Last week three activists associated with the Occupy movement were arrested and accused of plotting an attack to protest the NATO summit. The group allegedly stockpiled Molotov cocktails and planned to burn down Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters and Rahm Emanuel’s house among other buildings.
Some of the accused’s supporters say these weren’t Molotov cocktails, they were “beer-making equipment.” I have no idea what beer-making equipment looks like. My beer-making equipment is a little money and a trip to the nearest convenience store.
Attorney Michael Deutsch has accused Chicago police officers of planting evidence and entrapping the men. If the trio is found to have been manufacturing Molotov cocktails to hurt others, being encouraged by undercover police officers doesn’t excuse them.
Yet this phenomenon of government agents aggressively egging on violent ideas is an increasingly frequent tactic used to turn useful idiots into national headlines.
These three men bear a striking resemblance to the aptly named “Five Stooges of Cleveland.” We’ll never know whether the two equally unkempt groups—both labeled as “self-described anarchists”—would have been able to commit these crimes on their own because the government supported them each step of the way.
Rick Perlstein wrote a fantastic piece in Rolling Stone last week detailing how the feds pushed forward the Cleveland group’s plan to blow up the Brecksville Bridge on May Day. Perlstein points out that one of the arrestees, Connor Stevens, told his sister that he felt “very pressured” by someone in the group. That someone was an FBI informant.
Perlstein says the informant encouraged the group to destruct a huge bridge while the other protesters were considering smaller locations. The would-be criminal masterminds began getting some information from an online version of the notoriously unreliable Anarchist Cookbook, the author of which now openly regrets its publication.
When the informant realized these people were idiots and wouldn’t be able to build an explosive device to save (or extinguish) their own lives, he casually mentioned that he knew a C-4 dealer (in reality an undercover officer). The group was arrested after attempting to ignite their fake (and federally supplied) weapons.
There is a huge difference between everyday sting operations—in which officers merely provide known criminals with the opportunity to commit a crime—and months-long infiltration efforts that groom normal outcasts into dangerous ones.
The same thing is happening in the foreign-policy arena.
A 19-year-old Somali-American tried to detonate a car bomb at a Portland-based Christmas ceremony in November of 2010. It’s evident that the teenager was interested in committing acts of terror. But the FBI provided him “with months of encouragement, support, and money.”
In January of 2011, a 26-year-old American named Rezwan Ferdaus allegedly told undercover officers that he wanted to fill “small drone airplanes” with explosives and guide them into the Capitol and the Pentagon via GPS. The man acquired F-86 Sabre remote-controlled aircraft using money the federal government had given him. The FBI also gave him fake C-4, AK-47 rifles, and hand grenades.
Similar stories keep unfolding, and each time we’re expected to greet government agencies as heroes. In psychology, people who create these desperate situations for the sole purpose of saving the day are afflicted with “hero syndrome.” Maybe all the government needs is an official diagnosis.
The individuals running the FBI are corrupt but intelligent. They’re drumming up new business to maintain relevancy. War is a huge money-making machine. No one profits from it as much as the government, and no one loses as much in life and in wealth as the average American citizen.
Nothing is a better salesman than fear, not even sex. Sex can sell cigarettes and fast cars, but it cannot sell a war.
And without war, what use would we have for government?
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