Standing in an empty Miami warehouse on May 24 with a man he believed had ties to Osama bin Laden, a dejected Narseal Batiste talked of the setbacks to their terrorist plot and then uttered the words that helped put him in a federal prison cell.We now know that Batiste's own father said he was "not in his right mind" and needed psychiatric treatment. We also know that without the help of paid FBI informants the plot would have gone no where. The FBI was actually suggesting plots and targets as the alleged terrorists were unable to come up with any on their own. If you think this comical misadventure indicates that the FBI and your government is keeping you safe you would be wrong. Maybe someday someone will be able to make a comic parody of this but today none of us should be laughing.
"I want to fight some jihad," he allegedly said. "That's all I live for."
What Batiste did not know was that the bin Laden representative was really an FBI informant. The warehouse in which they were meeting had been rented and wired for sound and video by bureau agents, who were monitoring his every word.
Within a month, Batiste, 32, and six of his compatriots were arrested and charged with conspiracy to aid a terrorist organization and bomb a federal building. On June 23, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales held a news conference to announce the destruction of a terrorist cell inside the United States, hailing "our commitment to preventing terrorism through energetic law enforcement efforts aimed at detecting and thwarting terrorist acts."
But court records released since then suggest that what Gonzales described as a "deadly plot" was virtually the pipe dream of a few men with almost no ability to pull it off on their own. The suspects have raised questions in court about the FBI informants' role in keeping the plan alive.
Update - Bad police work or good marketing?
The Talking Dog makes a good point.
Was this even intended to combat actual terrorism... or just look like it? And there's the rub. Our entire federal government, it seems, no longer seems to exist to provide "us" with "government services" (the most basic being defending our shores, protecting our borders, maintaining order, etc.), so much as to provide us with "salesmanship" as to why we should reelect it and its party, with services, if any, being entirely incidental if not beside the point.
And that's just it with this plot: it has all the earmarks of being 100% lock, stock and barrel a publicity stunt. The plot was uncovered, as you recall, right at the end of June (a few days before, btw, the Supreme Court would hand the Bush Administration an "in your face" by striking down the Gitmo military commission process in the Hamdan case and holding that the Geneva Conventions apply to the War on Terror). There were lots of things happening... soldiers kidnapped and beheaded in Iraq... another failed flag-burning amendment...
The plot came at another low point in the President's approval ratings, and like the seemingly premature announcement of the foiling by the British of the plot to blow up airliners... appeared to be more in the nature of countering political backsliding as opposed to counter-terrorism.