Stephen Lendman, Contributor
The latest plot involves five subjects allegedly planning to bomb a Cleveland area bridge. More on it below.
Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officials or agents induce, influence, or provoke crimes that otherwise wouldn’t be committed. It doesn’t apply if subjects willingly act lawlessly. Government aiding, abetting, or facilitating them is considered lawful.
Entrapment involves government operatives initiating the idea. If individuals go along under pressure despite no intent or desire to do so, they committed no crime. To convict, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that subjects weren’t entrapped. Otherwise, judicial fairness requires exoneration.
That’s not how things turn out today. Innocence or guilt doesn’t matter.
Attorney Eric Holder defends the practice. He calls stings a vital tool. He stops short of admitting entrapment. He must because it’s illegal. It’s nonetheless repeatedly used to convict innocent people. As a result, hundreds rot unjustly in America’s gulag.
Gerald Celente calls cops enforcers for crime bosses. So are FBI agents. They serve wealth and power. Corporate crooks are rewarded. Ordinary people are targeted. Familiar story lines repeat. They sound more like film plots than real ones.
Orchestrated stings are used. US Legal.com defines them as:
deceptive operation(s) designed to nab criminals. Generally, a law-enforcement officer or cooperative member of the public play a role as criminal partner or potential victim and go along with a suspect’s actions to gather evidence of the suspect’s wrongdoing.
If entrapment’s not used, it’s legal. The word “sting” derives from the practice of using undercover cops to catch criminals. It means “set(ting) a trap to catch a crook.”
Alleged terror plots are fake. Most are manufactured out of whole cloth. Evidence doesn’t exist so it’s invented. Paid informants are used. Innocent subjects are targeted and convicted. Nearly always, stings involving entrapment occur.
Post-9/11, counterterrorism has been the FBI’s top priority. At issue isn’t innocence or guilt. It’s snaring victims. It’s about heightening fear for political advantage and providing justification for homeland repression and imperial lawlessness.
Thousands of FBI agents work cooperatively with paid informants. Persecution today is COINTELPRO writ large. Society’s most vulnerable are targeted. Muslims are most of all, though others also get entrapped and convicted on bogus charges.
In October 2011, a Mother Jones article headlined “The Informants.” It said they can be “doctors, clerks, imams,” or virtually anyone. At times, they’re subjects facing lesser charges, undocumented immigrants subject to deportation, or convicted criminals. In all cases, they’re promised leniency for cooperating.
“Handlers” direct them. They’re enlisted to find people sympathetic to jihadists or angry about government policy. Often they infiltrate local groups to entrap nonviolent Muslims and other targeted subjects. Names FBI gets are cross-referenced with known intelligence data.
Informants approach targeted subjects “by posing as a radical. Sometimes (he’ll) propose a plot, provide explosives, even lead the target in a fake oath to Al Qaeda. Once enough incriminating information has been gathered, there’s an arrest—and a press conference announcing another foiled plot.”
Headlines announcing terror suspect arrests follow variations on a common theme. Targeted subjects are innocent. Charges brought are false. One victim follows another.
Despite no plot, crime, or intent to commit one, Muslims were convicted of conspiring to attack soldiers at Fort Dix, NJ.
Other cases involved alleged plans to attack US marines at Quantico, VA, down National Guard jets with stinger missiles, target Pakistan’s ambassador with a surface-to-air missile, blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower, and others just as preposterous.
They include a fake shoe bomber, fake underwear bomber, two fake Times Square bomber plots, fake shampoo bombers, fake Al Qaeda woman plot against New York landmarks, fake Oregon bomber, fake armed forces recruiting station bomber, fake 9/11 bombers, and others to enlist public support for the fake war on terror.
Muslims nearly always are charged. Accusations are bogus. Courts convict by accusation. Justice nearly always is denied.
Informants are well paid to entrap. Six figure compensation is common. A lawyer representing one subject said:
The problem with the cases we’re talking about is that defendants would not have done anything if not kicked in the ass by government agents.” FBI agents “creat(e) crimes to solve (them) so they can claim victories in the war on terror.
In the process, constitutional rights are trampled. Informants are coerced, well paid to cooperate, and used to entrap again. Experts say beating the government at its own game is near impossible. Once charged, convictions nearly always follow. If not, new charges are filed. Prosecutions continue until subjects end up in prison.
Five Men Charged in Bridge Bombing Plot
Subjects named are Joshua Stafford, Anthony Hayne, Brandon Baxter, Connor Stevens, and Douglas Wright.
On May 1, the FBI charged them with plotting to bomb a bridge 15 miles south of downtown Cleveland. It links two wealthy suburbs. Unknowingly, a sting operation entrapped them. Authorities called them “anarchists.” An informant named CHS pressured them for months. He was wired to record conversations.
The case followed CHS sent to an Occupy Cleveland demonstration last October. He was told to investigate alleged “criminal activity and threats involving anarchists.”
Occupy Cleveland organizer Debbie Kline said the men “in no way represent(ed) or act(ed) on behalf of” the initiative.
Subjects were identified, pressed, and supplied fake explosives for a plot they never imagined or intended. Reports said some are mentally unstable. According to the FBI’s own affidavit, CHS “has a criminal record including one conviction for possession of cocaine in 1990, one conviction for robbery in 1991, and four convictions for passing bad checks between 1991 and 2011.”
The affidavit also explains the subjects suggested using smoke or sting bombs, as well as knocking signs off downtown Cleveland buildings. They considered it civil disobedience, not terrorism. They wanted “to send a message to corporations and the United States government.”
Subjects neither planned or intended to commit violence. CHS orchestrated it. Subjects were entrapped. Recorded conversations showed informant pressure to detonate explosives.
‘How much money we need to make plastic explosives,’ CHS asked.” He then pressed, saying: ‘You gotta get with me, uh, if we gonna be trying to do something in a month you need to get with me as soon as possible on how much money we gonna need.’
He suggested a bridge to bomb. He showed subjects the site, and claimed he had access to C4 explosives. At one point, suspect Brandon Baxter said he “was just throwing around ideas and does not know exactly what they should do.”
Similar discussions followed. Subjects were pressed. They neither expressed willingness or desire to commit violence. They were targeted for unpopular political views, not intent to commit crime.
Subjects told CHS they didn’t want people to think they’re terrorists. At a March 28 meeting, Douglas Wright rejected the idea of buying “heavy stuff.” CHS pressured him and others.
The FBI affidavit admits they didn’t agree to bomb a bridge. They called doing so a crime. If convicted they faced long prison terms and fines, perhaps at Guantanamo they fear.
CHS offered decoy license plates and an alibi for protection. On May 1, they were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism, possession of explosives, engaging in hostilities against the United States, and related offenses.
According to US Attorney Steven Dettelback:
This case demonstrates that the threat we face is a diverse one; that terrorism can come in many hues and from many homelands.
Magistrate Judge Greg White ordered them jailed without bond, pending a May 7 hearing. Subjects appeared in court in wrist and waist shackles.
Rest assured, convictions will follow. Kangaroo proceedings assure it. Subjects are guilty by accusation even though innocent of any crime or intent to commit one. That’s how American justice today works.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected] His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.