There are those of us who have been wary of the FBI ever since the 1960’s, and for good goddamn reasons, too, but who also are deaf to the fulminations of the former president* and his acolytes in the Congress, because he’s as crooked as a dog’s hind leg, and they’re all thooleramawns of the first degree. That said, federal district Judge Colleen McMahon—a Clinton appointee, as those things are reckoned these days—deserves our thanks for what she did on Thursday and, more important, how she did it.
McMahon freed three men named Onta Williams, David Williams and Laguerre Payen, 75 percent of a hapless crew nicknamed The Newburgh Four, who had been hauled in as a result of an FBI post-9/11 “sting” operation and had 25-year mandatory minimum sentences dropped on them for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks on synagogues in and around New York City. This was one of those operations by career-hungry G-men who got slow-witted (and often indigent) souls and, through entrapment and the use of skeevy informants, got them involved in massive imaginary plots that piled up arrests and convictions that made the FBI and its agents look very good, and also further embedded the fear of terrorism in the general population, which the Bush Administration found very helpful. All that most of these comic operas accomplished was the ruination of lives about which society didn’t give much of a damn anyway.