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The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism Hardcover – January 15, 2013
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"A real eye-opener that questions how well the country's security is being protected."-Kirkus Reviews
"This is investigative reporting at its best. For the first time, a documented investigation into the domestic terrorism program is available to the general public. And the story this dogged reporter tells has been garnering growing attention. Is it possible that we have in fact created the very threat we fear? Are we in danger of destroying the fabric of our freedom in our panic to preserve it? Read Aaronson's ground breaking report and make up your own mind."-Lowell Bergman, Pulitzer Prize-winning Professor of Investigative Reporting
"Aaronson explains just how misguided and often deceptive FBI terrorism sting operations have become. In case after case, he demonstrates how the money being spent is more about producing theater than about federal agents arresting suspected terrorists."-James J. Wedick, former FBI Supervisory Agent
"A disturbing window into America's war on terror. In story after story, Aaronson reveals in detail how the FBI and its informants are creating crime rather than solving it. This is an important piece of journalism."--Alexandra Natapoff, author, Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice
About the Author
Trevor Aaronson is an accomplished investigative journalist. He has written about the FBI for Mother Jones magazine and produced a documentary about informants for Al Jazeera Media Network. A two-time finalist for the Livingston Awards, Aaronson has won the Molly National Journalism Prize, the international Data Journalism Award and the John Jay College/Harry Frank Guggenheim Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award.
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I was left with the impression that the resources and energy of the FBI are being wasted on setting up people who had no inclination towards terrorism prior to FBI involvement, and who had no ability to carry out an act of terrorism, i.e. funding or connections with international terrorist organizations.
I read this book shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing. In light of reports that the FBI received information from Russian authorities about Tamerlan Tsarnaev one can only wonder if resources were not wasted on entrapment schemes, perhaps there would have been more follow up on this real threat and the tragedy averted.
The FBI uses such "sting" operations to justify a bloated $3,000,000,000 annual budget that could otherwise be used for public education or rebuilding decaying infrastructure. Since career advancement depends so heavily on success in this absurd mission, FBI agents routinely tolerate genuine crimes done by corrupt undercover provocateurs needed to "make their case" and hide exculpatory tapes of innocent entrapped victims by routinely claiming that the machines malfunctioned. The FBI puts pressure on Muslims to become snitches or infiltrators but if they refuse they are often punished (no visa, no green card, no citizenship) or become the victim of the very type of "sting" operation in which they refused to be the "informant."
Much of the book is available online at the Mother Jones website where the articles from which it was made were originally published. Other fine and brief summaries may be found at the "Information Clearing House" website, e.g. "Only 1 Percent of `Terrorists' Caught by the FBI are Real." The book serves as a bracing wake-up for those who implicitly trust their government to do only good and to protect them and their civil liberties. Although the details are still worth reading -- and Aaronson makes it an easy read -- better informed readers will find a familiar tale fully consistent with a raft of FBI exposé books such as Harvey Matusow, "False Witness" (Matusow guided by FBI and DOJ to perjure himself to convict innocent lefties during the McCarthy purges); Albert E. Kahn's "High Treason: The Plot Against the People" (FBI and DOJ inactive against fascist fifth columnists during 1930-40s); Ward Churchill, "Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret War Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement"; Curt Gentry, "J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and His Secrets"; Anthony Summers, "Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover" (the last two books documenting Hoover's liaisons with and protection of the Mafia, his routine flagrant violation of the law, and personal corruptions).
Writing as a liberal reformer, Aaronson cannot dare to suggest that the FBI remains what it has been since its foundation -- and as Congressmen at the time who opposed its formation warned that it would become: a political police force, an American Stasi, used against selective and exemplary "enemies of the state" rather than engaging in wholesale repression as did its German counterpart. Nor of course would he even dare to think, let alone to challenge, the fundamental assumption of this "war on terror," i.e., that the U.S. was attacked on 9/11 by nineteen Muslim hijackers armed with box-cutters who succeeded - miraculously - in defeating the entire USG intelligence community directed by a man in a cave in Afghanistan. But such limitations do not prevent this from being an engaging book well worth the time to read.