Thursday, January 31, 2008

The FBI: A formerly proud organization

Rolling Stone has a lengthy article detailing how the Bush administration has transformed the FBI from a super-competent law enforcement organization into a well-financed entrapment machine for turning roofers and pizza delivery guys into Scary Terrorists.

A sampling:
While real threats undoubtedly exist, what the Bush administration promotes as a nationwide pattern of terrorist activities is largely the result of its own policies in the age of lawfare. Last May, the FBI arrested the "Fort Dix Six," charging the men with conspiring to attack the New Jersey military base. The supposed terror cell was discovered when a clerk at Circuit City was asked to transfer to DVD a video of the men allegedly training for jihad in the Pocono Mountains and shouting, "Allahu Akbar!" [God is great!] As in other cases, the FBI itself proved to be the mastermind behind the plot. The men —who included three roofers, a taxi driver and a former delivery boy for Super Mario's Pizza — had little money and no connections to real extremists. All were in their twenties and spent their weekends playing paintball. Under the guidance of two informants for the JTTF, the men planned an assault on Fort Dix using rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s —none of which actually existed.
A JTTF is a "Joint Terrorism Task Force". There are hundreds of them, all over the country. They recruit local police officers to take part in their operations (thus the "Joint"). They are the recipients of many hundreds of millions of our tax dollars.

People often ask me: HipHopLawyer, do you deny that there are radicals who are plotting the gruesome death of you and your loved ones? Don't you remember 9/11?

My responses is that I do, in fact, remember 9/11. And I don't deny that there are many many people on this earth who fervently desire the wholesale destruction of this country. Putting aside the question of why these people hate America, it would be silly to deny it.

But the proposition that: (1) lots of people hate America and wish for our destruction, (2) ergo we will be destroyed unless we do x, y, and z is incoherent.

America-haters can be grouped as follows:

1. Those who hate America and want to cause the death of Americans (large group);

2. Those who hate America and want to cause the death of Americans and are highly motivated to achieve this objective (smaller group);

3. Those who hate America and want to cause the death of Americans, are highly motivated to achieve this objective, and have the means to do so (very small group).

Note that "means" as used here denotes intelligence, resources, operational capability, and physical access.

That third group is dangerous. The other two? Not so much.

And it appears that instead of focusing on identifying and thwarting those in the third group, the JTTFs are identifying those in the first group, goading them into becoming members of the second group, and supplying one or more of the necessary "means" elements in the attempt to place them into the third group. They then arrest these people and go on teevee and with much fanfare explain how they have just miraculously saved the lives of untold numbers of Americans from certain, horrific death.

Not only is this dishonest, but it does not appear to me to be an effective use of resources, given that people in the third group do actually exist. How might one use these resources more effectively to attack the actual threat? Sadly, this is beyond my expertise. But I presume that once you sort through all of the recently recruited Pat Robertson University College Republican types, there are still a heckuva a lot of smart people in the FBI. Maybe we could task them with answering this question.

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