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As it turns out, the recent would-be underwear bomber at the center of a supposed Al Qaeda terrorist plot was actually an informant working for the CIA and the Saudi government. While the Obama administration used this news to claim how effective their anti-terrorism efforts have been, administration officials soon acknowledged that the plot was run by the CIA from the start and had never actually posed a threat. 

Not only is this incident a microcosm for much of the anti-terrorism efforts over the last decade, but it also reveals how Obama’s antiterrorism policies are actually greatly enhancing the threat of terrorism against the U.S.

This type of infiltration by U.S. intelligence agencies is nothing new. Since 9/11, nearly every single terrorist “plot” that has been discovered inside the U.S. was directly organized by the intelligence agencies themselves. 

According to a recent report by Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley, the FBI “infiltrates communities where they suspect terrorist-minded individuals to be engaging with others. Regardless of their intentions, agents are sent in to converse within the community, find suspects that could potentially carry out ‘lone wolf’ attacks and then, more or less, encourage them to do so. By providing weaponry, funds and a plan, FBI-directed agents will encourage otherwise-unwilling participants to plot out terrorist attacks, only to bust them before any events fully materialize.”

In other words, U.S. intelligence agencies have been using taxpayer money to use borderline entrapment, organization, and infiltration to incite terrorist plots that they know are doomed to fail and they then arrest the individuals too foolish to recognize an informant.

By “thwarting” supposed terrorist plots on U.S. soil, and inflating the threat of terrorism, the agency involved not only has the opportunity to expand its budget among the 16 total intelligence agencies competing for funds, but it is used as a justification to expand policing and surveillance, restrictions on liberty, security theater, and the promotion of fear.

At the same time that U.S. intelligence agencies are manufacturing most of the terrorist threat, the Obama administration is pursuing policies that greatly increase this minimalthreat. Terrorism is a predictable response to foreign military intervention, and Obama’s liberal use of military aggression abroad can only enhance the chance of attack. 

According to Jeremy Scahill’s reporting at The Nation, U.S. drone strikes in Yemen are creating far more terrorists than they kill, and are the primary source for the growth of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The first underwear-bomber plot was a direct response to Obama’s 2009 cluster-bombing of Yemen. Similarly, in 2010, Faisal Shahzad attempted to bomb Times Square as “payback” for the horror unleashed by U.S. drone strikes in Shahzad’s native Pakistan. 

Since 9/11, Americans have been justifiably concerned about terrorist attacks. What is unjustifiable, however, are U.S. intelligence agencies organizing phony terror plots to exploit that fear and presidents using it as an excuse to expand counterproductive military intervention overseas. With election season approaching, it is likely that this fear-mongering will only continue.