The latest Radiolab "shorts" episode, entitled Grumpy Old Terrorists
, seems like a bit of a departure in subject matter for that program -- but fits right in with something we've been talking a lot about lately. Over the past few years, we've noticed the rather disturbing trend in how the FBI keeps publicly celebrating stories about stopping terrorist plots -- but in almost every case the details show that it was actually
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.
In the last few weeks, the mainstream press has started to notice this as well, with stories about it appearing in both the NY Times
and Rolling Stone
. However, the Radiolab episode highlights a similar, but slightly different story, that was actually covered in great detail in an article in Esquire a few months back, entitled Waffle House Terrorists
-- which includes the mugshots of the four "terrorists."
The youngest one of that bunch is 65-years old. The oldest is 73. As the Radiolab episode and the Esquire piece detail, while these guys do seem hateful
, they also seemed absolutely unable to do
anything... until an "FBI informant" joined their pack and pushed and prodded them along, introducing them to the "contacts" to get weapons and even providing "the money" to buy said weapons. The Esquire article goes into great detail about the "informant" and his rather questionable legal history (he first contacted the FBI while in jail for molesting his wife's daughter from a previous marriage).
On Radiolab, they play the audiotapes the guy made of the plotting -- and there's obviously some crazy stuff being said. But, as they look deeper into the role of the informant, the Radiolab hosts conclude the episode by noting that the whole situation doesn't really make them feel any safer. Yes, these old guys were hateful and helped join in this plan to cause lots of death and destruction. But, so much much of the plot and the participation of these guys really does seem driven by the "informant," who does not seem like the most credible of guys. And it's this exact scenario that we keep seeing over and over again. It may not reach the level of entrapment, and it may put some people really ignorant and crazy people in jail -- but is this really
the best use of the FBI's time and efforts? Creating bogus "terrorist" plots involving people who had no real means to actually do anything?