Privacy SOS

Three billion dollars a year for this boondoggle?

How low must the number of Muslim-American 'terror plots' go before Congress thinks again about giving the FBI an annual $3 billion of our tax dollars –nearly half the FBI’s budget – just for its counterterrorism work?

And to what lengths is the FBI prepared to go to manufacture plots and suspects in order to keep those dollars flowing?

In his fourth annual survey of Muslim-American terrorism, Charles Kurzman, of North Carolina’s Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, found that the number of Muslim-Americans indicted as terrorists has been in steady decline over the past three years and no deaths or injuries were caused by their actions.

In 2012, a year in which there were 14,000 murders, 14 Muslim-Americans (down from 21 the previous year) were indicted on 'terrorism' offenses, only one of which led to violence (a homemade explosive that caused no injuries). According to Kurzman, "informants and undercover agents were involved in almost all of the Muslim-American terrorism plots uncovered in 2012."

To look at the bigger picture, Kurzman calculates that since 9/11 there have been 180,000 murders in the US. Thirty-three were a result of Muslim-American terrorism, while more than 200 lives were taken by white supremacists and other far right groups – the FBI terms them "domestic extremists."

The FBI features the occasional ‘eco-terrorist’, anarchist or militia in its roundup of counterterrorism cases, but on the list they complied for 2012, Muslim-Americans accounted for 8 of the top 10 'terror plots.'

How do you think the Bureau would react if domestic extremists and Islamic terrorists made an effort to join forces?

Apparently such an effort was made in 2001. As Mike German – a former FBI agent who infiltrated white supremacist groups and now works for the ACLU – explains here, the FBI wanted nothing to do with investigating it because their "improper procedures" would be revealed and went after German when he insisted that something should be done.

The FBI’s 'improper procedures' are on full display in Trevor Aaronson's new book, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism.

Here the focus is on the 'terrorist plots' concocted by the FBI’s well paid informants (who now number 15,000) and the often hapless, uneducated, angry, easily manipulated, destitute or mentally ill 'lone wolves' they lure in to play the starring role. We also learn more about the informants themselves, many of whom are serious criminals.

The former FBI assistant director for counterterrorism told Aaronson that the FBI seeks out informants who have committed unprosecuted crimes which will give the Bureau leverage over them: "The best informants are the ones you jam up on something."

And what an unsavory bunch they are – thieves, drug dealers, drug addicts, con artists, accused murderers — who get lavishly rewarded ($100,000 is a not uncommon reward) when a sting operation is consummated.

Plot line manipulation extends to trials. Aaronson found that in a suspiciously large number of sting cases, supposedly incriminating conversations were not recorded because "the tape recorder malfunctioned," leaving the Bureau to have the last word about what was or was not said.

According to James Wedick, a defense attorney on the Liberty City case, it is in the interest of the FBI not to record interactions between the informant and the target because "they are paying informants huge sums of money and not monitoring them correctly. With some or many conversations not being recorded, I think it’s apparent that the Bureau understands and is aware of the problem, but is decidedly more interested in not being caught flatfooted again about would-be and/or suspected terrorists and/or pathetic individuals doing whatever, so we see rather aggressive informants suggesting or proposing things J. Edgar Hoover never would have permitted, even though he had informants reportedly under every nook and cranny."

Again, those "improper procedures" must be kept out of sight.

So with ‘real’ Muslim terrorists in such short supply, how long will they continue to head the FBI’s priority list?

"The FBI currently spends $3 billion annually to hunt an enemy that is largely of its own creation," Aaronson writes. "Evidence in dozens of terrorism cases – involving plots to blow up synagogues, skyscrapers, military recruiting stations, and bars and nightclubs – suggests that today’s terrorists in the United States are nothing more than FBI creations, impressionable men living on the edges of society who become bomb-triggering would-be killers only because of the actions of FBI informants. The FBI and the Justice Department then cite these sting cases as proof that the government is stopping terrorists before they strike."

The media trumpets the news, the public is relieved, and the dollars keep flowing. Why change things when it is this easy for the FBI to do its job?

UPDATE: Just yesterday the FBI announced yet another non-bomb plot that posed no harm to the public, this time featuring the Oakland Joint Terrorism Task Force and FBI, a confidential informant, and a young man with supposed Taliban sympathies. The FBI arrested 28 year old Matthew Aaron Llaneza of San Jose, California just before, he thought, he was to blow up a Bank of America branch in Oakland. Little did Llaneza know that the man who told him he worked for the Taliban and helped him build the fake bomb was working for the FBI.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.