Friday, January 30, 2015

Manufacturing Terror: How the FBI Invents Some Plots, and Ignores Others, In the War on Freedom

After Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI was forced to re-prioritize, making counter-terrorism the Bureau’s main focus. More than 1,800 agents, almost a third of the total dealing with criminal cases from organized crime to insurance fraud, were transferred to terrorism and intelligence duties in the aftermath of the attacks. What 9/11 did, among other things, was to create a need for proof, via arrests, that the new State focus on terrorism was showing results.

We’ve all seen the headlines from mainstream media sources after arrests were made and press conferences were given by high level officials announcing another disrupted “terror plot.” Yet, when one investigates these cases, as many journalists and writers in the alternative press have done, we see the score isn't as it all appears – and when compared with similar cases where terror charges were not brought, a disturbing picture emerges.

The Seas of David and the Redefinition of Entrapment

In criminal law, a person is “entrapped” when s/he is induced or persuaded by law enforcement officers, or their agents, to commit a crime that s/he had no previous intent to commit.

Most Americans know there have been some dubious prosecutions in the FBI’s ongoing effort to thwart terror attacks on American soil. Unfortunately, it seems many Americans are too scared to care. The vast majority of these cases have involved Muslim Americans, a group that has never had much power in terms of American politics and less so in the wake of 9/11 and two wars in majority Muslim countries. My purpose isn't to dismiss these cases, but to show the slippery slope they represent: when one group gets targeted successfully, other marginalized groups usually follow.

A story that illustrates this slide is the group the media dubbed the Liberty City 7. Arrested in June 2006, this group, we were told, had taken an oath to Al Qaeda and planned a series of attacks to rival or even surpass 9/11. There were just a few problems with the narrative: five African-American and two Haitian men taken into custody were not Muslims, were facing dire economic circumstances (most were homeless), and the ostensible leader of the group, a colorful character named Narseal Batiste, seemed willing to say just about anything to get money out of the FBI informant who had created the plot out of whole cloth.

...There has also been a strange selectivity when it comes to who gets charged under terror laws. The Southern Poverty Law Center has for years publicized cases of white supremacist and militia groups plotting actions that don’t result in terrorism charges, even though they seem to meet the legal requirements. At the same time, animal rights activists, who have filmed animal abuses or committed some form of property damage, but never harmed people, have been charged with the gravest of offenses: terrorism.

Now let's jump to Houston where, several years ago, heavily redacted documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request showed that at the height of the Occupy movement, in October 2011, a group was planning to target “leaders” of the Occupy Houston encampment using sniper rifles. One might think the FBI could investigate the person or persons planning to assassinate American protesters peacefully exercising their Constitutional rights.


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