Recently in Terrorism Category

Congress is presently debating whether and to what extent to re-authorize bulk collection of telephone records, a key provision set forth in Section 215 of the Patriot Act.  My friend Rachel Brand, a former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy, writes an informative piece about it in the Christian Science Monitor. She notes, among other things:

[T]he question before Congress is not whether to reauthorize or prohibit the bulk telephone records program that has garnered so much attention. It is whether to reauthorize Section 215 itself. This authority was enacted after 9/11 to remedy the problem that officers conducting foreign intelligence investigations of international terrorism and espionage did not have a basic investigative tool available even in ordinary criminal investigations. The telephone records program conducted by the NSA is only one application of that authority. If Congress allows Section 215 to expire, it will not just eliminate that program; it will do away entirely with an essential investigative tool.
Punishment for crime involves both judicial and executive discretion.  The sentence in years (or life) is imposed by the trial court, but where the convict actually is in those years is typically an executive decision.  That may involve which prison he is sent to, whether he is inside or outside prison (i.e., parole), or even which country he is in.

Khalid Al Fawwaz was sentenced today for his part in the 1998 Embassy Bombing plot.  He received three life sentences and a ten-year sentence, concurrent.  And Judge Kaplan added this:

The Court makes the following recommendation to the Department of Justice: The Court is mindful of the fact that defendant may have the ability to apply to the U.S. Department of Justice under the international prisoner transfer program to be allowed to serve some or all of his sentence in another nation. Although a decision on any such application, if one is made, would be up to the Department of Justice, the Court strongly recommends that any such application be denied. The defendant has been convicted of very serious crimes against American citizens. His punishment ought to be served in, and more particularly, always remain under the control of the United States of America.
Now that's refreshing to hear from a federal judge.
Denise Lavoie reports for Associated Press:

[Defense attorney David] Bruck urged the jury to sentence the defendant [Dzhokhar Tsarnaev] to life in prison without the possibility of ever being released.

"His legal case will be over for good, and no martyrdom, just years and years of punishment," the lawyer said. "All the while, society is protected."

I am reluctant to call anyone a liar based on a press report, as I have been quoted out of context a time or three myself, but if this report is accurate and in context then Bruck told the jury a bald-faced lie in open court.

Bruck knows, I know, and everyone knowledgeable in the field knows that if the jury returns a life verdict then Tsarnaev will have a right to appeal and then a right to file a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. ยง2255.  By no stretch of the imagination will "his legal case be over for good."  That is absolutely false.

Tsarnaev, Silence, and Remorse, Part II

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Kent has noted that, on the current uncertain state of the law, prosecutors would be taking a risk if they use Tsarnaev's (presumed) silence as evidence of lack of remorse.  I concur.  But there's more to this story.

At first, I agreed with the conventional wisdom that defense counsel would not call their client to the stand.  Now, I have my doubts.  The government's evidence of the savagery and cruelty of this crime in my view makes the death penalty likely unless the defense can move the ball.

I think their best shot to avoid lethal injection is to call Tsarnaev and have him show remorse.  If he does so, and makes a convincing showing, I think he lives. It would help if he broke down in tears of grief in a way that struck the jury as sincere, and not a coached performance.

And there's the rub.  I have seen not a lick of evidence that Tsarnaev actually feels any differently than he did the day of his capture.  That afternoon, he scribbled a note to the effect that he was in a Holy War against the United States, and if there was "collateral damage," in the phrase made immortal by his fellow butcher Timothy McVeigh, well......tough.

My guess is that it will depend on defense counsel's assessment whether Tsarnaev can pull it off, and that he won't break out in an anti-American diatribe during cross-examination.  Having to make judgments like that is one of many reasons I'm happy I did not become a defense lawyer.

20 Years Ago and Today

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 OKfireman1995.jpg

It was 20 years ago today that a domestic terrorist murdered 168 people in Oklahoma City, setting off a vehicle bomb in front of the federal building.  In this famous photograph by Charles Porter IV, fireman Chris Fields cradles infant Baylee Almon, who did not survive.

Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death for this crime on August 14, 1997.  He was executed June 11, 2001, less than four years later.  Why so quickly?  What lesson is there for those seeking justice in the present day?

Guilty as Hell

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted on all 30 charges against him, including 17 punishable by death. 

The sentencing phase will begin soon, at which the abolitionist crowd, regardless of the horrifying facts of this case, will be rooting for the defense side.  How anyone can root for this defendant at any point and in any form or fashion just mystifies me.

The CNN story reports that, "Tsarnaev stood with his head bowed and his hands clasped as the verdicts were read."  I congratulate counsel on a good job of coaching.  Tsarnaev's scribbled note inside the boat where he was captured gave the unscrubbed version of his degree of contrition, to wit, none.  Whether counsel will be able to persuade him to continue occasionally faking contrition is an open question.

I'll bet $100 here and now, however, that he will not take the stand.  Under cross examination, there's too much chance his hatred for infidels, and the United States generally, will come out, thus tanking his it-was-all-my-brother's-idea theory of "mitigation."
The WSJ discusses the prosecution of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, illustrating why the pardon I predict (at a politically convenient moment for the Commander-in-Chief) will be a betrayal of duty and honor by the President even more stunning than Bergdahl's embrace of Jihad:

[T]he bigger story [in the Bergdahl case] is the extravagant price the U.S. has paid because President Obama wanted to score political points.

Readers will recall that then-Private First Class Bergdahl went missing from his post in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009. Fellow soldiers suspected desertion, though the Army conducted a risky manhunt to recover him...

The Associated Press has reported that an internal Pentagon investigation in 2010 found "incontrovertible" evidence that he had walked away from his post. Journalists also uncovered an exchange of letters in which the soldier wrote to his father "the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools," that he was "ashamed to even be american," and that "the future is too good to waste on lies." Replied father Robert: "OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!"

All of this would have been known to President Obama and National Security AdviserSusan Rice when the Administration decided to swap Sgt. Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees--all top Taliban leaders--in May 2014. Mr. Obama even invited Sgt. Bergdahl's parents to a [chipper  --  ed. addition] Rose Garden ceremony to announce the swap, while Ms. Rice declared on a Sunday talk show that the soldier had served his country with "honor and distinction."



Serving with "Honor and Distinction"

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Those are the words the President's National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, used to characterize Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  It was politically necessary for Ms. Rice to praise Bergdahl in order to defend her boss from criticism that he had swapped five high value Taliban commanders for one traitor.

Today, Mr. Honor and Distinction was formally charged with desertion in battle and (in effect) cooperating with the enemy.

Confession #1:  I previously, and it now turns out wrongly, predicted that the Administration would just let the whole mess disappear into the fog, because it has no heart for prosecuting a "misguided youth."

Confession #2:  I also predicted, also wrongly, that if perchance the Administration allowed the Army's investigation to proceed at all, it would be cut short by a preemptive pardon, which I wrote here.

Prediction:  In light of my record of fumbling, I could scarcely blame readers for discounting my next prediction, but here it is anyway.  There won't be a Bergdahl pardon until roughly 21 months from now, after the 2016 election, and "in the spirit of Christmas."  Marc Rich, call your office.
My friend Prof. Greg Dolin of the University of Baltimore Law School writes, "When Barack Obama ran for President, he argued that terrorism should be primarily a law enforcement rather than a military issue. Now he apparently thinks that it's primarily a labor and human services and not a law enforcement issue."

The source of Greg's remark is the following story, which I post with only the observation that this Administration's delusional thinking about terrorism has gone past the point of parody.  

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that FBI Director James Comey was not invited to the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism, because they didn't want the perception that the conference "was overly focused on law enforcement tactics...."

"Certainly law enforcement is a very important role to play. That's why we had the nation's top law enforcement official in attendance," Earnest said.

"That's why we had police chiefs and other law enforcement officials from communities across the country in attendance, but the focus here is on the broader set of tools that are available to communities all across the country to protect vulnerable people who could be susceptible to violent extremist ideology that's propagated on social media," he added.


That's it, ladies and gentleman.  We plan to fight Jihadist decapitation with Facebook posts about how to moderate the inequities of capitalism.  If you gave me a thousand years, I could not come up with this stuff.

The Best Case Yet for Loretta Lynch

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A significant number of conservatives believe Loretta Lynch should be confirmed simply because she is not Eric Holder. Personally, I have my doubts, but that view of things got bolstered significantly by Mr. Holder's Twilight Zone remarks about radical Islam and  --  ready?  --  Fox News.  This piece is just delicious:

There is a recurrent fantasy within the Obama administration that they could get away with anything, if only that damn Fox News would shut up. Well, sometimes that could be true. But other times, it's delusional. Like when Eric Holder blamed Fox News for Islamic radicalism:

Whenever you're getting criticized by both sides, it probably means you're probably getting it right. We spend more time, more time talking about what you call it, as opposed to what do you do about it, you know? I mean really. If Fox didn't talk about this, they would have nothing else to talk about, it seems to me.

Sure. It's not the beheadings, the burning alive, the selling of women into slavery, the parading of prisoners in cages that has people concerned about Islamic extremism. It's not reality, it's Fox News! But what is Holder's point? Why is the administration so allergic to acknowledging that the terrorists who are wreaking havoc are Islamic radicals?

Radical Islam, Islamic extremism; I'm not sure an awful lot is gained by saying that. It doesn't have any impact on our military posture; it doesn't have any impact on what we call it, on the policies that we put in place.


As if we had a policy in place to put these ISIS savages out of business.
A:  He didn't.  It wasn't an oversight.  His absence was a deliberated decision.  Byron York in the Washington Examiner explains why, and I'll get to that, but I want to say just a word first about how the White House has handled this.

Essentially, there has been no explanation.  The press secretary said it was a mistake, and has kind-of-sort-of suggested that arranging security quickly would have been a problem.  But to say it was a mistake is not to explain why it happened, and the notion that security could not have been arranged is preposterous (which the traveling press corps knows, accounting for the fact that it isn't really being pushed).

So why did Obama stay put while the heads of state and prime ministers from 40 other countries took part?  As York writes:

The administration no-shows were not a failure of optics, or a diplomatic misstep, but were instead the logical result of the president's years-long effort to downgrade the threat of terrorism and move on to other things.

"The analogy we use around [the White House] sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant," Obama told the New Yorker magazine in a January 2014 interview. The president was referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria but was also suggesting in a broader sense that a number of post-9/11 offshoot terrorist organizations aren't worth the sort of war-footing mobilization that took place in the George W. Bush years.

******************************

Fast forward to January 2015. The attackers at Charlie Hebdo magazine and the Hyper Cacher kosher market in Paris would undoubtedly qualify as JV-level terrorists under Obama's new classification. But their work was enough to shock Europe and motivate more than a million people to gather behind dozens of heads of state at the unity rally Sunday. 

Obama Snoozes Through Anti-Terrorism Rally

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Terrorism is, to put it mildly, an aggravated form of murder, and thus a frequent topic on this blog.  

In response to the machine gun murders of policemen, cartoonists and editorial writers by Jihadists last week in Paris, to "retaliate" for cartoons lampooning Mohammed, world leaders from across the globe rallied with 3,700,000 ordinary citizens on Sunday.  It was the largest rally in the history of France.  CNN reports:

The day was emotional and peaceful, a gesture of unity just days after Islamic extremists slaughtered 17 people.World leaders joined French President Francois Hollande, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The day also brought together an unlikely duo at the rally: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Spot any omissions?  Right you are.  No Obama.  No Biden.  No Kerry.  And let's face it: No interest.  That's what their boycott announces to the world.

The White House woke up this morning and expressed such regrets as it could squeak out, but I doubt a single person was convinced.  Particularly revealing was this tidbit in the Washington Post story on the Press Office's damage control:

The United States was represented by Ambassador to France Jane Hartley. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas were in Paris for weekend security meetings but did not attend the march.

No, they did not attend.  Must have been having a long lunch.  By the way, the American Ambassador, Ms. Hartley, is principally qualified for her post by having been an Obama bundler.

The mind-blowing portent of Obama's boycott will not be missed by our friends.  Or our enemies.


Only those living on Mars don't know that Colorado has legalized recreational use of pot.  The ballot measure that brought this about was sold to the electorate with several assurances  --  that use in public would remain prohibited, as would use by minors, and that tax revenue would cascade into the state.  The strong libertarian component backing the measure told us that it had little to no interest in affirmatively promoting pot use, but was instead interested simply taking a step toward states' rights and individual freedom to decide for oneself whether the risks were worth the "benefits."

So how are things working out?

As to the assurance that there would be no public toking up, this story has a bit to say:

Tens of thousands of revelers raised joints, pipes and vaporizer devices to the sky Sunday at a central Denver park in a defiant toast to the April 20 pot holiday, a once-underground celebration that stepped into the mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

Wow.  Tens of thousands.  Surely there was a considerable police presence to keep faith the with no-public-use ban the voters had been promised would remain. Ummmm................well.................................

The 4:20 p.m. smoke-out in the shadow of the Colorado capitol was the capstone of an Easter weekend dedicated to cannabis in states across the country. Although it is still against the law to publicly smoke marijuana in Colorado, police reported only 130 citations or arrests over the course of the two-day event, 92 for marijuana consumption.

Well that's cool.  Ninety-two pot citations with tens of thousands of smokers.  That's less than one percent who so much as get charged when they make a point of publicly getting zapped. (Not that anything is likely to happen with these charges except that they'll be quietly dismissed in the bye-and-bye).


Is there a problem with telling the voters there will be strong "safeguards," then blowing (pun intended) right past them?  Well, no, not if you're a druggie, or the PR outfit that does their campaign.



No More Big Talk and Furrowed Brows

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Today's WSJ has an editorial titled, "Islamist Terror in Paris:  Jihadists target Western principles of free speech and religious pluralism."  It describes yesterday's slaughter, then notes:

Wednesday's massacre, following a long string of plots foiled by police in the U.K., France and elsewhere, is a reminder that jihadism isn't a distant Middle Eastern phenomenon. There will be many more such attempts at mass murder, and authorities in the U.S. and Europe need broad authority to surveil and interrogate potential plotters to stop them.

This offends some liberals and libertarians, but imagine the restrictions on liberty that would follow if radical Muslims succeed in blowing up a soccer stadium or half a city. Men willing to execute cartoonists in Paris and 132 children at point-blank range in Peshawar in the name of religion won't shrink from using more destructive means to impose mass casualties. Better to collect metadata and surveil some people now than deal with public demand for mass Muslim arrests or expulsions after a catastrophe.

Wednesday's attack also demonstrates again that violent Islam isn't a reaction to poverty or Western policies in the Middle East. It is an ideological challenge to Western civilization and principles, including a free press and religious pluralism. The murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists is merely the latest evil expression of a modern arc of Islamist violence against Western free speech that stretches back to Ayatollah Khomeini 's 1989 fatwa calling for the killing of novelist Salman Rushdie. 

It's appalling that more people in this country did not understand before yesterday what the stakes are in this struggle.  Instead, we made excuses for butchers, doubted our right and need to act, and lashed out at our own military, intelligence apparatus, and police.  None of those agencies should be or is above scrutiny.  But it's past time for looking-down-the-nose libertarians and holier-than-thou liberals to get on board with what is needed to defend the basics of Western civilization.  If they prefer not to, that is their right in a free country, but their reality-challenged lectures about what they leave it to us rubes to do to protect ourselves (and them) should henceforth be ignored.

Equating Prudence with Cowardice

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The title of this post is the latest article from the always wise Theodore Dalrymple in the City Journal regarding the media's predictable reaction to yesterday's massacre in France.  As the doctor puts it:

How long would it take for a Western journalist to blame the Charlie Hebdo murders on French colonialism and journalistic insensitivity to the feelings of Muslims? Not nearly as long, I suspected, as it would take a journalist in the Muslim world to blame them on the legacy of Mohammed and Islam.

And I was right. It took less than four hours for an associate editor of the Financial Times, Tony Barber, to post a piece on the website of his august publication blaming the journalists and cartoonists of the satirical French magazine (and the two policemen as well?) for their own deaths. Here is what he originally wrote and posted, though he later edited out the final clause:

[Charlie Hebdo] has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims . . . [This] is merely to say that some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo . . . which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.

According to this perverted logic, if the relatives of the 12 murdered men were now to storm into the offices of the Financial Times and shoot 12 staff members because of the considerable provocation offered by Tony Barber, it will prove only that Barber had just been stupid.

One wonders whether Mr. Barber is also a zealous advocate for the general defense of provocation in its traditional sense of reducing the crime of men who find their wives in bed with a paramour. 

That aside, there seems to be an epidemic of hand-wringing taking place rooted in the innate desire to understand what compels people to commit such horrific acts of violence.  Such a desire is, what modernity calls, natural and perhaps inexplicable: We know that reasonable people do not wish to commit such atrocious crimes.  But that, of course, assumes that the radical terrorist mind is reasonable.   

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