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

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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  • 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 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 brucek2 ( 208676 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:13PM (#39862889)

    There's a world of difference between initiating your own terrorist attack, vs infiltrating someone else's.

    This would be a scandal if the FBI was making up its own attacks, recruiting people to join them, and then arresting those people.

    But what it seems its doing is much more appropriate than that -- flooding the pools of potential recruits with undercover agents, flooding the supply chain for explosives etc with informers, etc so anyone who tries to get a major attack off the ground ends up running into one of the traps and ultimately arrested before the plot can come to fruition.

    I'm glad they're doing it. I really hope they are doing even more along the same lines for anyone seeking experts or parts required for WMD. And shame on the NY Times for trying to make this out to be something its not.

    (Reposted: wasn't logged in first time.)

  • by J4 ( 449 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:14PM (#39862895) Homepage

    Encouraging a bunch of j*ckoffs who couldn't find their asses with both hands at high noon is bullsh*t propaganda.

    The FBI aided the _first_ WTC bomb plot.
    The FBI aided Olklahoma City.

    Bunch of fscking leeches that need to get real jobs. And stop being such a scared rabbit, America is not supposed the land of pissed pants.

  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:34PM (#39863085)

    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's legislatures. (Same goes for Congress attempt to outlaw natural milk.)

  • Re:The best one... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @07:43PM (#39863143)

    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' for once. Then call em out for what they are.
    Persuaders of justice.

  • 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 @07:55PM (#39863279)


    You are more likely to die from unlawful conduct from law enforcement officers than you are of dying from a terrorist act.

  • 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.


  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:00PM (#39863319)

    The FBI has gone to the opposite extreme. Have you seen their listed of "suspected terrorists"??? It includes people who pay with cash, cover their cellphones while chatting, have a Ron Paul or Campaign for Liberty bumper sticker, carry a pocket constitution (wow; knowing the law; horrible), and on and on. At the end of the day almost everyone is a suspected terrorist by the FBI list.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:10PM (#39863387)

    More people died of food poisoning in any year you care to mention than died in the twin towers attack. How about we have intrusive laws surrounding food preparation. And you can pick the locality of New Yowk City for that stat and it still holds true. While more people in the world are worried about the possibility of American drone strikes, possible invasion of their country, or just the devaluation of the world reserve through quantitative easing shrinking their money supply.
    Just because something makes a great show on TV does not mean it is any more important than the thousands of news stories that didn't, but we're somehow working as if this is the case, case in point the Syria issue as opposed to the Bahrain issue. Per head the regime in Bahrain has killed more people than the Syrian regime. Since Bahrain is a small nation. We hear little of Bahrain however, perhaps due to the American Naval Base in the country. Due to the propaganda you're fed you find it laughable that I suggest the two nation's states are even remotely equivalent. Yet I remind you that in relation to their populations the Bahrain regime has killed more citizens then the Syrian regime.

  • 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 EL_mal0 ( 777947 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:11PM (#39863395)
    Yeah. . . I think I'm going to need to see some reputable sources for those claims.
  • 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 wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:19PM (#39863449)

    They take some people off the street who, at the very least, have an abnormally high interest in making war against the U.S. within our borders. More important, it makes terrorists wary of trusting one another, thus disrupting their operations.

    At the time of 9/11, people criticized the FBI for sitting on its ass and letting Bin Laden get away with it. Call me crazy, but I'm all for jailing and killing people who want to destroy the U.S.

    So then, we should jail and kill most of the legislature, lobbyists, and the execs of major corps and banks at the minimum? Oh that's right, they do it for money not political or religious ideologies. And they people they destroy get to go on living a shitty life since they were not destroyed with a gun or a bomb.

  • by Art Challenor ( 2621733 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:25PM (#39863497)
    "Stat Filler"

    "Eventually the mere fact that something has been investigated eleven times becomes suspicious."
    "And therefore the number of suspected enemies of the people?"
    "Would Explode! The Government Machine is looking at itself in the mirror, of course; it's seeing an image of its own weaknesses."
    "So what, practially speaking, would be the upshot of this?"
    "You end up with a machine which knows that by its mildest estimates it must have terrible enemies all around and within it, but it can't find them. It therefore deduces that they are well-concealed and expert, likely professional agitators and terrorists. Thus, more stringent and probing methods are called for."
    "Did you just drag me through that entire fandango to get an explanation of 'stat filler' for one of your chums with a secure annexe?"

    Nick Harkaway's "Gone Away World" one of the best descriptions of State paranoia I've ever seen.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:26PM (#39863509)

    This would be a scandal if the FBI was making up its own attacks, recruiting people to join them, and then arresting those people.

    It did. The FBI agents found "dissident" groups with no malicious intent, but possible malicious thoughts. The agent would then conceive the plans and pressure the non-violent dissidents to act, then arrest them when they did.

    None of these are cases where the terrorist was trying to purchase C4 and the FBI set up a fake buy and nabbed them. The FBI agent was the one looking to buy the C4 and convinced innocents to stand next to him while he did, then arrested them.

    If the FBI agent had not approached the dissidents, there would have been no crime. Thus, any actions by the FBI to create a crime is entrapment.

  • Re:Odd... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:27PM (#39863521) Journal
    He didn't say "no" 101 times, though. When someone asks "wanna go blow up a bridge", you have to choose the correct answer EVERY SINGLE TIME. Forever.

    When the DA asks you "did you do it", even after answering "no" 101 times, "you have to choose the correct answer EVERY SINGLE TIME. Forever."

    And yet, just about everyone will eventually give in (usually after 20-30 hours without sleep or food) and say "yes", regardless of guilt, just to make the interrogation stop.

    Peer pressure is no excuse for enacting a terrorist plot

    Legally, no. Realistically, you can quite seriously get just about anyone to do just about anything, with enough pressure. Yes, even you.

    The FBI, the DHS, even the local Boys in Blue, understand this, and exploit it on a daily basis and as a matter of regular procedure to guarantee they look good regardless of the truth of the situation.
  • 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.

  • Re:The best one... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NouberNou ( 1105915 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @08:44PM (#39863643)
    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 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:14PM (#39863859)

    You're going to have more people in prison than out! According to Milgram's experiment [wikipedia.org], 65% of people (and not just idiots, either) are willing to kill somebody they don't know if somebody tells them to. Odds are you'd end up in there, too, by the way.


  • Re:Odd... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:45PM (#39864059) Homepage

    If you're corruptible and in a position in which your corruption gets people killed

    He was never in that position, and could never be in that position. The FBI constructed a months-long distortion of reality, which could not have happened without the FBI, which created the delusion in the fool's mind that this thing was possible. Without that delusion, he never posed a credible threat. He-as-effective-terrorist was entirely a creation of the FBI.

    Now, if you want to put him in jail because in his mind he believes that doing this thing is a good idea -- fine, argue that position. But don't pretend he would ever have been anything more than a thinker of foolish thoughts without the FBI fabricating the context in which he acted.

    That is the fundamental question: Did the FBI prevent a credible threat? If not, then it can be nothing but theater. If no crime would have happened without the FBI's participation, then he cannot have been a harm and can hardly be considered a criminal unless you want to go down the road of thought-crime.

  • 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.

  • Re:Odd... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @09:57PM (#39864115)

    So why keep asking 101 times? At what point does the FBI say "I guess there's nothing here, let's call our boss and tell him we were wasting our time"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @10:35PM (#39864315)

    >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.


    No. The scale and extent of ATF allowing "walking" expanded in 2009. Similar operations had started as early as 2006, but those involved following and arresting the straw purchaser, not allowing the firearm to leave law enforcement jurisdiction and oversight long enough to be used in murders. Your sarcasm fails to mitigate your lack of understanding.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @10:44PM (#39864359)

    Lets see here, Nixon covered up two guys breaking into an office building and it was the biggest presidental scandal of our time.

    Obama sells a thousand guns to Mexican drug lords, leading to 200 deaths of Mexcian civilians, and 1 US border agent. He and Holder cover it up and refuse to coorporate with Congressional inquiries to the point that Congress is threatening to pull the DOJ's budget. Now that is just "a little carried away"?

    If I had a son he would have looked just like Brian Terry.

  • 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 serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @05:19AM (#39865841) Journal

    And please, please tell us that you really believe that everyone taken down in a sting is no brighter than a hick good 'ole boy complaining about the "gubermint"

    Not everyone by any means, but it looks that way in this case.

    There's nothing inherently wrong with sting operations.

    The thing is that organized crime bosses, arms traffickers embezzelers and corrupt officials exist.

    It seems that in this case, there actually weren't any terrorists, so the "sting" operation had to create them first, then catch them.

    You'll note that in your example, the sting was only offering to buy all the weapons.

    In the terrorist version, the FBI would first have to find some dumb poor guy in a bar somewhere and give him a huge bunch of weapons. Then give him lots of instruction on how to act like a proper international arms dealer. Then they would have to offer to buy the weapons. Then they could claim they've caught another international arms dealer! Woo hoo!

    You see the trouble with sting operations to catch terrorists is that terrorists pretty much don't exist in anything more than homeopathic quantities. If you invent them first then catch them, it's a waste of time and money.

    The same can't be said for all the other cases you quoted.

  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @08:46AM (#39866729) Homepage

    This sure sounds like circular, self-justifying logic. "The fact that we irrationally spaz out over terrorism means terrorism is worse and justifies our spazzing out over it."

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva