Something prevents me from taking part in the massive rejoicing that surrounds (at least, in the media) a capture by the FBI of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali-born teenager. It seems that, in the absence of actual terrorists, the FBI is now finding teenagers who might be miserable and rebellious (which should be SO hard to do), convincing them to go through a terrorist attack, supplying them with explosives, and then catching them and reporting this success to the eagerly awaiting public. And everything is timed beautifully to happen right after Thanksgiving and in the midst of a public outcry against the invasive TSA measures. Of course, it would have been more useful to catch this terrorist while he was trying to board an air-plane. But not to worry, I'm sure we will be regaled by that particular show in no time.
I don't want to enter into a debate about whether entrapment should be considered a legal police tactic used to combat crime. I know that some leading jurists have maintained that entrapment is wrong. This isn't about entrapment per se, though. It's about an entrapment of someone not old enough to buy alcohol. In my experience, it's harder to find a teenager who isn't angry at the entire universe than a teenager who is. If we were to criminalize all violent teenage fantasies, everybody would be in jail right now.
If the FBI truly had nothing else to do with their time, the ultra-complex operation of involving Mohamed in this convoluted plot might have made some sense. It feels, however, like part of the same strategy employed in the case of new TSA regulations: alleviate the public's anxiety by a well-planned to show in order to prevent people from concentrating on what they should really worry about. In my experience, the word "terrorism" gets bandied about especially actively whenever something really bad is coming in terms of the economy. Should we expect another crash?