U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the group Muslim Advocates on Friday that a recent spate of FBI terror stings are not "entrapment." In other words, federal agents did not entice nonviolent people to plot attacks, he said.
"Those who characterize the FBI's activities in this case as 'entrapment' simply do not have their facts straight or do not have a full understanding of the law," Holder told the group in San Francisco, according to the AP. The stings have recently produced arrests in Oregon, Chicago, Dallas and Washington, D.C.
The stings usually revolve around an FBI informant who befriends a suspect whom authorities believe is inclined to violence. In some cases, the informants themselves draw scrutiny; defense authorities have argued that their unorthodox methods coax nonviolent people into plotting attacks. One FBI informant and convicted forger so troubled a mosque in Southern California with his jihadist talk while digging for terror-minded members that the Irvine group got a restraining order against him. The Justice Department subsequently dropped its case against a member of the mosque who agreed to blow up buildings on tape.
The entrapment defense has never worked in a U.S. terror case.
"We have very serious concerns about FBI surveillance tactics that are used. We believe that law enforcement has an important job to protect us as a country, but they should do so mindful of the rules of justice and fairness that are at the core of our criminal justice system," the executive director of Muslim Advocates, Farhana Khera, told the AP.
Despite all this sparring over law enforcement methods, Holder received a standing ovation at the end of his speech.
(Photo of Holder: AP)