Government Foils Government Plot

Bill Anderson highlights the most salient fact about the Riverdale Temple bombing plot, quoting a passage from a New York Times report:

A federal law enforcement official described the plot as "aspirational" -- meaning that the suspects wanted to do something but had no weapons or explosives -- and described the operation as a sting with a cooperator within the group.

"It was fully controlled at all times," a law enforcement official said.

Such stings are not unusual. The equally "aspirational" Liberty City 6 scheme of 2006, for example, would not have congealed -- to the extent that it congealed at all -- without the government's helpful informants. In the days before 9/11, agents provocateurs infiltrated militia groups; back in the '60s, they invaded the New Left. I doubt such entrapment makes anyone safer. But it does make people scared.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Terrorism isn't for amateurs. They need government professionals to get them off the ground. Sort of like the Small Business Administration. Just a little helping hand to move their dreams forward.

  • Sean Healy||

    Well, you should also factor in the powerful disincentives the government is creating here. I mean, the evidence suggests that if you decide to become a domestic terrorist, the government will find a way to screw it up for you.

  • VM||

    "I doubt such entrapment makes anyone safer. But it does make people scared."

    that's the goal

    so demand for jackbooted thuggery and rank twaddlenockery increases...

  • ||

    LOL, I think you hit that nail square on the head dude!

    RT
    www.whos-watching.se.tc

  • ||

    Let's see: completely incompetent plan, and the government gets in there, helps them along, and busts them. 9/11: insanely simple plan, achieves more than expected, and the government has no fucking clue.

    Yeah, the government does an excellent job. Really.

  • phalkor||

    I don't understand how they can be proud of this. If I were in any way resposible for this clusterfuck of poor judgment I would be ashamed.

    It's stupid people enabling even more stupid people to do stupid things and then stupidly saying it's an accomplishment to stop them.

    Maybe I just don't get entrapment, or terrorism. Stupid.

  • ATF Agent||

    C'mon Randy. Just one sawed-off shotgun. What could it hurt?

    I'm not going away until you say yes!

  • ||

    As a matter of logic, reason and history, why would anybody believe a word coming out of the mouth of these socialist parasitic dependents of the Leviathan? The presumption is that the government prevaricates.

  • RON PAUL == TRUTH||

    9/11: insanely simple plan, achieves more than expected, and the government has no fucking clue.

    ...OR DID IT????

  • ||

    I doubt such entrapment makes anyone safer. But it does make people scared.

    "If God the boogeyman did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him."

  • Xeones||

    ...OR DID IT????

    IT WAS AN U.S.A. MISSUL WHAT HIT TEH PENTGAON!!!!1!!one

  • ||

    How did they foil the plot without waterboarding? I thought they couldn't keep us safe without it.

  • ||

    I always knew Xeones was a Troofer.

  • ||

    It's reasonable to think that if there are enough stories of government agents setting these things up and blowing the cover on them that people will be more suspicious if an al qaeda operative shows up with the same sort of offer. The only issue is whether that ever happens, which seems unlikely.

  • Xeones||

    Episiarch is one of THEM! COSMOTARIAN BILDERBERG FLUORIDATED KOCHTOPUS RAWRGH

    GET OUT OF MY FILLINGS

  • ||

    The poor idiots (and one may be mentally retarded) who got trapped were never going to get too far and will pay an unreasonably high price for their stupidity, but this does have some small benefits (enough to justify the downside of encouraging fascism, I dont know). It does serve to send out a warning to the wannabe jihadis out there (and there ARE some out there). It makes people less likely to act on stupid impulses and makes the job of actual jihadi agents (such do exist, more in England than here, but I can imagine a jihadi organization sending some agent to try and put together a little plot) a little harder. I can tell you that its also useful in internet forums: I have found you can usually shut up the jihad sympathizer on your group if you bring up the possibility that said asshole is probably an FBI agent provocateur..

  • ||

    GET OUT OF MY FILLINGS

    Je suis Napoleon!

  • ||

    Those weren't firemen running in and out of those buildings- those were government demolition experts!

  • Eric Dondero||

    I guess this explains all the rampant Anti-Semitism from the ringleader of the NY bombers, who said:

    "If I see a fucking Jew on the street I will want to kill them... put a fucking bullet through their heads..."

    Funny, ever so cynical Jesse Walker, forgot to mention that little point in his piece.

  • Xeones||

    Why did WTC 7 collapse, huh? Huh? Huh? Huh? Huh? HUH? Don't give me no crap about some fires, everyone knows structural steel only changes properties when it melts. Google it.

  • ||

    DONDERRRROOOOOOOO

  • Xeones||

    DONDEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  • Eric Dondero||

    BTW, it wasn't a "plot." The 4 followed through, and actually planted the bombs at the synagogue. The plot part came in for their next move, which was to blow up the Air Force base in Newburgh.

    But hey, I plum forgot. Reason hates the Military, so I'm sure Jesse Walker was cheering that aspect of it on.

  • Jeffersonian||

    You fucking libertarians. You claim to want a government that "defends your rights". Yet whenever the government actually does what it is supposed to do, you question and smear it. I don't care if they had to "infiltrate" a criminal terrorist group to uncover their plot. Nor do I care how stupid or insane their plot was.THEY INTENDED TO KILL PEOPLE! TO VIOLATE THEIR RIGHT TO LIFE! Nothing could more clearly be within the realm of proper government action.

    You guys are just ignorant of your own political philosophy.

  • Xeones||

    Hey Erric, i didn't realize that TrueLibertarians supported hate crime legislation. It's not entrapment because some of the dudes hated Jews? That just makes them jerks, not necessarily terrorists.

  • ||

    Hey Eric, can you please threaten to kick my ass? I'm kind of bored and need some amusement. Or at least threaten to kick Xeones' ass; he's a huge pussy.

  • ||

    Nothing could more clearly be within the realm of proper government action.

    I'm not opposed to infiltration for information gathering purposes, or to halt them in their tracks once they break their first law. But, to help a bunch of idiots along (who may have hit a wall because of their own stupidity or ineptitude or just giving up) to further their goal of attacking people inside our own country is treason. How's that for clear? What if the agent fails to stop them and his actions actually made it possible for the group to eventually succeed?

  • ||

    he's a huge pussy.

    Isn't there some sort of exercise you can do, to fix that?

  • Xeones||

    I thought we were cool, Epi. This is truly a knife in the back.

  • ||

    Xeones, I love huge pussies. We're all good.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Thanks for the non-sequitur, Eric. I didn't "forget" to mention the anti-Semitism in my "piece"; I take it for granted that people who want to blow up synagogues don't like Jews.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Also, I get the impression that you don't know what "plot" means.

  • Xeones||

    Epi, we know all about your Pudsey Bear fetish.

    What if the agent fails to stop them and his actions actually made it possible for the group to eventually succeed?

    Well, no one would ever know there was an agent involved, that's for sure. We would get a whole bunch of even more draconian national security measures, though.

  • ||

    Also, I get the impression that you don't know what "plot" means.

    Eric thought you wrote "plotz".

  • ||

    "My wife can be a real bitch sometimes."

    "You'd be better off with out her."

    "I don't know; she's not all bed."

    "Seriously. You'd be better off without her. You can make her disappear. I can help you."

  • JD||

    Well, Dondy, no one's claiming they were Boy Scouts. But the whole point, which you seem to have missed, is that they had pretty much zero execution capability. They didn't do diddly-squat until the FBI helped them out. This strongly suggests to those of us who didn't lose our minds on 9/11/01 that they weren't really much of a threat, absent somebody pushing them down every step of the path.

    Jeffersonian: I can intend to flap my arms and fly to the moon; doesn't mean much without the capability to do it.

    BTW, if somebody ever sells me a bunch of bombs, I'm damn well going to be testing one first.

  • ||

    "I don't know; she's not all bed."

    I don't have my Reason Lawz pamphlet handy. Is this RC'z Law or joe's Law?

  • ||

    "all bed"!

    D'oh!

    stupid keyboard

  • Bronwyn||

    Not sure that's a Reason law so much as a Freudian slip.

  • JB||

    Oh please, if people are at the stage of seeking materials that is well into the planning and execution of an act. They already have the intent and the opportunity and are just seeking the particular means.

    It's like saying we shouldn't arrest people who say "I'm going to rape and kill my ex-wife next Sunday at 2pm...I just have to get a knife or gun first."

  • ||

    I don't have my Reason Lawz pamphlet handy. Is this RC'z Law or joe's Law?

    Definitely RC'z.

    RC'z Law: Typos often improve the post, generally through adding humor or even, occasionally, insight, unintended by the poster.

    joe's (Memorial) Law: A post insulting someone's intelligence will have a typo.

  • Kolohe||

    It's not entrapment because some of the dudes hated Jews?

    It's not entrapment because they actually went out of their way to plant devices rather than going to the police themselves (or at least saying, 'piss off' - I wouldn't expect them to go to the police; I wouldn't either if I were in their situation)

    There are no civil liberties violations here - I'll even give you that the liberty 6 thing was a close call - but this isn't.

  • Jeffersonian||

    All law enforcement operations like this involve some risk. Yes, the risk is great if they provide materials that might actually do damage or lose control of the situation. So is the risk whenever they deliver a high risk warrant to arrest a suspect. So that's not even a logical point. You have to balance what is necessary and proper.

    Second of all it doesn't hold up to the empirical reality which is that the bombs were all inert and useless anyway.

    Furthermore I submit the following
    Burton surmises that authorities had a tip-off that the mosque used by chief plotter James Cromite "was conducive to the radicalization process" and planted an informant among the congregation - which ultimately led them to Cromite.


    At that point, experts say, officials in most U.S. cities would have arrested Cromite and his fellow-conspirators. But because of New York's superior resources, authorities were able to take more time - months, as it turns out - using intensive surveillance to map out the full details of the plot, and to see if the plotters had connections to other domestic and international groups.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090522/us_time/08599190037700

    So there you go, they actually went beyond what is required by most law enforcement before arresting them. Furthermore your argument seems to be that law enforcement picked random dudes off the street and said "Wanna bomb something?" when in fact the jihadists made the first several moves based on what we know.

    I also submit that most libertarians are far more likely to criticize law enforcement and military agents than they are Islamic radicals or criminal thugs. Evidence: Anything on Lewrockwell.com

  • JD||

    Jeffersonian: Well, it doesn't do me a lot of good to criticize Islamic radicals, you know? Yes, I think they're a bunch of backwards a-holes who would be best punished by having to live in a country of their own making. But so what? For one thing, it's not like they really care what I say, and for another, it's not like they have a big community of supporters in America anyway...unlike the police. I mean, I haven't heard you criticize HITLER lately, but I don't think that means you're cool with him.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Way to disaggregate from my argument to ad hominem me.

    I made a statement about those who identify as "Libertarians". This would include Reason, Lewrockwell, and Cato among many others.

    You however immediately turn it to attack an individual (me).

    In any foreign policy statement by the libertarians as a group they stress non-intervention and blowback rather than the ideology that causes the Islamist insurgency.

  • ||

    I don't think this was "entrapment" in the commonly-used sense of "they wouldn't have committed a crime except the police tricked them into it." So what if they were loser ex-con wannabe terrorists? Loser wannabes commit major crimes all the time. Getting your hands on explosives (or making some) is not all that hard. (Granted, shoulder-fired missiles are harder to find.)

    The fact that the plot was discovered early, and that they were provided with fake explosives which they then planted, is no reason to sneer at the authorities who gave them the means to prove their intentions, and caught them. This is what law enforcement is supposed to do, even in an ideal libertarian world. Good for them.

  • Mike||

    "I doubt such entrapment makes anyone safer. But it does make people scared."

    The only people who should be scared by stuff like this are terrorists. I applaud the goverment's actions. This type of stuff is exactly what government is for. The fact that these guys were stupid is irrelevant. Eventually, they would have found a way to hurt someone, since all they had to do is buy a gun and "put a fucking bullet through their heads". I can't believe anyone is defending these guys! If this is entrapment, long live entrapment!

  • Eric Dondero||

    Yeah, that's fine there Jesse, but what does that have to do with my comment?

    Again, the matter at hand is hatred of Jews by 4 Black Muslims up in NYC, who planned to blow up, not one, but two synagogues.

    The other matter, is their hatred of US Military Personnel by the fact that they were planning to blow up an AFB.

    Your article focuses in on Alex Jones 9/11 Truther crap, that "oh, golly gee, maybe the US Government was actually behind this, and not these Black National Socialist Jew Haters."

    Which, of course, makes us libertarians look like complete and utter kooks. But then again, maybe that's your intention, to destroy the credbility of the libertarian movement, with your sympathetic Nazi rant.

    Eric Dondero, Publisher
    Libertarian Republican

  • Eric Dondero||

    JD, these guys had "zero execution ability"? Really? Have you seen their criminal records?

    Their rap sheets are a mile long and a mile wide.

    Blowing up a couple bombs would be small potatos for these guys. Certainly well within the realm of their abilities.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Granted, shoulder-fired missiles are harder to find.



    But the TeeVee news said they them at gun shows!

    Also: DONDERRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

  • ||

    They are missing a big opportunity not making a reality show out of this. And when the "bombs" go off, they should play disco music really loud -- or, "Never Gonna Give You Up!"

    pwned!

  • ||

    Oh come on, Jeffersonian. Everyone already criticizes Islamic radicals and criminal thugs, and rightly so. The problem a lot of us see is that SOME police and military agents commit wrongs when it is their job to stop wrongs from being committed. It is our responsibility as citizens who authorize their work to hold them accountable to do their jobs and not go beyond the authority we've granted them. We hold them to a higher standard than radicals and thugs, and they should live up to it or how can we trust them to stop radicals and thugs?

  • BakedPenguin||

    ChrisH: This.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Everyone in the political spectrum emphatically does NOT criticize radical Islam. There are those on the left, multicultural wing of the Democrats who consider Christian conservatives and gun owners as a far more threatening element than radical Islam. When they do talk radical Islam they blame socioeconomic forces (ie capitalism) for the situation, not the ideology itself.

    The great majority of libertarian foreign policy is built on the platonic ideal of non-intervention and its logical corollary "blowback".

    Blowback is the very definition of circular logic that leads them to mistakenly accept the "Blame America" ideas of those left multiculturalists that really do hate the American ideal.

    And I'm all for holding the police and military to the highest standard. and that standard is the protection of innocent human life and rights. This whole debate started when Jesse Walker claims the civil liberties of these thugs were violated by conducting surveillance on them.

    If by the police respecting civil liberties that means they can't launch an operation to stop these kinds of thugs, then it means liberty disconnected from the purpose of protecting human life.

  • alan||

    Jeez, even in libertarian circles some people have to be tip toed around, and need dog tags on their bodice that state, In Case of Discomfort Revive With Smelling Salts.

    Whether or not the FBI is following the letter of the law, dotting their 'i', crossing their 't's, their actions should always be under close scrutiny and examination. This doesn't come from a reflexive hatred of government, I'm fine with most of what the FBI does, but without public oversight and authority over them, government does repress.

    It is too early in the news cycle to have anything more than a skeleton outline of what occurred in this matter, or have a firm opinion of this case, but does that keep Dondero from hyperventilating, and accusing libertarians of being marginalized Nazi sympathizers? Hey, is it Friday?

  • Jesse Walker||

    Yeah, that's fine there Jesse, but what does that have to do with my comment?

    Um, what did your comment have to do with my post? I raised the issue of whether these guys were likely to accomplish anything absent the assistance of the informant, not whether they're good guys. I think we can take it as a given that anti-Semites and would-be murderers are bad.

    It's been so long since you commented here, I forgot that your reading comprehension skills are on the Lonewacko level.

  • B||

    My favorite remains the guy from Columbus I think who was going to knock down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch.

  • ||

    B: Yes, except he supposedly had plans for the bridge, with one out-of-the-way room marked, and if he had gotten into that room and had some undisturbed time with a blowtorch, he might well have been able to bring the bridge down. At least according to Dick Morris.

  • neon||

    super web site. information is very clear. sharing is great. thanks.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    Dang, Papaya, that Dick Morris. Yep, when I want information on engineering I'll go to a political consultant every time.

    Oh, except when I go to a retired professor of philosophy of religion and theology. :)

    Actually, kidding aside, heating even one of the suspension cables sufficiently could theoretically cause a catastrophic failure. I some how doubt that one man could carry enough gas to the site to keep a flame going for long enough to get enough heat into the cable though. But, I'm perfectly willing to be corrected on that score.

  • ||

    Morris says New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly said the blowtorch plot put the Brooklyn Bridge in serious jeopardy, and said the bridge engineers were spooked by the plans they found, so it's not just Morris' own opinion, as far as I can tell.

  • Scott||

    This was more than some nitwits who couldn't get out of their own way. The accused received what they believed were live bombs and stinger missiles. They went to so far as to plant the dummy bombs. They weren't malcontents who were just mouthing off, they believed themselves to be and acted to become domestic terrorists. Prosecution for the actions they took appears completely appropriate.

  • ||

    I am intrigued by the notion that - because it was unlikely that the perps could have executed this without some help - it was unjustified for the FBI to provide that "help" (in a manner that resulted in these arrests). This argument ignores the possibility that the help could have come from malicious abettors, and that there are plenty of those around, looking for precisely these kinds of boneheads to exploit to achieve their goals.

    I, too, applaud the FBI for their efforts. They have made us safer, and have violated no rights in doing so.

  • Scooby||

    Dondero, you moron- having a long and wide rap sheet does not indicate any kind of criminal ability. It indicates the opposite. Skillful criminals don't get caught enough to build up a long list of busts.

    How much of our anti-terror budget goes into encouraging malcontents with room-temp IQ's to step up and plant pre-fabbed "bombs"? Do the feds have any strategy to foil plots by bad guys that aren't riding to the planning meetings in a short bus?

  • ||


    But, to help a bunch of idiots along (who may have hit a wall because of their own stupidity or ineptitude or just giving up) to further their goal of attacking people inside our own country is treason.



    Since the accused planted the fake bombs they were given, their prosecution is perfectly just, and there was no treason. And they might well not have hit a wall, hypotheticals go both ways.

    Aside: Settle down, Beavis.


    Um, what did your comment have to do with my post? I raised the issue of whether these guys were likely to accomplish anything absent the assistance of the informant, not whether they're good guys. I think we can take it as a given that anti-Semites and would-be murderers are bad.



    Whether they are likely to accomplish anything is not relevant in light of their willingness to in fact attempt mass murder. They should be prosecuted for it--it's a side benny others may well be discouraged from working with others to accomplish similar ends, and an important one. Additionally, it can't be taken for granted among those who oppose perfectly well executed sting operations of Islamist terrorists that they think anti-Semites and Islamist terrorists are not good people.


    Do the feds have any strategy to foil plots by bad guys that aren't riding to the planning meetings in a short bus?



    Yes, but it involves employing new technology to improve the efficiency of perfectly constitutional and traditional intelligence gathering methods, and the constitutional assumptions that undergird them, so you probably want those strategies to be stopped.

    Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

  • wayne||

    Would-be terrorists are arrested for placing explosives in public places, and you guys blame the cops? And you think "they were stupid and inept" bolsters your position? Good grief!

    What would you suggest be done instead? I say throw these pricks in jail and let them out to be buried.

  • medyum||

    thansks

  • web tasarım||

    thannks

  • web tasarım||

    thanks

  • Kenar Kontrol||

    thankss

  • sondaj||

    thanks

  • eryaman halı yıkama||

    Good information and good way your blog post. Good luck blogger man.

  • medyum||

    Thank you for this useful information. In this website I hope to find more useful information

  • Santrafüj Pompa||

    very goood

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement