Trevor Aaronson


Trevor Aaronson, Investigative Reporting Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, discusses his article “The Informers” that looks at the FBI’s prosecution of terrorism cases in the US; the huge increase of government informants since 2004, and whether they are exposing terrorist plots or manufacturing them; why an “entrapment” legal defense simply doesn’t work, even when it really should; and several specific cases of informants-run-amok, from Lodi, California to Miami, Florida.

MP3 here. (20:37)

Trevor Aaronson is a 2010-11 Investigative Reporting Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, where he developed a yearlong project about the FBI’s informants in U.S. Muslim communities. He is also associate director and co-founder of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit journalism organization that produces reporting about Florida and Latin America in English and Spanish.

Aaronson’s independent journalism has been funded by the Carnegie Legal Reporting Fellowship and the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Previously, Aaronson was an investigative reporter and editor for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, where his stories ranged from local government investigations to reporting in Asia, Africa and South America. He was also formerly a staff writer for Village Voice Media’s newspapers in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

His work has won more than two dozen national and regional awards, including from the Livingston Awards, Society of Professional Journalists and Association of Alternative Newsweeklies.

41 thoughts on “Trevor Aaronson”

  1. Scott,

    A couple of years ago you had a female (iirc) reporter talking on the same subject. I think she was going to write a book on it. One of the quotes I remember from that interview is that she, or someone else, asked the FBI in how many of the sting operations did they manage to obtain a conviction or a plea, and the answer was: all of them.

    Among other reasons for the entrapment is that once an agent starts such an operation, it would be bureaucratic death to his career if he didn't succeed. Can you imagine his annual review. Boss: So you started this terrorism incitement operation. What happened? FBI agent: Oh, I tried & tried & tried to get him to do it, but he just wouldn't bite.

    If you remember the interview & could provide a link, I'll check back later.

  2. What's going to happen when one of these FBI terrorism creation cases ends up killing people bc FBI, having started it, ends up not stopping it in time. Ooopsie.

    Not to mention that every second that the FBI wastes on this ridiculous activity is time spent NOT going after real terrorists.

    1. Wasn't that the case with regards to the first Trade Center bombing? As I recall the "fake" bomb went off during this so-called operation.

  3. Interesting.

    I recall an article by the BBC, where they asked a similar question but framed it in a different way. See for yourselves:

    In this article, the hack draws parallels between the case of Bradley Manning and the case of Israeli agents Rosen and Weissman. Hilarious. Is this topic of debate now part of the grand strategy? lol

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  11. The ignorance of Mr Aaronson is stunning. These tactics used by the FBI go back to the very beginning of the Bureau. Does he know nothing of cointelpro? The Palmer raids? Nothing about what the FBI did to target the antiwar movement in the sixties, the Black Panthers, the IWW? Hard to believe he could write a book about the FBI and know nothing about this. Coercing people into becoming informants and using agent provocateurs is standard operating procedure and always has been.

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