Author Archive

The World’s Cups of Tea Matter Too

I am thrilled to have Frida as my pen pal. Frida is from and lives in Sweden. I have known her since she was a young high school foreign exchange student living with my family. She is bright, culturally aware and full of spunk.

I shared my “Three Cups of Tea” posting with Frida and she agrees with my opinions. She stressed her agreement about one having to take care of themselves before they can take care of anyone else. Most importantly, she believes this applies to the world over. Frida also expressed that Europeans often say that Americans seem to think they are better and more important then everyone else. She continued, one reason for their opinion is American education. Europeans notice that Americans are terrible at geography and can really only recognize the United States. Not to mention most think Europe was 1 country.

Frida and I agree it is important to help others, but make sure you can take care of your own first. Also, America needs to rid itself of its narcissistic mentality and realize that the world’s cups of tea matter too.

Have Three Cups of Tea at Home

A simplistic synopsis of “Three Cups of Tea” would briefly describe an American by the name of Greg Mortenson, who experiences set-backs in his life like everyone else. What makes him different is how he manages to turn them into positive experiences and overcomes them. Ultimately, through his trials and tribulations he built schools for children in northern Pakistan.

Several notable themes were blaring throughout the book:

1. The significance of education.

He learns the importance and influence of a balanced education, especially for young girls because they have a tendency to stay within the region they learn in and share their education. As for the young boys, his schools provide an alternative educational experience over the traditional and extremist education provided by Wahhabi madrassas. The lesson is simple, education and exposure to diversity are the greatest means to eradicate ignorance.

2. The old Addage: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Mortenson tried to teach “Westerners” ideology and methodology in the schools. This method failed. It was not until he learned and understood the culture he constructed the schools in that allowed for him to make the appropriate adjustments in the curriculum. This experience confirms that unless one knows who one is talking to, how is one to know how to talk?

3. Inspiration.

Without a doubt this story is inspiring. The reader is inundated  with Mortenson’s perseverance  and ability to never give up. Most importantly, the messages to never give up, face each obstacle as a new opportunity and view point runs rampant in this story. Mortenson’s accomplishments are commendable, admirable and exemplifying.

Yet, this story is frustrating and representative of why America is no longer positively received throughout the world and is self-destructing. For example, Mortenson was dedicated to improve the “home” and educational experiences of individuals halfway around the world but the education system and living conditions are very neglected here at his own “home.” The ripple effect of poor education and opportunities are well known to have negative affects on families, crime and the standard of living. Mortenson believes that terrorism flourishes due to poverty, the lack of opportunity and narrow and conservative education. If Americans want to prevent the continuous serge in domestic terrorism, individuals like Mortenson should exercise his belief in his own country. I am of the very strong opinion that if you can not take care of your own, why do you think you can take care of someone else?

America spends trillions of dollars attempting to raise the standard of living in countries she deems oppressed, poor and undemocratic. America does this like a micromanaging “mother” who is convinced she knows what is best for the “child” regardless of what the “child” believes is best for them. The aftereffect of this “busy-body” behavior is resentment, distrust and distain for “her” ways.  This becomes the breeding ground for anti-American sentiment and support spent elsewhere perpetuates oppression and socioeconomic disparity throughout her own land.

This country provides its citizens with a substandard level of education yet, it is a well known fact that education cures ignorance. Ignorance is the foundation of hate, which manifests into hate crimes, discrimination and violence. If America truly wants to make a difference and positively influence the world, she should lead by example. Educate Americans by exposing them to different cultures and ways of life. Teach them that “their way” is not the only “way” and it is not accepted by everyone- Mother doesn’t always know what’s best!

Greg Mortenson accomplished a wonderful feat by providing schools in northern Pakistan, but change starts at home. Change requires a 2-way street and Three Cups of Tea at home.

“Labelers and Labels: Why Do We Care?

I find myself rather frustrated lately with the world’s obsessive necessity with labels and their inconsistent application. In my humble opinion, labels are simply a means for the “Labelers” to convince others to accept and believe their manipulative perspective and opinion and to create a pecking order most beneficial to “Them”.

Which leads me to my current soapbox – Tucson Mass Murder Jared Loughner versus Dearborn Mosque M-80s Roger Stockham.

Here is a brief synopsis of each event:

TUCSON MASS MURDER JARED LOUGHNER


On January 8th, 2011, at approximately ten o’clock in the morning, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner approached United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords during a public political event in Tucson, Arizona. It was at that time, Loughner shot and critically injured Congresswoman Giffords and indiscriminately shot citizens gathered to meet her. Loughner discharged approximately 31 rounds in 15 seconds, killing six and wounding 13 (Washington Post).

It was later revealed that Loughner had a personal YouTube channel where he posted miscellaneous entries reflecting his discontent with the current government and policies. In one particularly interesting posting, Loughner defines “terrorist” as “a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon.” Loughner labeled himself a terrorist.

It should be noted that Jared Lee Loughner had a few minor criminal infractions prior to this event.

Please see my January 31, 2011 post “Terrorist or Lunatic With a Gun”.

DEARBORN MOSQUE M-80 ROGER STOCKHAM


On January 31, 2011, 63-year-old Roger Stockham was arrested outside a Dearborn, Michigan mosque with explosives in his car with the intent to blow up the mosque. The explosives were identified as class C-fireworks, to include M-80s. According to Fox News, Stockham was charged with 1 count of possession of explosives with unlawful attempt and 1 count of making a false report or threat of terrorism. No one was injured and Stockham was taken into custody without incident.

It was later revealed that on January 31, 2011, at an unknown time, Stockham entered J.S. Fields bar in Dearborn and proclaimed to be a “mujahideen.” A mujahideen is an individual who is a Muslim fighter doing jihad or struggle (Examiner, 2011).

It should be noted that Roger Stockham has a long history of threats and criminal infractions prior to this event.

  1. Stockham plead not guilty by reason of insanity after being arrested in 2002 for threatening then President G. W. Bush. Roger Stockham spent approximately 1 year in the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (Detroit News, 2011).
  2. On September 1, 1979, The Merced Sun-Star, described Roger Stockham as a Muslim convert who attempted to hijack an airliner from Los Angeles to Iran (Bill Warner Sarasota, 2011)

Two separate events, two different perpetrators acquiring two different labels. Jared Loughner is labeled a lunatic with a gun while Roger Stockham is labeled a terrorist. Why?

Now, if the United States defines domestic terrorism as any activity that violates any state or federal criminal code that endangers human life, which intimidates a civilian population with the intent to influence the policy of a government or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping (Cornell Law School, n.d.), how do the acts of Roger Stockham fit these elements?

Well, fireworks can endanger human life and proclaiming to be a Muslim fighter doing jihad in today’s atmosphere can be intimidating to most civilians. Yet, how does his actions influence governmental policy or affect the conduct of a government? I cannot find nor see any indications of such. Where as, Jared Loughner intentionally attempted to assassinate a US Congresswoman and slaughter her political supporters at a political function, sufficiently terrorizing citizens and affecting the conduct of government.

As a retired law enforcement officer, my training and experience compels me to believe that Roger Stockham’s actions fulfill the criminal elements of a hate crime more than domestic terrorism. A hate crime is defined by a 1994 federal law, Public Law #103-322A, which states the following: “a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person” (Religious Tolerance, 2011).

Based on their legal definitions and the world’s obsessive necessity with labels, how would you, the reader, label these men – terrorist or the perpetrator of a hate crime?

I dare to say Roger Stockham’s reported history as a converted Muslim and his intended target being a Muslim mosque influenced his acts to be labeled “terrorism.”  This, of course, is mostly due to the fact that the world ignorantly and erroneously equates anything “Muslim” with terrorism and the extreme politically correct sensitivity of today’s day and age. In addition to this, “Labelers” fearfully reminding American citizens that the “war on terror” must continue at home and abroad in order to eradicate Muslim extremists.

I surmise labels are used to manipulate the masses into accepting the perceptions and opinions of the “Labelers.” Jared Loughner, by legal definition, committed an act of domestic terrorism and therefore, is a terrorist. Roger Stockham, on the other hand, committed acts that fall within the hate crime category and therefore, is an anti-religion (Muslim) hate criminal. As clear as this may be, the “Labelers” want to convince us otherwise.

With this said, we must remember the most important element of all – in the end, regardless of the label applied, the end result is still the same – a crime is a crime is a crime.

Works cited:

Nakamura, D., Horwitz, S., Hedgpeth, D. (2011, January 19) In videos, details of shooting emerge. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://wapo.st/eee7uj

Robinson, B. A. (2009, July 22) U.S. hate crimes: Definitions; State/federal laws. Religious Tolerance. Retrieved from http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_hat3.htm

Sarasota, B. W. (2011) blog retrieved from http://pibillwarner.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/viet-nam-vet-roger-stockham-arrested-in-attempt-to-blow-up-the-islamic-center-of-america-mosque-in-dearborn-the-biggest-mosque-in-the-detroit-area/

Staff. (2011, January 31). Explosives expert: Fireworks in Dearborn mosque plot were ‘enough to be lethal. Detroit News. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/hLVpWm

Staff. (2011, January 31). Calif. Man accused in plot on Michigan Mosque. Fox News. Retrieved from http://fxn.ws/hCUlc3

Taylor-Bonds, D. (2011, February 1). Man who tried to blow up mosque has history of threatening President Bush. Examiner. Retrieved from http://exm.nr/eHAoRT

Theatrical Terrorism and Popcorn

Throughout the cinematic ages, countless fiction and non-fiction films have been created documenting and reflecting the time period’s political and social atmosphere. Today’s current atmosphere is permeated with terror and terrorism; therefore, directors and producers have created a plethora of films depicting this subject matter. What remains interesting is the influence of directorial creative freedom upon the framing of the topic and for which purpose the film serves be it propaganda, educational or entertainment.

According to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication, Richard Alan Nelson:

Propaganda is a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels (Nelson, 1996).

The inculcation of terrorism, by the way of propaganda film, is prevalent throughout the world. Those who strive to promote their ideological, political or commercial messages and those who counter these messages utilize directorial creative freedom to persuade their audience.

For example, Steven Spielberg’s movie, Munich, serves the purpose to educate the audience of the fine line between terrorism and counterterrorism. Munich is based off of true events surrounding Israel’s retaliation against Black September, a Palestinian terrorist organization, after they murdered 11 Israeli Olympic athletes during the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, Germany.

Spielberg infuses actual footage with the cinematic dramatization of the events exposing the audience to factual information. The violent and brutal imagery framed Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Mier’s justification of counterterrorism. Additionally, Spielberg placed great emphasis on the moral dilemma precluding Mier’s decision when she said “Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values” (Munich, 2005).

Throughout the film, the viewer is shown Israel’s acts of counterterrorism, as well as the collateral damage that is usually absent in pro-American counterterrorism activities. Conversely, the Israel agents are shown to be nervous and motivated by their own personal convictions, yet, at times, they are shown to struggle with the conflictions of duty and their personal conviction.

In the end, Avner, the leading Israeli agent, realized the domino effect of terrorism – a counterterrorism act is an act of terrorism, which initiates a counterterrorism act that ultimately catapults state sanctioned and non-state terrorists into a never-ending cycle of terrorism.  Spielberg captures this phenomenon when Avner proclaimed “There’s no peace at the end of this no matter what you believe” (Munich, 2005), thus “framing terrorism as a global war that can not be won” (Silcock, 2011).

In contrast, in 2006 Universal Pictures released United 93. The film, directed and written by Paul Greengrass, is a cinematic portrayal of the events surrounding the hijacking of United flight 93 on September 11th, 2001. The film depicts the four Muslim hijackers as “conflicted and afraid” and “fervently engaged in prayer” (Kellner, 2005). These images project to the viewer that the terrorists who carried out 9/11 were unsure, frightened and surmountable.

The American passengers were shown “as ordinary citizens, involved in the petty cares and mundane rituals of everyday life” (Kellner, 2005). Once they “[became] aware of the disaster unfolding” (Kellner, 2005) they banned together and overwhelmed the terrorists; thus, successfully thwarting the terrorists’ goal. These images promote American heroism and the inability of a terrorist to destroy American ideology.

United 93 put a face on a faceless enemy and frames terrorism as defeatable. The imagery projects and infuses the American psyche with the belief they are undefeatable when united. The message is reinforced when political and military leaders quote a passenger, Todd Beamer, who was overheard on an open cellular phone line moments before the passengers fought back: “Let’s roll!” (IMDB). American policymakers have utilized his quote as a “moral cloak” (Moeller, 2009) “of purposeful persuasion” (Nelson, 1996).

The film serves the purpose of propaganda for American superiority over the inferior terrorists’ extremism. United 93 “[distracts] the population from the real source of the problem, which is an ideology that wants to destroy the west” (Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, 2005).

United 93 and Munich are just two examples of the plethora of fiction and non-fiction films depicting terrorists and their acts of terrorism. United 93 perpetuate American dominance and their ability to conquer any enemy threatening their way of life. Furthermore, it diminishes fear of terrorism by its unspoken message if we stand united we have nothing to fear. Munich, on the other hand, creates fear of terrorism because it depicts terrorism as an undefeatable faceless enemy.

By and large, theatrical terrorism is a result of directorial creative freedom. The framing of the topic can serve as a means to educate, spread fear or as propaganda to persuade its targeted audience towards a political agenda.

Reference

Kennedy. K. (Producer), Spielberg, S. (Producer & Director). (December 23, 2005). Munich [Motion picture]. United States: Universal Studios.

Kellner, D. (2005). Social memory and the representation of 9/11 in contemporary Hollywood film. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/fBg21C

Mier, P. (Producer), Shore, R. (Producer) & Kopping, W. (Director). (October 21, 2005). Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West [Documentary film]. United States: Clarion Fund.

Moeller, S. D. (2009). Packaging terrorism: Co-opting the news for politics and profit. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Nelson, R. A. (1996). Chronology and glossary of propaganda in the United States. Goleta, CA: ABC-Clio, LLC.

The Definition of Terrorism According to Me

As an active law enforcement officer the United States government, the State of Arizona and departmental policy bestowed the definition of terrorism upon me. I was not afforded the opportunity to pursue alternative definitions nor did I find it pertinent to seek them out. Additionally, had I developed my own personal definition of terrorism, it would have remained ancillary to the government’s explicit legal definition, and most likely would have convoluted my objectiveness as a law enforcement officer. Now, however, I am a retired officer and this has allowed for exploration and self-reflection to determine and develop my definition of terrorism.

Through my current studies, I have been exposed to the academic and mass media perception of terrorism but not a true definition. The truth of the matter is the universal concession is that there is not a universally accepted definition of terrorism (Moeller, 2009).  As a matter of fact, “the United Nations spent 17 years trying to come up with a universally accepted definition, and failed (Moeller, 2009, p. 17). An additional study “discovered 109 different definitions of the word” (Moeller, 2009, p. 17). The lack of a definitive definition opens a Pandora’s box and obfuscates terrorism. Rendering terrorism difficult to perceive and understand [allows] any government [to] can direct and “sell its policy to its citizens” (Moeller, 2009, p. 17) that serves the administration’s political agenda.

Susan Moeller states that “terrorism and terrorist often have little ‘real’ meaning – they are instead political epithets” (Moeller, 2009, p. 17). I agree and I have used this as the springboard to my definition of terrorism. In her book, Moeller quotes British academic and former foreign correspondent Anatol Lieven, “terrorism is not a movement, terrorism is not a state, terrorism is a tactic” (Moeller, 2009, p. 18). To define terrorism as a tactic, it provides clarification, “real” meaning and vindicates criminal prosecution – nationally and internationally. Further more, a tactic is identifiable and can be defined. The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) identifies three key tactics to define terrorism: 1. Terrorism deliberately targets civilians. 2. The victims and the intended audience of a terrorist act are not the same. 3. The psychological impact of a terrorist act is intended to be greater than the physical damage caused. The goal of terrorism is the send a message, not defeat the enemy (Moeller, 2009, p. 18). This, of which, is my definition of terrorism.

Reference

Moeller, S. D. (2009). Packaging terrorism: Co-opting the news for politics and profit. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

“Ignore The Man Behind The Curtain”

” America will never be destroyed from outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” ~Abraham Lincoln

The popular American collective memory of September 11, 2001, is of 19 “evil-doers” who perpetrated unimaginable and unpredictable deadly terrorist acts against America. The memory is framed with words and images of mass destruction, Osama bin Laden, death and heroism. Mainstream media vehemently projected that imagery and message onto the American public by reporting only those stories or events that reflected such. Susan D. Moeller (2009), for example, wrote how NBC, CBS and FOX showed footage of individuals jumping out of the WTC forever etching the image of death upon the American collective memory.

Meanwhile, significant and meaningful news/events that contradicted or disrupted the collective memory, were rarely, if ever, given proper attention or referenced to again.

As a case in point, David Griffin, a professor of philosophy of religion and theology, emeritus, at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, points out, just after 9/11, the New York City Fire Department (NYFD) recorded approximately five hundred oral histories. Firefighters and emergency personnel spoke of their personal experiences that tragic day. The oral histories documented eyewitness accounts describing explosions and controlled demolition. NYFD Firefighter Thomas Turilli explained, “it almost sounded like bombs going off, like boom, boom, boom, like seven or eight” (Griffin, 2005b).  Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fitzpatrick says, “It looked like sparkling around one specific layer of the building … My initial reaction was that this was exactly the way it looks when they show you those implosions on TV” (Griffin, 2005b). The NYFD oral histories were not included in the 9/11 Commission report (Griffin, 2005a) nor have they been brought to light by mainstream media.

Are mainstream media journalists restricted from covering events that contradict the gatekeeper’s message and imagery of  September 11th, or are they simply the unwitting messengers for the propagandists? Regardless, doubt and mistrust of media has breathed life into a movement in search of the truth. Many scholars, investigative journalists and average citizens are attempting to bring evidence to light that debunks some, if not the entire official conspiracy theory. Nevertheless, the gatekeepers appear to be keeping vigilant watch preventing these stories from seeing the light of day. As a result, independent media outlets in radio, television and Internet bear the weight of bringing the truth out from the shadows of censorship.

The US government’s official and original conspiracy theory is that “9/11 was planned and executed solely by al-Qaeda terrorists under the guidance of Osama bin Laden” (Griffin, 2005). The al-Qaeda terrorists successfully hijacked four US commercial jetliners and skillfully crashed two of them into the World Trade Center (WTC) Twin Towers (causing them and WTC 7 to collapse) and one into the Pentagon. The fourth jetliner was crashed into a field in Pennsylvania by the daring and dramatic efforts from the passengers, which prevented the terrorist’s successful completion of their fourth and unknown target.

Sadly, the shadows of censorship were cast within a couple of hours of the tragic events and continue to this day. For example, immediately after the first tower collapsed, a local CBS 2 reporter Marcia Kramer stated, “CNN is now reporting that there was a third explosion at the World Trade Center, probably an explosion from the ground that caused World Trade Center 1 to collapse on top of itself” (Watson, 2010). She continued, “Again there was a third explosion, it is unclear what caused it…. But CNN is reporting that there was a third explosion that caused World Trade Center 1 to collapse within itself” (Watson, 2010).

Additionally, several unidentified news reporters interviewed three NYFD firefighters moments after the collapse of the first tower. The firefighters reported while staging in the lobby they heard a total of 3 different secondary explosions “then the whole lobby collapsed on the lobby inside” (Watson, 2010).

On face value these 2 examples could easily be explained away. The first CBS report could be retracted as a simple reporting error and the firefighters could have been mistaking because of the chaos unfolding around them. Yet, these two stories carry significant weight towards the truth and the darkness of media censorship. First, when a person experiences a traumatic event they make spontaneous statements without having time or a chance to reflect back on the event to fabricate a false statement. Spontaneous utterances are inherently truthful and extremely difficult to fabricate. Every person speaking in the news clips are obviously still in some state of shock and distress from the events they just witnessed. Their spontaneous statements lend credence to the factual bases from which they came from.

Secondly, and most importantly, the United States government, within hours of their original live broadcasts, confiscated the above referenced video clips. They were withheld from the American public until min-2010 when a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit mandated their release (Watson, 2010).

Notwithstanding the American media censorship, The British Broadcasting Company perpetuated the dark shadow of misleading information as well. At approximately 4:35pm (New York time) BBC reporter Jane Stanley reported that WTC 7 collapsed 20 minutes before it actually collapsed (Watson, 2010). During her live broadcast, WTC 7 can be seen in the background behind her left shoulder as she reports the collapse of the building and the effect it is having on everyone (Watson, 2010). Is this a case of misreporting or was this a break down of the propagandists’ control of their unwitting messengers? Regardless, doubt and mistrust of media is now pandemic.


ENHANCED VERSION: News Reports WTC7 Fell Before It Happens!
youtube.com

Yet, while discussing 9/11 with Frida Hedenstedt, a Swedish family member, she indicated that 9/11 was covered in great detail by her national and local media mediums. Frida explained that 9/11 was the primary story covered for several weeks following the attacks. She also stated the coverage focused on al-Qaeda, terrorism and the victims. In regards to information contradicting the official story coming to light over the last several years, she said her country’s news mediums have not brought a lot of attention to the topic. She added, she has not heard much about it herself either.

These examples are just a few among hundreds of significant and meaningful news/events that contradict or disrupt the collective memory. This information was rarely, if ever, given proper media attention. The roll of mainstream media has been one of censorship and image control. Whereas the roll of the independent journalist and news media has been that of truth seekers and asking the hard questions: what really happened on 9/11 and why has the world been lied to about it?

Ask yourself, “What happened to WTC 7? ” “Why did it collapse?”  Take a look at the following still photographs taken from: 4409 — (Unseen Footage) Tower 7 blasted into rubble from NEW angle! [www.keepvid.com] and see for yourself.

Maybe the leaseholder of WTC 7, Larry Silverstein, answered the questions for us in an interview in September 2002 for a PBS documentary “America Rebuilds”:

“I remember getting a call from the, er, fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, “We’ve had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it.” And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse.” (Source: http://www.serendipity.li/wot/wtc7newspaper.htm)

Reference

Griffin, D. R. (2005a). The 9/11-commission report: Omissions and distortions. Northampton,

MA: Olive Branch Press

Griffin, D. (2005b, Oct.). The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot be True. Retrieved from 9/11 Review Web site: http:911review.com/articles/griffin/nyc1.html

Harnden, T. (2001, September 18). Bin laden is wanted: Dead or alive, says Bush. The Telegraph retrieved from http://bit.ly/dqMABE

Moeller, S. D. (2009). Packaging terrorism: Co-opting the news for politics and profit. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Watson, P. J. (2010, October 15). CBS report on 9/11: Ground level explosion cause WTC to

collapse. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/csNEXH


Terrorist or Lunatic With a Gun

On January 8th, 2011, at approximately ten o’clock in the morning, alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner approached United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) during a public political event held at a Safeway in Tucson, Arizona. At that time, Loughner shot Congresswoman Giffords in the head. Then Loughner turned his weapon on several citizens standing in a line to meet Giffords and indiscriminately shot them. According to the Washington Post, Loughner allegedly discharged approximately 31 rounds in 15 seconds, killing six and wounding 13 people before witnesses tackled him to the ground.

The alleged actions of Jared Lee Loughner created a political windstorm in regards to gun laws, mental health care and political rhetoric accountability and responsibility. Yet, nagging questions still linger; why did Loughner do it? Is he a terrorist or just a lunatic with a gun? With all of this in mind, it begs the question; was the Tucson shooting an act of domestic terrorism or the acts of an emotionally disturbed person?

In order to assume the appropriate socially required label for this event, several key components must be examined. First, Loughner’s mental culpability (mens rea) has to be considered. Mental culpability refers to the mindset of the individual perpetrating the act –whether he or she knowingly, intentionally, negligently or recklessly commits a crime.

According to the timeline released by authorities, the night before and the morning of the shooting, Loughner was busy. He dropped off film at a Walgreens and checked himself into a Motel 6. He posted a statement on Myspace telling his friends not to hate him and eventually made his way to a Wal-Mart, at which time he purchased ammunition and a black bag (Nakamura, Horwitz, Hedgpeth, 2011).

Shortly thereafter, Jared Loughner summoned a taxicab that picked him up at a Circle K and drove him to the Safeway. Upon arrival, the taxi driver and Loughner enter the Safeway together, at approximately 09:54 am, in order for Loughner to break a $20.00 bill to cover his taxi fare (Nakamura, et al., 2011).

The Washington Post reported that Loughner was seen in security videos exiting the store and intentionally circling back around towards Congresswoman Giffords’ public event. The security video showed how Loughner quickly approached Giffords with the firearm in his hand next to his leg. Loughner knowingly raised the firearm and shot Giffords in the face, just above the left eye, from less than 3 feet away. After which, Loughner turned his firearm on the attendees and intentionally shot them until he was subdued, by witnesses, while attempting to re-load his firearm (Nakamura, Horwitz, Markon, 2011)

The image conjured up by the published timeline is that of a calculated and premeditated act of violence, not the crazed psychotic lone gunman on the brink of a mental collapse first reported. It is, of course, important to consider Loughner’s “bizarre” behavior months, if not years, before this event. However, Loughner’s behavior, actions and decisions the night before and the morning of the shooting indicate that his mental culpability was knowingly and intentionally to commit this crime.

It should be noted: on 01/19/2011, ABC News created a virtual re-enactment video depicting Loughner’s deliberate actions during his shooting rampage. The video was constructed from the images captured by several security cameras in the immediate area: Jared Lee Loughner Surveillance Re-Enactment in Virtual Reality 1/19/2011 .

Secondly, in order to label an act an act of “domestic terrorism”, it is imperative to know the legal definition of “domestic terrorism.” According to the United States Criminal Code: Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 113B, Section 2331 defines the term “domestic terrorism” to mean activities that:

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended
(1) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(2) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(3) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States (Cornell Law School, n.d.).

The first element required is an act dangerous to human life in violation of federal or state law. Jared Loughner allegedly shot 19 people, in which 6 were killed, thus fulfilling the first required element.

Next, the act appears to be intended to influence government policy by intimidation. The act of an attempted assassination of a US Congresswoman is, in itself an intimidating act. Furthermore, Loughner’s self published rhetoric regarding how US currency is not legitimate, he will be the treasurer of a new currency, how words have no meaning, rants about the US government’s involvement in the September 11th terrorist attacks, as well as how the US government was trying to trick him (New York Times, 2011) reflects discontent with the current government policy and wanting change.

Additionally, on Loughner’s personal youtube channel he declares “I define [a] terrorist”. He writes: “…a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon.” This “self-determined” declaration increases the probability that the shooting rampage was a premeditated act.

The third element, to affect the conduct of a government by assassination is not a required element, but simply an additional category for an act to fall within. In this incident, Loughner’s attempted assassination of Giffords is self-explanatory and all “normal” political conduct came to an abrupt halt directly after the incident. Lastly, the act took place on US soil.

In the final analysis, Loughner’s actions indicate that he knowingly and intentionally shot US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the additional 18 victims. This act exudes a warped perversion of political ideology and motivation.

Also, according to the United States Criminal Code’s definition of “domestic terrorism”, this act fulfilled the required elements to be labeled “domestic terrorism.” Therefore, based on the totality of the circumstances and the known facts surrounding this case at the time of writing, Jared Lee Loughner is a terrorist and is responsible for committing an act of “domestic terrorism” in Tucson, Arizona.

References

ABC News. (2011, January 19) Jared lee loughner surveillance re-enactment in virtual reality. ABC News. Retrieved fromhttp://youtu.be/C4oZQxtSBow

Cornell University Law School. (n.d.) Title 18: Legal information institute. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00002331—-000-.html

Nakamura, D., Horwitz, S., Hedgpeth, D. (2011, January 19) In videos, details of shooting emerge. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/18/AR2011011806483.html

Nakamura, D., Horwitz, S., Markon, J. (2011, January 15) Police depict a busy, focused loughner on morning of shooting. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/14/AR2011011404927.html

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Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.