Join 3,557 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

June 10, 2002
8:00 AM   Subscribe

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced Monday the capture of a "known terrorist" with connections to al Qaeda who allegedly planned to build and explode a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States.
posted by LinusMines (84 comments total)

 
Just was about to post that. O’Hare airport. Eeek.
posted by Davezilla at 8:01 AM on June 10, 2002


An"enemy combatant"? was he wearing a uniform? If he was going to build and explode a radioactive bomb, then there must be many others with the knowledge and materials. Old Terrorist adage: don't put all your devices in one shopping cart.
posted by Postroad at 8:13 AM on June 10, 2002


Washington Post - "Ashcroft said al Qaida apparently believed that Mujahir would be permitted to travel freely within the United States because of his U.S. citizenship and because he carried a U.S. passport."
posted by revbrian at 8:14 AM on June 10, 2002


More on the AP wire. The arrest was on May 8. This certainly accounts for the spate of warnings since then.

Incidentally, this man is a US citizen, and he is being "treated as an enemy combatant" which places him in military custody and in line for a tribunal.
posted by dhartung at 8:15 AM on June 10, 2002


Yeah, postroad, but ya kill a hydra one head at a time. With fire, preferably.
posted by dissent at 8:16 AM on June 10, 2002


According to AP, officials say the suspect is "a former Chicago street gang member who served time in prison in the 1990s, converted to Islam and met with al-Qaeda leaders in 2001".
posted by LinusMines at 8:18 AM on June 10, 2002


Don't believe the BS about DC being the target. Chicago was it. I doubt they would make a bomb in Chicago and yell "Road trip to DC!" Especially since their funding was most likely from the Benevolence International Foundation which was run by another al-Qaeda member.
posted by @homer at 8:25 AM on June 10, 2002


Bush Administration policy: spread panic and fear, watch poll numbers go up. Am I supposed to believe John Ashcroft, who's not much different from J. Edgar Hoover, except that he probably won't be caught wearing a dress, just because he says it's true? I hope the rest of the public isn't as dumb, but I suspect that they probably are.
posted by mark13 at 8:34 AM on June 10, 2002


That's where you're wrong. There is no official in Washington more likely to be caught in a dress and hanging out at porno shops than Ashcroft. The bible-beating whackos are always the hypocrites.
posted by owillis at 8:41 AM on June 10, 2002


If a dirty nuke went off in Chicago, I would be a dead man. I am thinking hard on my recent discussion with Ty Webb and wondering what is so great about intervention that it is worth stuff like this?
posted by thirteen at 8:46 AM on June 10, 2002


Any ideas why they waited so long to announce the arrest? Surely a month is enough time to gather evidence and know where you stand with charging someone with a crime. Seems like the adminstration is holding their cards close to their chests and playing aces when they need them. Thoughts?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:46 AM on June 10, 2002


Bush Administration policy: spread panic and fear, watch poll numbers go up.

Yet if they hadn't announced the arrest, you'd be the first one crying about the Bush government's secrecy and saying, "Why don't they keep the citizens informed, what are they hiding?" If you think this is about poll numbers, I half-hope your backyard is the first set ablaze by some terrorist's bomb. There are thousands and thousands of people who want to see this country destroyed, remember that.
posted by Karl at 8:49 AM on June 10, 2002


The press conference that just wrapped up was a complete waste of time...
posted by LinusMines at 8:50 AM on June 10, 2002


Any ideas why they waited so long to announce the arrest?

Bush is dipping in the polls again? Some more Enron shenanigans? Cheney's Halliburton deals coming to light?
posted by owillis at 8:51 AM on June 10, 2002


One thing that was missing from the article (or maybe it's just too early for me)-- did the suspect actually have, or have access to, any radioactive material?
posted by cell divide at 8:52 AM on June 10, 2002


I half-hope your backyard is the first set ablaze by some terrorist's bomb.

Well, now that's charming.
posted by Skot at 8:53 AM on June 10, 2002


If you think this is about poll numbers, I half-hope your backyard is the first set ablaze by some terrorist's bomb.

Sheesh. I hope all your matrilineal ancestors are given tongue baths against their will by a flatulent chupacabra.
posted by rcade at 8:53 AM on June 10, 2002


Yes, it's an exaggeration, but you get the point.
posted by Karl at 8:55 AM on June 10, 2002


This arrest reeks of "See, we have our sh*t together now." It smells foul and fishy.
posted by aeiou at 8:55 AM on June 10, 2002


What's a dirty bomb: info here and here
posted by matteo at 8:59 AM on June 10, 2002


The point I'm getting is that you're a big drama queen. Should my backyard be the second one set ablaze?
posted by rcade at 8:59 AM on June 10, 2002


Anybody else think how ironic it is that the new hotbed for Islamic terrorist is Pakistan? Where if the Axis of Evil when you need it?
posted by magullo at 8:59 AM on June 10, 2002


Geez, which Tom Clancy book are Al Quaeda going to check out of the library next?
posted by smackfu at 9:01 AM on June 10, 2002


Wow. The anti-guv'ment force is strong in this room. Sure, Ashcroft is a creep, and the Bush whitehouse has some problems, but can they collectively get a couple of kudos for catching someone who might have been preparing to do something horrible? Would Occams's Razor suggest that the announcement was delayed for ancillary political reasons, rather than security reasons?
posted by dammitjim at 9:02 AM on June 10, 2002


Yes, it's an exaggeration, but you get the point.

I certainly do: "Remember to ignore Karl."
posted by Skot at 9:03 AM on June 10, 2002


Wait a second ... one of the talking points of the administration back when the military tribunals controversy was on the front burner was that the military tribunals would not apply to US citizens. Indeed, that's explicitly stated in the executive order and was given as one reason why John Walker Lindh would be tried in the usual courts.

But now the New York Times reports that Ashcroft's remarks "strongly suggest" that Abdullah Al Mujahir will be tried by military tribunal. Does the Times have it wrong, or is this a policy shift? And if it's a shift, how much father down the slippery slope are we?
posted by Chanther at 9:07 AM on June 10, 2002


suggest that the announcement was delayed for ancillary political reasons, rather than security reasons?

A month ago I would have given Bush + Co. the benefit of the doubt. But theyve proven political grandstanding and advantage far outweighs protecting American lives.
posted by owillis at 9:11 AM on June 10, 2002


Why should Karl be ignored for wishing that others share in his own likely fate unless the terrorist problem is correctly addressed? Anger is well placed at those who fiddle while Rome burns, rather than joining the bucket brigade...
posted by dissent at 9:13 AM on June 10, 2002


What Chanther said. Does this make anyone else feel uneasy? Is the administration now saying that anyone, even U.S. citizens, can be arrested and tried in secret by a military tribunal? If so, isn't that a change in policy? Has Bush, in effect, suspended habeus corpus? If so, does that scare anyone?
posted by Holden at 9:14 AM on June 10, 2002


The MeFi guidelines advise that we follow the Golden Rule. Unless you'd like someone wishing nuclear/chemical/biological terror on you, don't wish it on others (or their families, etc.). I'll probably catch shit for saying that, but come on...this is a major issue, and reading the thread, I was amazed by the utter lack of maturity that was evident. Grow up, kids. It's not about name-calling...if that's all you're here for, I'm sure there's a playground elsewhere you could go to.

Back to the topic...yes, Chanther, the whole military tribunal thing looks like it's going to happen...or at least everything I'm seeing/hearing (mostly on CNN) is pointing in that direction. Which sucks. The fact that someone can be picked up for *discussing* something dangerous with the wrong people, and then not only held but transferred and tried in a military court, even though he's a US citizen and we've said we won't do that, is scary. The whole civil liberties vs. safety and security thing. Supposedly he was on a reconnaissance mission to D.C.

Slippery slope is right.
posted by sara_k03 at 9:16 AM on June 10, 2002


This guy is being held at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina, which is located on the grounds of the Charleston Naval Weapons Station

Couldn't we lock him up somewhere where he's not so close to things that go BOOM?
posted by Wildcat3 at 9:17 AM on June 10, 2002


I do apologize for the hyperbole, but I guess I've reached my threshold for people who have (probably) never worked for the government, never risked their lives to arrest someone, never investigated a crime or never tried to prevent a tragedy, yet their first impluse is to suggest it was somehow all conspiratorial.

People, the news only reached us like two hours ago! Can't the cynicism at least wait until some facts are in?
posted by Karl at 9:22 AM on June 10, 2002


Ah, now CNN is saying that he was deemed an "enemy combatant" because they were out of time...if they were to keep him in the justice system, they would have had to charge him. Making him an enemy combatant allows them to keep him longer without charging him (scary). Also, it means that he has fewer rights.
posted by sara_k03 at 9:25 AM on June 10, 2002


What radioactive material was going to be used for this dirty bomb?

And they're not reading Tom Clancy, they're reading John Mcphee.
posted by dglynn at 9:28 AM on June 10, 2002


Why is this arrest being announced when the government has told us they have thwarted other plans about which they couldn't tell us? What makes this arrest different than those others?

If the arrest was made May 8th, what made it ripe for announcement now (as opposed to a month ago)?

Why did John Ashcroft (and not Tom Ridge) make the announcement, and why, why, why from Moscow?
posted by precipice at 9:44 AM on June 10, 2002


Good God, the anti-Bush/anti-government brigade here is ridiculous.

One would assume that the arrest wasn't immediately announced because like, you know, that might tip off his associates. You think?

Why was it announced at all? This one is more open to opinion; mine is that it was thought the public should know that something is being done to Fight The Terrorist Scourge.

General comment on rights being reduced and doing anything possible to hold onto a suspect - yes, it is a scary thought. But so is the idea of a large-scale terrorist action. We have to trust our authorities to make the right decision at least some of the time, don't we?
posted by SiW at 9:47 AM on June 10, 2002


Our authorities are the ones who got us into this mess, so I would say no.
posted by thirteen at 9:49 AM on June 10, 2002


We have to trust our authorities to make the right decision at least some of the time, don't we?

You mean the people who knew about the attacks before they happened? Yeah, we can trust them. You mean the people who won't let pilots have guns in the cockpits, even though it was normal for pilots on American flights to be armed, up until 1987? Yeah, we can trust them. You mean the people who decided to invade Afghanistan, even though 15 of the terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, and 0 were from Afghanistan? Yeah, we can trust them. You mean the people who react to a government security failure by grabbing more money and power, and who instruct the various failed bureaucracies to do more of the same thing? Yeah, we can trust them.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:55 AM on June 10, 2002


"Ashcroft said al Qaida apparently believed that Mujahir would be permitted to travel freely within the United States because of his U.S. citizenship and because he carried a U.S. passport."

Those crazy terrorists...they'll believe ANYTHING!
posted by rushmc at 9:58 AM on June 10, 2002


What Chanther said. The suspension of habeas corpus, just because they don't have time or evidence to prove a crime is bloody spooky. (Hello FBI guys that now have permission to snoop here looking for potential thought-crimes.) If there's evidence, we have a court system that seems to work, why aren't we using it?
posted by dejah420 at 10:00 AM on June 10, 2002


We have to trust our authorities to make the right decision at least some of the time, don't we?

I think the relationship between a government and the people it governs is much better based upon openness and oversight than upon trust.

For my argument, please see all of human history.
posted by rushmc at 10:00 AM on June 10, 2002


it was normal for pilots on American flights to be armed, up until 1987?

Do you have a source for this? I haven't seen this claim before anywhere in all the debate on this topic.
posted by rushmc at 10:02 AM on June 10, 2002


meanwhile, at another press conference...
posted by quonsar at 10:02 AM on June 10, 2002


The suspension of habeas corpus, just because they don't have time or evidence to prove a crime is bloody spooky.

Not to mention criminal and unconstitutional. Who will watch the watchers?
posted by rushmc at 10:03 AM on June 10, 2002


We have to trust our authorities to make the right decision at least some of the time, don't we?

The American system of checks and balances is built upon a basis of distrust of authority. Our system of government assumes that the people in power are almost certainly corrupt, and must be held in check. In this particular case, it looks like it might be time for the Judicial branch to check the Executive. If they're going to hold an American citizen arrested on American soil, they must charge him with a crime. If Bush wants to suspend habeus corpus, let him try. I'd love to see the public reaction to that announcement. (Hell, it would be a hoot just to hear Bush try to pronounce Latin.)
posted by mr_roboto at 10:05 AM on June 10, 2002


The announcement was made now because Mujahir was just deemed an "enemy combatant"...the deadline to make that decision was today, and it was made by the president last night. (Not to mention the spin-worthiness of all of it.)
posted by sara_k03 at 10:11 AM on June 10, 2002


never worked for the government,
Check

never risked their lives to arrest someone,
Check

never investigated a crime,
Check

never tried to prevent a tragedy,
Check again

Does my street cred rise any with the above? Please put away fat paintbrush, Karl. I thinks its ok for us to at least question the timing. Owillis has some good points although I'd disagree with the statement: political grandstanding and advantage far outweighs protecting American lives.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:16 AM on June 10, 2002


rushmc:

"Many pilots say they ignored rules and illegally packed guns in their flight bags before 1987 when they were first required to go through metal detectors." - USA Today

Perhaps normal is the wrong word to use, but it did happen. The highly successful El Al airline security system does not arm their pilots, but they have armed undercover marshals on flights, and they engage in (gasp) profiling.

If Bush wants to suspend habeus corpus, let him try.

Lincoln did it when he was at war, and he got away with it. In fact, he arrested the entire Maryland State Legislature. Ambrose Burnside arrested Clement C. Vallandigham, who was then banished by Lincoln to the South. There are plenty of examples when habeas corpus has been suspended, including the Nisei.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:22 AM on June 10, 2002


Perhaps normal is the wrong word to use

I should think so! Pilots illegally sneaking guns onboard their aircraft in no way equates to a widespread and approved practice.
posted by rushmc at 10:34 AM on June 10, 2002


If Bush wants to suspend habeas corpus, let him try.

Lincoln did it when he was at war, and he got away with it.


Bush, however, would not get away with it. The reaction would be immediate; I'm sure we'd hear serious calls for impeachment. It would at least be a guarantee that the Republicans would lose the House and fail to regain the Senate in the Fall--incentive enough to keep Bush from considering such a step. My point was that without such a suspension of habeas corpus, they can't keep this guy in jail. The argument that he's an enemy combatant is ridiculous; there's no declared war, and he isn't a member of any army. If talking to the wrong people is enough to make you a "combatant", we're in serious trouble. And if he did more than talk, the Attorney General should charge him with a crime.

There are plenty of examples when habeas corpus has been suspended, including the Nisei.

For what it's worth, in discussing suspension of habeas corpus, I think most people refer to article 1, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution:

"The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it"

This article has been invoked exactly once, by Lincoln. While it could certainly be argued that the Nisei were denied their right to appeal for a writ of habeas corpus, their internment did not involve a general suspension of the right.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:43 AM on June 10, 2002


Let's see, trust pilots(who you already entrust with your life when you step on a plane) or Norm Mineta and Tom Ridge... hmm...
posted by insomnyuk at 10:44 AM on June 10, 2002


I trust pilots to fly a plane, which is what they have been trained and certified to do. I have no equivalent knowledge of their ability to safely and effectively carry or use a firearm.
posted by rushmc at 11:55 AM on June 10, 2002


We have to trust our authorities to make the right decision

Ahem....

"He (Al Gore) trusts the government, I trust the people." -Dubya, summer 2000

On habeus corpus, we've got to be at war first. We're not at war. Just because Faux News says we're at war does NOT make it true. WE ARE NOT AT WAR. Doesn't make any difference what pResident Cheney says. We actually have laws concerning whether we are at war or not and these have been discussed extensively here on Mefi. Thank you for listening.
posted by nofundy at 12:19 PM on June 10, 2002


Nofundy, you keep talking like we're not t war, but I don't think anyone is listening to you. If we're not at war, then what's this War on Terror I keep hearing so much about? /sarcasm

Actually, if you talk to any military personnel, they consider this a war. Whether Congress has sanctioned it with a declaration or not, we are definitely in some kind of war. It's like calling the Vietnam War a 'conflict'. Which is exactly what the government did. Just because in law they don't recognize it to be a war doesn't mean the people don't recognize it for what it is.

What would you call this invasion and occupation of Afghanistan then? "A non-war that looks like a war but isn't because Congress hasn't declared it to be a war yet, so we're not at war"?
posted by insomnyuk at 1:05 PM on June 10, 2002


insomnyuk: It's a "war" just like the "war" on drugs or the "war" on poverty or the "war" on civil liberties (ok, I made up that last one). No Congressional declaration equals no legal war.

US citizens should not be subject to military tribunals no matter how insane the country seems to be at the moment. Treason is a criminal offense. Let's charge him with that if we can make it stick. Otherwise, it's time to stop hiding behind fear and stand up for what the Constitution was supposed to mean. If we don't, and I'm not being at all sarcastic, then we as a nation are already lost and it's time to start figuring out how to fractionate the union.
posted by shagoth at 1:12 PM on June 10, 2002


The Washington Post article has a senior Justice official saying, "He is being held as an enemy combatant . . . [but] he is not being put in the tribunal system."

later they get to,

The timing of the announcements--with Ashcroft speaking from Moscow and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld still out of the country--raised questions about whether something prompted the government to act today. But a senior Justice Department official said "There was no rush. This was a very deliberative process."


That's a different picture than this last second decision idea being discussed. It's a good question whether the government can go by the laws of war without officially declaring one.
posted by mblandi at 1:27 PM on June 10, 2002


Otherwise, it's time to stop hiding behind fear and stand up for what the Constitution was supposed to mean.

Interesting how those who would probably be of the "living document" camp normally shift over into "strict constructionist" territory at precisely the wrong moment for the continued well-being of the nation...
posted by dissent at 2:03 PM on June 10, 2002


Interesting how those who would probably be of the "living document" camp normally shift over into "strict constructionist" territory at precisely the wrong moment for the continued well-being of the nation...

Of course, I must be hypocritical not being concerned that any dissent could just as easily be lumped in with "illegal combatants". Why is it that otherwise intelligent people can't see that this isn't a slippery slope, it's a chasm that once we've fallen in we may NEVER recover. I won't latch onto sentimentalism and invoke images of the dead (warriors or civilians) but surely some people sacrificed somewhere to guarranty freedoms for all, even realizing that there are liabilities that come with it. The jury trial isn't optional in the "Big Document," and we're talking about a civilian arrest by civilian authorities at a civilian installation (O'Hare) of a US citizen. This is not a combatant by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by shagoth at 2:16 PM on June 10, 2002


Funny, we had trial by tribunal for saboteurs in WWII, and we seem to have come through that all right...
posted by dissent at 2:38 PM on June 10, 2002


it's a chasm that once we've fallen in we may NEVER recover.

Well, not to say it'd be a pleasant prospect, and at the risk of breaking Godwin's Law, but Germany did survive Nazism. As Ghandi said, "Tyrants and murderers can seem
invincible at the time, but in the end they always fall. Think of it. Always."
posted by crunchland at 2:39 PM on June 10, 2002


crunchland - Who should conquer the US to set our government on the right course again? What's your short list look like?
posted by NortonDC at 2:42 PM on June 10, 2002


That's where you're wrong. There is no official in Washington more likely to be caught in a dress and hanging out at porno shops than Ashcroft. The bible-beating whackos are always the hypocrites.

"Anyone that far to the right is hiding a deep, dark secret."
-Bill Hicks
posted by nath at 2:48 PM on June 10, 2002


I thought Crunchland was talking about the tyrants and murderers who threaten the US. They will fall... or be pushed.

Also: Funny, we had trial by tribunal for saboteurs in WWII, and we seem to have come through that all right...


But those people weren't American citizens, were they?
posted by cell divide at 2:49 PM on June 10, 2002


Funny, we had trial by tribunal for saboteurs in WWII, and we seem to have come through that all right...

The tribunals to which dissent refers were of German citizens. Following the American Civil War, the Supreme Court ruled that U.S. citizens can only be subject to military tribunals when the civilian courts are not functioning. The Supreme Court allowed the tribunal in WWII because the defendants were foreign nationals, and members of the military of an enemy nation (given the status quo equivocation and trepidation in the American congress, Germany may very well have been the last country to ever be the subject of an American declaration of war...). By all reasonable constitutional law, and according to Bush's previously declared policy, the man whose arrest was announced today cannot be held for a military tribunal. He must be charged in a civilian court or released.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:59 PM on June 10, 2002


Whatever happened to all that 'Rule of Law' talk I kept hearing about for the past 4 years?
posted by insomnyuk at 3:04 PM on June 10, 2002


But those people weren't American citizens, were they?
I know that at least one of them was. Someone born in Chicago, went to Germany after High School and returned with plans to cause some destruction. I believe he was executed.
posted by thirteen at 3:32 PM on June 10, 2002


Whatever happened to all that 'Rule of Law' talk I kept hearing about for the past 4 years?

Terrorism happened. When one person who doesn't richly deserve summary treatment is proven to have gotten such, then I shall perhaps worry.

I didn't detect much liberal outcry over the excesses of the Clinton Justice department- Elian Gonzales, Ruby Ridge, and so on... I'd suggest it's their turn to suffer a blow to their notion of how the world should be... and this time, the difference is, the interests of this nation, not a venal, self-serving man, will be served.

I should be worried over a damned lowlife gang member ?

A foolish consistency truly is the hobgoblin of small minds. We can decide who recieves civilized treatment in a manner that fits the situation... and bounce right back when the situation changes.

But the situation won't change until we do what needs to be done to achieve reasonable levels of security. SLippery slope, whatever... we live to climb slopes, and we don't need to try to defend those who actively seek to destroy us.
posted by dissent at 4:33 PM on June 10, 2002


Terrorism happened.

Wow, that will make an even better coffee mug & baseball cap slogan than the original variant.
posted by rushmc at 4:56 PM on June 10, 2002


Ruby Ridge (and Waco to some extent) I'll concede, but the whole Elian debacle followed the law to the letter. Hell, they bent the rules for Elian's Miami relatives. Or do you really buy what the whackjob anti-Castro nutters in Miami sell hook-line-and-sinker?
posted by owillis at 4:57 PM on June 10, 2002


Elian Gonzales, Ruby Ridge, and so on...

While I'm at a loss for how Elian should have evoked liberal outcry, the fundamental difference with anything that occured by agencies (like Ruby Ridge and Waco) and what is happening now is that NOW is a centralized and concerted effort to strip citizens and others of rights. Was it wrong that agencies have miscarried and overstepped in the past? Absolutely. It's certainly a lesser wrong than the corruption of the entire system. To argue anything else is misdirection at best.
posted by shagoth at 4:58 PM on June 10, 2002


dissent - we don't need to try to defend those who actively seek to destroy us.

How do you know he has? You don't really. If only we had a means of testing evidence and weighing facts before stripping people of their rights... Wait, we do! They're called courts! Whoah, wait until the Attorney General hears about those! I'm sure he'll be excited by the news!
posted by NortonDC at 4:59 PM on June 10, 2002


That's where you and I differ, Dissent. No one has proven that this guy is "actively seek(ing) to destroy us." We have the word of John Ashcroft, who I trust as much as you trust Janet Reno.

Someone does need to defend this fellow -- his attorney, in a court of law. Don't be so quick to dismiss our legal system as an obstacle to justice and national security.
posted by Holden at 5:02 PM on June 10, 2002


dissent Terrorism happened. When one person who doesn't richly deserve summary treatment is proven to have gotten such, then I shall perhaps worry.

I think this is the concern here. In closed military tribunals which are subject to virtually no judicial review, it's much more difficult to be assured that you would ever know that someone was convicted unjustly. It's easier (at least easier than in a conventional court) to simply get rid of the evidence to protect a system designed to be outside of the checks and balances. The tribunals are that way by design, after all.

I know a lot of people who reside on either side of this ethical divide, some of whom would happily do everything short of imprisoning themselves to decrease by 10% their chances of dying at the hands of terrorists, the others of whom would rather ... well, you get the point. Me, I'm in the middle.

Yeah, I'm damn near terrified all the time, but I do think a healthy dose of cynicism is required, as well. I love this country and I don't want it destroyed by power-mad zealots on either side.
posted by Sinner at 6:12 PM on June 10, 2002


ive been wondering when the "war on terrorism" is going to move to its true havens - new jersey, south florida, chicago, riyadh, Islamabad, Cairo etc.... and if collateral damage in the process of "smoking out the terrorists" in these and other places would be acceptable?
posted by specialk420 at 7:05 PM on June 10, 2002


I'm damn near terrified all the time

How do you justify such an extreme response? Do you life in NYC or DC? Do you have equal terror every time you get in a car? I'm not picking on you, just trying to understand. Must be hell to live that way.
posted by rushmc at 8:19 PM on June 10, 2002


Legal and political analyses from the nytimes.

While I applaud the government for getting on the ball and catching this guy, I am disturbed by his nebulous legal status. I don't see why he should be treated any differently than McVeigh was.
posted by homunculus at 9:06 PM on June 10, 2002


rushmc - How do you justify such an extreme response?

A fair response to a bit of hyperbole on my part. (Although, as an aside, I've always thought that the "car accident" statistic is a bit of a cop-out. There is some modicum of control I have over whether I am killed in a car crash, and driving at relatively safe speeds in an airbag-equipped car while wearing a seatbelt (all of which I do on the very rare occasions in which I drive) helps.)

To your question, yes, I do live in New York. The truth of the matter is that I don't live in fear all the time, but I feel like I very easily could. Almost immediately after 9/11, I realized that one can either fully acknowledge the atrocity of having watched several thousand people die (and I watched with my own eyes, out my window) and live a somber, contemplative existence, or one can live a day-to-day existence, going out with friends, carousing and fretting about the idiocy that comprises most of one's quotidian existence. I don't feel - for me, at least - that it's possible to do both simultaneously.

Of course I'm always aware of what I saw happen, but not to the fullest extent I'm able.

I am virtually certain another attack will come, and odds are, it will come here (or Boston, DC, San Francisco, LA or Chicago - the other places for which I might depart). So to whatever extent I'm able, I've come to terms with the knowledge that by staying, I could be signing my own death warrant. Or not. Maudlin, morbid, whatever, but in a way, true. It's roughly the same as choosing to make the same drive mentioned above, but driving at breakneck speeds in a Pinto with the belt unbuckled. You have a great chance of survival, but it's significantly lowered.
posted by Sinner at 9:06 PM on June 10, 2002


Fair enough. I do think, though, that most people overestimate the security/safety of their lives tremendously. Calculating all the risks we are subject to would quickly lead to a nervous breakdown and inability to function (and does for some, on the extreme end).

Even if one of our cities were nuked by terrorists (probably the worst case scenario), as individuals in America we would still be statistically living in less danger of losing our lives than the people of almost any historical time or society. We know this on an unconscious level, and so a sudden awareness of a "new" threat is naturally overrated in comparison to the status quo that we are accustomed to--a pebble makes a larger splash in a still pond than in a raging sea.

I agree that another attack of some sort is extremely likely. But as dramatic as its effects may be--and as tragic for those who suffer directly for it--it will only tear at our society--and our psyches--to the degree that we let it.
posted by rushmc at 9:27 PM on June 10, 2002


(As for me, I'm currently planning to try to move to New York. Fuck 'em.)
posted by rushmc at 9:28 PM on June 10, 2002


thirteen: George John Dasch and the Nazi Saboteurs. All 8 men were German born, all had lived in the US for substantial periods, and two were naturalized citizens. All were tried by military commission and sentenced to death irrespective of their citizenship status. Two sentences were commuted to life in prisonment: the informant, and a pal who tried to tip off local police {note: anti-detention polemic}. The latter happened to be one of the citizens, however. Later both were released, given suspended sentences, and deported to W Germany.

And both Grant, TR and FDR suspended habeas corpus in S. Carolina, the Philippines, and Hawaii respectively, establishing a precedent for limited suspension based, at least, on geography and political jurisdictions. Tribunal critics will probably take heart at the language of Duncan v. Kahanamoku, a wartime case of a US citizen charged under the military government (Kahanmoku was the Sheriff):

The right to jury trial and the other constitutional rights of an accused individual are too fundamental to be sacrificed merely through a reasonable fear of military assault. There must be some overpowering factor that makes a recognition of those rights incompatible with the public safety before we should consent to their temporary suspension. If those rights may safely be respected in the face of a threatened invasion no valid reason exists for disregarding them. In other words, the civil courts must be utterly incapable of trying criminals or of dispensing justice in their usual manner before the Bill of Rights may be temporarily suspended.

Still, this merely enjoins military tribunals from replacing civilian courts for civilian crimes. The same, or almost the same, court assented in the trial of the Nazi saboteurs by tribunal (and cite that case, Ex Parte Quirin, as precedent here). In that decision the court agreed that the US citizens cited above had "by conduct renounced or abandoned ... United States citizenship". Later, they note the ways in which the intended sabotage and other incidental violations (e.g. taking civilian dress) constituted violations of the laws of war, a defining characteristic of the order for tribunals. They find that these are distinct and separable from treason per se. In this case habeas corpus was not specifically suspended, but it was denied by the courts (as happens in other cases routinely, e.g. involving flight risks).
posted by dhartung at 10:36 PM on June 10, 2002


CBS News : "I want to emphasize again that there was not an actual plan. We stopped this man in the initial planning stages," said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

Ok... so was he merely thinking about doing it, or had he actually entered the search phrase "dirty nuke" into Google yet?
posted by crunchland at 11:25 PM on June 10, 2002


An analysis of what this attempted attack reveals about Al Qaeda.
posted by sheauga at 5:02 AM on June 11, 2002


CNN: The U.S. citizen who allegedly planned to build and explode a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States may never face trial, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday. "Our interest is not in trying him and punishing him," Rumsfeld said of suspected al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla. "Our interest is in finding out what he knows."

"This guy, Padilla, is a bad guy," Bush said as he met with lawmakers at the White House to discuss his proposal for a Department of Homeland Security. "And he is where he needs to be -- detained."


Damn. This cavalier attitude towards stripping an American citizen of his basic rights makes it very hard for me to give the government the benefit of the doubt.
posted by homunculus at 12:38 PM on June 11, 2002


Wow. During the Manson trial, when Nixon commented that someone else was "as guilty as Manson," it was considered a real breach for the president to declare that someone was guilty before a jury had made that judgment. Times have changed.
posted by Holden at 1:15 PM on June 11, 2002


« Older Etherlinx, plans to offer high-speed wireless acce...  |  The Peculiar Duplicity of Ari ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments