At the end of last year, Project Censored published their yearly top 25 censored stories list.

Well, Number 4 caught our eye pretty fast:

4. FBI Agents Responsible for Majority of Terrorist Plots in the United States

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has embarked on an unusual approach to ensure that the United States is secure from future terrorist attacks. The agency has developed a network of nearly 15,000 spies to infiltrate various communities in an attempt to uncover terrorist plots. However, these moles are actually assisting and encouraging people to commit crimes. Many informants receive cash rewards of up to $100,000 per case.”

The main Mother Jones article they cited was the work of Trevor Aaronson – whose subsequent book “The Terror Factory” nails the whole story.

Longtime listeners know that this has been one of our pet peeves forever – the financial and societal cost of mishandling informants.

Back in August of 2010, our “Stage Managing the War on Terror” episode with Stephan Salisbury covered some of the same cases we talk about tonight.

So we were only too pleased when Trevor agreed to have a talk with us about the subject.

About the guest:

Trevor_AaronsonTrevor Aaronson is author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism (Ig Publishing, January 2013). He is also co-director of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.

Aaronson was a 2010-11 fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley, where he produced an award-winning project about FBI counterterrorism operations for Mother Jones.

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 Miami New Times and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.

A two-time finalist for the Livingston Awards for journalists under the age of 35, Aaronson has won more than two dozen national and regional awards, including the Molly Prize, the international Data Journalism Award and the John Jay College/Harry Frank Guggenheim Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award.

Closing music: “Man Walking” from Mark’s New Eye album.

Below: A superinformant at work.