FBI allowed informants to commit 5,600 crimes in 2011

ironman25dc

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Exclusive: FBI allowed informants to commit 5,600 crimes
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/04/fbi-informant-crimes-report/2613305/

The FBI gave its informants permission to break the law at least 5,658 times in a single year, according to newly disclosed documents that show just how often the nation's top law enforcement agency enlists criminals to help it battle crime.

The U.S. Justice Department ordered the FBI to begin tracking crimes by its informants more than a decade ago, after the agency admitted that its agents had allowed Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger to operate a brutal crime ring in exchange for information about the Mafia. The FBI submits that tally to top Justice Department officials each year, but has never before made it public.

Agents authorized 15 crimes a day, on average, including everything from buying and selling illegal drugs to bribing government officials and plotting robberies. FBI officials have said in the past that permitting their informants — who are often criminals themselves — to break the law is an indispensable, if sometimes distasteful, part of investigating criminal organizations.

"It sounds like a lot, but you have to keep it in context," said Shawn Henry, who supervised criminal investigations for the FBI until he retired last year. "This is not done in a vacuum. It's not done randomly. It's not taken lightly."

USA TODAY obtained a copy of the FBI's 2011 report under the Freedom of Information Act. The report does not spell out what types of crimes its agents authorized, or how serious they were. It also did not include any information about crimes the bureau's sources were known to have committed without the government's permission.

Crimes authorized by the FBI almost certainly make up a tiny fraction of the total number of offenses committed by informants for local, state and federal agencies each year. The FBI was responsible for only about 10% of the criminal cases prosecuted in federal court in 2011, and federal prosecutions are, in turn, vastly outnumbered by criminal cases filed by state and local authorities, who often rely on their own networks of sources.

"The million-dollar question is: How much crime is the government tolerating from its informants?" said Alexandra Natapoff, a professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles who has studied such issues. "I'm sure that if we really knew that number, we would all be shocked."

A spokeswoman for the FBI, Denise Ballew, declined to answer questions about the report, saying only that the circumstances in which its informants are allowed to break the law are "situational, tightly controlled," and subject to Justice Department policy. The FBI almost always keeps its informants' work secret. The agency said in a 2007 budget request that it has a network of about 15,000 confidential sources.

Justice Department rules put tight limits on when and how those informants can engage in what the agency calls "otherwise illegal activity." Agents are not allowed to authorize violent crimes under any circumstances; the most serious crimes must first be approved by federal prosecutors. Still, the department's Inspector General concluded in 2005 that the FBI routinely failed to follow many of those rules.

The rules require the FBI — but not other law enforcement agencies — to report the total number of crimes authorized by its agents each year. USA TODAY asked the FBI for all of the reports it had prepared since 2006, but FBI officials said they could locate only one, which they released after redacting nearly all of the details.

Other federal law enforcement agencies, including the ATF and the DEA, said last year that they cannot determine how often their informants are allowed to break the law.

"This is all being operated clandestinely. Congress doesn't even have the information," said Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., who sponsored a bill that would require federal agencies to notify lawmakers about the most serious crimes their informants commit. "I think there's a problem here, and we should have full disclosure to Congress."

Bulger, long a notorious Mob figure, is facing murder and racketeering charges in federal court in Boston. Prosecutors allege that he used his status as an FBI informant to steer police away from his own crime ring. Bulger has not disputed some of the charges against him, but his lawyers insist that he was not an informant; the former crime boss on Friday called the case "a sham."


 

ironman25dc

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Whatever happened to that whole Equal Protection Under the Law thing... if I recall I've seen something about it written on parchment in a museum in DC; didn't understand that the document had been retired...
 

Norm Stansfield

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Whatever happened to that whole Equal Protection Under the Law thing... if I recall I've seen something about it written on parchment in a museum in DC; didn't understand that the document had been retired...
It hasn't been retired. You just don't care to understand what it means, because that wouldn't help your talking points along.
 

KRSOne

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Approves...

"It sounds like a lot, but you have to keep it in context," said Shawn Henry, who supervised criminal investigations for the FBI until he retired last year. "This is not done in a vacuum. It's not done randomly. It's not taken lightly."
That would have to be a huge vacuum to fit all those people.
 

HandPanzer

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Allowing criminals to break some laws (provided they are non-violent) can be extremely useful when trying to recruit informants. In the James "Whitey" Bulger case, FBI protocols were repeatedly violated and covered up by agent John Connolly resulting in his conviction of racketeering and obstruction of justice (he received 10 years in federal prison and 40 in state- essentially a life sentence). It's a nasty aspect of police work, but officers (federal and local) have to weigh their options- do they allow a low level criminal to stay in operation in exchange for information on criminals atop the hierarchy, or do they arrest him and lose potentially damning information on the kingpins?

Regarding equal protection under the law, the Supreme Court has ruled that a state has not violated the 14th Amendment if the classification (in this case allowing criminals to continue operating) has a state purpose (Link- I think I'm reading it correctly, but if I'm mistaken please tell me how you read it). Undoubtedly, this is a grey area that demands heavy regulation, but, in my opinion, it is necessary to good policing.
 

ironman25dc

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Allowing criminals to break some laws (provided they are non-violent) can be extremely useful when trying to recruit informants. In the James "Whitey" Bulger case, FBI protocols were repeatedly violated and covered up by agent John Connolly resulting in his conviction of racketeering and obstruction of justice (he received 10 years in federal prison and 40 in state- essentially a life sentence). It's a nasty aspect of police work, but officers (federal and local) have to weigh their options- do they allow a low level criminal to stay in operation in exchange for information on criminals atop the hierarchy, or do they arrest him and lose potentially damning information on the kingpins?

Regarding equal protection under the law, the Supreme Court has ruled that a state has not violated the 14th Amendment if the classification (in this case allowing criminals to continue operating) has a state purpose (Link- I think I'm reading it correctly, but if I'm mistaken please tell me how you read it). Undoubtedly, this is a grey area that demands heavy regulation, but, in my opinion, it is necessary to good policing.
Oh come on; look at the number of "confidential informants" that talk up people online who have anti-government feelings and spend months cultivating these people into taking their rhetoric and pushing them to join them in committing illegal/destructive actions, together with law enforcement, a "confidential informant" guides these people to the point they are willing to show up to help commit an illegal act (many times supplying the individual with the tools to do so) and when the person shows up the US government bolsters about how they prevented a mass act of terror and collectively pats themselves on the back while an individual who had no means or desire to act on their rhetoric is pushed to take action and goes away for life.
 

HandPanzer

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Oh come on; look at the number of "confidential informants" that talk up people online who have anti-government feelings and spend months cultivating these people into taking their rhetoric and pushing them to join them in committing illegal/destructive actions, together with law enforcement, a "confidential informant" guides these people to the point they are willing to show up to help commit an illegal act (many times supplying the individual with the tools to do so) and when the person shows up the US government bolsters about how they prevented a mass act of terror and collectively pats themselves on the back while an individual who had no means or desire to act on their rhetoric is pushed to take action and goes away for life.
I don't disagree; I think the feds overstep (as they're apt to do) when they provide individuals with materials to commit an act of violence (bomb making materials for example), but I think the tactic of recruiting informants within criminal enterprises (eg. the Italian mob in NYC) is beneficial to law enforcement. This method is also used on a local level (far more efficiently, IMO) and allows for police officers to gain an advantage within criminal communities. So, I'm with you in regards to what essentially amounts to entrapment, but I think, when used correctly, confidential informants can play an integral role in police work.
 

tattered

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Oh come on; look at the number of "confidential informants" that talk up people online who have anti-government feelings and spend months cultivating these people into taking their rhetoric and pushing them to join them in committing illegal/destructive actions, together with law enforcement, a "confidential informant" guides these people to the point they are willing to show up to help commit an illegal act (many times supplying the individual with the tools to do so) and when the person shows up the US government bolsters about how they prevented a mass act of terror and collectively pats themselves on the back while an individual who had no means or desire to act on their rhetoric is pushed to take action and goes away for life.
Yeah they essentially MUST allow their informants to continue their life of crime to maintain their cover. An informant inside say the mob wouldn't last very long as an informant if they had to stop all crime activity because strangely enough it would appear very strange if a guy in the mob suddenly refused to participate in illegal activities but wanted to know all about what was going on.
 

ironman25dc

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I don't disagree; I think the feds overstep (as they're apt to do) when they provide individuals with materials to commit an act of violence (bomb making materials for example), but I think the tactic of recruiting informants within criminal enterprises (eg. the Italian mob in NYC) is beneficial to law enforcement. This method is also used on a local level (far more efficiently, IMO) and allows for police officers to gain an advantage within criminal communities. So, I'm with you in regards to what essentially amounts to entrapment, but I think, when used correctly, confidential informants can play an integral role in police work.
Oh I understand the loopholes which enable them to do these things and I agree that what techniques were justifiable in .01% of investigations have been proliferated and far exceed what is in the public interest. I do not blame the rank and file law enforcement agents for this; everyone I know in law enforcement or have interacted with couldn't be better people... however it is the political appointees role in law enforcement agencies is where the corruption and neglect of statutes is directed and for the most part their interests rest not in the greater good, but making themselves or the individual who appointed them look good. If politics were removed from law enforcement, we'd have a much healthier society.
 

Norm Stansfield

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Oh come on; look at the number of "confidential informants" that talk up people online who have anti-government feelings and spend months cultivating these people into taking their rhetoric and pushing them to join them in committing illegal/destructive actions, together with law enforcement, a "confidential informant" guides these people to the point they are willing to show up to help commit an illegal act (many times supplying the individual with the tools to do so) and when the person shows up the US government bolsters about how they prevented a mass act of terror and collectively pats themselves on the back while an individual who had no means or desire to act on their rhetoric is pushed to take action and goes away for life.
I wonder if you even realize that that story originated in your imagination. Or do you believe that that's an actual thing that happened, and you just forgot the names, dates and places (or any other specifics)?
 

ironman25dc

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Norm Stansfield

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None of those are the story you told, from start to finish. That is all stuff you just googled for now, that has tiny little parts in common with the story you originally made up.
 

MalcomOopsGotShot

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#17
None of those are the story you told, from start to finish. That is all stuff you just googled for now, that has tiny little parts in common with the story you originally made up.
Typical Norm, making up excuses to disregard facts & evidence that doesn't fit his narrative. Never change Norm, never change.
 

ironman25dc

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It is quite an accomplishment that in 4 minutes you were able to read all of those articles... some of them were long; hell the Napolitano clip was 5 minutes itself...

Again I have no interest in interacting with your delusional, out of touch thoughts and won't.
 

Norm Stansfield

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It is quite an accomplishment that in 4 minutes you were able to read all of those articles... some of them were long; hell the Napolitano clip was 5 minutes itself...

Again I have no interest in interacting with your delusional, out of touch thoughts and won't.
I told you several times that I'm not gonna read your walls of copy/pasted text or links to leftist propaganda outlets.

I did read the one article that's from a borderline news organization (the NYT), and it doesn't say what your story says. And even that one is an editorial, not a news article. The parts that back your story (in some ways, none of those cases are anywhere close to your story) are actually just the guy's opinion. In each case, the suspects were found guilty in court.
 
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HandPanzer

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The reason the practice is controversial is because the FBI searches out individuals that are decidedly anti-American (which is stupid IMO, but not a crime) and supplies them with ample encouragement and "materials" needed to carry out a terrorist attack. This raises the questions, "should voicing certain ideologies make you a target for the FBI?" or "would these individuals have acted without the FBI helping them along?" In creating these situations the FBI, and the "tough on crime" politicians, can claim to have foiled terrorist plots, and advocate for even further intrusions by the Government in the name of safety. Again, I am pro confidential informant, but I am anti-entrapment.

Link- straight from the FBI
 

Norm Stansfield

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The reason the practice is controversial is because the FBI searches out individuals that are decidedly anti-American (which is stupid IMO, but not a crime) and supplies them with ample encouragement and "materials" needed to carry out a terrorist attack. This raises the questions, "should voicing certain ideologies make you a target for the FBI?"
The FBI doesn't have targets, because it's not a military organization. The FBI only has suspects. And the only thing they ever do to their suspects is gather evidence on them. Sometimes they use informants to do it, and the evidence pertains to. the suspect's intention to break the law. But, still, it's just evidence gathering. They aren't "targeting" anyone in any way.

Yes, voicing the belief that Americans in general deserve to be killed should be suspicious for an American law enforcement official. Doesn't that make perfect sense?
"would these individuals have acted without the FBI helping them along?"
That's an impossible question to answer. They may or may not have, depending on whether an actual enemy recruiter found them or not. But one thing is clear: if an enemy recruiter had found them, and provided them the support and materials needed to murder Americans, the answer is an unequivocal YES. In other words, their intentions are clear.

And I think the FBI are justified, and it is in fact their job, to test these people's true intentions, and, if those intentions prove to be murderous, to prosecute them on it.

In creating these situations the FBI, and the "tough on crime" politicians, can claim to have foiled terrorist plots, and advocate for even further intrusions by the Government in the name of safety. Again, I am pro confidential informant, but I am anti-entrapment.

Link- straight from the FBI
Yes, it is. Thanks for posting that. Isn't it refreshing to just read the facts of a case, instead of blatant propagandists telling you what to think?

That is not entrapment, and Mohamed Osman Mohamud wasn't arrested for a "thought crime".

A thought crime is someone thinking something the state disapproves of. Entrapment is the kind of behavior by law enforcement officials that would cause a law abiding citizen with no criminal intent, to commit a crime. Clearly, Mohamed Osman Mohamud had the intent to murder Americans all along, and the FBI proved that, and it was proven in a court of law. Intent to murder is not covered by the First Amendment as a right, so the same court of law sent him to prison.

Someone with such an intent, living among Americans, is a massive threat, and the main component missing from Islamists' efforts to repeat 9/11. Allowing such people to continue living among us would be misguided and disastrous.

In conclusion, both the notion that the FBI is violating First Amendment rights or committing entrapment, and the notion that they are wasting time and resources when going after harmless lunatics, is false.
In creating these situations the FBI, and the "tough on crime" politicians, can claim to have foiled terrorist plots, and advocate for even further intrusions by the Government in the name of safety.
I'm against criminalizing thought, and I'm against ANY intrusions by the government, however slight, in the lives of law abiding citizens, in the name of safety. I am against the TSA, I'm against the non target-specific wiretapping warrants Edward Snowden exposed, I'm against "stop and search", I'm against DUI checkpoints, etc.

And yet, I support what the FBI did to Mohamud and other people who have expressed the desire to commit acts of terror, and then were proven to have meant it by the FBI. That is not an intrusion, and it has nothing to do with law abiding citizens. Their suspect has already expressed the intent to break the law. It is the FBI's job to take such a threat seriously, and test whether it's real intent or not.
 
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Norm Stansfield

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P.S. The FBI is not to blame for politicians abusing our rights. The voting public is. It is up to voters to figure out the difference between legitimate police tactics and intrusions into the lives of law abiding citizens. Lying about it and making up stories doesn't help anyone do that. It just confuses the issue even more, and makes people think that the only way to be safe is by compromising some of our rights, because otherwise people like Mohamud would just be free to carry out their intents and the government could do nothing about it until they do.

People who rave against the government no matter what don't help the cause of freedom. Instead, they scare people who value both freedom and a government that is strong and protects their safety and rights, into thinking that the two are mutually exclusive.
 
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