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War on Terror? 

One expects an expanded perspective from the Source, so it was with disappointment that I read Bruce Miller’s recent column headlined “The Terrorist Threat Gets Too Close For Comfort.” (Wandering Eye, 12/2) In it, Mr. Miller informs us that “the threat of terrorism came home to Oregon…as the FBI foiled an alleged plot to detonate a huge bomb next to Portland’s Pioneer Square.” This might sound picky, but did the FBI “foil” the plot or did it “create” the plot? It courted and groomed the teenage suspect, built the bomb (and so is accountable for its “hugeness”), and loaded the bomb into a delivery van. That doesn’t sound to me like “foiling” the plot. A few years ago, Rolling Stone magazine published the sort of article that is all but extinct in the mainstream media. It described one case after another in which the FBI has entrapped dead-end losers into concocting feckless terror plots under the watchful eyes of undercover agents. The article begins with a case in which the FBI paid $8,500 to a former crack dealer with a conviction for attempted robbery to encourage a would-be jihadist to blow up a mall in Illinois. Since the “jihadist,” a video game store clerk with no car and less than $100 in the bank, could not afford any weapons of mini, much less mass, destruction, the FBI informant arranged to get him four fake grenades and a neutered hand gun in exchange for some used stereo speakers. The other cases described in the article are equally dubious, and bear a striking similarity to the recent escapades in Portland.

You can find the story by Googling “Fear Factory Rolling Stone.” Personally, I’d rather see taxpayer dollars spent on something other than setting up crazy but otherwise harmless people to make newspaper headlines and stoke false fears. I’d also like it if the Source would do its homework and in the future offer a balanced—some would say rational—perspective on the so-called War on Terror.

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