Florida Center for Investigative Reporting co-founder Aaronson debuts with a shocking report on the FBI's war on terrorism.
The FBI, writes the author, spends $3 billion of its $5 billion annual budget fighting terrorism. Aaronson sets out to show that the “evidence in dozens of terrorism cases…suggests that today's terrorists in the United States are nothing more than FBI creations, impressionable men living on the edges of society who become bomb-triggering would-be killers only because of the actions of FBI informants.” The author bases his conclusions on a database of 400 people prosecuted in the U.S. between 9/11 and March 2010, and his analysis of the kinds of threats represented, how many of the operations involved government stings using informants and whether the informants could be considered provocateurs. The author drew on the expertise of current and former FBI officials to interpret the data. His summary results show that the FBI has recruited a pool of about 15,000 informants, as it has pursued more than 500 prosecutions since 9/11. Three of these posed threats to people and property, 150 involved defendants caught conspiring with FBI informants and the others involved crimes like money laundering. Aaronson argues that the defendants may technically be terrorists, but the definition of the word is being stretched “to such a degree that credulity strains.” He discusses how the FBI recruits informants through its use of the criminal and immigration statutes, pressuring likely targets to cooperate. He presents relevant case studies and provides detailed profiles of some of the key informants—e.g., Elie Asaad, who was paid $80,000 for his work in the Liberty City Seven case.
A real eye-opener that questions how well the country's security is being protected.