Curious Details Emerge on the Fort Dix Six

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MSNBC has an update on the six foreign nationals who were arrested for plotting to attack Fort Dix Army base and it looks like they might have been a bunch of bumblers egged on by over-aggressive FBI informants — leading to speculation that an entrapment defense is upcoming. (Spotted on TPM.)

As for the bumbling plotters: “The FBI learned of the alleged plot when the men went to a Circuit City store and asked a clerk to transfer a jihad training video of themselves onto a DVD.”

As for the over-aggressive informants: “One of the [accused plotters]… called a Philadelphia police officer in November, saying that he had been approached by someone who was pressuring him to obtain a map of Fort Dix, and that he feared the incident was terrorist-related, according to court documents.”

Also, here’s the description of one of the informants actions: “He railed against the United States, helped scout out military installations for attack, offered to introduce his comrades to an arms dealer and gave them a list of weapons he could procure, including machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.”

But that might not be enough for an entrapment defense to fly. Entrapment has become extremely difficult to prove in the post-9/11 world, and as one long-time FBI agent told the AP, “If the source talks them into committing a crime, that is entrapment… [but] if they are predisposed to commit a crime, and you give them the opportunity, that’s fine.” Pretty easy case to make.

Now I’m obviously in favor of giving the FBI the space and tools it needs to fight crime and violence, terrorism or no. If these guys legitimately had a plan to kill American servicemen, then throw them in the lock-up. But after the FBI and the Department of Justice strong-armed the prosecutions of the Lackawanna Six, John Walker Lindh, and Jose Padilla, you have to apply a skeptical eye to these things. The case of the Lackawanna Six is particularly instructive.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

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And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

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