Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Every few weeks or months, authorities come up with another hapless bomber or bombers. In nearly every case, the crime has been proposed to them by a police agent, a provocateur, who often furnishes the patsy with cash, instructions and weapons, real or fake, to carry it out. There are many unasked questions about these crimes. For one, why are they all Muslim youth? Aren't there any wannabe white Christian bombers?

Obama's Justice Department Manufactures and Arrests Another “Muslim Terrorist”
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The cynical police practice of manufacturing crimes in which to entrap victims for prosecution is so old, so time-worn that it has a name. For more than a hundred years, the cops engaged in this practice have been known the world over as agents provocateur. Provocateurs are regular features of police states on every continent.

In what's become a depressingly familiar scenario in the U.S., federal authorities in Portland, Oregon singled out a ignorant, isolated, economically stressed young male Muslim with no family nearby and few, if any close friends. They paid his rent for several months. They put money in his pocket and bad ideas in his head. They put him in touch with other cops claiming to be in Pakistan and Yemen. When their prey snagged a job in Alaska, they kept him in the plot by placing him on a no-fly list so he could not leave town for gainful employment. Finally, the FBI furnished the young man with fake bombs, cell phone detonators and a van, and arrested him for trying to detonate the fake bomb.

“Fake terror scares are good politics for whoever is in office, and good business for the ever-expanding homeland security state...”

By now there have been many arrests of this kind. In some of them, FBI provocateurs had to rent cars for their hapless bombers, feed and clothe them, teach them how to use simple cameras. Federal cops purchased weapons for them and put them in alleged touch with pretend jihadis abroad. Police agents concocted fanciful crimes often far beyond the means of the supposed criminals to accomplish, imaginary capers like blowing up the hundred story Sears Tower or menacing New Jersey synagogues, crimes that might never have existed, even as thoughts without the instigation of police provocateurs.

Manufactured terror scares followed by arrests of the patsies are always greeted with a chorus of bipartisan approval from corporate media and establishment talking heads. Fake terror scares are good politics for whoever is in office, and good business for the ever-expanding homeland security state and its thousands of actual and wannabe contractors. The climate of fear that sustains and flows from them is just as politically useful to a Democratic White House it was to a Republican one.

Some Americans must have imagined the ascent of a black president and an African American attorney general might have made a difference. It has not. The only difference is that while the Bush terror threats were widely mocked and ridiculed, many so-called progressives have silenced themselves in this, the era of Obama. Sadly, neither the practices nor the the political uses of police-state provocateurs have changed not at all in the first two years of the Obama era, and aren't likely to change in the next two years.

There's probably no shortage of ignorant, benighted white Christian youth who might be offered fake bombs and maneuvered into pretend bombing plots for which they too might be arrested. But don't look for that any time soon. Some kinds of terrorism are politically more useful than others, no matter what color the Democratic president and his Democratic attorney general happen to be.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Green Party of Georgia. He's based in Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)

Direct download: 20101201_bd_provocatuers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23pm EDT