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Saturday Morning Coffee Break & Prayer Revival | Main | Gardening, Puttering and Adventure Thread, Feb. 11
February 11, 2023

FBI's Jersey Hustle saved the credibility of the U.S. government

Well, the reputation of the FBI has been taking some big hits lately, culminating this week with the retraction (but no related firings?) of a leaked document targeting traditional Catholics as potential terrorists. Don't comment on old threads even if they're real informative.

So I was interested to see a puff piece on an FBI project whose name I barely remember - ABSCAM - come into my news feed:

In the 1980s, the FBI launched a courageous initiative to combat fraudulent behavior in Congress: The Abscam operation.

Its daring undercover sting featured agents pretending to be wealthy Arab sheiks and businessmen, successfully resulting in numerous indictments of Congress members and other public officials on accounts of bribery.

It's an incredible story that illustrates how determined the FBI was to win back public confidence in our government.

Read on to learn more about one of the most daring and successful sting operations ever attempted--the tale of Abscam.

Wow. Even the Wiki is much better than this.

In March 1978, John F. Good of the FBI's office in suburban Long Island created and oversaw a sting operation called "Abscam", which was initially intended to investigate theft, forgery and stolen art.[6][7][8][9] The FBI employed Melvin Weinberg, a convicted swindler, international con artist and informant, and his girlfriend, Evelyn Knight, to help plan and conduct the operation. They were facing a prison sentence at the time and in exchange for their help, the FBI agreed to let them out on probation.[3] Weinberg, supervised by the FBI, created a fake company called Abdul Enterprises in which FBI employees posed as fictional Arab sheikhs led by owners Kambir Abdul Rahman and Yassir Habib, who had millions of dollars to invest in the United States.[8] Weinberg instructed the FBI to fund a $1 million account with the Chase Manhattan Bank in the name of Abdul Enterprises, giving the company the credibility it needed to further its operation.[2]

When a forger who was under investigation suggested to the sheikhs that they invest in casinos in New Jersey and that licensing could be obtained for a price, the Abscam operation was re-targeted toward political corruption.

It was an audacious plan. According to the first story I found in my news feed, our faith in government should be restored by the FBI's bribery of reckless con artists to entrap corrupt politicans. Still working for you?


*

A movie, American Hustle, was based on the FBI sting. It's not quite as one-sided as the first story above. Here's an analysis of what was fact and what was not in the movie.

Wonder what happened to the FBI's original plan to go after thieves in the private sector? Was that just dropped?

Oh well, they convicted 6 Democratic congressmen and a senator plus other politicians of the 31 they tried to bribe.

* * * * *

FBI Promos from Hollywood

Here's a piece on the 32 Best FBI TV Shows.

The 32 BEST? There have been more than 32?

J. Edgar Hoover used to review the original FBI TV show episodes for accuracy, according to this report.

*

And then there are the movies:

Undercover FBI agent here:

* * * * *

Past FBI Scandals

There have been a lot of scandals in the FBI's past, but the ones involving forensics keep coming back to me.

Why does the FBI need that massive new building?

This piece from 2009 by John F. Kelley and Phillip K. Wearneis really detailed.

The FBI's vaunted crime lab is a scandal of atrocious forensic science. Its "junk science" permeates the U.S. criminal justice system as it bogus "findings" routinely punish the innocent and set the guilty free, affecting thousands of lives in the process.

*

From The Atlantic, 2015, latest scandal at that time:

CSI Is a Lie.

*

FBI press release, 2015:

FBI Testimony on Microscopic Hair Analysis Contained Errors in at Least 90 Percent of Cases in Ongoing Review

*

Whistleblower hero, Dr. Whitehurst, 2017 report:

When Dr. Frederic Whitehurst initially blew the whistle on the systemic forensic fraud in the FBI crime lab, he could never have known it was the start of a lifelong fight for government accountability.


In 1994, he reported his concerns with FBI lab practices internally.

* * * * *

Related

Not sure what to think about this report from the Intercept:

*

* * * * *

Music and Dance

Do the Hustle

Partner style:

* * * * *

Hope you have something nice planned for this weekend.

This is the Thread before the Gardening Thread.

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

* * * * *

Last week's thread, February 4, Sunset in the West

Comments are closed so you won't ban yourself by trying to comment on a week-old thread. But don't try it anyway.

digg this
posted by K.T. at 11:14 AM

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