For Those Who Constantly Appeal to the Uniformed Authority Figure…

…as the justification for lying and tempting people to do evil so that you can then catch the tempted person doing the evil, do consider this:

In his new book, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism, investigative journalist Trevor Aaronson analyzes 10 years of terrorism cases that were prosecuted in the United States after Sept. 11.

By assembling a database of the cases and going through court records, he concluded that the FBI, which receives $3 billion per year for counterterrorism, is “the organization responsible for more terrorist plots over the last decade than any other.”

Rather than stopping actual terrorist attacks, like the Boston bombing, the FBI focuses significant resources on using informants and sting operations to entrap would-be Islamic terrorists who “never could have obtained the capability to carry out their planned violent acts were it not for the FBI’s assistance,” he writes in his book.

Do read the whole thing.  No small part of doing evil that good may come of it is the effect doing evil has, not on the evildoer you are trying to catch, but on you.  It turns out that when you persistently and willingly do evil and refuse to admit it, it inures you to doing evil.  The technical term for this is “searing the conscience”.  When you sear your conscience you start thinking things like “Let’s manufacture evil that somebody would never think of in order to tempt them to do it and then pin  it on them.”  This, in addition to being evil in and of itself, is also stupid, time-wasting and uses up resources that could be used profitably on real threats.

Or, you can continue to say, “Whatever the government does is our moral template and is beyond question.  The Church needs to take its cues from undercover agents for Caesar, not from Christ.”  Of course, if you continue *that* line of argument, you might as well just argue that abortion is fine since the resources of Caesar are overwhelmingly deployed to facilitate it, not prevent it.  Personally though, I think “Caesar does it, so it’s okay” is not the slam dunk moral argument people seem to think it is.  That’s why I suggest that, instead spending all this effort making excuses for lying and tempting people to do evil, the smart money is on doing these videos without lies or temptations and achieving the same effect by honest means.  I cannot for the life of me understand why any Christian would oppose this.

  • Marthe Lépine

    Very interesting. Thanks, Mark.

  • kirthigdon

    The Church knew what it was doing when it condemned the teachings of Machiavelli that rulers were exempt from the moral law when they acted in their official capacity. The cultural turning point in our society, as once pointed out to me by a agnostic friend, was the adoption of James Bond as hero and cultural icon – the murderous fornicating spy who sometimes murders the women he fornicates with, but always for Queen and country. The TV series 24 added torture to the mix in accord with current US practice and Supreme Court Justice Scalia, a Catholic, inquired not “What would Jesus do?” but “What would Jack Bauer do?” when hearing a case involving torture. Use of undercover agents in sex stings and drug stings has led many into sin and some to their deaths. Especially evil is the occasional use of underage pot smokers by cops who overlook the minor transgressions of their snitches in exchange for info on higher ups. This has on some occasions led to flimsy covers being blown and young informants being murdered.
    Kirt Higdon

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Had a local case of this in Portland- the young man was practically recruited by the FBI, given a truck full of fake explosives, and encouraged to drive it to a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. His appeal on grounds of entrapment was denied because they had tape of the FBI handler giving him several chances to back out.


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