Patterico's Pontifications

11/27/2010

FBI Stops Bomb Plot… By Nearly Letting It Succeed?

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 10:26 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Well, we learn that there was an attempted terrorist attack in Portland yesterday, at that city’s Christmas Tree lighting:

The FBI thwarted an attempted terrorist bombing in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square before the city’s annual tree-lighting Friday night, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon.

A Corvallis man, thinking he was going to ignite a bomb, drove a van to the corner of the square at Southwest Yamhill Street and Sixth Avenue and attempted to detonate it.

However, the supposed explosive was a dummy that FBI operatives supplied to him, according to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint signed Friday night by U.S. Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta.

And this version of the story makes it clear how far they let this guy go:

They left the van near the downtown ceremony site and went to a train station where Mohamud was given a cell phone that he thought would blow up the vehicle, according to the complaint. There was no detonation when he dialed, and when he tried again federal agents and police made their move.

Other chilling details include how the man was told repeatedly that lots of children would be there, and he said he wanted to carry the attack out, anyway.

I want to say I am glad that the FBI stopped this, but I am disturbed that we felt the need to take it this far.  Perhaps the situation was sufficiently controlled to prevent this, but I wonder if it would have been possible to dupe the dupers, and set up a real bomb in place of the fake?

And you have to suspect that the purpose in letting it go so far—to the point of letting the man try to detonate it twice is to convince someone that this guy was serious.  At the very least, you have to think this detail was for public consumption, especially the people who continually argue that these guys we arrest in these bomb plots are just morons with a dream who could never pose a real threat.  But you also have to suspect the intended audience would be a civil jury which might be tempted to find the man was entrapped—something we wouldn’t have to worry about if we locked him up in line with the law of war as it was understood prior to this one.

Like I said, I am glad this man was stopped.  But I am disturbed by how far we let it go.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I guess we double-posted on this. My take is here. I am not at all disturbed by how far it was allowed to go. I just hope they caught anyone else this guy may have been communicating with.

22 Responses to “FBI Stops Bomb Plot… By Nearly Letting It Succeed?”

  1. Well, if you think the purpose of the sting was to catch a terrorist, it looks like a dubious course of action.

    But if you think the purpose of the sting was to build a better criminal prosecution, and a better press conference …

    SPQR (26be8b)

  2. The FBI must know that many in the pumlic and in govt. do not take terrorism seriouly and are staging these incidents to convince mainly the people in govt. that they must support law enforcement with more than lip service.I am not a lawyer and do not really understand what it takes to make charges stick but after the latest trial with 280 charges rejected apparently neither does the the DOJ.

    dunce (b89258)

  3. Reading the article, I think it is a stretch to say they “thwarted an attempted terrorist bombing.” It might more appropriately say they “thwarted an attempted terrorist” by setting up a person who wanted to be a bomber with a fake bomb and fake detonator.

    It’s good to have the fellow off of the street, I think, but it is only what it is.

    MD in Philly (cac12c)

  4. They US Attorney and FBI go out of their way the emphasize their control of the situation.
    Probably to the point where the defense attorney will paint the kid as duped by pushy, undercover agents into something that was only a fantasy until the feds lured him into a life of backpack bombings.

    On another topic, it looks like that email mining program that the evil bushitler/darthvadercheney illegally installed into our personal spaces paid off for a bunch of rabid treehugging ex-hippies up there in Oregon.
    I’m sure the Post Office in Crawford, TX will be swamped with letters and cards filled with heartfelt thanks from Portland

    SteveG (cc5dc9)

  5. His attorney will still claim entrapment.

    I have yet to hear if that holdout juror in the other case was Muslim.

    Mike K (568408)

  6. This guy was a naturalized US citizen. I don’t think it would be legal to put him before a tribunal. It would have to go before a court, where a liberal America hating judge would be able to toss out as much of the evidence as possible to secure an acquittal.

    TimothyJ (5a11f5)

  7. it would be a lot simpler if they just arranged to have these terrorists die in a premature explosion.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  8. UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I guess we double-posted on this. My take is here. I am not at all disturbed by how far it was allowed to go. I just hope they caught anyone else this guy may have been communicating with.

    Patterico (43506f)

  9. The FBI has been inside a number of these thwarted efforts.

    The FBI also had an informant inside the 1993 WTC bombing.

    There are still questions about the OKC bombing, most notably that four independent security tapes of the April 19, 1995 bombing were not released by the FBI until 2009, and go blank when the Ryder truck pulls up and parks. The then come back on after 9:02. All of them.

    On the other hand, after watching a bulletproof government case go up in smoke against the one of the Embassy bombers last week with 280+ aquittals, maybe the FBI had to go to the wall on this one.

    TimesDisliker (ca0743)

  10. #3 – I think it is a stretch to say they “thwarted an attempted terrorist bombing.” It might more appropriately say they “thwarted an attempted terrorist”
    A distinction, without a difference…

    TimesDisliker (ca0743)

  11. “…but I wonder if it would have been possible to dupe the dupers, and set up a real bomb in place of the fake…”

    I’m with AW on this, and think that this was cutting it just a bit close.
    The next time, and there will be a next time, how do the FIB’s intend to insure that THEY aren’t the ones being played?

    But, Hey!, it’s just collateral damage, right?

    AD-RtR/OS! (0ac8fd)

  12. I think it’s time for the Somalians to be returned en masse to Somalia. They have shown little interest in assimilating and they were not brought here to create Little Somalias all over the nation and spawn terrorists.

    Somalia still exists, airplanes still fly, put them all with their U.S. born children on an airplane and gift them back to their homeland.

    What are they adding to the U.S.?

    Opinion (0cb8c4)

  13. We had one these events occur in downtown Dallas last year. The basement of Bank of America building. I thought they cut it a little close then as well.

    The guy pleaded guilty. I appreciate him saving us some time and money at least.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1322052/Dallas-bomb-plotter-jailed-24-years-saying-ashamed-denouncing-al-Qaeda.html

    Em (46ba4c)

  14. #12 Opinion – you are on the wrong board. For hate like that, go to DailyKos or similar.

    TimesDisliker (ca0743)

  15. Actually, since this guy is a Naturalized Citizenship, isn’t there some “moral turpitude” conditions that would revoke his citizenship, subjecting him to summary deportation to his country of origin?

    AD-RtR/OS! (0ac8fd)

  16. A distinction, without a difference…
    Comment by TimesDisliker

    In relation to what, is the question. If the question is “did the FBI let it go too far”, the answer is no, because there was no “it” to go. FBI dummy bomb, FBI dummy detonator. Now, if somebody within the FBI substituted a real bomb and a real detonator…but why bother going to that trouble if you have a bomb and want to set it off?

    MD in Philly (cac12c)

  17. One of the stories I read about this said that a real test bomb had been detonated earler out in the wilds somewhere–kind of to prove that everybody was “serious” about this.

    elissa (ab7968)

  18. “I want to say I am glad that the FBI stopped this, but I am disturbed that we felt the need to take it this far.”

    By which you mean the FBI creating the plot, encouraging someone to carry it out, supplying all the materials to carry it out, then arresting them at the last minute.

    Their previous success being to prove that you can pay one guy $100k to bribe several unemployed men with $250k to carry out plot devised, promoted, funded and equipped solely by your own agent.

    I would think it should be more concerning that FBI is behind all these domestic terrorism plots which convict people who simply went along with what the FBI encouraged them to do.
    Meanwhile, failing fuses are still your primary defense against non-fictional plots from abroad.

    Vek (b11060)

  19. “His attorney will still claim entrapment.”
    Comment by Mike K — 11/27/2010 @ 11:06 am

    There’s a good Slate article which shows there is no such thing as entrapment in terrorism trials.
    If the FBI solely organizes a terrorism plot and bribes you to do nothing but show up, this defense still doesn’t work.

    You can feel happy these people aren’t on the streets, but not that a terrorism plot was “twarted”.

    Seriously, go down your local mall. If I gave you $250k to convince someone to take part in an assassination, how many potential assassins are now magically at the mall today?

    Vek (b11060)

  20. What am I missing here. The FBI supplied him with a fakebomb. How is this “going too far”? Sounds to me that they had it under control.

    Don Bear (811604)

  21. opinion

    I personally know somalis. they contribute as much as any other ethnicity in the U.S.

    Aaron Worthing (b8e056)

  22. Yes, they’re doing a wonderful job making getting to and from the airport at the Twin Cities very harmonius, especially if you have a guide-dog, or just visited the duty-free shop and picked up some medicinal spirits before departing your foreign point-of-embarkation.

    AD-RtR/OS! (e2c6d2)


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