Many observers have long detected a fishy odor about the domestic terrorism plots the Federal Bureau of Investigation has busted, often to great fanfare, over the last decade. Frequently it appears that the government, through its informants, instigates the plots just so it can turn around and take credit for having stopped them in their tracks, thereby protecting Americans and, in the words of Glenn Greenwald, “proving both that domestic Terrorism from Muslims is a serious threat and the Government’s vast surveillance power — current and future new ones — are necessary.”
Now, thanks to a yearlong investigation by Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley, those suspicions have been vindicated. Having “examined prosecutions of 508 defendants in terrorism-related cases,” Trevor Aaronson writes, the investigative team found that the FBI “now maintains a roster of 15,000 spies” — plus as many as 45,000 unofficial ones — “as part of a domestic intelligence apparatus whose only historical peer might be COINTELPRO, the program the bureau ran from the ‘50s to the ‘70s to discredit and marginalize organizations ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to civil-rights and protest groups.”
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Photo: Brenda Heck, Special Agent in Charge of the Counter Terrorism division of the FBI's Washington Field Office, center, speaks at a news conference on June 17, 2011, in Arlington, Va: AP Images