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NY Times: 'FBI Foils Its Own Terrorist Plots' 573

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-have-been-called-out dept.
Fluffeh writes "Breaking up terrorist plots is one of the main goals of the FBI these days. If it can't do that, well, it seems making plots up and then valiantly stopping them is okay too — but the NY Times is calling them on it. 'The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts. But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.'"
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NY Times: 'FBI Foils Its Own Terrorist Plots'

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  • It's not Entrapment. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:04PM (#39862789)

    It's encouragement.

    Very different. For one thing, the movie stars Jessica Alba instead of Catherine Zeta-Jones.

    • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:09PM (#39862851) Journal
      And it's not Lupus either. Oops. Wrong message board.
    • by jamesmusik (2629975) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:15PM (#39862907)
      It may or may not be entrapment, but it definitely doesn't prevent actual terror attacks.
      • by V-similitude (2186590) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:53PM (#39863263)
        Disagree. If you flood the market with fakes, and then arrest everyone who buys the fakes, you'll end up with fewer people willing or able to buy the real stuff.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:10PM (#39863393)

          Nope, you just encourage people to try harder and make a bigger impact. Did it ever occur to you that these people might have been saved by convincing them to use peaceful means to make their point. instead we've taught a lesson that deception, lies and treachery are the way to accomplish your goals. People do learn by example. What example has the FBI given us?

          • by DragonTHC (208439)

            I believe that giving people the idea that they could have the means to accomplish their violent goals may be entrapment, but is it wrong?

            • by Darinbob (1142669) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:08PM (#39863803)

              This is not all the FBI is doing though. The "suspect" not presented with a plot on day one and then ignored forever if they say no thanks. These guys are softened up first and encouraged to become more radical. Then maybe a plot is suggested, and suggested over and over until their resistance is worn down. The FBI is not infiltrating existing terrorist cells or finding existing terrorists. They do not open up a fake arms store and wait for customers to show up unprompted.

              • by darkmeridian (119044) <william...chuang@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @11:30PM (#39864593) Homepage

                No, they're spreading out honeypots so that real planners have to be extra careful when planning their shit. And they're less likely to plot when they can't trust each other. In Iran, the Stuxnet led to a bunch of scientists and folks getting liquidated because the government thought they were spies. Same thing in Iraq when America embarked in the "secret killing program".

                The authorities also thwarted the very real plot to bomb subways--that dude lived literally a few blocks away from me in Flushing, Queens, New York. They caught him trying to make TATP with acetone.

              • by hairyfeet (841228) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @11:32PM (#39864609) Journal

                Not to mention you'll at most catch absolute morons who at their best would simply win a Darwin Award because the kind of bozos these "stings" catch are frankly the same gullible dipshits that fall for 419 scams and other stupidity.

                It reminds me of the total waste of time a buddy at the state crime lab does all day searching PCs of social retards instead of actually catching child molesters. He says day after day he sees the same shit that has been floating around the net since the days of USENET but it would take a lot of money to have them actually hunt for child molesters, not to mention it would probably cross state lines so the prosecutor wouldn't get credit, so instead they spend their days on the net trolling for fat losers that he says always end up being some maladjusted porn addict that wouldn't know what to do with anyone, much less a kid, if you threw them into a pit of 'em.

                Nope this is just another case of something the government is damned good at, and that is the appearance of doing SOMETHING even if that something actually is as useless as moving a rock from the left side of a field only to move it back to the right the next day. its pointless, a waste of money, and doesn't catch the actual threats but hey, the next time a real threat shows up and smacks them they can always say "hey we were doing something!" and CYA so they don't get fired. Our tax dollars at work ladies and gentlemen, just another complete waste of time and money. Surprised?

              • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @11:34PM (#39864617) Homepage Journal
                This is not all the FBI is doing though. The "suspect" not presented with a plot on day one and then ignored forever if they say no thanks. These guys are softened up first and encouraged to become more radical. Then maybe a plot is suggested, and suggested over and over until their resistance is worn down. The FBI is not infiltrating existing terrorist cells or finding existing terrorists.

                The real problem with this, isn't the entrapment angle. Yeah, they are finding dumb people who don't make good life choices and push them in the wrong direction, and that isn't really right. The real problem with this though, is they are wasting time and money doing this shit when they could be doing better things like building legitimate human Intel in places where the professionals might show up. But this is hard and tedious work that may or may not ever pay off, so they waste time and tax payer dollars running these sort of dog and pony show stings that they can put people in front of a federal DA and say, 'Look we are being effective.'

                Quit fucking around with these dime store idiots, FBI, and get to work in preventing damage the pros will inflict. They will be much harder to catch than losers who hand around cargo vans behind the local mosque that have signs saying, 'Free Stingers'.
              • by guttentag (313541) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @12:29AM (#39864907) Journal

                This is not all the FBI is doing though. The "suspect" not presented with a plot on day one and then ignored forever if they say no thanks. These guys are softened up first and encouraged to become more radical. Then maybe a plot is suggested, and suggested over and over until their resistance is worn down.

                That's OK, because in the end Winston "realized that he had won the victory over himself, and he loved Big Brother. [wikipedia.org]"

            • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @11:17PM (#39864515) Journal

              Wow, I'm almost as shocked that you have to ask if it's wrong! : (

              Let's sing a song together.

              "Old USA Had some towns. EIEIO. And in those towns were some terrorists. EIEIO! Here's a terrorist, there's a terrorist, everywhere there's a terrorist, terrorist. Won't somebody think of the kids? EIEIO!

              Let's pass new laws like Cyber CISPA. EIEIO. And with those laws we can arrest you if you "look like a threat". EIEIO."

              Oops - we made up the threats. Isn't that the entire concept of False Flags?

        • by Oswald (235719) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:20PM (#39863459)

          you'll end up with fewer people willing or able to buy the real stuff

          True in a very general sense, but it misses why these stings waste time and money. To continue with your metaphor, these fakes--though of reasonable quality--are priced so low that only boobs would be taken in by them. So you're not taking legitimate buyers off the street; you're enticing idiots who were probably never going to be buyers of the genuine item into grasping for a "bargain".

          • by amiga3D (567632) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:50PM (#39864087)

            And really all they get are idiots. Anyone with a brain is immune to this nonsense. People that are too stupid to do anything more than whine and bitch are enticed into lending their idiocy to a crazy plot. These people are mostly a threat to themselves unless led by the hand by someone with a clue. I remember the FBI did exactly this to a militia outfit here back before 9/11 even happened. They infiltrated the group and they went from bitching about the gummint and drinking beer to acually committing crimes. The undercover agent told them what to do and how to do it and led them by the hand until they had enough to close in and send them off to jail. Without the agent they'd still be bitchin' 'bout the gummint and drinking beer. I feel no pity for them, they let themselves be led to the slaughter and deserve what they got but it removed exactly zero threat and wasted a lot of taxpayer money. At least the stupid bastards had jobs and paid taxes before, now we pay to keep the morons in jail with 3 hots and a cot.

            • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @05:12AM (#39865815) Journal

              . I feel no pity for them, they let themselves be led to the slaughter and deserve what they got but it removed exactly zero threat and wasted a lot of taxpayer money.

              So, why do you feel no sympathy?

              Most people are easily led. There are now heaps of phychology experiments which show this beyond doubt.

              They were harmless until the FBI interfered. Seems pretty sad to me.

        • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:23PM (#39863481)
          Not true. So far, all the people the FBI has arrested in these entrapment schemes have been borderline mentally handicapped. They're taking people off the street that NEVER would have had the actual means to commit the crimes they're accused of without the FBI's help, and usually don't even have the desire to. They are usually lonely men, with very low IQs that desperately want to fit in. The FBI offers them a fantasy, and they buy into it.
        • by Darinbob (1142669) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:00PM (#39863763)

          A person may be disappointed or disgruntled at the US without being a hostile terrorist, but if you take that person and start pushing at them to hate the US even more, suggesting plots to them, putting them in contact with suppliers, etc, then it seems to that the FBI is *creating* terrorists where none existed. Some of these people who were "caught" really seem like dupes who otherwise would never have caused a problem. This is being done in order to deceive the public into thinking that plots were uncovered and that the current policy is working.

    • by Mabhatter (126906) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:21PM (#39862959)

      But it's still THEATER and not real security.

      I understand the need for people to break the law by attempting the criminal act because you can't really arrest people for "hating" or "feeling suicidal" they have to break some laws.

      On the other hand this is EXACTLY the premise of Person of Interest. Is the FBI only going after the Terror cases and not GETTING HELP for people pushed too far? Do we really have agents out there selling weapons to boost their street cred to some upset guy who takes it and kills 5 family members? When they could have got the guy some help to not commit ANY crime?

      This becomes dangerously close to what the CIA used to play at sponsoring drug dealers and smugglers often against local PD. THEN it was to get inside rebels to fight Commies.

      This is the problem with "Law Enforcement" and not "Officers of the Peace" in a nutshell.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Used to?

        In case you haven't heard one of Obama's admins was selling guns to drug dealers in Mexico, and then when those U.S. guns turned-up in southern border states, justified passage of anti-gun laws to limit them. It's the new trick of false-flagging a U.S. operation to achieve the desired ends.

        BTW I think drugs should be decriminalized. Per the 10th amendment Congress has zero authority to ban them... no more authority than they have to ban alcohol. The power is reserved to the People and the people'

        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:53PM (#39863265)

          BTW I think drugs should be decriminalized. Per the 10th amendment Congress has zero authority to ban them... no more authority than they have to ban alcohol.

          Indeed. It took a freakin constitutional ammendment to outlaw liquor, but now the DEA can just publish a new drug schedule and tada, they've outlawed some new drug without congress even voting on it.

          • by jamesmusik (2629975) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @10:00PM (#39864135)
            It took a constitutional amendment to ban liquor, because the Supreme Court at the time did not interpret the Commerce Clause as expansively. After Wickard v. Fillmore, banning liquor or drugs would be perfectly within Congress' powers. The fact that Congress delegated some power to the DEA is perfectly in line with a number of precedents on agency powers.
        • by bmo (77928) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:55PM (#39863281)

          >In case you haven't heard one of Obama's admins was selling guns to drug dealers in Mexico,

          In 2006.

          When Obama was secretly President.

          God damn him and his time machine.

          --
          BMO

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:40PM (#39863605)

            Might want to go back and look at that stuff. Because it was holder who authorized the selling and NOT tracking of the guns sold.

            Bush however did, and didn't let them walk. Figure out the difference yet? A walking gun is one where you don't track it.

          • by jaymzter (452402) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:21PM (#39863909) Homepage

            "+5 Insightful"? Who mods this crap? Guess what, if Obama's administration kept the operation running under their watch, THEY are responsible. It doesn't matter who started it, that's a child's logic. Time machine indeed.

            No one forced him to become President.

          • by CarlCotner (156175) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @05:12AM (#39865817)

            In 2006.

            When Obama was secretly President.

            God damn him and his time machine.

            Operation Fast and Furious [wikipedia.org] began in 2009. I believe Obama was president sans time machine.

        • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:29PM (#39863531) Homepage

          In case you haven't heard one of Obama's admins was selling guns to drug dealers in Mexico, and then when those U.S. guns turned-up in southern border states, justified passage of anti-gun laws to limit them.

          What onerous anti-gun laws were you referring to, exactly? The only thing I could turn up was that when a gun dealer sells more than 1 assault rifle in a state bordering Mexico, they have to report it (the NRA's take [nraila.org]). It's not illegal to sell a bunch of AK-47s to somebody, it's just that in 4 states you have to fill out a form that says "Hey, this guy came into my store and bought a bunch of AK-47s".

          Yes, there's a tradeoff: Downside of having to explain to an ATF agent why you just bought 35 assault rifles. Upside of "Hey, this guy is crossing the border here, stopping by each of the gun stores within this 300-square-mile area here here and here, and crossing the border again." Additional upside: "Hey, this guy is collecting a lot of AK-47s, and doesn't have any sort of legal use for those guns, and after further investigation seems to have this idea about starting a revolt against the US government. Maybe we should watch him a bit more closely."

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @11:21PM (#39864541)

            "Hey, this guy is collecting a lot of AK-47s, and doesn't have any sort of legal use for those guns...

            I didn't know we had to 'prove' we have a "legal" use for things we buy.

            BTW, "collecting guns" is a perfectly legal use.

      • by pla (258480) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:15PM (#39863429) Journal
        Do we really have agents out there selling weapons to boost their street cred to some upset guy who takes it and kills 5 family members? When they could have got the guy some help to not commit ANY crime?

        Why yes... Yes, we do! [nationalgunrights.org]. And note that stories like these only refer to the ones we acci-fucking-dentally got back [cbsnews.com], not to all of what we sent South of the Border in some bizarre parody of law enforcement efforts.

        So not only do these pieces of shit pretend to stop crime, they actually really cause more than they pretend to stop!


        / And people call me cynical...
      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Entrapment requires comes from encouraging someone to commit a crime that they otherwise would not have committed. It is not entrapment if the means is presented. Ie, if this is a vice sting then having a police officer pretend to be a hooker who is sitting quietly in the bar is not entrapment, but if the officer is actively trying to drum up business or encouraging the dupe to drink more alcohol then it could very well fit the legal definition of entrapment.

        Part of the problem is that many of these cases

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:08PM (#39862839)

    It is much easier to create a problem and then solve it than it is to solve a real problem. If they don't catch terrorists, they will lose funding. Solution: Create a terrorist. Problem is, they arent able to create believable ones.

  • by AdamnSelene (2183372) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:10PM (#39862857)
    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
    --H.L. Menken
  • by Wovel (964431) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:13PM (#39862879) Homepage

    It happened in Dallas too, they gave a guy a truck and a fake bomb and a building to blow up. Then they celebrated when they caught the terrorist. I am not sure why his defense is not "I knew the bomb was fake".

    • by tyler_larson (558763) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:56PM (#39863739) Homepage

      If only this were an isolated incident.

      Turns out that every major foiled terrorist plot on US soil since 9/11 was dreamed up, planned, funded, coordinated, and ultimately foiled by FBI agents. And there have been quite a few of them. This is such a persistent theme that the biggest surprise in this story is that the newspaper actually called them on it instead of using the fear-inducing headline to bolster readership.

  • The best one... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NouberNou (1105915) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:21PM (#39862961)
    Was when the FBI encouraged a young immigrant boy in Portland, OR to try and carry out an attack on a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. The boy by all accounts had no prior involvement in anything radical beyond browsing the internet, and seemed more angry at his parents than the US or any 'infidels' [time.com], was approached by undercover FBI agents and brought into this plan as the trigger man.

    While that is interesting in itself, the really telling part comes from the fact that the City of Portland refused to cooperate with the FBI after 9/11, refusing to allow agents unfettered library access and other information into the citizens of Portland. Not only this, and while it may be conjecture, Portland has never seemed to be on the top of anyones attack list as far as foreign terrorists go... Needless to say Portland quickly subscribed to the FBI's intelligence program after the attempted attack and decreed that it would fully cooperate in the future with any investigations.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Tom Potter (mayor) asked the FBI NOT to be of service because he wanted no one breaking laws
      Even the FBI. Well we know how that went now. We are all scared or scarred. Take your pick.
      They miraculously save us all here, by grooming a suspect including detonating a real truck bomb
      in a gravel pit near Lincoln City, Oregon to prove they could (to the suspect).
      Highly illegal, period. I'm not afraid, I'm pissed they needed to prove their point that badly.
      Who's the real terrorists? Be afraid of 'them' f

    • Re:The best one... (Score:4, Informative)

      by phriedom (561200) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:36PM (#39863573)
      I agree that it is an interesting coincidence that Portland City had declined to joint the Joint Terrorism Taskforce and so the mayor was just as surprised as anyone when the FBI announced the arrest. But I think your characterization of the 19 year old "boy" is a bit off. The article you linked to describes someone who had been interested in joining jihad since he was 15 and had tried to go to Yemen and join the cause the previous year. He was only mad at his family because they had notified law enforcement that he was trying to join jihad. Bombing the Christmas tree lighting ceremony was his idea, he wasn't steered towards it by some informant. He hadn't done anything yet, but not for lack of trying, and he seemed pretty determined. I don't think it is fair to pretend that the FBI manufactured this threat.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by NouberNou (1105915)
        While there was some impetus on the suspect for his actions, the fact that Portland was targeted and this threat wasn't nipped in the bud earlier was obviously political in nature. Why let it go as far as they did? They easily had enough material for a conviction on numerous charges that would have put him away for a long time before they actually went all the way with the "attack". Why actually let the suspect go all the way down to the ceremony, place the "bomb" and let him try to detonate it? The moment
        • by Phroggy (441)

          Why let it go as far as they did? They easily had enough material for a conviction on numerous charges that would have put him away for a long time before they actually went all the way with the "attack". Why actually let the suspect go all the way down to the ceremony, place the "bomb" and let him try to detonate it? The moment he was even in possession of the "explosives" he would have been guilty of a number of major felonies. The fact that they let it play out in a public place was clearly theater meant to induce some sort of reaction in the Portland leadership.

          Apparently they weren't sure they could get a conviction unless he actually pressed the button. So, they let him believe there was a bomb, gave him the button, and waited for him to press it. He did, and when nothing happened, he pressed it again. Had they not done so, his lawyer could have argued that he never really intended to go through with it.

  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:50PM (#39863215)

    Focusing away from the legality and what is or is not entrapment there are two obviously fucked up things about this.

    1. Searching for mental midgets who could be lead into confessing or going along with LEA invented schemes because they are easily manipulated.

    2. Inventing schemes designed to capture headlines and instill more terror in terrorist fearing public....stinger missles..WTF.....

    Government pissing away their legitimacy on crack shit like this has consequences for society. For godsakes look at the polling on 9/11 showing more than 1/5th of US population believe it was an Inside or Isreali job.

    Thanks to the Internet and media we never forget anymore... What happens when the majority assume the next attack was an inside job?

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:43PM (#39863631) Journal

    That has always been the risk when the police take a more pro-active approach. There is a famous story (real or not) about a US fire chief who managed to create laws in his city that forced the installation of sprinkler installations in residential homes. It worked and it made the fire service pro-active rather then re-active. They prevented fires, rather then fighting fires. Since a fire is a bad thing, this is desirable.

    Would you want the army to focus on fighting wars or on preventing wars?

    What about the cops, should they just look away UNTIL a crime has happened or act to prevent one if they can?

    Holland recently had Queens day, the day we prove we are even below Americans in our reference for a whore who doesn't pay taxes on a million Euro income and still claims every benefit intended for poor people. But that aside, the Mayor of Amsterdam decided that no large parties would be allowed in the city center, instead they would be held on the outskirts of the city. It worked, it was a peaceful day. The police (Mayor is head of the police) acted to prevent crime, rather then wait until the shit hit the fan.

    BUT in doing so, it labelled EVERY single attendee as a hooligan bound to cause trouble and in need of police control to keep things inline. Silly? Yes, but that is one side of the coin of police acting to prevent things.

    Entrapment is the other. We want the police to do the "good" preventing not the bad but where the line is drawn, that is hard to say.

    A repeating story is that of the would be murderer by proxy trying to hire a killer, the police being tipped off and posing as a hired killer and the person being arrested. IF the police had ignored it, nothing might have happened. No killer might have shown up and it might have all blown over. On the other hand, something might have happened and would the police then be called out on not having done anything?

    You betcha! Often by the same people screaming entrapment.

    It is rather well known that the 9/11 attackers were known about but the FBI ignored the warnings. Would the same people screaming conspiracy scream entrapment if the FBI had acted and setup up a trap to capture them? You betcha. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    Part of the failing of democracy is that it is power without responsibility. Not of the politicians but of the voters. The average voter thinks nothing (doesn't think at all in many cases) of demanding completely opposite things,at the same time. Having your cake and eat it doesn't even begin to describe not just bankers who want low taxes, no government oversight, strict laws on competitors and welfare for needy banks. You can't have it all except when it comes to voting in a democracy. And it ain't just the super rich.

    "The FBI should have acted on warnings before 9/11 and stopped it"

    "The FBI shouldn't act on warnings of people planning attacks and stopping them".

    Politics ain't a division between left and right, between bleeding hearts and hard-liners, between capitalists and socialists. It is a melting pot of multi-personality disorders were the same voters votes multiple ways on the same issue and expects all of them to heard.

    Want to prove me wrong? Prove how a fire-chief insisting on sprinklers to be installed in private homes had saved any lives over a fire-chief who has bravely rescued a single person in the last decade alive while hundreds died in flames? None of the people in private homes with sprinklers needed a daring rescue. The man is a coward! Somewhere a tax payer is arguing just this. For real.

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