The Boston Marathon Bombers: Their Terrorist Actions Were Heinous, Their Outrage Explicable
By Dennis Loo (4/21/13)
Update #2: Filed under the category of "Do These People Ever Learn?": The infamous lawyer John Yoo, known worldwide for declaring that the U.S. president could order that a young boy's testicles could be crushed while his father was being interrogated by the U.S., in order to extract information out of his father, if it was being done "to protect the U.S.A.," said today at AEI: "A pre-emptive strategy based on intelligence and the use of force overseas seeks to prevent such attacks further from our shores. That option should be preferred by everyone compared to what we’ve seen in Boston these last five days."
"If the President deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?", to which Yoo replied "No treaty." Cassel followed up with "Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo...", to which Yoo replied "I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that."
I should hasten to add that it's not really that Yoo et al are all as dense as they might seem. Like the Spy v. Spy comic in MAD magazine, the endless spiral of attack and counter-attack by state terrorists (Yoo et al) against anti-state terrorists (al-Qaeda et al) is understood by both sides to be in their mutual interest to enlist followers and keep the fight going.
Update: As stated by RootsAction.org on April 22, 2013:
"Cluster bombs have been banned since 2010 by a treaty that 81 nations are already party to. Another 27 nations have signed but not yet ratified. The United States is not among the signers, serving rather as the chief opponent of the treaty.
That's morally unacceptable.
The Pentagon's cluster bombs caused more civilian casualties in Iraq in 2003 and Kosovo in 1999 than any other weapon. Those actions were illegal at the time, under the Geneva Conventions.
When cluster bombs are dropped in residential areas, many bomblets fail to explode and are picked up later by curious and unfortunate children.
Causalities from failed cluster sub-munitions rose between 1991 and 2007 from 5,500 to 80,000 -- and 24% of the victims were children under 14.
The New York Times today (Sunday. April 21, 2013), in seeking to explain the terrorist attacks by the Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, suggests that the brothers, like several other Muslim-Americans who resorted to terrorism within the U.S. borders, were perhaps torn by the friction between their American lives and their identities as Muslims.
The article quotes Akbar Ahmed, chairman of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, who notes that they [those like the Tsarnaev brothers] “don’t really know the old country but they don’t fit in to the new country. As a result, he states, “They are furious. They’re out to cause pain.”
It’s not so much, however, that they don’t fit in in the sense of adopting into American polyglot culture. It’s mainly that they are outraged by what they see as the U.S. and West’s war on the Islamic World.
While Tamerlan has been quoted as saying that he had not a single American friend, his younger brother Dzhokhar described himself as being into “money and career,” was sociable, a leader, and fit into his friends and their social activities seamlessly. One and all of his friends, acquaintances, and relatives have expressed profound shock when they learned of his involvement in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Cited at the end of the Times article, are the words of Faisal Shahzad during his trial who unsuccessfully attempted to bomb Times Square. Denouncing the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the drone attacks upon Pakistan and Yemen, he said of the drones that they “kill women, children, they kill everybody… It’s a war, and in war, they kill people. They’re killing all Muslims.”
Similarly, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood psychiatrist, in November 2009, faces charges for opening fire on a crowd of soldiers and civilians, killing 13. Before doing this, Hasan agonized over the Muslims in Afghanistan being killed by American soldiers. The Times article also cites others, including Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-American who spent five years as a “popular coffee vendor in Manhattan” with a “God Bless America” sticker on his cart, who apparently plotted to blow up the New York subway system and 9/11 plotter Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who earned an engineering degree in North Carolina.
A Boston Globe columnist named Kevin Cullen wrote on April 19, 2013, in the headline of his article: “It doesn’t matter why they hate us, they just do.” This is one step below, if that is possible, George W. Bush’s logic, “They hate us for our freedoms.” As nonsensical as Bush’s reasoning, Cullen’s is deliberately know-nothingism, which is saying something when it can be contrasted negatively at all with Bush’s stance.
Of course it matters why somebody resorts to terrorism. If you don’t understand and refuse to understand the reasons why someone does something terrible, then you can’t possibly do anything that will help to prevent such things from happening again.
In this week’s episode of the HBO series, Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher had on as a guest the Director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, Brian Levin. When Levin began by stating that there are all kinds of religious bigots, Maher interrupted him and declared that there is only one religion that resorts to violence, Islam. Levin begged to differ and they went back and forth for a few excruciating minutes. Levin did not say what should have been said in the course of this, which is that Islam has no monopoly in the contemporary world for faith-based violence against one’s putative enemies. Muslims who think that the West is out to destroy them have more than enough empirical grounds to think so. See, for example, this passage from Mark Crispin Miller’s contribution to my book that I co-edited with Peter Phillips, Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney. Miller’s chapter is entitled: “Bush and Cheney’s War on the Enlightenment.”
Before they joined in the destruction of Fallujah, a company of leathernecks cavorted and hallooed in pious ecstasy as chaplains supervised their prayers and Christian rock blared over them. “‘You are the sovereign. Your name is holy. You are the pure spotless lamb,’ a female voice cried out on the loudspeakers as the Marines clapped their hands and closed their eyes, reflecting on what lay ahead for them.” The scene was reported by Agence France-Presse on Nov. 6, 2004.
Between the service’s electric guitar religious tunes, marines stepped up on the chapel’s small stage and recited a verse of scripture, meant to fortify them for war.
One spoke of their Old Testament hero, a shepherd who would become Israel’s king, battling the Philistines some 3,000 years ago.
“Thus David prevailed over the Philistines,” the marine said, reading from scripture, and the marines shouted back “Hoorah, King David,” using their signature grunt of approval.
The marines then lined up and their chaplain blessed them with holy oil to protect them.
“God’s people would be anointed with oil,” the chaplain said, as he lightly dabbed oil on the marines’ foreheads.
The crowd then followed him outside their small auditorium for a baptism of about a half-dozen marines who had just found Christ.
Such warlike ecstasy among our troops is no mere matter of religious freedom, any more than the Islamists have a right to use their creed to justify mass murder. Whichever faith appears to motivate the killers, there is a direct relationship between the certainty of their belief and the atrociousness of their behavior because a fierce self-righteousness is capable of anything. At Fallujah the Marines used napalm and white phosphorous—weapons banned by inter- national law—to immolate the people living there, and saw that it was good; for in King David they thought they could see themselves. Agence France- Presse observed: “The marines drew parallels from the verse with their present situation, where they perceive themselves as warriors fighting barbaric men opposed to all that is good in the world.”
Had I been Maher’s guest I would have pointed this out and also the fact that as a result of the U.S. committing the supreme war crime according to the UN Charter of invading a country that had not attacked us and did not threaten us, more than a million Iraqis have died. These men, women, and children and their government, including Saddam Hussein, had nothing to do with 9/11.
Terrorism, whether committed by individuals such as the Tsarnaev brothers or by governments, such as by the U.S. that is now and has been using drones, torture, indefinite and preventive detention, rubber bullets on Gitmo hunger strikers, and anti-personnel weapons such as cluster bombs dropped on civilians purposefully, are equally heinous. Terrorism is per se heinous because it deliberately targets innocents.
What the anti-state terrorists like the Tsarnaev brothers did is just as bad in motive as that of President Obama when he orders drone attacks on people that has included at least several dozen children. As I was watching the replays of the Boston Marathon bombs going off and the rapid response of medical personnel, civilians, and police to the ones who had been hurt and killed, I thought to myself how quickly everyone pitched in to help, but I also could not help thinking about “double-tapping.” This is a practice that our drone operators engage in where they send in another drone right after the first one, in order to hit those who are the first responders in Pakistan and Yemen and elsewhere. Americans rushing to the aid of those who’d been horrifically attacked did not have to worry about double tapping.
It is not a wonder that Muslim Americans feel outrage about the way that their brethren are being attacked. They should. But the solution is not to adopt the horrid logic of those who are doing these state-sponsored killings and imitate them in their use of terrorism against innocents.
Those who argue that this means that immigration needs to be tightened up and that immigrants cannot be trusted would have a point if they also argued at the same time that the U.S. has no business stationing troops abroad and that the president must stop raining death down with drones and that the CIA and other black ops should all be brought home and retrained to assume jobs that are socially beneficial.
Lest anyone misunderstand my meaning here, I am not saying that the use of anti-state terrorism is justifiable because it is not and never is. What is unjustifiable is refusing to recognize the crimes being committed by one’s own government and one’s own people and in so doing, supporting one’s own government’s policies that are creating this awful situation in the first place.
Let it not be forgotten that al-Qaeda is blow back for U.S. policies when Jimmy Carter was president to support Islamic fundamentalists in their fight against Russia in the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and blow back for abandoning those fundamentalists after the Russians did finally withdraw – their use in the Cold War battle was done from the standpoint of U.S. policy-makers after all.
Let it not be forgotten, as ex-FBI agent and 9/11 whistleblower Colleen Rowley points out, that it was none other than U.S. neocons who similarly backed the Chechen rebels because they were fighting the Russians. From her April 19, 2013 article:
[Rudy] Giuliani knows full well how the Chechen “terrorists” proved useful to the U.S. in keeping pressure on the Russians, much as the Afghan mujahedeen were used in the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan from 1980 to 1989. In fact, many neocons signed up as Chechnya’s “friends,” including former CIA Director James Woolsey.
For instance, see this 2004 article in the UK Guardian, entitled, “The Chechens’ American friends: The Washington neocons’ commitment to the war on terror evaporates in Chechnya, whose cause they have made their own.”
Author John Laughland wrote: “the leading group which pleads the Chechen cause is the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC). The list of the self-styled ‘distinguished Americans’ who are its members is a roll call of the most prominent neoconservatives who so enthusiastically support the ‘war on terror.’
“They include Richard Perle, the notorious Pentagon adviser; Elliott Abrams of Iran-Contra fame; Kenneth Adelman, the former US ambassador to the UN who egged on the invasion of Iraq by predicting it would be ‘a cakewalk’; Midge Decter, biographer of Donald Rumsfeld and a director of the rightwing Heritage Foundation; Frank Gaffney of the militarist Centre for Security Policy; Bruce Jackson, former US military intelligence officer and one-time vice-president of Lockheed Martin, now president of the US Committee on Nato; Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, a former admirer of Italian fascism and now a leading proponent of regime change in Iran; and R. James Woolsey, the former CIA director who is one of the leading cheerleaders behind George Bush’s plans to re-model the Muslim world along pro-US lines.”
As I have written previously in response to other incidents of military and military inspired murderous assaults on innocent civilians abroad and at home, the chickens are coming home to roost. See, for example, here, here, here, and here.