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WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Does an "Improvised Explosive Device" (Pressure cookers rigged with explosives) represent a Weapon of Mass Destruction?

To many Americans, it may be a moot or irrelevant point, but the Federal criminal complaint against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev accuses him of "unlawfully using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction... against persons and property".

If we can get past the numbing horror of the Boston Marathon bombings, think about it. By calling pressure cookers retrofitted with explosives Weapons of Mass Destruction, then most every nation has WMDs.

Let me quote Timothy Noah in FOREIGN POLICY (ex-The NEW REPUBLIC):

"Even granting that the language of the law is not the same as the language of everday speech, it's ridiculous to call the bombs that went off in Boston 'weapons of mass destruction'. If any old bomb can be called a WMD, then Saddam most definitely had WMDs before the United States invaded Iraq 10 years ago. And if an IED is a WMD, then Iraq actually ended up with more WMDs AFTER the U.S. invasion than before (and isn't entirely rid of them yet)."

Indeed Congress broadened the definition of WMDs - as Spencer Ackerman of WIRED noted - Federal statute no longer differentiates "dangerous weapons from apocalyptic ones".

If WMDs are redefined to include military arsenals consisting of bombs, grenades, and/or mines, what are the implications for international relations? Even most tiny countries have those types of WMD's. (Timothy Noah saracastically suggests even Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and the Vatican would be nation-states possessing WMDs.)


The ATLANTIC WIRE offers a further take on this issue...



http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/04/pressure-cooker-wmd-boston-bomber-charges/64450/

Posted at 8:02am on April 23, 2013 by Allan Loudell

<- Back to all Allan Loudell posts



Comments on this post:

teatime
Tue, Apr 23, 2013 8:15am

It is a moot and irrelevent point. No matter what they charge him with, it'll be designed to give him the death penalty or at least put him behind bars forever. Good riddance.

billsmith
Tue, Apr 23, 2013 8:38am
Obama and Holder have caved into the blood lust of the right. No one can favor judicial murder and call himself a "progressive."

Politicians love to have a foreign enemy. An enemy gives them an excuse to claim power and violate civil liberties in the sure knowledge that a lot of people, including many who normally make a show of distrusting government, will let them get away with it. With an enemy, presidents can become virtual dictators and people love them for it. Even people who hated FDR learned that much from him. I wonder how far we are from Obama putting anyone of Middle-Eastern descent in concentration camps (like FDR did with Japanese-Americans).

Ten years ago, nukes were a weapon of mass destruction. That was the excuse for Dubya to become the first outside ruler to invade Baghdad since the Mongols. Now the bar has been lowered. Pressure cookers and home-made explosives are weapons of mass destruction. Now Obama can invade anybody. He could even start a war with Sears or Home Depot.

The wing-nuts say Obama wants to make himself a dictator using health-care reform. Well, maybe they are right about the dictator part, but he's setting up an enemy to do it.

To all those people who gave Obama a free pass five years ago - and to the media who gave him kid-glove treatment and no scrutiny or due diligence - all because they were enraptured with the idea of an "historic" "first Black president" (forget the fact he's multi-racial): Thank you very much. Hillary would not cave into the right like this. Hillary would know how to deal with Congress.

EarlGrey
Tue, Apr 23, 2013 9:35am
To answer the original question posed... No, a pressure cooker IED is not a WMD. The IED is a weapon of terror, but not mass destruction.

These two terrorists accomplished their mission... they terrorized Boston (and the rest of the nation), they shut-down the entire city of Boston and surrounding towns, and they were front-page news around the world. Terror accomplished.

Again we see that those who want to break the laws do not care about laws... doesn't matter if it's a pressure- cooker or a gun as both can be used for good (I love pressure-cooker recipes) or for evil.

mrpizza
Tue, Apr 23, 2013 10:08am
Hey everybody! We have gun control, we've proposed knife control and bomb control, so while we're at it, let's have pressure-cooker control!

By the way, don't forget about that criminal control clause!

billsmith
Tue, Apr 23, 2013 10:20am
Meanwhile, nothing happens to the people who own that fertilizer plant in West, Texas. Heck, even Miss Delaware goes to jail, but not those people.

kavips
Tue, Apr 23, 2013 12:44pm
Back to Allan's original question. Was it nuclear? Was it radiological? Was it biological? Was it chemical?

If not, then according to the FBI, it is NOT a weapon of mass destruction...

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/terrorism/wmd

How can you classify something that kills 3 people a weapon of mass destruction, and not classify an explosion bigger than the Oklahoma City bomb, one that was created by accumulating in one place 1350 times more than the legal limit of explosive material allowed by law, one that ends up killing 14 people equally as innocent as those standing beside a finish line somewhere while wiping out one half of a town... as an accident? Seriously. Let's get some perspective here.

Hate to say it, but there is a huge rush to make this into a terrorist act that isn't... (My guess, probably to justify the expensive bill that will come due later.) In fact, the pipe-bomb craze during the seventies is exactly what this strikes one as.




teatime
Tue, Apr 23, 2013 12:56pm

You're right, Mr. Pizza. People should be free to have bombs. Makes perfect sense.

billsmith
Tue, Apr 23, 2013 2:27pm
I just checked. Consumer Reports hasn't done ratings and reviews of pressure cookers for 20 years! Back then, they found all the models of about equal quality (despite price difference) but didn't encourage the whole idea of buying a pressure cooker.

"Those whose culinary tastes run to legumes and homemade soups and stews might best appreciate a pressure cooker. Otherwise risk having a cooker gather dust on a top shelf, beside the deep fat fryer and the hot dog cooker."

I do recall a scene in Blazing Saddles involving legumes and a series of explosions.

kavips
Tue, Apr 23, 2013 6:48pm
Speaking of the will to "violate civil liberties", CISPA is coming up soon, and it is worse than ever....

I don't have the source, but just overheard from someone reading it from the text, that the CISPA bill allows a provider like Verizon, ATT, or Comcast to turn over all information they have on say Billsmith or MR.Pizza or EarlGrey over to a federal government if requested, and it gives them the right to hack into your account, and give law enforcement the right and ability to enter and snoop around....

Since our computers are our brains these days, it is as if the Manchurians of the 60's could hack into your brain and report everything you were thinking...

And should they get it wrong, and say you lose your job and no one else will hire you, they have been granted immunity against all lawsuits. If this it true, this is really outrageous and yet it passed the House, with Delaware's John Carney voting for it like a deer in the headlights, and it has gone to the Senate. This is "that bill", I'm afraid that if ever this nation were to turn away from its democratic values, to shun it democratic roots, will cause us to become the same as every other country. This is the bill that must be shut down.

EarlGrey
Tue, Apr 23, 2013 11:11pm
kavips: Yep, I brought up that topic on last week's Open Friday forums. While all recent attention has been focused on the Second Amendment...our Fourth Amendment rights have already disappeared.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2012/04/26/Son-of-SOPA

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

EarlGrey
Tue, Apr 23, 2013 11:24pm
http://www.zdnet.com/cispa-passes-u-s-house-death-of-the-fourth-amendment-7000014205/

http://www.zdnet.com/an-america-without-privacy-7000014278/

http://www.zdnet.com/what-is-cispa-and-what-does-it-mean-for-you-faq-7000013965/



mrpizza
Tue, Apr 23, 2013 11:36pm
teatime: I don't see how you read into my humor that I advocate people being free to have bombs. My point is that the more you try to control any of this stuff, the more criminals will be able to access it illegally.

billsmith: The incident at the fertilizer plant in Texas was, as far as we all know, an accident. Any civil or criminal liability would be based on charges of negligence in that case.

billsmith
Wed, Apr 24, 2013 7:53am
mrpizza: Not an accident. It was the result of depraved mind and extreme recklessness. That makes it murder.

EarlGrey
Wed, Apr 24, 2013 9:11am
Negligent homicide is what happened in the Texas fertilizer plant...negligent homicide is a criminal charge brought against people who, through criminal negligence, allow others to die.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negligent_homicide

billsmith
Wed, Apr 24, 2013 9:44am
EarlGrey: It can also be charged as second degree murder caused by reckless indifference.

EarlGrey
Wed, Apr 24, 2013 1:12pm
Bill: You are correct...but it all depends on lawyers, judges and 12 peers.

EarlGrey
Wed, Apr 24, 2013 1:54pm
Back to Boston...it seems the "person of interest" from Saudi Arabia already had a terror warning attached to him prior to the "event" in Boston...yet all mention of him has vanished from the news.
"Nothing to see here, move along.~Obi-Wan

Here is the text of the cover of the event file, which reveals still more:

Subject,
ALHARBI, ABDULRAHMAN ALI E
DOB 03/12/1993
COC SAUDI ARABIA
Subject is an exact match to NO FLY TPN# 1037506192. Derogatory information reviewed by W/C Mayfield and CW/C Maimbourg was found to be sufficient to request Visa revocation. NTC-P is requesting revocation of Foil# e3139541. Subject is inadmissible to the U.S. under INA 212(a)(3)(B)(i)(II). SAO was not completed prior to Visa issuance. Subject is currently in the United States, admitted F1 student, at Boston POE on 08/28/2012. Subject is a student at THE UNIVERSITY OF FINDLAY, 1000 NORTH MAIN STREET FINDLAY, OHIO 45840-3695. Subject has One (1) prior event #1648067, Fins promoted, NT record in place, No scheduled found at this time.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/04/24/armed-and-dangerous-becks-latest-revelations-on-saudi-national-once-considered-person-of-interest-in-boston-bombings/

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Apr 24, 2013 10:55pm
Kavips said, "Speaking of the will to "violate civil liberties", CISPA is coming up soon, and it is worse than ever....

I don't have the source, but just overheard from someone reading it from the text, that the CISPA bill allows a provider like Verizon, ATT, or Comcast to turn over all information they have on say Billsmith or MR.Pizza or EarlGrey over to the Federal government if requested, and it gives them the right to hack into your account, and give law enforcement the right and ability to enter and snoop around....

Since our computers are our brains these days, it is as if the Manchurians of the 60's could hack into your brain and report everything you were thinking...

And should they get it wrong, and say you lose your job and no one else will hire you, they have been granted immunity against all lawsuits. If this it true, this is really outrageous and yet it passed the House, with Delaware's John Carney voting for it like a deer in the headlights, and it has gone to the Senate. This is "that bill", I'm afraid that, if ever this nation were to turn away from its democratic values, to shun it democratic roots, will cause us to become the same as every other country. This is the bill that must be shut down."

Well said, Kavips.

Earl Grey posted links above with more info. Thank you for the links.

mrpizza
Thu, Apr 25, 2013 10:34am
billsmith & EarlGrey: You're probably right about the negligent homicide thing. However, the authorities will need to be very careful about who they bring charges against because the negligence happened over about a 30-year period. So how do you know what specific charges to bring against specific individuals? Are some of the guilty parties dead? These are all questions that will have to be sorted out.

kavips
Thu, Apr 25, 2013 5:58pm
Well, CISPA is dead... Just saw the Senate said they would not take it up because of the privacy issue, and would split it apart, divvy it up to make several good pieces of legislation instead of one bad piece designed to look attractive enough to be passed...

The operative word is "for now." As in CISPA is dead, for now...

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/04/25/aclu-cispa-is-dead-for-now

It was our conversation here that did it... :) We thoroughly shook them up... Expect Carney to take some heat, possibly from a left leaning challenger for his vote to eliminate the 4th Amendment...

Not sure what he was thinking... That was a very bad vote, just in general. One doesn't get elected very often when you vote to shred the Constitution... Just doesn't make sense. One would think someone from Dartmouth would know better...

kavips
Thu, Apr 25, 2013 6:04pm
Wow, the 4th Amendment news is coming in fast and furious...

"Today the Senate Judiciary Committee took a critical step toward updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) by approving the ECPA Amendments Act cosponsored by Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). The bill would require the government to get a warrant from a judge before gaining access to the contents of email or documents stored in the cloud."

Woo-hoo...

ECPA, which has not been updated to protect Americans' privacy since it first passed in 1986, currently allows government agents to read email and other online documents with a mere subpoena, issued without judicial approval.

https://www.cdt.org/pr_statement/senate-committee-approves-ecpa-reform-bill

kavips
Thu, Apr 25, 2013 6:42pm
Well, since this thread got hijacked and is now on the topic of surveillance and privacy, has anyone here followed the news about Google Glass? I must admit I was late catching up, but what it is... a pair of glasses with a video feed that records everything you see digitally. One can go back and cut-and-paste and send and post. Sounds interesting, but the ramifications are rather horrible. Imagine you spill your coffee and your workplace antagonist hears it, walks over asks if you need help, and videos your entire desk and looks over it, and sends the messiest clip over to your boss... along with a note saying this is what the "dork" is doing. How can anyone who works in such confusion ever be productive?"

Hopefully the boss will fire the antagonist, but bosses aren't as smart sometimes as we would presume.

Of course, the wearing of a mismatched suit one day because of a dry-cleaners faux paux gets you on the worst-dressed list and that becomes a career killer.

Or a joke you told has a piece spliced from it that makes it into a rather horrible reflection upon you... and that is passed around...

In all these cases you sort of realize everyone is wired to you, but you were never privy to the posting, and you actually go on without realizing you have a crises coming up in your life real soon...

Yet, these would be invaluable in another Boston Bombing. Something on all the time, street-level, multiple simultaneous views. It would greatly augment a criminal's capture. Of course, there is a very easy way to foil it as well.

As with all technology, as it comes into effect, we don't know its future ramifications. A very interesting observation, and perhaps Allan can verify it on air, but in Britain, which is probably the most photographed area in the world, the population really doesn't care what anyone thinks. Their language is salty, many are doing pints before work, and compared to here in America, the social atmosphere is very open.

Yet, we all remember East Germany, which in our lifetimes was probably the heaviest spied-on population in history, everyone was afraid, so that only platitudes were ever discussed openly. The opposite effect from Britain...

What I want to know is why, why Brits feel they have nothing to fear who sees what they are doing, and Americans, like East Germans, don't trust the information to stay in safe-keeping...

The method to protect our privacy is, I think, to serve monetary damages. As a model I'll point to the sexual harassment era during the 80's and 90's that was completely eradicated by the 2000's.... Talking dirty to women was common practice for many of the WWII generation. It was so natural to them as was the belief that women liked the attention. That was simply what men did and it was the way of America.

But with Clarence Thomas and fines ranging from $50,000 upwards to $500,000 in executive situations, the dollar amount as a judgment issued against a business got everyone's attention. Suddenly if a male said something derogatory to a woman, creating a hostile working environment, the business was on the hook. That meant the businesses had to jump into risk-management with seminars, discussions, no-tolerance policies, and firings on the pretense of creating a hostile working environment.

As a result, the problem is removed from our society. Now, it is rare, if it occurs, even at all..

That's the model. Today, with cameras everywhere, drones looking down at sunbathers, some footage that is inappropriate will occur. The question is not whether it occurs. If a tree falls and no one hears it, so what? But the question becomes, what does someone do with that information they have at their disposal.... If nothing, then no crime was committed. But if they post it, or send to someone's employer, or newspaper, or such, then that person should be able to sue....

If we can put big teeth into the cost of invading someone's privacy, really big teeth, then most squeamish people will be remiss to attempt it, just as today, sexual harassment is minimized.

To be honest, if embarrassing photos of any of us made it to the Daily Mail (re BillSmith lol), our embarrassment would gradually fade with a couple of millions in crisp new bills... Three or four people would be fired for their responsibility in letting that couple of million out the corporation's door... And thus, a system is in place to make sure we don't really care if the Fed flies a satellite over our swimming pools when we are in an awkward position.

But if those were to be published, just as if our medical records were on the front page of the News Journal, we have every right to be compensated prodigiously.

So, the worst part of any privacy bill, is the part eliminating a lawsuit against someone who willfully causes damage to another...

The lawsuit, as we have seen in Supreme Courts lately, is the greatest protector of our Constitution and any bill could be.

I think that will become our future model, if we can make sure that tort actions for privacy breeches are protected and that fear of losing great gobs of money will cause each entity to self-police itself, so our privacy remains intact....

If facebook got sued because of a privacy breech. If a cookie collector got sued because of a privacy breech, if a internet provider got sued because of a privacy breech, we'd have a lot more privacy. Guarantee it.

Alternatively, if we set up the scenario, where there is much to gain financially with releasing someone's private personal information, and absolutely no cost to not do so, information is going to be released....

We can't ban technology. But we can control how each person chooses to use it.

EarlGrey
Thu, Apr 25, 2013 9:18pm
hey kavips,

yes i've been following the g00gle glass stories (started to make a reference in the thread about the servers/cheapskate tippers, but didn't)
and yes, if g00gle glass is abused (and it could easily be) we would make Nazi Germany and 1984 look like child's play since everything in our lives now leaves a data trail :(


kavips
Fri, Apr 26, 2013 12:30am
G00gle Glass is now out, and here is one of the first reviews...

http://www.engadget.com/2013/04/25/living-with-google-glass-day-one/

If you watch the four minute video, you can see how innocuous is appears, but, how easily it can be abused....

But imagine 100 people all taking images of a person getting shoved in front of a subway.... simply by turning to see who was screaming...

shudder, shudder.


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