The US has a vast and very expensive Homeland Security bureaucracy with nothing to do. There hasn’t been a terrorist attack in America since 2001. There have been a vast quantity of terror alerts, the purpose of which was to scare Americans into supporting an unnecessary and illegal aggressive attack on Iraq.
As very few, if any, real terrorists have turned up, the FBI has resorted to creating terrorists by soliciting Muslim-Americans and appealing to them with schemes to aid "jihadists." Recently, two American citizens were caught in a FBI sting. One, an Ivy-League educated physician, is charged with agreeing to provide medical care to wounded holy warriors in Saudi Arabia. The other, a famous jazz musician, is charged with agreeing to train jihadists in martial arts.
According to the Washington Times (June 1) the FBI began its sting in 2003, so it took two years of work and cajoling to manufacture the case against these two Americans.
What the FBI has done to Dr. R.A. Sabir and to Tarik Shah was once known as entrapment. Judges would throw out entrapment cases, because crime was believed to require intent to commit a crime. If the intent was given to the accused by the police through enticement or threats, it was not regarded as criminal intent on the accused person’s part.
Unfortunately, "law and order" conservatives used fear of crime to "give our police more effective measures to clear criminals off our streets" and managed to eliminate the entrapment defense.
Some years ago the FBI, posing as Arab oil sheiks, entrapped US Representatives in a sting operation. The FBI handed out large bundles of cash to Congressmen who accepted the offer to represent the fake sheiks’ interests. Film footage of the Congressmen stuffing their pockets with money was all the FBI needed to convict the members. The fact that campaign contributions come from interest groups that expect to be represented did not count in the stung US Representatives’ favor.
Note that the two latest victims, Sabir and Tarik, could not have offered their services to jihadists, because no jihadists were present. Note also that Sabir and Tarik are not accused of actually performing an act of service. Sabir and Tarik had no contact with real jihadists, and they committed no act of service to jihadists. Yet, both face $250,000 fines and 15 years in prison.
All that happened was that two productive American citizens were deceived by government agents for no other purpose than those agents having to show "results" in the "war on terror."
How does it make us safer to put a medical doctor and a jazz musician in prison? Why did the FBI spend two years entrapping these two American citizens?
Both men have wives and children. Suppose both men agreed to provide some service to jihadists. (We don’t know that they did. We only have the FBI’s word for it, a word that is not worth much.) The reason could easily be fear of reprisals.
Suppose you are a Muslim-American and FBI agents misrepresenting themselves as dangerous jihadists demanded services of you? Neither of the accused agreed to participate in a terrorist act: no bombs, no shootings, no hijackings. A doctor agreed to keep his Hippocratic oath if presented with wounded people in Saudi Arabia. A jazz musician agreed to teach martial arts. When was the last time a terrorist attacked with judo or karate?
Many years ago there was a movie about a British medical doctor who treated a man wounded in an act of rebellion against England. The English judge, portrayed in the movie as unjust in the extreme, ruled that being humane was tantamount to being a rebel and the doctor was sold into slavery to the Spanish. Unless memory fails, the movie was Captain Blood with Errol Flynn.
In the movie, the doctor did actually treat the wounded man. The charge against Dr. Sabir is that he agreed to treat a wounded man if presented with one in Saudi Arabia in the future. There is no way of knowing if he would have done so. But if the US is prepared to deny medical treatment to its opponents, why does anyone doubt the torture stories?
Like the police who find it easier to frame people than to convict them on the evidence, the FBI will find it easier to manufacture "terrorists" with entrapment than to catch real terrorists.
Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.