naive and pushed by FBI undercover agents and informants into taking part in a plot that wouldn't exist but for the FBI itself. These so-called own plots seem to be a huge part of what the FBI does these days. Somewhat ridiculously, courts have (mostly) allowed these, claiming that if, eventually, the accused person expressed some support for terrorism or terrorist groups, it shouldn't be considered entrapment. But, over and over again, you see cases where it's clearly the FBI doing not just the majority of the plotting, but also pushing and pushing targets to "join" the plot, even when they show sustained resistance. The more details you read about these cases, the more ridiculous they get.

However, in just the latest example of this -- the arrest of Erick Hendricks for supposedly trying to recruit people to carry out attacks for ISIS -- there's been something of an odd twist. Hendricks claims he has no idea why he was arrested because he's been an FBI informant for years, helping the FBI find other gullible souls to entrap in these "own plots." As Marcy Wheeler notes, it's possible the FBI lost track of one of its own informants and ended up having him "caught" in one of the plots where he thought he was helping the FBI find possible terrorists. Wouldn't that be something.
Has the FBI simply lost track of who are real and who are the people it is paying to play a role? Or is it possible someone from another agency, claiming to be FBI, recruited Hendricks (don’t laugh! That’s one potential explanation for Anwar al-Awlaki’s curious ties to US law enforcement, a story that wends its way through a related mosque in VA)?

Sure, maybe Hendricks is making all this up (at the very least, it may necessitate the BoP to protect him in prison since he has now publicly claimed to be a narc). But FBI’s network of informants sure is getting confusing.
Either way, if Hendricks really was an informant, it appears that the "plots" he was engaged in may have been all confidential informants or undercover agents (and possibly one mentally disturbed internet troll).

This sounds like the plot to a potentially entertaining movie -- but back in the real world, it seems pretty fucked up. And it's yet another reminder of just how stupid these FBI "own plots" really are. It doesn't seem to really be about keeping people safe from attacks. Instead it seems to be about figuring out ways to push gullible and naive people to agree to do something stupid so that the FBI can get headlines for "keeping us safe" from attacks that would never actually happen.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Berenerd (profile), 15 Aug 2016 @ 9:42am

    Just when you thought it was safe to go along with an FBI plot...

    I think it is entirely possible that the guy asked for a raise and this was a punishment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 15 Aug 2016 @ 10:21am

      Re:

      Given the agency's past actions I would say that's equally possible as them screwing up and arresting the 'wrong' person.

      "Oh, you'd like a little extra for your exemplary service? Yeah, seems you forgot just who's running things, time for a reminder..."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2016 @ 10:36am

      Re:

      Another plausible situation:

      Since the Own Plots are widely known now, if I were going to be an ISIS recruiter, I'd pose as an FBI handler, and get some patsy to do the actual recruitment.

      Seems less believable, but if I were a real enemy of the state, that's the sort of thing I'd be doing: turn the system against itself. Works better than any potential resulting terror acts.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 15 Aug 2016 @ 9:58am

    "This sounds like the plot to a potentially entertaining movie"

    Sounds more like it should be the next Pink Panther movie.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 Aug 2016 @ 10:02am

      Re:

      Methinks the FBI is too inept to accomplish proper slapstick.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2016 @ 11:05am

      Re:

      At this point it'll take a movie about a group of villainous FBI agents framing naive people as terrorists for the practice to end.

      It wouldn't be the first time Hollywood accomplished real change with a movie. CFAA (Computer Fraud And Abuse Act) was created because of a Hollywood movie about a hacker causing WW3 by hacking into our nuclear weapon arsenal and firing some of them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 15 Aug 2016 @ 11:22am

        Re: Re:

        It wouldn't be the first time Hollywood accomplished real change with a movie. CFAA (Computer Fraud And Abuse Act) was created because of a Hollywood movie about a hacker causing WW3 by hacking into our nuclear weapon arsenal and firing some of them.

        With a track record like that maybe Hollywood should stay away from the subject, as they'd likely just make it worse(somehow).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 15 Aug 2016 @ 10:06am

    Sycophants deserve what they get

    Or he got the reward they always planned for him. IN the old days they just put a bullet in the back of the head of their "assets" when they decided they were a liability or their usefulness was all used up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2016 @ 10:17am

    the agent provocateur that performed his job TOO WELL

    Anyone who thinks that working as an FBI informant offers any degree of amnesty needs to consider the case of Hal Turner, the "shock jock" whose outrageous on-air schtick served as an effective FBI honeypot that attracted all sorts of anti-government racist crazies. Despite his many years spent ratting out his fellow zealots to the FBI (and convicting many of them) Turner eventually went too far on his radio show, and was arrested and spend years in prison on the charge of "incitement."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 15 Aug 2016 @ 10:19am

    Cue the world's smallest violin

    If he really is an FBI informant sounds like they actually caught the right target for once. Take him out of the picture and you've got at least one less person conning the gullible and/or mentally challenged into becoming 'terrorists', and less 'terrorists' is a good thing, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2016 @ 10:33am

      Re: Cue the world's smallest violin

      Makes me wonder... could citizens start filing reports with various LE offices to get the rest of the poeple involved in the Own Plots investigated and arrested as well?

      I mean, we've seen that those investigating Bitcoin weren't above taking a bit for themselves; if the FBI operatives are inciting people to do dangerous things, they could be even more of a threat. Probably worth a few investigations, anyway.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        TripMN, 15 Aug 2016 @ 10:44am

        Re: Re: Cue the world's smallest violin

        But who watches the watchmen?

        Sure as hell ain't the FBI or the DOJ or the courts so far.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 15 Aug 2016 @ 10:49am

        Remember, 'See Something Say Nothing

        They could, but it would likely go poorly for them. I'd have to go digging through the archive but a couple years back there was an article where something like that happened, a government informant was sent in to look for 'terrorists' in a mosque, and since that was a bust they had him see if he could drum up a few on his own, because clearly if you're not finding terrorists you're not looking hard enough.

        One of the people who went to the mosque thought the guy was acting suspicious, reported him, and in turn was ran through the wringer, with the agency involved using some form or other of extortion in an attempt to force him to turn informant.

        The 'good citizen' was hosed for trying to report what he thought was a possible threat, and both government agency and agent came through with little more than a blemish on their already rubbish names, making the message sent abundantly clear: If you see something suspicious, keep your mouth shut lest you draw attention to yourself.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 15 Aug 2016 @ 10:54am

        Re: Re: Cue the world's smallest violin

        Found it, first comment has more details.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2016 @ 10:47am

    FBI and BoP will basically tell the guy to go fuck himself, as he's no more use to them now it's public knowledge he's a narc.

    Happened to THOUSANDS of informants. They get thrown to the wolves the moment they lose their usefulness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Doland Frump, 15 Aug 2016 @ 10:59am

    This would crack me up.

    If the FBI can pretend to be the terrorists, so too can the terrorists pretend to be the FBI.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2016 @ 11:08am

    OMG - do you know what this means?! THE TERRORISTS HAVE INFILTRATED THE GOVERNMENT!

    - FBI probably

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Norahc, 15 Aug 2016 @ 11:52am

    Hanlon's Razor

    I'M guessing that the information he was an informant was stored on an encrypted phone and the FBI forgot the password...which would explain their war on encryption as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon, 15 Aug 2016 @ 2:19pm

    Helps to Have Expensive Lawyers

    Basically, what the FBI are doing for "terrorists" is exactly what the FBI and DEA did to John Delorean a few decades ago. The difference was, with fancy lawyers and being a prominent (white, Christian) person, he got the verdict overturned on appeal on the grounds of entrapment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 15 Aug 2016 @ 3:08pm

    Re: This sounds like the plot to a potentially entertaining movie

    Get Smart did all this back in the 1960s.

    The episode you’re looking for is from season 1, number 16, “Double Agent”, where Max infiltrates a KAOS cell as a double agent, only to discover (at the end, spoiler alert!) that everybody else in the cell is a double agent too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 15 Aug 2016 @ 5:09pm

    Unfounded Fear Feeds the National Security State

    Instead it seems to be about figuring out ways to push gullible and naive people to agree to do something stupid so that the FBI can get headlines for "keeping us safe" from attacks that would never actually happen.


    FBI isn't angling solely for headlines.

    FBI wants more power for the national security state and less Rights for American citizens.

    All FBI (government) need do is continue playing the fear/terror charade and ignorant Americans follow along like a 21st century version of the Pied Piper.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.