Monday, June 04, 2007

Why Don't I Feel Safer?

by Ken Houghton

In the wake of the brilliance of the Fort Dix Six, the Christian Science Monitor reports on "the JFK plot":
Had the defendants carried out their plan, it could have resulted in "unfathomable damage, deaths, and destruction," said US Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf in announcing the charges. Yet the plans were never operationally feasible, and the public was not at risk. "We remain unwavering in our commitment to stop terrorist plots before they become terrorist acts," she said. [emphasis mine]

The scariest thing about the above is, of course, that it's in the context of an article praising the FBI's new "counterintuitive" methods. For instance:
The FBI and NYPD learned of the plot at the start of last year. By July, they had an informant working with the reputed mastermind, Russell Defreitas, a native of Guyana who's been a US citizen since the 1960s. Although officials have referred to him as a "terrorist wannabe," they also said that if he and his group had obtained financing and explosives, the plot could have had devastating consequences. [emphasis mine]

And if I had the financing, I'd be running a firm that installed free, ad-model-based wireless service in the NYC subway system.

Alexandra Marks knows this is a nonsense story. And she makes it clear she's not the only one:
A study of Justice Department data, done by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, found that in 2006, US attorneys declined to prosecute 87 percent of the international terrorism cases brought to them by FBI agents. The report concludes that this raises "troubling questions about the bureau's investigation of criminal matters involving individuals the government has identified as international terrorists."

The response appears to be the "it's how they got Al Capone" defence:
FBI officials say those statistics are misleading and are in part a result of the agency's cultural shift. For instance, if some agents have thoroughly investigated a suspected terrorist group, they often bring other charges against them, say immigration violations or document fraud.

Otherwise known as charges you might be able to substantiate, when your "suspects" make Pinky and the Brain look organized.

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