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August 30, 2011

Now Playing At Security Theater: The Sting

The Feds do lots of things to make people feel safer than don’t actually improve security. Bruce Schneier calls it “security theater.”

FBI stings are a perfect example. Most of the “potential” terrorists they trap were NEVER A THREAT to anyone.

These stings are a waste of time and money. I’ve asked Congress to end them using’s “I Am Not Afraid Campaign.”

This is what I wrote . . .

Most of the “terror Plots” the FBI stopped over the past 10 years were of their own making. For instance, I was angered when I read this: ( . . .

Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley have examined prosecutions of 508 defendants in terrorism-related cases, as defined by the Department of Justice. Our investigation found:

* Nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants, many of them incentivized by money (operatives can be paid as much as $100,000 per assignment) or the need to work off criminal or immigration violations.
* Sting operations resulted in prosecutions against 158 defendants. Of that total, 49 defendants participated in plots led by an agent provocateur — an FBI operative instigating terrorist action.
* With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings. (The exceptions are Najibullah Zazi, who came close to bombing the New York City subway system in September 2009; Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, an Egyptian who opened fire on the El-Al ticket counter at the Los Angeles airport; and failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.)
* In many sting cases, key encounters between the informant and the target were not recorded — making it hard for defendants claiming entrapment to prove their case.

They also note, “Terrorism-related charges are so difficult to beat in court, even when the evidence is thin, that defendants often don’t risk a trial.”

Victims of FBI stings include . . .

* An Albany NY imam whose “crime” was to witness a cash loan from an FBI informant to a financially-struggling friend
* The “Sons of David” in Miami, almost-homeless men who were trying to shake down the informant for cash and never attempted a terrorist plot
* An 18 year-old “angry loser” who was given fake bombs by the FBI to detonate Portland’s Christmas tree
* The “Newburgh Four,” poverty-stricken and mentally-unbalanced men who were lured by the promise of cash if they bombed empty synagogues (

It’s true that many of the people entrapped by the FBI are unattractive characters with reprehensible views, but this doesn’t mean they were a threat. None of them had the competence or connections to execute any kind of terror plot without the guidance of the FBI. In other words, the FBI is creating these threats itself, out of thin air. Please stop this game of pretend. Here’s what you should do instead….

* Declare Victory in the War on Terror
* Repeal the anti-terror laws like the Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act
* Dismantle harmful bureaucracies like the TSA, and the entire Dept. of Homeland Security

I’m tired of the fear-mongering, paranoia, and propaganda. I want my freedom back.


You’re welcome to borrow or copy from the above letter, or send one of your own using’s Educate the Powerful System.

And you can Like this item on Facebook by clicking the button at the top of this page.

James Wilson
Policy Research Director, Inc.

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