In Part 1 of this article, I outlined the revival of the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee; Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to focus on domestic terror threats; why the FBI’s role in the committee is worrisome; and a brief history of the bureau’s involvement in domestic terror plots and COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Programs). In this piece we’ll look at the FBI’s use of informants, the Insider Threat Program, and the agency’s partnership with the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) as specific, strategic ways it is pursuing its aims.

If you’ve watched the never ending stream of cable news in recent weeks, you may have noticed the barrage of reports mentioning domestic terror or extremism. Recent shootings in schools and public spaces once again has the pundits talking about the horrors of violence while frantically searching for solutions. The Southern Poverty Law Center, Democracy Now!, Raw Story and other outlets seem to believe the problem is a resurgence of the so-called Patriot Movement. But while this narrative may play out well on television, it’s not necessarily a reflection of reality.

The Mainstream Takes Notice

The FBI’s involvement in domestic terror plots – and the ever thinner line between catching and creating “terrorists” – has not been completely lost on the major media outlets. Commenting on the situation, Rolling Stone’s Rick Perlstein wrote a piece entitled “How FBI Entrapment Is Inventing “Terrorists” – and Letting Bad Guys Off the Hook” questioning the motives of the bureau. The New York Times even seemed to take a bold stance with David Shipler’s piece, “Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I.”, which stated:

“This is legal, but is it legitimate? Without the F.B.I., would the culprits commit violence on their own? Is cultivating potential terrorists the best use of the manpower designed to find the real ones? Judging by their official answers, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are sure of themselves — too sure, perhaps.”

The article details the way entrapment efforts disguised as counter-terrorism usually start: with an individual making comments to friends, or through online postings, before being approached by an informant who encourages them to take their speech to the next level. Since 9/11 these types of stings have become commonplace – so much so that in America today, merely discussing the possibility of violence with an informant can warrant an arrest.

Recorded conversations show, contrary to claims by the Justice Department, that suspects are not always warned about the consequences of their actions and are, in fact, sometimes told by their informants to continue their efforts.

An investigation by Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley examined prosecutions of 508 defendants in terrorism-related cases. The investigation revealed that the largest portion of the FBI’s $3.3 billion budget is currently directed to counterterrorism.

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