Terrorists for the FBI
August 22, 2011 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Terrorists for the FBI: Inside the Bureau's secret network that surveils and entraps Americans.
posted by homunculus (36 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Behind the Story: MoJo's Investigation of Terrorism Informants
posted by homunculus at 2:41 PM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mefi user homunculus was last seen at 2:41 PM on August 22...
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:46 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I saw this yesterday and it freaked me right out.
posted by sweetkid at 3:09 PM on August 22, 2011


Not entraps. That's such an ugly word. Provides a fertile environment wherein an individual's natural inclination to perpetrate acts against the United States is allowed to express itself organically. Ah...much nicer.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:33 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looking at those mug shots, they sure are giving beards a bad name. There was a part of me that wanted a 'Beards: yes/no' pull-down menu on the searchable database just to find the bearded/clean shaven ratio.

I may be putting it in a joking light, but once when standing in a very long TSA line, I passed the time by counting the number of bearded guys pulled aside. Of those that had a beard, the probability of being selected was about 80%, including older 'Santa beard' types. Another silly example of TSA selections, because IIRC, those who got on those planes ten years ago all had specifically shaved their beards the night before to help them not stand out.


-statistics derailing prevention note-
My idle math fun was not intended to be actual 'statistics,' and in no way to be anything more than an anecdotal observation.It's just something I do when I'm bored, like figure out how may is too many to shake a stick at (it's in the millions, if you were to dedicate a lifetime to it).

posted by chambers at 3:36 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


NPR talked to a guy last week who explained that part of the reason there have been effectively no prosecutions of 2008 bubble Wall St. malfeasance is that most of the FBI manpower that would normally have been devoted to it was moved to anti-terrorism after 9/11.

These articles illustrate what we got in the trade-off.
posted by Trurl at 3:43 PM on August 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


part of the reason there have been effectively no prosecutions of 2008 bubble Wall St. malfeasance is that most of the FBI manpower that would normally have been devoted to it was moved to anti-terrorism after 9/11.

Well, at least we've still got the SEC to help deal with Wall St. malfeasance. Oh wait...
posted by homunculus at 4:30 PM on August 22, 2011


So am I the singular person who finds the linked site confusing and overwhelming? I was looking for AN article to introduce me to the this topic, and instead only saw 5 zillion apparently equally-important links.
posted by parrot_person at 4:45 PM on August 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


So am I the singular person who finds the linked site confusing and overwhelming?

Yeah, here's hoping that the FBI will take out MJ's web designer.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:48 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it is confusing at first. I found the Behind the Story link helpful in getting oriented with all the different stories.
posted by homunculus at 5:14 PM on August 22, 2011


The US Government Won't be Charged With Perjury Even When It's Caught in a Lie
posted by homunculus at 5:18 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks, homunculus.
posted by parrot_person at 5:45 PM on August 22, 2011


This is outrageous! We should do something about it! Does anyone here know how to make explosives? And would they mind spelling their last name, please?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:25 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Extra bonus points: name three FBI terrorism preventions that weren't either a) initiated by another law enforcement agency or b) stings set up by FBI snitches.

Go as far back in the past as you need to.....
posted by warbaby at 6:27 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems like there is a bright line between what should be happening and what shouldn't. Protesters/demonstrators shouldn't be plotting violence. If you are plotting violence, you are doing something different than protesting/demonstrating. And the Feds shouldn't be mining for convictions.

There was a guy here in Chicago who got busted trying to blow something (The Cubby Bear?) up. Horrifying, I thought at the time. Then my horror shifted gears when it was detailed how this thing went down: they guy made a more or less idle threat one day, and someone informed the FBI. Which is fine, you probably should tell the cops when someone threatens to blow shit up. But then the feds proceeded to work, for EIGHTEEN MONTHS, to allow this guy to believe he was going to complete his plan. Like the guys with the scrub-brushes in curling, every obstacle a normal person might have to blowing up a building was magically pushed aside for this person, and ultimately, yes, he did place a backpack full of something he believed to be explosives in a target location and yes, he did push a button he believed would trigger the explosion.

Even if the feds did nothing that legally constitutes entrapment, there was something along the lines of pseudo-entrapment going on. Providing extra-ordinary means and opportunity to someone with a motive.

It ain't right. The threat could have just as easily been averted by dragging the guy in, scaring the crap out of him, and keeping tabs on him for a little while.

I don't doubt that the Feds have pure intentions here, nobody wants to see things blown up. But they seem to be going about it all wrong.
posted by gjc at 6:33 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting, I'd noticed that terrorism arrests in Europe seemed fairly serious, albeit infrequent, while terrorists arrested in the U.S. always seemed rather trivial.

I'll expand upon warbaby's comment by noting that the FBI has always focused upon political primping over actual law enforcement. Hoover originally focussed the FBIs resources upon stolen cars because stolen cars usually turn up eventually virtually guaranteeing him a favorable rate of solved crimes. I'd assume the ATF and DEA exist primarily due to FBI malaise.

There was a recent article posted about how Republicans prevented the FBI from investigating right-wing extremists who're currently committing much more domestic terrorism, and harassment, than Muslims. Anyone recall the link?
posted by jeffburdges at 6:43 PM on August 22, 2011


Even if the feds did nothing that legally constitutes entrapment, there was something along the lines of pseudo-entrapment going on. Providing extra-ordinary means and opportunity to someone with a motive.

There's your balanced budget right there. Send these guys back to the Hollywood McDonald's where they came from, so they can return to writing their sub-par spy thriller scripts.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:49 PM on August 22, 2011


Even if the feds did nothing that legally constitutes entrapment, there was something along the lines of pseudo-entrapment going on.

Shouldn't entrapment and pseudo-entrapment be illegal for everybody?
posted by rhizome at 6:54 PM on August 22, 2011


There was a recent article posted about how Republicans prevented the FBI from investigating right-wing extremists who're currently committing much more domestic terrorism, and harassment, than Muslims. Anyone recall the link?

This one, perhaps: How the Political Right Bullied the Department of Homeland Security Into Ignoring the Threat of Right-Wing Extremism

There was a recent post about this, too: The Bomb That Didn't Go Off
posted by homunculus at 6:55 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, I understand that this is a legal grey area, but I find it hard to sympathize with people who were plotting to bomb a Jewish community center in fucking Westchester, I don't care if an undercover Fed gave them the address, the bombs, drove them there or whatever. This is entrapment in the same way that "To Catch a Predator" is entrapment, and the answer is probably "yes" to both.

And if anything, even if nobody is arrested and the cases are dismissed because of entrapment, I would risk saying this was a successful FBI operation, because young jihadists-to-be cant trust anybody since anyone who starts talking about how it's time for direct action may be an agent provocateur. They can't coordinate anymore and just play endless games of spot-the-fed.
posted by gertzedek at 8:11 PM on August 22, 2011


gertzedek: I remember one case where someone they were targeting got a summer job on a fishing boat in Alaska. They prevented him from taking the job by the simple expedient of placing him on the no-fly list. That crossed a definite line for me, because it was no longer providing what they thought was an opportunity, it was actively closing off any other options this kid might have had for a productive life.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:39 PM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can read the FBI annual reports yourself.

1988 - 1996

1996 - 2009

If you read and compare the annual reports, you will see that they keep shifting the definitions of terrorism and ideology in a very curious way. Note also that before 1996 (the reports are always issued at least a year after the events) there was no right wing terrorism in the US to speak of. This is because the wave of murders, bombings, kidnappings and arson directed against abortion providers during the 1980s and half-way through the 1990s were never investigated by the FBI.

It was only after the 1996 Olympics bombing (and specifically the Atlanta clinic double bombing that was intended to injure first responders and investigators) that the FBI developed the bizarre category of "special interest terrorism" to obscure the 15-year wave of terrorism by the far right.

Likewise, it is amusing to see that at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, the FBI considered "eco-terrorism" to be the primary domestic terrorism threat. Likewise, if you look at the early reports, you will see they continually juked the stats during the 1980s to inflate the nearly non-existent left wing terrorism while denying the crime wave of right-wing political violence.

Even more embarrassing is Project Megiddo. Probably the most absurd counter-terrorism document ever published by the United States Government.

It was around this time some wags proposed the FBI adopt as their motto: "We sleep at night so you don't have to."
posted by warbaby at 9:49 PM on August 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


So much for a "nation of law". The rich have decided they didn't like that plan. Fine. Now eat the mother fuckers.
posted by Goofyy at 11:11 PM on August 22, 2011


well, alot of the loot is in switzerland, so, were coming over and gettin our'in and then buy some chocolate.
posted by clavdivs at 11:26 PM on August 22, 2011


Extra bonus points: name three FBI terrorism preventions that weren't either a) initiated by another law enforcement agency or b) stings set up by FBI snitches.

zero what do I win and what is FBI terrorism preventions, did you make that up or is that standard jargon for wide ass definition that escapes any single answer.

If you read and compare the annual reports, you will see that they keep shifting the definitions of terrorism and ideology in a very curious way

rut-roh
Definitions

There is no single, universally accepted, definition of terrorism. Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).

very curious indeed.
posted by clavdivs at 11:40 PM on August 22, 2011


I may be putting it in a joking light, but once when standing in a very long TSA line, I passed the time by counting the number of bearded guys pulled aside. Of those that had a beard, the probability of being selected was about 80%, including older 'Santa beard' types. Another silly example of TSA selections, because IIRC, those who got on those planes ten years ago all had specifically shaved their beards the night before to help them not stand out.

I've had a beard/goatee for about 17 years. I learned very quickly post-9/11 that I should shave it off before visiting the US..
posted by srboisvert at 12:01 AM on August 23, 2011


I enjoyed the link. Thank you for it.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 6:23 AM on August 23, 2011


In the 30 days, 30 Mosques blog zarq had linked they talked to friends and classmates of one such young man.
posted by infini at 6:39 AM on August 23, 2011


I've had a beard/goatee for about 17 years. I learned very quickly post-9/11 that I should shave it off before visiting the US..

I feel your facial dilemma
posted by clavdivs at 6:52 AM on August 23, 2011


oppys daisy, that would be TSA
posted by clavdivs at 6:53 AM on August 23, 2011


Brandon Mayfield has a few choice things to say about this situation.

A terrorism prevention is when an arrest occurs before a terrorist crime is committed.
posted by warbaby at 7:11 AM on August 23, 2011


right.
posted by clavdivs at 8:05 AM on August 24, 2011


NYPD CIA Anti-Terror Operations Conducted In Secret For Years

Domestic Surveillance, NYPD Style
posted by homunculus at 9:17 AM on August 24, 2011


NYPD’s Spooks Didn’t Find Two of the Most Significant Terrorists to Attempt Attacks on NYC
posted by homunculus at 9:25 AM on August 24, 2011


"Extra bonus points: name three FBI terrorism preventions that weren't either a) initiated by another law enforcement agency or b) stings set up by FBI snitches.

Go as far back in the past as you need to....."

There do seem to have been a few incidents in the 1990s involving suspicious activity by the FBI or FBI informants. These include the car bombing of environmental activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney in May 1990, the likely mid-air explosion of child pornography ring investigator Gary Caradori in July1990, FBI informant Emad Salem involved in the February 1993 bombing of the WTC, the untimely death of Waco FLIR expert Carlos Ghigliotti, and apparently Tim McVeigh as one of several FBI informants involved in the bombing of OKC in 1995.

In the last few years, post-911, there have been reports of an FBI pattern in which FBI informants find gullible youth, teach them bomb making skills, and encourage them to put their skills to use.
posted by millardsarpy at 7:43 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Democracy Now: With CIA Help, New York Police Secretly Monitored Mosques, Muslim Communities Post-9/11

How the FBI Uses Informants to Surveil and Entrap Americans
posted by homunculus at 9:29 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


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