Academic journal article Journalism History

The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism

Academic journal article Journalism History

The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism

Article excerpt

Aaronson, Trevor. The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism. New York: Ig Publishing, 2013. 272 pp. $24.95.

Investigative reporter Trevor Aaronson, who worked on part of this book at the Berkeley journalism school, explains early in The Terror Factory how it came about: "For years, ... I couldn't help but notice how the U.S. government was putting forward to the public people who seemed to have become terrorists only as a result of the prodding and inducements of FBI informants and undercover agents." He noted that many defendants seemed to be people with little ability to do any harm. The FBI, however, seemed to provide the imagination and the opportunities for horrid acts.

Aaronson's book is about one such case after another, involving lying, even criminal, informants; unethical FBI agents; juries who apparently are always willing to convict the mentally ill, the mentally disabled, or the just plain dumb, who have been entrapped by the FBI; and judges who also are almost always eager to sentence these unfortunates to long sentences in federal prison. At the same time, informants acting unethically or illegally get FBI payments in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Aaronson never squarely addresses the behavior of juries, judges, or prosecutors in these cases who don't have anything to gain by extreme treatment of FBI-entrapped morons who, repeatedly, have no connections with and no knowledge of, or even much interest in, AI Qaeda or other actual terrorists or terrorism organizations. They surely must all feel that they are doing their jobs, maybe there's a little fear, and there's surely a lot of giving the FBI every benefit of the doubt - for most people, the possibility that FBI agents have any motives beyond enforcing the law and protecting citizens is too horrible to seriously think about.

But Aaronson has thought about it a lot, as have current and retired FBI agents whom he interviewed, among others. His frightening yet unavoidable conclusion: "The FBI currently spends $3 billion annually to hunt an enemy that is largely of its own creation," creating the enemy precisely because it has to show results for spending $3 billion. …

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