Friday, June 08, 2007

Newsday: JFK "terror:" plot totally bogus + Elias comments on "informant"

It will be seen that Newsday doesn't say that the JFK plot is totally bogus. They simply say that it seems like it's hyped. I said totally bogus to myself as soon as I heard about it and more and more as I saw some of the details, especially as it began to appear that we have yet another case of bunch of hapless people entrapped by an "informant." All this consistent with the bogus war on terror that candidate John Edwards has dared to publicize and for which he's probably losing millions of votes day by day. The security services, FBI,CIA, NSA (others?) need to justify their ever growing budgets with these entrapment events and Bush-Cheney are continually engaged in preparing/softening the public for their ongoing and next wars. (Thanks to Xymphora for the pointer. See below for remarks that are closer to mine than I recalled -- or vice versa.)

Credibility of JFK terror case questioned


June 6, 2007

When U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf described the alleged terror plot to blow up Kennedy Airport as "one of the most chilling plots imaginable," which might have caused "unthinkable" devastation, one law enforcement official said he cringed.

The plot, he knew, was never operational. The public had never been at risk. And the notion of blowing up the airport, let alone the borough of Queens, by exploding a fuel tank was in all likelihood a technical impossibility.

And now, with a portrait emerging of alleged mastermind Russell Defreitas as hapless and episodically homeless, and of co-conspirator Abdel Nur as a drug addict, Mauskopf's initial characterizations seem more questionable -- some go so far as to say hyped.

"I think her comments were over the top," said Michael Greenberger, director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland. "It was a totally overstated characterization that doesn't comport with the facts."

Greenberger said he has no argument with police pursuing and stopping the alleged plotters.

"I think they were correct to take this seriously," he said. "... But there's a pattern here of Justice Department attorneys overstating what they have. I think they feel under tremendous pressure to vindicate the elaborate counterterrorism structure they've created since 9/11, including the Patriot Act."

Mauskopf declined to comment Tuesday, but Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) dismissed criticism of law enforcement as "the price of success when you haven't been attacked in six years. We've gone from criticizing them for not doing enough immediately after 9/11 to now criticizing them too much."

But some say it is time for a more nuanced public discussion. Terrorism expert Peter Bergen said he doesn't consider the airport plot or most of the recent homegrown cases serious threats but believes law enforcement officials are right to pursue them.

"Obviously they're talking about stuff," he said. "But did they have the capabilities or training to do it? The answer is obviously not. It seems to me the reason the London plot worked is these guys had gone to an al-Qaida training camp. ... To become an effective terrorist, generally you have to go to a training camp. Timothy McVeigh was an effective terrorist because he could draw on his years of military background."

In this case, the alleged plotters had no money and never succeeded in hooking up with the head of an Islamist group in Trinidad called Jamaat al Muslimeen, according to the criminal complaint. While alleged mastermind Defreitas told the FBI informant that he learned to make bombs in Guyana, there is no other indication of technical expertise. Friends say he supported himself by selling incense on street corners and collecting welfare.

What, then, is the line between informing and scaring the public -- and is there a political cost in crossing it?

Steven Simon, a terrorism expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the government's hyperbolic descriptions -- whether of this case or of the alleged plot to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago -- could erode public confidence in law enforcement and lead to confusion about the terror threat.

"First, it creates the public impression that the adversary is just a bunch of losers who do not have to be feared," he said. "Second, the fact that these hapless people are angry enough to seek to attack the U.S. raises the issue of other more competent, well-organized groups that might be escaping police detection."

Which is not to say that the threat is not real.

The law enforcement official chagrined by Mauskopf's characterization said that just because the airport plotters had no expertise doesn't mean they couldn't have inflicted pain -- whether catastrophic or not.

"What everyone in law enforcement is struggling with since 9/11 is finding the balance between the traditional crimefighting and counterterrorism methods," said the official, who asked not to be named. "In ... crime-fighting, something has happened, you investigate, and you arrest. ... In terrorism, it's all about prevention.

"This guy wanted to cripple JFK International Airport. ... It's not really useful in the overall scheme of things to wonder whether he would have achieved anything. Because unless you're the one standing guard at the tank farm, and you're going to stop the thing, it's pure speculation. ... Isn't the whole point that we want to stop these folks before they try to hit us?"
Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.

xymphora writes:

Thursday, June 7, 2007:

More on the hyped JFK ‘terrorist’ attack. There must be a huge law-enforcement campaign to discover patsies who can be molded, with the help of informants, into the center of phony terrorist groups, who can then be arrested to justify the massively increased spending in law enforcement, with the accompanying loss of civil liberties.

Elias wrote:
Yes, I agree with you. Have you read the Criminal Complaint, in which the background of the FBI informer is listed? The term "informer" is anyhow a misnomer. This convicted drug smuggler (the FBI guy) was proposed a deal, to cooperate with the FBI and obtain a reduced sentence. He had an incentive to entrap the hapless chap. We really do not know to which extent this criminal actually led the "terrorist conspiracy". We know, from that Complaint that the FBI guy bought for the alleged terrorist a video camera so he could film Kennedy airport. It is thus reported to the court that the FBI actually financed the terror preparation. That won't surprise you. More important to note is the fact that the media have consciously kept silent about the background of this FBI "informer" and about the role the FBI played in entrapping.

A reader passed this along from

JFK Airport Plot Has All The Hallmarks Of Staged Terror
Near-retarded "ringleader", paid government provocateur mirrors legion of previous cases

An alleged plot to blow up fuel tanks, terminal buildings and fuel lines running beneath Kennedy International Airport has all the hallmarks of being another staged terror alert, having never advanced beyond a rudimentary planning stage while being prodded and provocateured by a paid government informant.

In every single major terror sting we have researched in the west since 9/11, not one single plot has been absent the ingredient of a government provocateur, save the cases that were outright manufactured by imaginative government propagandists in alliance with the corporate media.

In this case, the provocateur was "An informant with a criminal history including drug trafficking and racketeering agreed to work with investigators on the case, in exchange for payments and a reduced sentence," according to the New York Times .

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