Crossposted from my personal blog:
I had been hearing about the Christmas Tree bomber in Portland all weekend, and was very glad to finally hear somebody mention the word "entrapment." But it's not just Mohamed Osman Mohamud I'm concerned about.
I'm worried about an FBI team who contacts an isolated individual who's failing to make contact with jihadist radicals, teaches him how to make a bomb, helps him to plan and carry out an attack, and chooses a large and public venue to arrest him.
I'm worried about an Attorney General who claims "that if Mohamud hadn't come in contact with the FBI, he 'would have made his plans tragically real.'"
And I'm worried about mass media outlets that just repeat the line that this is a plot that has been "thwarted" or "foiled."
For the record, it sounds to me like this Mohamud fellow may actually have become a threat on his own someday. He very well may have warranted observation by the FBI. But the way the Bureau pursued this investigation sounds very much like entrapment for Mohamud and fear-mongering for the rest of us.
"Look!" says the FBI & co., "here's a home-grown terrorist you should be afraid of! It could be anybody! What's a little inappropriate pat-down compared to the risk of being bombed while lighting a Christmas Tree? What's a little warrantless wiretapping or email surveillance next to, you know, a west coast 9-11?"
What would have been wrong with just watching this kid, and seeing what he does on his own? At least then, he might have actually led investigators to a real terrorist cell, and could have led to some genuine intelligence of real plots to commit terrorist acts. And, when arrested, he might have been guilty of a real crime.
As it is, he's just become the solitary target of an FBI plot to ... to what? boost their own ratings? I hope not. To foil and thwart terrorist attacks? Not very effectively.
I want good security and I want active intelligence gathering on terrorist activities. But that's not what this was. At best, this was a colossal mistake. If anyone in the FBI is reading this, please, don't make the same mistake again.