One point many people often don't understand is that CIA officers are not spies. They are "case officers." Their job is to recruit spies (informants) and funnel the information back to the analysts.See the rest here. Most people trust law enforcement, just like most people trust our national security apparatus. But do we trust all their snitches? Hardly. Reese's point - that trusting agents and their snitches becomes synonymous, in practice - rarely surfaces in the public debate at the local or international level. It explains a lot of the worst abuses, though, from petty drug cases to Randy Weaver on up.
Naturally, every country tries to depict its spies as noble people opposed to tyranny rather than people trapped and blackmailed, soreheads and neurotics or simply greedy opportunists. Often, informants working for money in domestic criminal cases will actually entrap some innocent person. That's how the sorry episode of Randy Weaver began, which ended with the deaths of his wife, his son and a deputy U.S. marshal in 1992.
A paid informant badgered Weaver, who was hard up for money to feed his family, into illegally sawing off a shotgun, something any 8-year-old with a hacksaw and a vice can do. The idea was to arrest him, threaten him with a long prison sentence and then coerce him into becoming a federal informant. It was a federal cluster you-know-what from start to finish.
This is a short preface to the current problem of domestic spying. The Bush administration says it only intercepts calls from terrorists. OK, how does the Bush administration know that somebody in Europe or the Middle East is a terrorist? Terrorists don't walk around the street with little name tags identifying them and their organization. They don't call people and say: "Hi, al-Qaida calling. Can I interest you in a bomb-making kit?"
The answer is an informant or some other country's intelligence agency. The first thing you know is that this person is a terrorist suspect. If anyone had proof that he was a real terrorist, he would be arrested. You can get some idea of how unreliable these suspect lists are by the instances of pop stars, U.S. senators, babies and other innocent people winding up on the U.S. terrorist watch list because of bureaucratic goof-ups.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
From Hearne to Ruby Ridge to international spying, snitches too often accuse innocents
Those interested in the subject of confidential informants or "snitches" will want to read Charley Reese's column entitled "Government Informants," published February 4 on LewRockwell.com. I've written a lot about problems with snitches in everyday criminal law enforcement, particularly in drug cases like the Hearne debacle in Texas, but Reese makes the point that the same problems that show up there plague informant use by intelligence agencies. A taste: