I've seen the enemy, and he is us

>> Sunday, April 21, 2013

Not a deep post, but mostly so I can link to amplify this because I think it's important: Brother Seth has a beautiful rundown on why Senator Lindsey Graham's call to treat the suspected Boston Bomber as an "enemy combatant" is stupid and illegal.  You should read it.  Twice, if you need to.

One thing I'd personally highlight is Seth's comment:
If the threshold for being an enemy combatant is a desire to "injure, maim, and kill innocent Americans," then Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, OJ Simpson, and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were "enemy combatants."

Precisely.   Indeed, Senator Graham's statement that, "The suspect, based upon his actions, clearly is a good candidate for enemy combatant status," is at best, at the moment, unknown, and there's some probability it's simply flat-out wrong.  At the moment, the Boston bombing looks as much like Dylan Klebold's and Eric Harris' assault on their own high school in 1999 as it does anything else, and while it's certainly very possible that the Boston suspects were recruited by a terror cell or terror cell wannabe, the mere fact the suspect identified himself at one point as a Muslim on a social networking page is merely evidence that at one point the suspect identified himself as a Muslim on a social networking page.  And even if the suspects were recruited as terrorists, or jihadists, or whatever, even that wouldn't mean they were "enemy combatants" in any meaningful way.

Naturally, the Boston Police and/or the FBI may be privy to information we aren't--actually, it's reasonably certain they're privy to information we aren't.  And that information may have been made available to Senator Graham for some reason, and that information may tend to show that the Boston suspects were something more than Eurasian counterparts to a psychopathic spree killer like Harris and his depressive sidekick Klebold.  But Graham's "based on his actions" doesn't sound like "based on the network of possible connections to known foreign terrorists and/or hostile states revealed by executing a search warrant on the suspect's phone records"; it sounds like Graham wants to consider all bombers terrorists (wrong) and all terrorists enemy combatants (also wrong).

One final observation: Seth cites Graham's JAG experience and service on the Senate Judiciary Committee to suggest Graham is being cynical, not stupid.  Which may be the case, though I have known some extremely stupid lawyers, I'm afraid, and there are a number of politicians who I don't know personally but who have struck me, over the years, as being not-very-bright.  The latter to the point, I might add, that I have to wonder if the very old buildings in which legislators convene ought to have their pipes checked for lead or other contaminants, since quite a lot of these people seem to get stupider and crazier over time (it may just be subjective, familiarity breeding contempt and all that).  They aren't mutually exclusive possibilities, in any event: one may well be a cynical opportunist and dumb.  Whatever; I'm not necessarily disagreeing with Seth's assessment of Graham, I just had to be snarky and mean about it because I think it's completely appropriate under the circumstances.  At the very least, it's perfectly appropriate to suggest that the Senator, based upon his actions, is clearly a good candidate for ignorant douchebag status, and we do wish this Senator would shut up if he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

Go read Seth's piece.  You've already wasted too much time here.


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