I haven’t posted anything in over six weeks, as real life has occupied my time extensively since mid-March. I had and continue to have every intention to continue exploring the damage disinflation has wrought the world economy since the March 1973 collapse of the fixed-exchange system, but first I feel compelled to revisit the terrorism delusion. Ugh.
Down The Rabbit Hole
Today three suspected accomplices to the were arrested by the FBI on charges of two counts of “conspiracy to obstruct justice by conspiring to destroy, conceal, and cover up tangible objects belonging to suspected marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, namely a laptop computer and backpack containing fireworks” and one count of “willfully making materially false statements to federal law enforcement officials during a terrorism investigation.” Pretty cut and dried, right? This caught my attention:
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov [(charged with obstruction of justice)] face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $250,000 fine. Phillipos [(charged with making materially false statements)] faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
So, perjury is a more serious federal offense than committing obstruction of justice? I really shouldn’t show any surprise at that, given that since improvised explosives were detonated and killed three and wounded 264 on April 15, 2013 near the finish line of the Boston Marathon the concept of law and order has appeared to take on a surreal quality.
By now, two weeks after the fact, it is well known that the Tsarnaev brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan, allegedly attacked the Marathon before murdering a MIT police officer and engaging fire with police four days later in an incident that led to the older brother’s death and the younger brother’s arrest. I say alleged due to the fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev likely will never face state charges for the crimes he almost certainly committed. Instead, he already has been charged with:
One count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (namely, an improvised explosive device, or IED) against persons and property within the United States resulting in death and with one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death. The statutory charges authorize a penalty, upon conviction, of death or imprisonment for life or any term of years.
I copied the above statement directly from the official DOJ press release on the FBI website (I could not believe the penalty portion until I saw the actual source). That’s right—conviction for using or conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction merits a sentence with no statutory limits. Federal prosecutors seem to be itching to send Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to the same chamber that ended Timothy McVeigh’s life on June 11, 2001. Legal bloodthirstiness necessitates setting forth with federal charges considering Massachusetts has not reinstated capital punishment since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in deciding Commonwealth v. Colon-Cruz invalidated the Bay State’s death penalty statute on October 18, 1984. Hold on—crude homemade explosives, made with pressure cookers and metal objects turned into shrapnel when the monopropellant from several fireworks exploded are the equivalent of nuclear weapons?
The Rusty Knife
There is delusion, as well, in the legal expansion of the concept of “weapons of mass destruction.” The concept had once been taken as a synonym for nuclear weapons or was meant to include nuclear weapons as well as weapons yet to be developed that might have similar destructive capacity. After the Cold War, it was expanded to embrace chemical, biological, and radiological weapons even though those weapons for the most part are incapable of committing destruction that could reasonably be considered “massive,” particularly in comparison with nuclear ones.
And as explicitly rendered into U.S. law, the term was extended even further to include bombs of any kind, grenades, and mines; rockets having a propellant charge of more than four ounces; missiles having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce; and projectile-spewing weapons that have a barrel with a bore more than a half inch in diameter.
This country might as well include rusty knives to 18 U.S.C. § 2332a while we’re descending into psychosis (if it’s good enough for Curtis LeMay, it’s good enough for all Americans, right?) Wait a minute—barrel with a bore greater than .50 caliber? Mueller cannot mean…
It turns out then that the “shot heard round the world” by revolutionary war muskets was the ring of a WMD, that Francis Scott Key was exultantly, if innocently, witnessing a WMD attack in 1814; and that Iraq was full of WMD when the United States invaded in 2003—and still is, just like virtually every other country in the world.
Considering the brouhaha surrounding the Manchin-Toomey background check amendment, I’m surprised the NRA isn’t up in arms that 18th century muskets are classified as WMD under 18 U.S.C. § 921. There went the white rabbit…
Baying For Blood
Sean Collier will never get justice. Who, you might ask? He was the MIT police officer murdered by the Tsarnaevs on April 18th. He oftentimes isn’t even listed amongst the victims in the Tsarnaevs’ deadly rampage. Not that the names of the three lives lost on April 15th are at the tip of the tongue. I would bet money the families of Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Martin Richard likewise will never see murder charges filed against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (if my writing this passage instead brings the full gamut of state criminal indictments this case so richly deserves, you’re welcome).
But again, I would bet that murder charges will never be forthcoming. Timothy McVeigh was never tried for the 161 human beings whose lives abruptly vanished on April 19, 1995 inside the Murrah Federal Building that were not federal law enforcement officers. Terry Nichols only faced state murder charges for the same crime when a federal jury was unwilling to recommend a death sentence (neither would the Oklahoma jury recommend death). Maryland had to fight to try John Allen Muhammad for the six murders he and Lee Boyd Malvo committed on Maryland soil after Attorney General Ashcroft reassigned the prosecution to Virginia to obtain a capital conviction first after the Beltway snipers were arrested in Maryland.
I tend to avoid writing directly about the political system this country; my preference is to stick to economics and history. But here, I am compelled to speak against the deadly black heart. An evil vindictiveness lies at the center of the American way. It perpetuates insane levels of violence both abroad and here, at home. It has absolutely no room for empathy of any sort—especially not victims.