It’s (Almost) Always the Feds: How the FBI Fabricates Schemes To Entrap Would-Be Radicals

The FBI’s long history of using informants and manufactured plots to prosecute extremists.

Here’s a tip: If you have some radical political views and an acquaintance reaches out, encourages you to act on your convictions, and maybe offers to introduce you to a guy who can sell you some bomb parts, don’t take him up on it. That guy’s almost definitely working for the feds.

For the past two decades, the FBI and federal prosecutors have brought case after case against would-be radicals who were ratted out by informants. They have been enormously successful in obtaining convictions in these cases, despite persistent criticisms that the FBI uses unscrupulous informants, conjures up the very plots it disrupts, and entraps defendants who have little to no ability to actually carry out a terror attack.

It looked like the case against the Michigan militia members who allegedly plotted to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in October 2020 was going to be another data point in that trend: an extremist group riddled with FBI informants set up to take the fall for all their big talk. An unusual thing happened, though. The jury didn’t buy it. When the verdicts were read a year and a half later in March, two of the militia members were acquitted, and the jury deadlocked on the other two.

In June, a federal judge ordered the two remaining defendants to stand again for a retrial, but the collapse of the prosecution of the Whitmer defendants is one of the biggest public embarrassments for the FBI’s counterterrorism and informant programs since 9/11. The Whitmer case is more than just a high-profile embarrassment. It’s a window into the FBI’s decadeslong strategy, born of powers granted to fight the war on terror, of pursuing criminal investigations against hypothetical criminal acts that may never be committed based on evidence that amounts to little more than fringe political or ideological speech. – READ MORE