Are Joint Terrorism Task Forces Preventing Crime?


Rolling Stone takes a critical look at the FBI’s 102 Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which the magazine says include more than 2,000 FBI agents, local police, immigration investigators, and CIA operatives. The article concludes that the task forces “have been turned into a domestic spy agency, like Britain’s MI5 –one with the powers of arrest.” Rolling Stone dissects one terror investigation in Illinois in which a former crack dealer with a conviction for attempted robbery was paid $8,500 by the task force to get evidence against one supposed plotter.

“The hope is that they will nab an actual terrorist or prevent a putative jihadi from becoming one,” says David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University and co-author of Less Safe, Less Free, a new book detailing the ways 9/11 has transformed domestic law enforcement. “It makes sense in general –but when you’re pressing people to undertake conduct they would have never undertaken without an informant pushing them along, there is a real question if you’re creating crime, not preventing crime.”


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