Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism by Trevor Aaronson

The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism
Trevor Aaronson's The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism gathers disparate news stories into one narrative: the frequency of "terrorism" convictions in the United States in the years following 2001 is neither a measure of the threat terrorism poses to public safety nor of the effectiveness of the federal government in protecting United States residents.

Aaronson compiled a database, accessible online, of the characteristics of "terrorism" cases as identified by the United States Department of Justice. A frequent characteristic is the appearance of one or more confidential informants, and often these shadowy figures do more to further the crime than the convicted felons ever did. Through scrutiny of court documents and interviews with persons involved in the cases, Aaronson makes the following claims:

1. The vast majority of the convicted terrorists were no danger to the public.
2. The informants who are chiefly responsible for the convictions are themselves often criminals who have harmed public safety, even while they are on the payroll.
3. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) uses coercive tactics to recruit large numbers of Muslims into spying on their co-religionists and punishes those who refuse to do so.
4. The FBI may be violating terrorism suspsects' rights by tolerating illegal behavior of informants during investigations and failing to record or destroying recordings of conversations which would exonerate the suspects.
5. The focus on "Islamic" terrorism leads to less effective law enforcement in other areas, such as financial crimes and other ideological terrorism.
6. The FBI has a financial incentive to continue to use confidential informants to produce terrorism convictions. A steady stream of such convictions helps it justify its increasing budget to Congress.

The Department of Justice has scheduled a Hate Crime Prevention Forum in Augusta, GA. It has been canceled twice, the first time because of the Federal government shutdown and the second because of inclement weather. I propose that a major cause of hate crime against Muslims and those thought to be Muslim is the regular announcements from the FBI of thwarting of terrible Muslim terrorists. Muslims around the USA have called for reevaluation of cooperation with their local FBI offices, and I believe it is important for all board members of Muslim organizations to read this book to better prepare them for government spying. Moreover, it behooves Muslim organizations to organize programs to warn their members of FBI tactics the same way we educate children to avoid sexual predators.