Crises Worthy and Otherwise: Terror Scare Vs. Climate Change

In today’s vicious world, if deviant threats don’t exist, they need to be invented, for the people must have a bogeyman to fear and hate—be they terrorists, liberals, feminists, communists, witches, refugees, immigrants, drug addicts, minorities, or some other convenient target or stereotype.

 

As The Newburgh Sting reveals, prior to trial, the FBI presented the case as open and shut to a subservient media, which duly passed them as fact in a grand exercise in deviance production and sensationalism.

[The Newburgh Sting is a 2014 documentary film about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s sting operation on four Muslim men involved in the 2009 Bronx terrorism plot. Beginning in 2008, an FBI informant, Shaheed Hussain, recorded hours of conversations with the men who were ultimately arrested and convicted of planting three non-functional bombs next to two synagogues in Riverdale, Bronx and for planning to use Stinger missiles to shoot down United States military cargo planes near Newburgh, New York. The documentary shows that the four men were coaxed into participating in the plot by an FBI informant and offered incentives including $250,000. The men’s lawyers argue that this was a case of entrapment. (Wikipedia)]

What the FBI claimed was a cell they had surveilled in the lead-up to an attack was, in fact, however, one lead by an informant himself facing fraud charges.

The FBI financed the activities of the cell through this informant, and supplied the (inert) bombs and missiles for the attack that their own informant had planned. The four men arrested as conspirators didn’t know each other previously and could only be persuaded to participate after being promised cars, holidays and $250,000—an effective strategy for recruitment from the black underclass, and a particularly effective strategy for one cell member whose brother had a cancerous tumor and no health insurance.

According to the sister of both these men, the informant ‘told David they need more people,’ but to ‘make sure they’re Muslims’—they would need to be for it to be a Muslim conspiracy when they were caught.

For their part, the recruits are recorded on surveillance-video making diabolical threats such as, ‘We don’t want to hurt nobody . . . We want to just destroy property. We don’t want to take no lives,’ and ‘We ain’t for taking no lives; the life you save could be your own.

Such comments seem to account for the fact that the group acted at night, out-of hours, though not before the FBI informant had taken them from New York to Connecticut to collect inert bombs and missiles, having needed to cross state lines for the group’s actions to become a federal offense under terrorism statutes!

At the arrest, the NYPD brought out 100 officers, a semi-trailer, an armored tank, the bomb squad and the Joint Terrorism Task Force to collect what they knew very well were inert materials—and which, it turns, out, hadn’t even turned on when the four were arrested. None of the above facts made it into the media that evening.

However, as the dissenting judge in the trial that followed wrote;

“The government agent supplied a design and gave it form, so that the agent rather than the defendant inspired the crime, provoked it, planned it, financed it, equipped it and furnished the time and targets.

“There simply was no evidence of predisposition under our settled definition of the term… The government made them terrorists. I am not proud of my government for what it did in this case.

“David A. Lewis, a federal defender who represented one of the Newburgh Four, added that the government, in the name of the war on terrorism, ‘wasted its time and resources making criminals of men who would never have been terrorists and posed no danger if simply left alone.’”

This tells us something of why The Newburgh Sting was only one of several such episodes, Glenn

Greenwald asking pertinently in The Intercept, ‘Why Does the FBI Have to Manufacture its Own Plots if Terrorism and ISIS Are Such Grave Threats?’ (2/ 15)

The candor of George Kennan suggests that if deviant threats don’t exist, they need to be invented, for the people must have a bogeyman to fear and hate—be they terrorists, liberals, feminists, communists, witches, refugees, immigrants, drug addicts, minorities, or some other convenient target or stereotype.

Meanwhile Voltaire rolls in his grave, knowing it doesn’t matter a great deal to the functioning of Anglo-empire whether the figurehead at the top is nasty or nice.

[Courtesy: Counterpunch V. 24, No. 2)


(Ben Debney is a PhD candidate in International Relations at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)