Attorney General Alberto Gonzales poured out lurid charges against seven Haitian men June 23 after their arrest on charges of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. An undercover FBI agent posing as an al-Qaeda operative, met with the leader of the group who asked the agent to provide boots, uniforms, machine guns, vehicles and $50,000. Gonzales and Mueller were milking the incident for all its worth as part of the Republican drive use the “war on terrorism” to divert attention from their gross incompetence, corruption and venality.

But already questions are swirling. Andrew Cohen, a CBS News legal analyst, says the indictment “is extraordinary for what it does not contain.” Not one of the men ever made actual contact with any terrorist group. They never obtained explosives, firearms or any other weapons. Not one of them actually went to Chicago to case the building. In short, the group never got beyond idle talk about actually engaging in terrorism. The FBI, itself, admitted that the group was more “aspirational than operational.”

Did the FBI lure the seven young men into a trap? Did the undercover agent promise to supply the weapons and explosives to entice them into violence? There is a long history of the FBI doing just that with its COINTELPRO dirty tricks operations. It is noteworthy that the majority of those arrested on “terrorism” charges under the Patriot Act are people of color.

The real target of these tactics is far broader than the men who were arrested. It is the broad, all-people’s movement that is fighting to end Republican majority control of the House and Senate. We can expect more provocations like this as the elections near and the Republican right grows more desperate to prevent a sweeping defeat at the ballot box. The people’s movement must be vigilant against any and all the dirty tricks dreamed up by Karl Rove to split and confuse voters.

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