Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wrong Kind of Terrorist

Devilstower at the DailyKos wonders why we haven't heard anything about the conviction of " a would-be bomber who was known to belong to a terrorist organization, who idolized the mastermind behind a previous terrorist attack in the US, and who plotted to use chemical weapons or a dirty bomb to kill thousands". It seems that he "was the wrong kind of terrorist".
Members of the notorious Detroit Sleeper Cell were convicted after one of their members made a video tape of a vacation to Disneyland -- a tape the FBI considered preparation for an attack. The convictions were later overturned, but not before the government had held several press conferences on how they had protected us from the hazard of bad camera work.

Even more publicity went to those crafty karate school members who were arrested in Florida after they tried to recruit an FBI agent into their schemes. Schemes which never went beyond the talking stage. And the Lackawanna Six... we're not sure what they did, but they earned media immortality.

So imagine how much publicity there would be if the government were to catch and convict a would-be bomber who was known to belong to a terrorist organization, who idolized the mastermind behind a previous terrorist attack in the US, and who plotted to use chemical weapons or a dirty bomb to kill thousands. A terrorist who plotted attacks on a federal courthouse and even on Washington D. C. If we were to catch someone like that there would be... there would be.... (sound of crickets chirping)

On Nov. 28... Demetrius "Van" Crocker was sentenced to 30 years in prison. David Kustoff, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, where Crocker was prosecuted, tells Salon that "It was one of the preeminent anti-terrorism cases of 2006 nationwide." Whether or not that is true, few outside of the greater Memphis metropolitan area have ever heard of Crocker. Only one reporter, John Branston of the weekly Memphis Flyer, even covered his entire trial. What is certain is that in every particular his case is a study in contrasts with the prosecution of Jose Padilla.

So, why would a terrorist who plotted to blow up a dirty bomb in the US capital fail to draw national attention? He was the wrong kind of terrorist.

The group Crocker belonged to was the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement. The terrorist mastermind he admired was Timothy McVeigh. And the people he most wanted to kill

Crocker told Adams he wanted to kill the black population of nearby Jackson, Tenn., with mustard gas

Right wing terrorist who wants to kill blacks? Sorry, not news.

There's one other thing Mr. Crocker did to keep himself low on the list of discussion topics for Fox & Friends: he got arrested without use of the Patriot Act or secretive wire tapping. The sheriff's department nabbed Crocker the old-fashioned way. Legally.

Meanwhile, as Alex Koppleman's account in Salon points out, the government continues to press its case against Jose Padilla, subjecting him to endless rounds of we-don't-do-torture and extraordinary treatment for the same charges. Sorry, Jose. If only you had been a right wing white terrorist, maybe things would be different.

The abuse Padilla has endured while in custody, they contend, has so scarred him that he can no longer even discuss the case against him. They believe he has been rendered incompetent to stand trial. ... The U.S. Attorney's office agrees that Padilla needs his competency evaluated. We didn't torture him, argue the representatives of the U.S. government, but if we did, and it made him crazy -- well, then, no claims he makes about said torture can be trusted. He is, after all, mentally incompetent.

Who can argue with logic like that?

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