Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day12Fixed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

The FBI's Bomb Factory

Agency of Fear

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

It’s nearing dusk on November 26, 2010. More than 25,000 people have gathered in a light rain at Pioneer Square in downtown Portland, Oregon to watch the annual lighting of the holiday tree, a 100-foot-tall Douglas-fir logged from the Willamette National Forest.

Three men in a nearby hotel room have just finished eating a take-out pizza. The TV turned to a local news channel, which is covering holiday celebration. The men spread towels on the floor and say an Islamic prayer, asking that Allah bless their operation. The men pat each other on the back, leave the room and walk to their vehicle, a white van.

One of the men is a teenager named Mohamed. The other two men are older. One is called Youssef. The leader of the group is a man in his fifties who known only as Hussein. Hussein is a bomb-maker for al-Qaeda. He’s been making explosives for three decades. Their operation to set off a massive bomb in the heart of Portland has been in the works for more than three months.

Hussein unlocks the doors to the van and takes the driver’s seat. The young Mohamed, who is wearing a hard-hat, slides into the passenger seat. In the cargo hold of the van sit six 55-gallon blue drums filled with nearly 2,000 pounds of fertilizer-based explosives. Each drum has an explosive cap. They are linked together by a detonation cord, which runs up to a toggle switch.

As Hussein pulls the van, which reeks of diesel fuel, out into traffic, the bomb-maker begins to chant loudly in Arabic. Hussein parks the van on Yamhill Street, directly across from Pioneer Square. He orders Mohamed to flip the toggle switch, arming the bombs.

The two men get out of the van and scurry down Broadway Street and then up to 10th avenue, where Youssef is waiting for them in an SUV. They drive to the Portland train station, where they drop Youssef off, and then park the vehicle in a lot a couple of blocks away.

Hussein mutters “Allahu Akbar.” Then turns to his teenage sidekick and asks, “You read?” Mohamed nods his head, “Ready.”

The bomb-maker hands Mohamed a cell phone. The phone is meant to activate the bomb. He reads out a number. Mohammed nervously enters the digits on the phone. There is no explosion.

Hussein suggests that the signal may be poor and that they should step out of the van. The two men get out of the van and Mohamed reenters the numbers. The phone begins to ring. Then dozens of voices shatter the tense scene, screaming “FBI! FBI!” The two men are ordered to the ground. As Hussein is being handcuffed, he struggles with the federal agents and continues to chant “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” When Mohamed spits at an officer, Hussein says, “I love that.”

The federal agents have arrived, it seems, just in the nick of time. Their felicitous intervention has disrupted a sophisticated terrorist operation and saved thousands of innocent lives. The bomb plotters had been caught and trundled off to prison: another triumphant day in the battle to protect the homeland from al-Qaeda’s terror cells.

But wait a minute. Almost nothing about this scenario was true. The cell phone wasn’t connected to the toggle switch. The detonation cords weren’t wired to an explosive device. The blue drums weren’t filled with diesel-saturated fertilizer, but harmless grass seed. Mohamed wasn’t a member of al Qaeda. Of Somali origin, he was a troubled college dropout from Beaverton, Oregon, home of Nike. Youssef wasn’t a member of al Qaeda. Hussein was not one of al Qaeda’s top bomb makers. Youssef and Hussein were not really arrested and neither was charged with being part of a terrorist plot. Youssef and Hussein were both federal agents.

The bomb plot itself was not an al Qaeda idea. It was hatched by the FBI. Young Mohamed Mohamud did not seek out the bomb plotters; they found him and seduced the young man into joining their conspiracy. The teenager did not build the bomb. The fake bomb was actually constructed by John Hallock, who later testified that he designed the device for “maximum effect.” Mohamed did not select the target. The order to activate the device came from a federal agent. The order to detonate the bomb also came from a federal agent. From conception to execution, the infamous Portland Christmas Tree Bomb Plot was scripted by the FBI.

Yet it was Mohamed Mohamud who was arrested, slapped with federal terrorism and conspiracy changes, subjected to a bruising trial in January and convicted on all counts by a jury that deliberated less than six hours.

After the verdict was read, the gleeful FBI agents and federal prosecutors hailed their victorious sting operation, braying that they had rid the streets of a dangerous jihadist. But this was not a government sting. It was a textbook case of entrapment, where federal agents recruited a disaffected kid, whose only previous legal entanglement had been an unproven allegation of date rape during his freshman year at college, into a fake bomb plot that they had concocted.

Mohamed Mohamud was not a terrorist when the FBI began spying on him while he was still in high school. In the two years he was under FBI surveillance, he did not commit a terrorist act or join a terrorist group. It took the FBI to recruit him into a terrorist cell, indoctrinate him into terrorist ideology and lure him into participating in its bomb plot.

Our government increasingly fantasizes about blowing things up here at home. This is the sixth case where the FBI has invented a bomb plot aimed at snagging hapless, often alienated, individuals who were not terrorists until they were enticed into joining the agency’s own conspiracy.  So what is the point of these operations? To scoop up a handful of estranged, young Muslim men? To make suburban Americans feel safer?

Hardly. The point is fear. The government needs to keep the public in a state of terror anxiety in order to justify its own ever-encroaching powers.

So, Mohamed sits in prison. The Constitution lies in tatters. Fear rules the land.

Jeffrey St. Clair is the editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book (with Joshua Frank) is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).