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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Josh Marshall's post on tonight's terror arrests in New York raises once again the question of the extent to which the government's own investigative procedures are creating terrorists it can then arrest. (There's a great This American Life on this subject involving an "arms trader" sentenced to 47 years in prison after purchasing a dud missile from one government informant in order to sell it to another. This is not the only such case.) This is, we should take pains to remember, an extremely fraught question—these men, after all, did by all accounts plant what they believed to be bombs outside a synagogues—and a telling reminder of the difficulties inherent to prosecutions that we might naively assume were open and shut.