Times Untroubled by Terror Informants

A recent Times piece on the informant at the center of alleged
Bronx synagogue terror plot is filled with uncritical thinking on the role of informants in terrorism cases.

The reporters acknowledge the centrality of the informant to the government's case--"The government case revolves significantly around the work of an informant who facilitated the men’s desire to mount a terrorist attack"--as well as the importance of informants in other terror cases since 9-11.[More...]

But the reporters do not discuss the problematic role informants have played in these cases: namely, in most cases the informants, not the defendants, hatch the the plots.

And the reporters do not examine the equally problematic legal strategy of preemptive indictments whereby terror suspects are charged for their intentions and not their actions.

Worst of all, the reporters seem to argue that the federal government's success rate in convicting defendants in these terror cases means that the cases against them are strong. The reporters fail to note that the conviction rate in federal court is astoundingly high--it's around 90 percent--or that convictions of defendants is terror cases are highly likely when the government makes huge media spectacles out of these indictments.

Better, more critical and skeptical coverage of terror indictments, please.

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  • Display: Sort:
    When does this begin to look like entrapment? (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sat May 23, 2009 at 08:26:00 PM EST

    when it happens. (none / 0) (#4)
    by BobTinKY on Sun May 24, 2009 at 10:51:51 AM EST
    there is enough crime and resulting pressure on our criminal justice system without the government and its informants actively working to create more.

    Ah, but the London Times says, " . . . (none / 0) (#2)
    by Doc Rock on Sun May 24, 2009 at 07:23:57 AM EST
    And around the world (none / 0) (#3)
    by BobTinKY on Sun May 24, 2009 at 10:49:33 AM EST
    there will be individuals who inform on other people who are guilty of nothing more than being a rival or personal enemy of the informant.  And the informant may well receive compensation for his efforts from the US Government.  

    And the informed upon individual will be preventatively detained, perhaps tortured, and perhaps confess to something, anything, in the hope of ending his physical distress and confinement.  And because the evidence obtained against the "terrorist" cannot be admitted in court, the "terrorist" must be held indefinitely and denied any right to have the Government prove his guilt.

    THis has doubtlessly already happened.  It will happen again now that Obama has provided the aura of legitmacy to the Bush-Cheney way of doing things.  

    last time i checked, (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Sun May 24, 2009 at 11:41:40 AM EST
    thoughts aren't actionable. joining a plot, and actually doing something, aren't mutually inclusive.

    i can scheme and plot all day long, until such time as i actually commit an overt act, i'm guilty of nothing more than an overactive imagination.

    i can join with others to scheme and plot all day long. again, until we actually act on our scheming and plotting, we're just a bunch of guys sitting around, drinking beer and grousing about the government. guilty only of having bad taste in our beverage selection.

    were that cause for arrest and trial, the country lacks sufficient resources. of course, i believe anyone who drinks budweiser should be arrested and tried, for felony bad taste.

    is not the informnat himself basically (none / 0) (#7)
    by of1000Kings on Sun May 24, 2009 at 11:48:43 AM EST
    a criminal; someone who has become an informant in order to stay out of prison?

    Would think this type of person (especially someone charged with the type of crime he was charged with--fraud) would have credibility issues in a normal case...

    this just seems so absurd...
    we take someone who was charged with fraud and we make him our central figure in charging other citizens for crimes...lovely...

    I guess you can trust criminals (none / 0) (#10)
    by of1000Kings on Sun May 24, 2009 at 05:27:10 PM EST
    if you enjoy them so much...

    me, I'd rather not trust people who are only supplying information to save their own arses...people who have proven to be fraudulent in their lives to begin with...