RT Claims FBI Entrapped Accused Cleveland Bridge Bombers

Yesterday I noted that RT's Thom Hartmann and Alternet's Joshua Holland were running interference for the Occupy movement by blaming some violent behavior on mysterious outsiders with "hip" clothes. 

But the vandalism in several cities wasn't the worst hit the movement took Tuesday. The worst was the announcement by the FBI that five men connected to Occupy Cleveland had been arrested for attempting to blow up a bridge. Enter RT's Abby Martin with another blame-shifting story titled "Operation Entrapment?"

Abby Martin: Five self-described anarchists were arrested after allegedly plotting to blow up a bridge near Cleveland. That bombing was supposed to take place on Occupy Wall Street's huge day of action on May Day. But the good guys rushed to the rescue, stopped the men in their tracks and saved civilians from danger. Right?

Well as it turns out the government agency was actually instrumental in helping the Cleveland Five plan this terrorist bridge plot. The entire event was provoked and orchestrated by agent provocateurs. They supplied the motive, the means, and everything else to carry out the plot.

Martin then brings on Stephen Webster of Raw Story to discuss her claim that the Cleveland Five were entrapped. To his credit, Webster doesn't seem to buy it. He agrees that confidential informants are used often by the FBI but does not say that this is always or even mostly a bad thing. But Martin just keeps pushing, eventually comparing the FBI to terrorists who recruit suicide bombers:

Martin: Some would say that the recruitment methods that the FBI provocateurs use against would-be terrorists is similar to suicide bomber recruiters in the Middle East. I mean they pray upon the emotionally deranged, financially down-and-out people and convince them to conduct terror plots. I mean, is this moral?

Nearly all of what Martin is saying here is either misleading or flat wrong. According to the complaint filed by the FBI, ringleader Douglas Wright "and a group of anarchists Wright recruited had been discussing plans involving violence and destruction to physical property in a variety of ways..." Wright also expressed his belief that the Occupiers were too passive and "Wright was planning on recruiting in homeless shelters and neighborhoods on the east side of Cleveland." In other words, Douglas Wright was allegedly the person doing the recruiting among the "down-and-out," not the FBI.

As for Martin's claim that the FBI supplied the "motive and means," that's also not true. Wright had already assembled a group of like-minded anarchists who were motivated to do damage to corporate America. The group had already discussed plans, observed law enforcement reactions, and scouted possible access points to carry out their plots. And it was Baxter, the Occupy Cleveland stalwart, who allegedly first suggested the possibility of blowing up a bridge. Finally, it was Wright and Baxter who allegedly asked the FBI informant to reach out to a "contact" about obtaining C4.

The only thing the FBI provided the Cleveland Five was fake C4, which the plotters allegedly negotiated for and agreed to purchase from two undercover agents. This inert material is what they eventually set beside a concrete bridge pier and attempted to detonate with a cell phone Monday night.

To sum up, the FBI was not recruiting people into a plot they had devised. On the contrary, Wright and Baxter were allegedly recruiting people for their plot. They allegedly came up with the plan to blow up a bridge based on their own anti-capitalist motives. They allegedly purchased materials to carry out the plan. And they allegedly did carry out the plan (fortunately, with fake C4). Abby Martin has completely inverted reality in her report, proving once again that RT can't be trusted to present the facts when it comes to the Occupy movement.


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