The FBI encouraged a white supremacist to bomb a synagogue

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/06/the-fbi-encouraged-a-white-sup.html

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They also have a history of doing this to people with intellectual disabilities, not because they think their targets are threats, but because they think their targets are manipulable and will be easy to ensnare. But I guess it’s easy to blame the tactic when the problem was never the tactic. After all, police also give more traffic tickets to black people, but it’s not the traffic tickets that are the problem, it’s the racism.

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Yea, I saw this yesterday. Seemed shady right away. These FBI agents know the behaviors and do this everyday. I get the sense that the FBI agents know what will fuel the fire in a potential terrorist. Yes, the white supremacist was a bad dude, but from the start did this other witch doctor even attempt to poison the fresh water supply? Or did he take the white supremacist’s money and just say he did. It seems that after the witch doctor the FBI got involved.

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is threatening to use molotov cocktails not bad enough? couldn’t they have just charged him for that?

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What are you saying here? That because the white supremacist didn’t get what he paid for, he shouldn’t have been considered a threat? As soon as he paid someone to poison a water supply, he was no longer a “potential” terrorist. You see that, right?

Yes, the white supremacist was a bad dude, but

There is no “but”.

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Yes, but a conviction would be harder since he decided it wouldn’t work, and so never got the supplies. Just walking around a building talking about how you want to set it on fire, but without ever doing anything more, leaves a defense open to you saying you decided not to do it, or claiming you have a dark sense of humor and it was all a bad joke.

To have the case gain real traction with a jury, you really need to get some proof they’re past the talking/planning stage, which the attempt to buy supplies gets you.

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There is absolutely a “but”.

Bad dude did bad stuff, but do even bad dudes have rights in this country? Were those rights upheld? Was this entrapment, or merely finding out what the alleged perpetrator would have done left on their own over time (and maybe with a little ill-luck for the rest of us)?

Entrapment is a real thing, and is not acceptable.

It is a good idea given the history of the institution involved to ask if this was entrapment, or otherwise failed to meet the level of justice we desire in this country.

Entrapment however generally requires threatening, badgering, or other significant levels of persuasion to get an individual to do something they really wouldn’t have done on their own. Me repeatedly telling you “we gotta use a pipe bomb on this!” might be entrapment. Me telling you I’ll burn your wife/mother/boyfriend/dog to death if you don’t use a pipe bomb would absolutely be entrapment.

Traveling with someone to a physical site, talking over the current plan, and even suggesting a new one (“maybe a pipe bomb?”), and/or “I know a guy that can make pipe bombs!” doesn’t seem like entrapment to me. However my legal knowledge extends mostly to some high school classes in the 1980s and watching TV… and frequently the devil is in the details, so an actual defense lawyer might even correctly disagree.

Asking the question here is not a bad idea. Even is the answer turns out to be “nope, its all fair, he jumped at a few suggestions and now is looking at 6 years of jail not a year and a half”

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He hired someone to poison the water of a synagogue.

I’m not feeling like they made the wrong decision seeing if he should have a time-out longer than a year and a half.

They didn’t give him the opportunity to do something that anyone else wouldn’t have access to.

He’ll have a trial, and they can hopefully determine the reasonableness of the investigation better than people whose gut tells them that the FBI is maybe too hard on white supremacists.

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Wait wait wait…you’re telling me that the FBI may have engaged in entrapment to give the appearance of combating terrorism? I guess there’s a first time for everything…

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I often wonder how dangerous these people trapped by the FBI really are. It usually seems like they’re not smart enough to do anything with undercover agents holding their hands the whole way, right down to providing fake bombs. Meanwhile, the actually dangerous people manage to fly under the radar, one way or another. They got this guy here in NC a few years back, for instance:

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It’s not surprising. They’ve been setting up stings like this for a long time and know all the ways to get an extremist of any sort to implicate himself without sabotaging their legal case against him. It’s nice to see that they’re finally aiming them at white supremacists, and if the racist loses some cash from either the FBI or some con-man witch doctor it’s the icing on the cake.

They do. That’s why there will be a trial. If his attorney wants to argue entrapment, he can do it there.

If you’re going to Just Ask Questions, here’s another one: how many of us would “jump at a few suggestions” in regard to firebombing a synagogue or poisoning a water supply?

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Yeah, maybe they’re not looking for guys like this.

I wonder why the FBI didn’t target him?


Also, the FBI did catch this guy. Why are you holding him up as an example of the FBI not catching people?

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White supremacists are the top terrorist threat in America. While I don’t like the FBI giving them ideas they got him. That’s the important part.

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I don’t know if I’m getting your metaphor wrong, but it seems like you’re saying there is no problem with the practices of the FBI except that they’re applied in a racially discriminatory way. Like, if the same practices were also applied to white people, it would resolve the problem. That’s not what you think, though, right? It is also the bogus tickets, the shakedowns, the wiretapping, the entrapment, the murder. These things are not OK to happen to anyone, and additionally it’s not OK that they happen mostly to the most marginalized people in our society - black, brown, poor, queer, etc.

If we’re going to Just Ask Questions, I’m sure we’ve all jumping at a few suggestions when close to a breaking point. This one made the news due to terrorism. But I’m sure we’ve all considered one of the following… leaving a spouse, trying drugs, quitting a job, ratting someone out, fudging your taxes. Certain people remain impressionable longer than others, and if they find the right muse it can open up dark peices of their personality that have always existed within them.

There’s a “but” if its just word of mouth. This terrorist might have just made it up to impress his new white supremacist friends (FBI). And of course the FBI will hold onto this nugget of info for an upcoming case. I don’t recall any synagogue water poisonings in Pueblo, Colorado. Do you?

why not: “hey good plan, lets meet here at x time, you bring the cocktails, and i’ll bring my FBI buddies, i mean…matches.”

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It depends on the suggestion. There’s a substantial difference (at least in an open, liberal democratic society) between being tempted to leave a spouse, try drugs, quit a job, rat someone out, or fudge your taxes (on the one hand) and being tempted to throw a brick through a Starbucks window or lighting a (decommissioned, conveniently placed) police cruiser on fire or firebomb a building or poison a water supply (on the other).

Violent extremists are easily goaded into implicating themselves into doing the latter type of acts because – whatever their ideology – they tend to have poor impulse control and a thirst for attention so deep that they’ll create the maximum amount of drama and mayhem to get it, even if it means harming innocent people in the process. At a certain point with these types (especially the more dimwitted ones), the FBI doesn’t have to bother with entrapment.

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Then let’s put it this way:

If someone’s bragging about attempting to murder Jews, to a new acquaintance, maybe there’s more than enough just cause to investigate.

That’s not “word-of-mouth”, that’s bragging about attempting to murder Jews.

How much bragging about attempting to murder Jews do you think constitutes an indication that the person is more than an idle threat?

How casually do the people around you outline their past attempts to murder Jews?

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Yeah, absolutely. Shakedowns, entrapment and murder are all definitely bad things as they are all defined to be bad things. If there was someone shooting into a crowd and a police officer shot that person we wouldn’t call that a murder. There’s a massive systematic problem with law enforcement being corrupt and discriminatory. Normally I think of infiltrating organizations (or the lives of individuals) to get evidence that they are planning a bombing as a horribly fraught thing to do because I’m so used to seeing news stories that just reek of entrapment, but it’s not that police shouldn’t infiltrate white supremacist organizations, it’s that they shouldn’t do entrapment.

I think as a general rule, if you’d call the police to report something, it’s probably something the police should be able to investigate. Someone bragging about attempted murder seems like a call-the-police worthy event.

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