Government Agents ‘Directly Involved’ in Most High-Profile US Terror Plots

Watertown FBI raid - agent entering house

Tim Pierce (CC BY 2.0)

We’re shocked, just plain shocked, that the FBI and other US law enforcement agencies “targeted American Muslims in abusive counterterrorism ‘sting operations’ based on religious and ethnic identity,” per Human Rights Watch. From The Guardian:

Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the “direct involvement” of government agents or informants, a new report says.

Some of the controversial “sting” operations “were proposed or led by informants”, bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.

The lengthy report, released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system’s ability to respect civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. It portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots.

“In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act,” the report alleges.

Out of the 494 cases related to terrorism the US has tried since 9/11, the plurality of convictions – 18% overall – are not for thwarted plots but for “material support” charges, a broad category expanded further by the 2001 Patriot Act that permits prosecutors to pursue charges with tenuous connections to a terrorist act or group.

In one such incident, the initial basis for a material-support case alleging a man provided “military gear” to al-Qaida turned out to be waterproof socks in his luggage.

Several cases featured years-long solitary confinement for accused terrorists before their trials. Some defendants displayed signs of mental incapacity. Jurors for the 2007 plot to attack the Fort Dix army base, itself influenced by government informants, were anonymous, limiting defense counsel’s ability to screen out bias.

Human Rights Watch’s findings call into question the post-9/11 shift taken by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies toward stopping terrorist plots before they occur. While the vast majority of counterterrorism tactics involved are legally authorized, particularly after Congress and successive administrations relaxed restrictions on law enforcement and intelligence agencies for counterterrorism, they suggest that the government’s zeal to protect Americans has in some cases morphed into manufacturing threats.

The report focuses primarily on 27 cases and accordingly stops short of drawing systemic conclusions. It also finds several trials and convictions for “deliberate attempts at terrorism or terrorism financing” that it does not challenge…

[continues at The Guardian]

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  • Anarchy Pony

    They do the same to radical environmental activists. Although the plots are usually pretty mundane.

  • Damien Quinn

    Militarized states require an enemy. If no enemy is apparent, it will create an enemy. If the people are unwilling to accept the existance of this manufactured enemy, the people will become the enemy.

    • Truth Teller

      “Governments need enemies to justify their Existence.” – Edward Abbey, “The Monkey Wrench Gang.” It seems the USA has decided the American public is their enemy. Followed only be “terrorism”. That’s why so many things are now classified as “terrorism”. It can easily be applied to Americans at home.

  • BuzzCoastin

    We’re shocked, just plain shocked
    that no one remembers the Salem witch hunts
    lynch mobs (now SWAT mobs)
    the placement of Japanesse Americans in concentration camps
    the persecution & assination of MLK, among others
    McCarthyism & the Red scare
    We’re shocked, just plain shocked

  • Truth Teller

    Didn’t you know? Entrapment is de facto legal for US law enforcement. Using it as a defense is a sign you need a more competent attorney.

  • InfvoCuernos

    I can’t stand to even watch anything in the news, knowing that the government is so far from ideals they presented to us in school as being real. The only people I trust now are criminals and I have a genuine fear of the people that I was told were “here to help”. Ask not what you country can do for you, ask instead what it;s going to do TO you.

  • emperorreagan

    When has the FBI been anything but an organization devoted to terrorizing Americans?

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