27 November 2016

Define Entrapment

The talk on arfcom about Dale Monroe dredged up something else for me.

I've repeatedly read stories about how the feds have approached people and, in effect, convinced them to break the law.

Apparently this includes running child porn sites!


Randy Weaver's path to Ruby Ridge begins with a fed encouraging him to saw off a shotgun.

How many fake bombs has the FBI provided to terrorists now?

I've always wondered if the criminal they're catching could have managed to do the crime they were being arrested for without the assistance of the feds who go on to bust them.

In the fake bomb cases:  Did the suspect know how to make a bomb prior to being approached by the feds?  If yes, did they know how to accumulate the materials to make that bomb without the feds providing them?  If the answer to either of those questions is no, then would they have been placing a "bomb" at a target?

I recall that Mr Weaver was not selling a sawed-off shotgun, he was approached by someone who wanted their shotgun sawed off.  Even more fun is it appears that what transaction in that weapon or weapons was intended to help the FBI re-infiltrate the Aryan Nations, that'd be blackmail if it wasn't the feds doing it.

I wonder how many fewer crimes there'd be if the FBI, DEA and ATF stopped running stings.


  1. Quite a few... During WWII, the Fibbies funded the Communist Party in the US because their informants were so numerous and the ONLY ones that actually paid their dues on time... sigh

  2. "Entrapment" means "inducing an otherwise innocent actor to commit an unlawful act."
    Giving a guy a fake bomb is not entrapment. If someone tried to give me a bomb I'd turn him in, and you probably would, too. In these cases, the government is helping a guilty actor commit a crime he is already planning to commit. If you find someone who wants to blow something up and you give him a bomb, you're not inducing him to commit the crime; you're just creating a condition that facilitates his criminal conduct. Legally, giving a wannabe terrorist a bomb is no different from having a scantily-clad policewoman stand on the street corner: An honest man will pass her by, and a guy looking for a prostitute will solicit her.
    It's not hair-splitting, either. Inducing an innocent person to commit a crime (as allegedly was done to Randy Weaver) is entrapment; abetting a guilty party, such as giving him a bomb,buying drugs from him, or offering him a chance to connect with a prostitute, is not. It's pretty clear-cut.

    1. I get what you're saying.

      What I think I am really asking is, "If they cannot do any actual harm, despite their fervent desire, without the assistance of law enforcement, what harm is there to leave them to their desires?"

      If I wanna blow up a building and haven't clue one as to how to make or acquire a bomb, that building is safe.

      But if you handed me something I was convinced was a bomb, THEN I'd act.

      I wonder how many of these people are actually harmless because they lack the means to break the law on their own.

    2. But they CAN do harm. The FBI doesn't just stumble across some guy saying he wants to blow something up and say, "Hey! Let's give this guy a bomb and see what happens!" The subjects of these investigations have made serious and sometimes successful attempts to contact known jihadis. They WILL get a bomb, either from an unknown, untraceable and uncontrollable source or from a government agent. Which would you prefer?
      The "kiddie porn" sites you referred to above are similar. I spend way too much time on the internet, and I've never stumbled upon a kiddie porn site, and I'll bet you haven't either. The people who get pulled in by the cops are actively looking for, and will find, either a minor child or a procurer of minor children. Again, would you rather they found a real twelve-year-old kid or a fake one?

    3. If "... you're just creating a condition that facilitates his criminal conduct.", how does that differ from being an accessory to a crime? I realize I'm just reading Wikipedia and trying to make sense of it, but they say, "Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense, is punishable as a principal"

      I assume Law Enforcement gets an exemption for that?

    4. An accessory wants the crime to succeed and is working toward that goal; an undercover operative is working to make the crime fail.
      In Mexican law, an undercover operative is considered an accessory, so there are two ways of looking at it.

    5. The reason I am thinking these stings are falling more into the accessory category is we're not seeing press releases about them catching anyone outside their stings.

      I think from their releases that most of the criminals they're arresting cannot succeed without the undercover assistance of a Federal agency. If that's true, then the stings seem a waste of finite resources.

  3. Keep in mind, the person who solicited Weaver wasn't an ATF Agent, he was a well paid CI being run by the ATF. In the English language he could be called an agent of the ATF but he wasn't an actual officer. In most of the really questionable situations you'll find a CI, usually one being paid by the head. In addition, the ATF, then, and I'll bet still, take great pains to NOT record the interaction between their CI and the target. Bad things happen in the dark, and agencies that insist on darkness don't do so by accident.

  4. I'm reminded of the police officer who met some guy in a bar doing small bets on sports and stuff, befriended him, and gradually worked him up until he hit the magical $2000 threshold at which the betting becomes illegal and immediately arrested him. I wonder how many of these are similar? Do they just go "Hey, want some bombs?", or do they goad and radicalize and push people to levels they'd never reach without people with access to all the best conspiracies and psychological tricks?


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