Andrew P. Napolitano
by Andrew P. Napolitano: It
Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government Is Wrong
Does the government work for us or do we work for
the government? Can the federal government take credit for saving
us from a plot of its own creation? Tonight, has the federal government
kept us safe or does it just want us to think that it has kept us
Since the tragedy of 9/11, numerous crazies and
low-level copy-cats have engaged in criminal behavior which they
hoped would result in the deaths of innocent Americans and somehow
advance the cause of jihad. If you ask the leadership of the FBI,
most of whose field agents are tireless, dedicated, Constitution-supporting
professionals, it will tell you that it has foiled about seventeen
plots to kill Americans during the past ten years. What it will
not tell you is that there have been twenty foiled plots; and of
them, three were interrupted by members of the public. The seventeen
that were interrupted by the feds were created by them.
We all remember the three that were foiled by diligent
Americans: The shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, and the Times
Square bomber. In all of these cases, the crimes charged were those
of attempting to kill and conspiring with others to do so. In all
three of those cases, alert Americans on transcontinental flights
on or the streets of New York told authorities of bizarre behavior,
or actually subdued the threats themselves. There was no foiling
by the FBI. The plotters were – thankfully – bumbling fools who
had poorly planned their criminal behavior, and who ended up harming
no one. All three are serving life terms.
But the more curious cases are the remaining seventeen
for which the federal government has taken credit. They all have
a common and reprehensible thread. They were planned, plotted, controlled,
and carried out by the federal government itself. In all of these
seventeen cases – from the Ft. Dix Six to the Lackawanna Seven to
the Portland Parade Bomber – the feds found young men of Muslim
backgrounds; loners who were bitter at America. They befriended
them, cajoled them, and persuaded them that they could change the
world by killing Americans. In all these cases, agents worked undercover
and portrayed themselves to the targets as Arabs of like un-American
mind. In some cases, the federal agents used third parties to act
as middlemen. The third parties are typically persons who have been
convicted of crimes and who, in return for leniency at their sentencings,
were willing to work with the same feds who prosecuted them in order
to help entrap whomever else those feds are pursuing.
Thus, in all seventeen of these cases, because of
the command and control of federal agents, no one was ever in danger,
no one was harmed, no bomb went off, and no property was damaged.
But in all those cases, the losers whom the feds targeted each believed
that they were interacting with real plotters who would really bring
them cash and bombs. As we know, sometimes the cash arrived, but
the bombs never did. The defendants were essentially charged and
convicted for playing a game with federal agents.
The most recent of those government-generated plots
was revealed yesterday. It has a new twist as it allegedly involves
agents of the intelligence apparatus of the government of Iran.
It, too, was destined to go nowhere, as the feds monitored and taped
every move made by the target as he interacted with federal agents
whom he stupidly believed to be drug dealers and co-conspirators.
Today, the feds themselves revealed that high officials of Iran's
government knew nothing of this. Of course, the neocons have demanded
bombs on Tehran, no matter what the government there knew. And this
plot came to light the day before the Attorney General himself was
subpoenaed by Congress in the Fast and Furious case.
You get the picture. Is any of this criminal? Can
the government just pick and choose whom to seduce and then lower
the boom at the right time and arrest its would-be confederates?
Is this a proper use of law enforcement resources? The answers to
these questions are obvious, and they are not good. The courts have
made this legal so long as the target had a mental pre-disposition
to cause harm. But none of this keeps us safe, all of it makes us
less free as any of us can be entrapped, and we are fools if we
praise the government for exposing a plot of its own creation and
saving us from a danger that never existed.
Can the government break the law in order to enforce
it? When it does, it becomes a law unto itself, and the rule of
law dies, as the feds decide whom to target and whom to trap. Think
about it: Are we really safe in a false sense of security? Why do
we pay the government to trick us into believing it is keeping us
safe? When no one is harmed, and the government controls the plot,
aren't we just punishing someone for his thoughts? And in a free
society, aren't people free to think as we wish? This must be so;
for if the government can punish thoughts, there is no limit to
From New York, defending freedom, so-long, America.
October 14, 2011
Andrew P. Napolitano
[send him mail],
a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior
judicial analyst at the Fox News Channel, and the host of “FreedomWatch”
on the Fox Business Network. His latest book is It
is Dangerous to be Right When the Government is Wrong: The Case for
© 2011 Andrew P. Napolitano
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