Monday, April 22, 2013

Entrapment, Conspiracy, and Trust

Sunday morning I found myself sitting beside the basketball court next to a man who is sure the Boston bombing was a "false flag" operation organized by the FBI. He had been reading Infowars and was up on the details of weird stuff around the bombing. But he kept coming back to the way the FBI has entrapped other would-be terrorists over the years, like the model airplane guy. He referred to these cases, which I agreed were dubious actions, as "false flag operations."

I have been thinking about this. Some people have not taken away from those entrapment cases what they are supposed to think, that the FBI is working hard to protect us. No, what they see is that the FBI is in the habit of contacting potential terrorists and supplying them with weapons for its own purposes. And what are the FBI's purposes? Certainly one of them is to increase its own power and budget and so on. So if they would entrap some poor slob and give him explosives so they could arrest him and stage a big press conference to crow about how great they are, why wouldn't they go farther and let help a guy kill a few people so they can stage an even bigger press conference and get even more attention and support?

I think the people pushing the aggressive Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism line have missed something important here. The more they stress secrecy and toughness and achieving security by any means necessary, the more people will decide that the whole government is lying to them. This lack of trust is a huge problem for any society but especially a democracy. Obama's biggest failure, in my view, has been his obsession with secrecy, hiding from us not just what the government is doing but even the legal justifications for why it can do these things and keep them secret.

I suggested Sunday that if the Boston bombing had really been a government plot, they would have disappeared the bombers rather than leaving them hanging around Boston to be caught by the police. He said, "Well, the government has him now, and everything will come through their filter. Will you believe what they say?" And he kind of had me there, because whether the questioning is done by the Boston PD or the FBI or some psychologist working for the CIA, I will have doubts about the value of anything that comes out of the interrogation.

Think of the conspiracy theorists as the canary in the coal mine of trusting the government. Where they lead, millions more may soon follow.

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