July 23, the FBI’s director du jour Christopher Wray said that, so far, in 2019, they had arrested over 100 suspects in domestic terrorism cases, and most of them were white supremacy-related.
Those comments were quoted many places [for instance] and many of us may have heaved an audible sigh of relief:
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told lawmakers Tuesday that the bureau has recorded about 100 arrests of domestic terrorism suspects in the past nine months and that most investigations of that kind involve some form of white supremacy – though an FBI spokeswoman later clarified the percentage is smaller.
Uh-oh, did the FBI let Donald Trump draft that comment? Because, apparently, another FBI spokesperson had to step up and correct the boss. And, they corrected it with some disappointingly vague information: what does “smaller” mean? “Most” is already vague and might mean anything from 50% to 100%. “Smaller” than “most” might mean anything from 0% to 49%. What if the FBI director was just saying something Trumpishly pulled out of a hat? What if the actual number is 0 and 0%?
Come to think of it, isn’t it suspiciously provocative (or provocatively suspicious?) that the FBI doesn’t publish actual statistics about its work? Specifically, I would like to see a breakdown of how many of their cases depend on an agent provocateur or confidential informant, rather than breaking a cold case or a conspiracy. I was closely watching this topic just after 9/11, when the FBI started leaking case information about islamic plots to sneak Pakistani jihadis in through Canada (turned out not to be true) and arrested jihadis in New Jersey that apparently lived in a halal grocery store and had talked to an FBI confidential informant who lured them into saying that they were interested in planning a terror attack. Then, there was a whole raft of stories like this: [cnn]
A 22-year-old New York City man, Ashiqul Alam, was charged Friday after buy two Glock 9mm pistols with their serial numbers removed, and talking about using a suicide explosive vest in Times Square, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Some gomer made the mistake of talking to someone radical-sounding on Facebook, and as soon as they actually stepped away from their keyboard to go buy a gun, they were grabbed by the FBI. Well, it’s sort of legit – the guy was a sucker who got way too out of his depth. When the FBI are able to determine that the suspect is actually willing to take the first steps to commit a crime, I suppose they’ve nabbed them fair and square. But have they really done anything about terrorism? It seems to me like they created a terrorist then caught them – neat as shooting fish in a barrel. +1 terrorist, -1 terrorist, they did nothing except reduce the number of people who take Facebook too seriously.
The FBI has a sad history of such things blowing up in their faces, such as when they tried to bait Randy Weaver (a militia member/white supremacist/gun nut) into selling them an illegal sawed-off shotgun, and then tried to arrest him, triggering a disastrous shoot-out. In retrospect their approach to Weaver was absurd: they offered him thousands of dollars to saw off a gun barrel with a hacksaw. Apparently, Weaver asked the FBI agent why he didn’t do it himself; it was a dead giveaway. That operation ended with an FBI sniper shooting an unarmed woman and a 14 year-old boy. What most Americans don’t know about the battle at Ruby Ridge is that the government was sued for damages, the Weavers winning $3.1 million, which the government slow-walked and re-litigated down to $300,000 which they finally paid 8 years later. The FBI’s probably pretty smart to stick to trolling for jihadis on Facebook, all things considered.
Unfortunately, the FBI appears to have been lying when they said they were on the job regarding white supremacists. The folks at Pro Publica started trying to map the 100 cases number to the FBI’s actual prosecutions and – came up with zero. They asked the FBI to clarify and got responses that can only be described as vague and deflective. The Washington Post describes the FBI’s statement in a positive light:
The figure, which Wray conceded was imprecise, is similar to the number of arrests made in international terrorism cases and represents an uptick compared with the prior year. He revealed the data at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, seeking to assure lawmakers that the bureau was aggressively pursuing cases of racially motivated violence.
“Needless to say, we take domestic terrorism or hate crime, regardless of ideology, extremely seriously,” Wray said.
This is the FBI director, talking to the senate judiciary committee, making an “imprecise” claim. Out here in rural Pennsylvania, we call that shit “lying.” Pro Publica describes the situation guardedly; they appear to be holding off on saying the FBI is lying until the FBI has exhausted every possible opportunity to cite the cases that the director was referring to. [The full article at Pro Publica is really interesting]
On July 23, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee that federal investigations of domestic terrorism had led to some 100 arrests in the last nine months. While the FBI quickly announced that the number was 90, not 100, the basic message appeared unchanged: The FBI was actively investigating and prosecuting domestic terrorists.
The 90 arrests have been cited countless times since last weekend’s killing of 22 people in El Paso, Texas, by a man suspected of harboring racist views of immigrants. To find out more, we contacted the FBI on Monday, asking who had been arrested, as well as where and when, and what the allegations were in each case.
Four days later, we have been given next to no information about them.
Our first inquiry on Monday was straightforward: We asked for basic information about each of the 90 arrests, which we assumed had all been publicly announced.
An FBI spokeswoman wrote back: “We would not be able to provide you with a comprehensive list of these press releases. As there is no federal domestic terrorism statute so DT subjects are charged under other federal, state, and local charges.”
We are supposed to believe that the FBI has no idea what kinds of arrests they have been doing; they simply don’t organize and track them? This is the FBI – which is pretty effectively able to organize its attempts to penetrate Antifa, and which has documented (but not published) its ongoing monitoring of NODAPL protesters – they just sort of forgot to keep a spreadsheet with all the cases related to domestic terrorism?
By the way, that stuff about domestic terrorism not being something that they track: they sure as hell have no problem tracking it when they lure muslims on Facebook.
Maybe they’re not tracking domestic terrorism as such because they’re not actually prosecuting anywhere near as many cases as the director said. I’m sure we’ll learn more eventually.
My bet is that we’ll learn the FBI was bullshitting; if they’re tracking domestic terrorism it’s probably because they’ve decided Antifa are terrorists and are busy trying to get agents in place to rig arrest-traps.