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Glad this story wasn’t big news

Did you know that the FBI arrested a 20-year-old Ohio man last week who allegedly was plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol? Authorities said he planned to set off pipe bombs then shoot people as they tried to flee.

Don’t feel bad if you missed the story. It didn’t get much coverage, and understandably so. An attack that never materialized isn’t big news.

That’s actually how the FBI likes it. Agents don’t want front-page stories because that usually means multiple people have died as happened in the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, France. When a terrorist succeeds, it often is because law enforcement missed some clues and failed to pick up on signs that could have averted trouble. The Capitol attack was foiled because the FBI took seriously the man’s call for violent jihad on Twitter and his support of ISIS.

There aren’t congressional investigations when the FBI does its job well, no blue-ribbon panels dissecting the agency’s operations. No news – or minor news – is good news when the war on terror is the topic.

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