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by Peter Moskos

December 10, 2010

Pssst... Wanna Plant a Bomb?

I'm not opposed to arresting people who are willing to detonate what they think is a bomb in public places. It's not easy to arrest a suicide bomber after an attack.

But consider Glenn Greenwald's article: "The FBI successfully thwarts its own Terrorist plot" something does smell a little fishy:
Having stopped a plot which it itself manufactured, the FBI then publicly touts -- and an uncritical media amplifies -- its "success" to the world, thus proving both that domestic Terrorism from Muslims is a serious threat and the Government's vast surveillance powers -- current and future new ones -- are necessary.
Or take Ted Conover's (author of New Jack and other great books) excellent article about the Newburgh plot:
The case seems like a slam-dunk—until you learn more about him. [FBI informant] Hussain, driving a flashy Mercedes and using the alias Maqsood, began to frequent the Masjid al-Ikhlas in down-at-the-heels Newburgh in 2008. Mosque leaders say he would meet congregants in the parking lot afterward, offering gifts and telling them they could make a lot of money—$25,000—if they helped him pursue jihad. The assistant imam said the suspicion Hussain was an informant was so great "it was almost like he had a neon sign on him." A congregant told a reporter that, in retrospect, everyone wished they'd called him out or turned him in. "Maybe the mistake we made was that we didn't report him," the man said. "But how are we going to report the government agent to the government?"
At no single point during these government investigations is there a moment where I can say: entrapment! And yet there's little doubt that were it not for the FBI, none of these attacks would have happened (which is, of course, basically the definition of entrapment). Still, it doesn't seem too much to ask people not to kill others even when offered money and "bombs" by the government.

If you start dangling tens and hundred of thousands of dollars of poor people, you're going to find people willing to do anything. And I'd certainly like the FBI to find these suckers before a real terrorist does. Of course it all it takes is money to get people to become terrorists, we're in trouble. Because there's lots of money and lots of poor people.

Maybe, in the end, we're just safer than we think. Matt Yglasias writes:
If you assume the existence of a person willing to die for Osama bin Laden’s war on America, located within the United States of America, and in possession of a working explosive or firearm, there’s basically nothing stopping him from blowing up the 4/5/6 platform at Union Square or the 54 bus in DC or the Mall of America or even the security line at DFW airport. And yet it doesn’t happen.
The Economist concludes:
It's far more sensible to take this happy fact as evidence of the further happy fact that the supply of people ready, willing, and able to blow up America's crowded places is very small.

[update: Holder defends stings.]


bail bonds las vegas said...

Got no problem with thowing the book at a wannabe terrorist even if he is only 1% guilty of behaving like one.

Pat said...

Anyway to subscribe to these blogs? I can't seem to find the button. I also have a sick feeling its directly in front of me.

PCM said...

Strange, I'm not certain. You should be able to use RSS (whatever that means). You can also click "follow" at the top of the page.