I see that Robert Stein already wrote about the FBI’s claim to have foiled a terrorist plot that wasn’t, actually, ever a terrorist plot except in the FBI’s own design. I just want to add that Glenn Greenwald has a post up about the credulous media reaction to a story based on the skimpiest of evidence — basically, just the affidavit of one of the FBI agents involved in the “sting” operation:
The FBI is obviously quite pleased with itself over its arrest of a 19-year-old Somali-American, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who — with months of encouragement, support and money from the FBI’s own undercover agents — allegedly attempted to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon. Media accounts are almost uniformly trumpeting this event exactly as the FBI describes it. Loyalists of both parties are doing the same, with Democratic Party commentators proclaiming that this proves how great and effective Democrats are at stopping The Evil Terrorists, while right-wing polemicists point to this arrest as yet more proof that those menacing Muslims sure are violent and dangerous.
What’s missing from all of these celebrations is an iota of questioning or skepticism. All of the information about this episode — all of it — comes exclusively from an FBI affidavit filed in connection with a Criminal Complaint against Mohamud. As shocking and upsetting as this may be to some, FBI claims are sometimes one-sided, unreliable and even untrue, especially when such claims — as here — are uncorroborated and unexamined. That’s why we have what we call “trials” before assuming guilt or even before believing that we know what happened: because the government doesn’t always tell the complete truth, because they often skew reality, because things often look much different once the accused is permitted to present his own facts and subject the government’s claims to scrutiny. The FBI affidavit — as well as whatever its agents are whispering into the ears of reporters — contains only those facts the FBI chose to include, but omits the ones it chose to exclude. And even the “facts” that are included are merely assertions at this point and thus may not be facts at all.
I would suggest reading, or at least skimming, that affidavit, as well as the rest of Glenn’s post — he has provided a closely reasoned analysis of the FBI agent’s claims in the complaint attached to the affidavit, and it’s hard to come away with any conclusion other than that the media has accepted some very questionable claims without even minimal investigation.