artphoto by splunge
artphoto by TheophileEscargot
artphoto by Kronos_to_Earth
artphoto by ethylene





Mecha Wiki

Metachat Eye


IRC Channels



Comment Feed:


27 November 2010

Portland car bomb thwarted yesterday. In this case, I'm grateful to the FBI.
It saddens me so much that a person so young is filled with so much hate.
posted by Melismata 27 November | 16:45
So young and so full of promise- high school graduate, college student. Too bad.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 27 November | 17:13
My take was, gosh, coming to Portland from a place like Somolia, where society has broken down and you could be killed at any moment, or be pressed into piracy by gangs. From my Americacentric view, seems like that guy might have thought that he won the lottery. Instead, he won another lottery (how many militants are so thoroughly played like that?).

Could also have been the MAX, which would impact my daughter.

So, yeah, thanks, FBI.
posted by danf 27 November | 19:13
Wow...that article wasn't at all what I expected when I clicked the link. I can definitely see why there would be accusations of entrapment. I wouldn't make that accusation, but I do wonder what would have happened if the FBI had just passively observed him and not played an active role. My hunch is that the FBI were hoping this kid would lead them to a broader network of jihadists, but I doubt they think he could have pulled off this car bombing alone.
posted by mullacc 27 November | 22:37
Salon article:

All of the information about this episode -- all of it -- comes exclusively from an FBI affidavit filed in connection with a Criminal Complaint against Mohamud. As shocking and upsetting as this may be to some, FBI claims are sometimes one-sided, unreliable and even untrue, especially when such claims -- as here -- are uncorroborated and unexamined. That's why we have what we call "trials" before assuming guilt or even before believing that we know what happened: because the government doesn't always tell the complete truth, because they often skew reality, because things often look much different once the accused is permitted to present his own facts and subject the government's claims to scrutiny... order not to be found to have entrapped someone into committing a crime, law enforcement agents want to be able to prove that, in the 1992 words of the Supreme Court, the accused was "was independently predisposed to commit the crime for which he was arrested." To prove that, undercover agents are often careful to stress that the accused has multiple choices, and they then induce him into choosing with his own volition to commit the crime. In this case, that was achieved by the undercover FBI agent's allegedly advising Mohamud that there were at least five ways he could serve the cause of Islam (including by praying, studying engineering, raising funds to send overseas, or becoming "operational"), and Mohamud replied he wanted to "be operational" by using exploding a bomb (para. 35-37).

But strangely, while all other conversations with Mohamud which the FBI summarizes were (according to the affidavit) recorded by numerous recording devices, this conversation -- the crucial one for negating Mohamud's entrapment defense -- was not. That's because, according to the FBI, the undercover agent "was equipped with audio equipment to record the meeting. However, due to technical problems, the meeting was not recorded" (para. 37).

Thus, we have only the FBI's word, and only its version, for what was said during this crucial -- potentially dispositive -- conversation.
posted by TheophileEscargot 28 November | 15:09
FBI sting operations like this often involve targets who would never have been able to develop the capability for crime without being enabled and led on. It's not entrapment, since there was no illegal coercion to commit the crime, but there was every effort to make sure the kid was enabled to break the law in the most serious and convictable way possible.

Compare this to cases where the FBI was able to disrupt a plot already capable and underway - those are almost non-existent. Majibullah Zazi is a rare counter-example. The FBI's history on terrorism is stings (usually involving people who arguably would not have become a threat) and complete failures at prevention. In several major cases, they never even got close to a suspect.

See the Hyderabad AZ derailment case, which the FBI has whitewashed as not domestic terrorism. This is because the FBI never has cold terrorism cases. so if a case goes cold, it's proof that it was never terrorism in the first case.

The FBI and the prosecutors they work with are entirely oriented to obtaining convictions. The underlying question of deterring and preventing political violence is something they not only don't deal with, but are actively opposed to.

So the only value of cases like the one today is supposedly deterrence. And we well know that deterrence doesn't work for crime. The death penalty doesn't have any influence on murder rates and sting operations don't reduce the incidence of political violence. So cheer on the security theater, but recognize it's not reducing the risk of terrorist violence in any way.

For more background on how terrorist recruitment is becoming a domestic problem, as opposed to a foreign one, see this thread - but ignore the thread shitting comments.

I spent a lot of time on the issue of terrorism and political violence. Prevention is a lot like social work or public health: it's not something the military or law enforcement is good at.

It would require things like supportive outreach programs into Somali communities in the US and doing positive intervention. That is politically radioactive given the racist and reactionary shift in Congress and the accompanying islamophobia. Just imagine Glen Beck's response if something positive was attempted by some federal program in a Muslim immigrant community.

So the things that would make us safer will never get done and the next option is to crank up security theater instead.

Wars are a shitty way to reduce violence and the Global War On Terror is no different. This case doesn't really amount to much other than theater.

posted by warbaby 28 November | 15:12
and now the FBI is investigating the arson at the Corvalis mosque. Strangely, nobody is describing this as terrorism.
posted by warbaby 28 November | 21:32
This is kewl. || How a 15-minute writing exercise