Do You Feel Safer?
A recent episode of Radiolab, Grumpy Old Terrorists, spotlights Georgia. It is about four elderly men, arrested in North Georgia for terrorist activity. The episode features Tom Junod, who wrote an article for Esquire Magazine, Counter-Terrorism Is Getting Complicated. The article has much more information than a twenty minute radio show.
The story focuses on Fred Thomas. A retired Navy man, he worked for Lockheed in Virginia, and moved to Georgia when he retired. He began to hang out on the internet, focusing on a militia forum. After BHO was inaugurated, Mr. Thomas felt that America was going downhill. He met some men online who agreed. The men started to meet, first at Mr. Thomas’s house. One of the players was a government agent.
The informer was named Joe Sims. (PG does not know if this is his birth name.) According to Esquire, Mr. Sims is a slimy character. He got in trouble, and then got out of jail to work as a snitch.
It is interesting to note that two of wives, of the accused, did not like Mr. Sims. Charlotte Thomas, the wife of Fred, only met him once. Mrs. Thomas was a Frank Sinatra fanatic. When Mr. Sims was in their home, he saw the Sinatra shrine. Joe said, “The trouble with Frank Sinatra is that he can’t sing”.
As the story went down, the old men, and Joe the snitch, had many meetings where they said that something violent needed to be done. Joe the snitch encouraged them, and set up a meeting with an “arms dealer”. Joe handed over his money,and the old man handed over some money. The federal swat team moved in, threw flash grenades, and arrested the old men. The conspirators were so scared they wet their pants. At the same time, a the Frank Sinatra shrine was raided. The carpets have burn marks from the flash grenades.
A question was raised on radiolab, do you feel safer now? The feds encouraged the scheme, and helped drive it forward. One person speculated that the sheriff should have had a talk with the old men. Let them know that the law was wise to their game, and the activity would have stopped. Is it a good role for the government to encourage people to commit crimes? In at least one case, government agents recruited and paid people to take part in the “terrorism”. Is this a good use of taxpayer money, and, indeed, does it make us safer?
There are some crucial details left out of this post. Readers are encouraged to read the Esquire magazine article, Counter-Terrorism Is Getting Complicated. Pictures are from The Library of Congress.