The Newburgh Sting and the FBI’s Production of the Domestic Terrorism Threat

April 13, 2015

Since 2001 the Federal Bureau of Investigation has led a vigorous hunt for domestic terrorists. The results have been mixed. Several attacks have occurred, though not with the apocalyptic results officials predicted. Authorities have stopped other domestic terrorists and, arguably, manufactured more. Through informants and undercover agents, the FBI has essentially organized fake terrorist plots, some ensnaring individuals so inept that they seemed incapable of succeeding in terrorism without government assistance.

One such case is featured in The Newburgh Sting, a 2014 documentary that aired on HBO. The film uses the FBI’s own secret recordings to show how an undercover informant induced four men to join a plot to blow up a Bronx synagogue and attack a nearby U.S. military base. The presiding judge said the government “came up with the crime, provided the means, and removed all relevant obstacles,” thus making a terrorist out of a man “whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in scope.”

Please join us for a discussion with The Newburgh Sting’s creator, featuring segments of the film, along with experts from Cato and Amnesty. They will discuss why these sorts of investigations occur and what harm they might cause.

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