In Harry Harrison's satirical Science Fiction book one of the chapters has the hero, Bill, infiltrating a terrorist organization. At the end, during a stand-off with police (they have the "terrorists" surrounded in their "headquarters"), two competing law enforcement agencies call for their informers to come out. One by one every one of the members of the big bad terrorist group leaves the building and runs to his handler. Only one man is left in the building, the Big Boss. The Big Boss begs and pleads with his handler, but to no avail. Someone has to be the terrorist, or the operation will be all for nothing. The last informer, the one who founded the terrorist organization in the first place, perishes in a hail of gunfire. Someone had to be sacrificed for "justice to prevail."
Silly SciFi right? Guess again! In Salon today I read Stage-Managing the War on Terror by Stephan Salisbury in Tom's Dispatch. The "terrorist" attacks averted since 2001 include "the Liberty City Seven, the Fort Dix Six, the Detroit Ummah Conspiracy, the Newburgh Four." In each case an FBI informer supplied the money, the plan, the rhetoric and the "explosives." Even a federal judge, Colleen McMahon who presides over the Newburgh case, calls it the "un-terrorism case."
Especially the Newburgh case looks more like a horrible con perpetrated on desperate, unemployed (and in one case mentally ill) black men. A Pakistani shows up at a mosque flashing lots of money and making extravagant offers. The more astute members of the congregation smelled a rat. As Salisbury reports:
In fact, more substantial members of the mosque had pegged Shaheed Hussain as an informer almost the moment he arrived, but had no idea what to do about him. “Maybe the mistake we made was that we didn’t report him,” Salahuddin Mustafa Muhammad, imam at Masjid al-Ikhlas, told congregants shortly after the May 2009 arrests. “But how are we going to report the government agent to the government?”
In the Liberty City case, one of the defendants had actually called the Philadelphia police "in mid-plot" to complain that "he was being pressured to commit radical acts by what turned out to be an FBI informer." The FBI paid the informer $230,000. Nice work if you can get it. The article details the "Bill the Galactic Hero" conduct of the FBI in each of the other cases listed above.
Aside from these cases what do we have? The shoe bomber (brilliant, telling everyone what he's doing before failing to light the fuse), the underwear bomber (need I say more) and the pathetic Times Square bomber. Either incompetent idiots who could barely blow their own noses or poor, pathetic, men who could not do anything without the money, supplies and leadership the FBI supplied. The Salon.com re-printing of this article has the best tag line for the whole astonishing waste of everyone's times and resources, "The FBI : foiling its own plots since 2001."