We live in dangerous times. We may believe terrorists live afar — and that we’re valiantly battling them in the Middle East with our military — but what are we doing about our homegrown terrorists who seek to punish with their hate in the deaths of others? Are we killing our homegrown terrorists with lead and bombs? Or do we somehow see these killers among us as some sort of misbegotten patriot?
Here’s a scary list from the Southern Poverty Law Center detailing the homegrown terrorist acts in the USA so far in 2011:
Jan. 14, 2011
Federal agents in Arizona arrest Jeffery Harbin, a member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, for allegedly building homemade grenades and pipe bombs that he apparently intended to supply to anti-immigration groups patrolling the Mexican border. A prosecutor says that Harbin constructed the devices, using model rocket engines and aluminum power, “in such a way as to maximize human carnage.” Harbin is indicted on two counts of possessing a destructive device and a third of transporting destructive devices. Jeffery Harbin is the son of Jerry Harbin, a Phoenix-area activist with past ties to the neo-Nazi National Alliance and the racist Council of Conservative Citizens.
Jan. 17, 2011
Bomb technicians defuse a sophisticated improvised explosive device (IED) found in a backpack along the Spokane, Wash., route of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade with 1,500 marchers. Using forensic clues found in the dismantled bomb, officials about two months later identify and arrest Kevin William Harpham, a long-time neo-Nazi. Harpham had posted more than 1,000 messages to the neo-Nazi Vanguard News Network since 2004, when he was a member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance. Harpham also had contributed to the white supremacist Aryan Alternative newspaper. He is indicted on one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and one count of possessing an IED. Later, federal hate crime charges are added.
March 10, 2011
Six members of the antigovernment Alaska Peacemakers Militia, including its leader Francis Schaeffer Cox, are arrested and charged with plotting to kill or kidnap state troopers and a Fairbanks judge. The group already has a large cache of weapons, including a .50-caliber machine gun and grenades and a grenade launcher. Cox earlier identified himself as a “sovereign citizen.”
May 14, 2011
Three masked men break into the Madrasah Islamiah, an Islamic center in Houston, and douse prayer rugs with gasoline in an apparent attempt to burn the center down. Images of the men are captured on surveillance cameras, but they are not identified. The fire is put out before doing major damage.
Have you heard more about those terrorists in your local news feed, or more about the war in the Middle East? Are we closing our eyes against the inevitable uprising of resentment as America becomes more Brown and less White?
Why don’t we more vigilantly promote the prosecution of these right-wing American radicals? How many Oklahoma City bombings can we absorb before we begin to see the real problem of terrorism growing at home in our backyards? What sort of tragedy will it take for the military to weed out the reckless and the deadly here at home? When will the danger be high enough, and the killing so unavoidable, that we need to proactively kill these American terrorists before they have a chance to turn on us?
I also sometimes wonder why more is not done about this. Hard to say that we should kill someone before they have a chance to kill — seems a bit like arresting someone before they’ve committed a crime?
Here are three scenarios:
1. A lone gunman approaches the President. He draws a gun and takes dead aim. Are you saying the Secret Service has to wait until he actually fires the gun before they can kill him?
2. A bombmaker is actively making IEDs in his basement. Intel suggests he plans to blow up his home in retaliation against government taxes. A SWAT sniper has the guy in his gunsights as the bombmaker puts the final touches on his bomb. Do you shoot him, or wait for him to flip the switch?
3. A woman is driving a car. She doesn’t know a bomb in the trunk. A homegrown terrorist previously planted it there. She is driving to a shopping mall parking lot packed with people. The police lay down spike strips to stop her car since she never saw or heard their lights or sirens. After her car rolls over the spike strips, she loses control of her car, and the sudden movement sets off the bomb and she alone is killed. The woman never knowingly committed a crime. Were the police within their right to stop her — with deadly force if necessary — before she reached the mall parking lot?
Love your examples.
Scenario one : Clear and present danger. It’s the same as when a person pulls a gun in front of the police — they have to shoot him.
Scenario two : How did intel let him get this far? The SWAT team should have descended with warrant in hand (probable cause) to stop him from even assembling the ieds at all.
Scenario three : Here too there is a clear and present danger. They have to act or it will blow and kill the people.
When I say not to kill prematurely I mean if we only know of someone espousing idealogical nuttiness — not knowing if they have any actual weaponry or ability to harm. (Who says I always agree with everything you write? 🙂 )
The point of yours I was arguing in my scenarios was this:
It’s the “chance to kill” that concerns me there are people who — just by planning an assassination or a bombing are breaking the law — the question is how do we handle that threat? Do we take it out or arrest it or wait for it actually kill?
Planning an assassination is grounds for arrest, depending on the subject, I believe. For example, Hunter S. Thompson was arrested for saying that someone should stomp on the president’s head. The line is drawn where there seems to be a clear and present danger — err on the side of caution and arrest if necessary but, not just arrest anyone who is unhappy with the government because that rather defeats the point of a free and democratic society, no?
Do you think we have that philosophy in our occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan — or do we shoot to kill the terrorists first?