A Few Months After

A Few Months After


Recently, discussion on Donklephant.com centered around a perceived bias on the part of the Drudge Report in not featuring the recent domestic terrorism attack on an IRS building in Texas. Concern was also expressed that police in Austin “refused to call it terrorism.”

The administration must be listening. Obviously bowing to the pressure from the “Big Teeth, Huge Ass, Surprisingly Reasonable” community, someone from the Obama Administration has boldly stepped forward and called the November 7, 2009 Fort Hood attack “terrorism” for the first time:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has become the first Obama Administration official to publicly describe last year’s deadly shootings at Ft. Hood, Tex., as a terrorist act, according to a search of news clips and transcripts.

I fully expect Drudge to make the same kind of admission … in a few months.

Cross posted to FrankHagan.com

  • http://stubbornfacts.us PatHMV

    Who cares? Whether a particular act of violence is “terrorism” or not, what does it matter? The question after each such attack is what steps, if any, can and should be taken to reduce the risk of future such attacks.

    In the Ft. Hood shootings, there is evidence that the killer had long espoused radical Islamic thought and had attended mosques led by individuals known to promote a very radicalized, violent version of Islam. At the same time, he seems to have been personally a bit off the deep end, and there doesn’t seem to be any indication thus far that his actions were part of a plan developed by any terrorist group. To prevent future such attacks, it is appropriate for the Army and the rest of us to consider what we should do about individuals who are known to participate, not in ordinary, peaceful, non-violent Islamic mosques and groups (as it is their freedom to do), but in groups and mosques which vocally call for imposition of Sha’ria law, violence, and intolerance of other religions and cultures. The Army should examine what warning signs can be identified from the killer’s behavior leading up to his attacks.

    With the Austin plane bombing, there’s no evidence thus far that the killer was influenced by anybody but his own craziness, and no evidence at all that anybody else planned the attack or knew of it in advance. He was not a member, so far as we know, of any radical separatist group or even any group of zealous anti-taxation advocates. His actions appear more to resemble those of other killers who have just snapped under some personal pressures and lashed out on those whom he had decided were responsible. The warning signs to take from him are not much different from the warning signs we look for in anybody to evaluate potential for violence… school shooters, church shooters, whatever.

    So they are both “terrorism” in some sense or another. But calling the Ft. Hood attack “terrorism” in the same manner as we call the Cole bombing or the WTC attacks (in 1993 or on 9/11) “terrorism” distracts us from the vast differences between the two types of attacks. And calling the Austin plane bombing “terrorism” lumps it in with both of those other kinds of attacks, further muddying the waters.

    What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. It doesn’t matter what we call it. Picking a fight over what to call it merely serves to distract from the much more important underlying questions about the most appropriate responses to each type of attack.

  • http://centristcoalition.com/blog/ kranky kritter

    Picking a fight over what to call it merely serves to distract from the much more important underlying questions about the most appropriate responses to each type of attack.

    Agreed. I complained about this in an earlier thread. It is still unclear to me what end is being sought by the folks who want to argue about which violent anti-social acts are and are not terrorism.

    Whatever we decide, I think the most useful distinction lies somewhere in the area of determining whether or not the violent act i question is part of a specific ongoing threat or instead an isolated incident committed by one kook.

    Americans want to see proactive efforts taken against terrorist threats that represent ongoing threats to domestic tranquility, that’s their primary concern. And that seems to be why folks don’t want to call Stack a terrorist.

    Of course, Stack obviously doesn’t represent an ongoing threat. Still, potentially violent individuals with serious social attachment disorders and troubling personal histories do, as a group, represent something of an ongoing threat.

    It would be nice if we could deal better with such folks. How to do so, I am not sure.

  • Chris

    To both: I think that my concern over what it is called is because no one wants to call an American a terrorist. So there’s a perceived bias there, and that bothers me.

  • http://www.frankhagan.com/blog/ Frank Hagan

    My comment was on the hypocrisy of calling out conservatives on neglecting to call the IRS attack an act of terrorism immediately (or even a day later) while not being bothered that the Administration took months to call the Ft. Hood attacks terrorism.

    Chris – in both cases, the perps were Americans. One was a Muslim and one … I don’t think we know. (Does anyone know if the perp in the IRS attack was acting out of any religious fervor? I got the impression he was an anti-government type with no particular religious component, but there are some far-right anti-government types who are fundie Christian).

    I think the reason libs were reluctant to call the Ft. Hood shootings terrorism is that they want to make sure we don’t inflame the passions of the American people and incite violence against Muslim-Americans.

    And the reason conservatives don’t want to call “isolated” incidents terrorism is that they think it minimizes the threat from radical Islamism that is actively engaged in trying to kill us.

    Both fears are unjustified. Call ’em all terrorists. Its what they are.

  • http://stubbornfacts.us PatHMV

    Chris, nobody had any problem labeling Tim McVeigh a terrorist, ever, so that rather disproves your bias-against-Muslims idea.

  • http://www.donklephant.com Justin Gardner

    All, let’s remember that “terrorism” has been defined as some type of special legal distinct and that “terrorists” are enemy combatants. So some distinction need to be made.

    And Frank, maybe this is just me but I think somebody walking around and shooting people and somebody flying their airplane into a building are distinctly different acts. Fair point about Fort Hood being called terrorism, but the guy was in the military so they needed to do an investigation into the motives, etc., before they could define it. On the other hand, the guy who flew the plane into the IRS building stated pretty specifically his grievances and motives.

    Basically, you can talk about hypocrisy all you want, but the two situations are different.

    Last, how much did Drudge focus on Fort Hood? How about the Christmas bomber? Both were running at the top with constant updates on the shooter’s/failed bomber’s religion, how the administration should have seen this coming, etc. That’s what I was trying to point out…that Drudge selectively highlights things and ignores others. And it was especially egregious in this case since folks like Scott Brown said things like, “Nobody likes paying taxes.”

  • http://stubbornfacts.us PatHMV

    Justin, I don’t think that you are correct in your first paragraph, as a matter of law. Can you point to some provision of law which says anybody who is a “terrorist” is an enemy combatant? If so, I’m quite certain that such a statute would then define what constitutes a “terrorist” and we can work from that definition to determine whether the Ft. Hood killer was or the communist plane bomber was.

    As for flying planes into buildings and shooting people being distinctly different acts, sure. The gunman killed 13 people. The plane killed 1, plus Stack himself, and injured 2 more.

    Does Drudge exercise his own editorial judgment in deciding what to highlight and what not to? Sure. Just like any blogger or news media outlet that ever existed. What’s the point?

  • http://www.frankhagan.com/blog/ Frank Hagan

    The Patriot Act defines a crime called “domestic terrorism”. From Wikipedia:

    Title VIII alters the definitions of terrorism, and establishes or re-defines rules with which to deal with it. It redefined the term “domestic terrorism” to broadly include mass destruction as well as assassination or kidnapping as a terrorist activity. The definition also encompasses activities that are “dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State” and are intended to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population,” “influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion,” or are undertaken “to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping” while in the jurisdiction of the United States.

    Oklahoma City, the Unibomber, the recent IRS attack, and Ft. Hood all qualify as “domestic terrorism” (ex-post facto for those first two). So far, the body count from Islamic terrorists is higher, better organized, and more of a threat.