Patterico's Pontifications


Joe Stack Was a Terrorist

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:49 pm

It’s one of those odd instances when I find myself in agreement with Brad Friedman:

Say what? McClatchy reports that WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters the incident does not appear to be terrorism. Huh? Are you kidding? Would it be terrorism if the pilot’s name had been Abdullah instead of Stack? Wouldn’t Fox “News” be going wall-to-wall with coverage at this point if that had been the case? Had Gibbs read Stack’s note (as posted below) which reads “violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer,” before making that assessment? What the hell is he talking about? Or perhaps I should ask, what the hell is “terrorism”? Only the stuff that’s done by tan or darker guys with names like Abdullah? Or did McClatchy misreport Gibbs comments, and he was trying to say it doesn’t appear to be Muslim extremist terrorism?!

That is precisely what I thought when I heard the news today, with one exception: I didn’t even pretend to give Gibbs the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t even see how this is a political issue. Sure, if I were Scott Eric Kaufman, and therefore prone to making cheap political points about the effect of strong political rhetoric on unstable people, I would note Stack’s criticism of Bush:

As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.

And his ranting about health care:

Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

And his other expressions of opposition to capitalism:

I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

Joe Stack (1956-2010)

But while it’s good to note how Big Media tries to pretend these facts out of existence, it makes no sense to politicize this as a left-right thing. Any more than it makes sense to blame Rush Limbaugh or any rational conservative for the murder of George Tiller, as SEK does.

But it certainly does make sense to call today’s act “terrorism.”

If there’s anything clear about Stack’s political views, it’s that he hated the IRS. That’s why he flew a plane into their building. To commit suicidal violence to make a political point.

That’s terrorism, folks. Whether he was brown or black or white. Whether he was Christian or Muslim or atheist. It’s terrorism.

Gibbs should know that. The feds should know that.

Call it what it is.

77 Responses to “Joe Stack Was a Terrorist”

  1. His temperament was very ill-suited to Austin I think. He was sort of all about the drama is what I get from his manifesto.

    happyfeet (713679)

  2. Wou mean Brad is not rewriting history and doing a rip and read from Media Matters on this the way he has covered the ACORN tapes? I’m shocked, I tell, I’m shocked!

    daleyrocks (718861)

  3. Smily will blame this on Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuush.

    JD (b655f9)

  4. Where was Obama when this was happening? I question the timing!!!!!

    daleyrocks (718861)

  5. No one worth taking seriously cares what this man thought. In this case, a cheap argument, on a foundation of silly putty, could be made against communists. Until the next insano is actually a right winger.

    It really is sad that some act so afraid of the reality of terrorism that our government goes so far out of its way to deny it when it’s most obvious. They act terrorized.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  6. Obama LIHOP. Smily is a terrorist.

    JD (b655f9)

  7. Terrorism – the calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear.

    Does attacking “the man” count?

    Does an isolated, solitary act count? Was he advocating others to follow him? Was he following a philosophy espoused by others?

    jeff (192441)

  8. I can’t say that I agree this was a “terrorist” act per se. At least, not in the sense I think we’ve come to associate with the tactic of terrorism, that is, acts that through violence or intimidation compel a population to change its behavior in ways the terrorist deems desirable. That could be either direct support for the terrorist’s goals or, more often, a reduction in a people’s or a government’s will to resist the attacker’s broader aims.
    It was a terrible act, by a terribly disturbed and unhinged man, but I doubt that a) he really intimidated anybody to changes either their minds or their behaviors about the Bush family, Congress, health insurance companies or general aviation safety, for that matter, or b) struck general fear into the hearts of the population at large by executing a bloody and highly lethal attack on a major population center.
    Granted, my initial reaction may have been colored by my profession (retired military/current airline pilot), but I didn’t think, “Oh, my God!” and quiver in my boots. It was more like, “What a pathetic dumbass. I hope no one else was hurt when he ruined a perfectly good airplane.”
    Guess that’s why they gave me the callsign “Attila.”

    attila_of_argghhh (aa61d6)

  9. jeff, yes to all questions, of course.

    He wrote a manifesto that my gradeschool teacher would call a “persuasive essay”. Not that it was anything but stupid, but he was trying to get people to do what he wanted, and was trying to scare people who disagree with him.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  10. I think his actions were personal. We might find that the very IRS agent who last confronted him was the one who died in the attack. If that is the case, he walked out of the audit and noted the window and decided that he’d crash his airplane into it.

    j curtis (5126e4)

  11. atilla, it wasn’t effective terrorism, but it was terrorism.

    I don’t blame you for not paying enough attention to his terrible manifesto to realize that he was trying to terrorize people into health care reform and all that.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  12. WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters the incident does not appear to be terrorism. Huh? Are you kidding? Would it be terrorism if the pilot’s name had been Abdullah instead of Stack?

    To be fair, Gibbs probably heard “Joe Stack” and thought the name was in reference to a pancake combo breakfast at IHOP.

    Seriously, this admnistration gets more tone-deaf every single day.

    And yeah, reading this guy’s “manifesto,” it’s pretty clear that his anger was bipartisan. This is a person who was simply pissed off at the world and was looking for a target to take it out on. Which makes him a loser, for all intents and purposes.

    Another Chris (35bdd0)

  13. More domestic terrorism:

    5 Muslim Soldiers Arrested at Fort Jackson For Trying to Poison Food Supply
    Thursday, February 18, 2010, 6:33 PM

    Aloha Snackbar!

    daleyrocks (718861)

  14. It brings to mind the recent DHS report about the “radicalization” of the right, and how right-wing extremims might breed domestic terrorists.

    Are they REALLY sure that it’s the right wing exclusively?

    This guy didn’t strike me as much of the Tea Party type, ya know?

    Steve B (5eacf6)


    I think that about sums it up.

    This TEA party thing is just more of the same Truther nonsense. I would bet that the ven diagram on them looks almost like a single circle.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  16. The One has a terrible manifesto and scares me.

    jeff (192441)

  17. I completely agree with attila.

    Post 9/11 we need to be very careful with the T word. Terrorism is an act intended to inflict terror on a people. My simple litmus test: 1) Was there a tactical purpose? 2) Did the act target the guilty with respect for the innocent? 3) Did it leave in place some network to achieve the goals should the terrorism succeed? (i.e. suicide does not automatically equal terrorism)

    By my simple test, Stack fails on all three. Other notable non-terrorists include the guys who shot Tiller and the Jewish museum employee. Notables who meet the standard are the abortion clinic bombers and the Ft. Hood psycho.

    el duderino (fedc3d)

  18. Other than scale, how does this differ from McVeigh? The overwhelming consensus is that McVeigh acted as a terrorist.

    This was political murder, committed by one not in uniform acting on behalf of a recognized nation, or group of nations.

    Ed from SFV (f6a87d)

  19. It sounds like that muslim food poisoning story I mentioned in #14 is still developing according to some sources and may not just be another isolated incident on top of the Fort Hood shootings and the isolated incident of the Christmas bombing.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  20. “Other than scale, how does this differ from McVeigh? The overwhelming consensus is that McVeigh acted as a terrorist.”

    McVeigh indiscriminately killed almost everyone in a mostly useless OKC ATF office and tried to retreat to do more.

    Stack flew a tiny plane into a similarly useless ATX IRS building, taking his own life in the process.

    The difference is Stack could have thought for 30 more minutes and done 100 times the damage. But he didn’t because he’s a lunatic who wanted to go out with a bang. McVeigh wanted to kill feds until he died.

    el duderino (fedc3d)

  21. On Relaxin’ Jackson poisonings. My Army experience supports this take (via Instapundit).

    el duderino (fedc3d)

  22. #23: the guy who wrote that is a retired PAO….

    my Army experience supports the belief that you can’t really believe anything they say. not only that, but he’s been going around to just about every blog i’ve seen carrying the same story and posting almost identical denunciations of it.

    he might be right, that there is nothing to it, but why so much effort on his part? i question the enthusiasm.

    i also question his contention that so few people would know about the investigation that it couldn’t possibly leak out. like all those bigwigs he mentions are going to type and file all their own paperw*rk…. yeah, right.

    my guess is, someone saw stuff about the investigation, and, when, to their mind, nothing was being done, decided a bit of sunshine was needed and they dropped a dime. good for them.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  23. Thanks red. I was referring to the mechanics of how charged soldiers could go under the radar for a couple months. But you’re right to question his pavement pounding, and I don’t trust any PA (especially officers) either.

    el duderino (fedc3d)

  24. if they are detained or under lock down in what is likely already a compartmentalized program, keeping the lid on wouldn’t be hard. here’s an Army Times article i found on the program that, if you read between the lines, says a lot about it: 09 Lima

    sine its my guess that the people in the program are kept separate from the Basic Trainees until they are ready to go through Basic (if they do), no one other than the other students in lock down would notice.

    that’s why my guess is that someone found out about the investigation and noticed it was being sat on, so they leaked it. consider when this originally kicked off, about six weeks after the Ft Hood massacre and about the time that the Army COS, Gates and all the other dumb asses were running around telling us that islam is a religion of peace, not pieces. 5 recruits, supposedly vetted for security, and chosen to be part of the military are actually jihadists? that would go over *real* well.

    so CYA went into immediate effect, and the lid clamped down, undoubtedly with command influence that they shade everything as innocuously as possible.

    there may be no there there, but until light is shined in all the corners, its going to be hard to believe. too many people have a vested interest in an outcome of “nothing to see here, move along please”, just like they did with Hassan until he actually killed people.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  25. I must disagree with you on this, Patterico.

    At its most basic meaning, a terrorist is one who seeks to instill terror within the populace. That was clearly not Mr. Stack’s intention, he was merely extracting revenge on those who he felt had wronged him throughout his life.

    You can’t exactly instill terror within the populace when there is no promise of continuing attacks of the same nature, or any reasonable fear that it will happen again from the same entity.

    Let’s not help pour water on the definition of the word terrorist, it has become watered down enough as it is.

    The Left only seeks to define Stack as a terrorist because they also seek to define him as a Tea Party advocate; in most other situations when the definition of terrorism actually does apply, they usually seek to stay clear of the word terrorist. Just think of Hamas terrorists that the Left often labels “freedom fighters” or things of that nature.

    You’re falling into the trap that the Left is trying to use to sucker the population to view Stack through the prism of partisan politics.

    George (f66dff)

  26. WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters the incident does not appear to be terrorism.

    If I’m not mistaken, this means that angry white males just became a protected minority!!

    Patricia (e1047e)

  27. Red, do you think really think these guys were in reception? If so, that would make sense. I think I heard once that the reception mess hall at Jackson is the largest in the military (theoretically that makes sense). But how could you poison food at reception? You can’t sneak it in and you don’t have access to anything in the kitchen. OTOH, if you wanted to detain someone on the down low, reception would be the absolute best time to do it. I thought about AIT, but that seems unlikely to be at Jackson. So it seems like they’re either in reception with no access to poison or their PDS with no access to the kitchen. Very weird story all around.

    el duderino (fedc3d)

  28. read the article from the Army Times i linked above: there’s a lot of background info there if you read carefully.

    apparently, they were in the ESL program, learning enough english to be useful. they would have to accomplish that before getting into basic, and we don’t know if they do regular basic, or if they have their own program for that as well. my guess would be yes because you want them for their language and cultural skills, not as just another GI, and you’d lose talent washing them out of regular basic.

    they do the same thing with Medical Officer recruits: get them in, send them to Ft Sam where they try to teach them enough to not embarrass themselves, then off to the Army. no regular OCS for them.

    if anything, they might have been planning on killing their fellow muslim recruits, as it appears that their program is separate from all other activities on base, for all the obvious reasons. their mess hall might not have been totally contracted out like the big ones are these days, what with the small size and special food handling, to keep things halal.

    hard to say much at this point, but at least i’m hanging my informed speculation on experience and open source data. might be something, might be nothing, but i wouldn’t put it past them to try and sweep something under the rug as nothing.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  29. I read it when you posted it. I didn’t see anything that suggested they didn’t go through the normal Army BCT. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that in any service. I know MD’s and some other highly skilled people don’t go through OCS, but I’ve never heard of anything like that for the enlisted. Also, if they don’t go through basic, what’s the point of recruiting? Why wouldn’t they just hire them as private contractors if they’re not going to train them to be soldiers?

    el duderino (fedc3d)

  30. I say, retire every muslim from the American army.

    The_One (59b334)

  31. I say, retire every muslim from the American army. Enough already!

    The_One (59b334)

  32. Comment by jeff — 2/18/2010 @ 10:33 pm 8.
    Terrorism – the calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear.
    — Well then, I guess the attack on the Pentagon was not terrorism after all.
    If we could dispense with your dollar-store dictionary for a moment, the target does NOT (repeat: does NOT) need to be “civilian”. Having trouble remembering the bombing of the Marines barracks in Lebanon, are we? or the Una-bomber’s attacks against judges?

    Does attacking “the man” count?
    — Only if “the man” gets really REALLY scared as a consequence of the attack. If he doesn’t experience fear as a result, this then is known as a dud-attack. Property damge & minor injuries don’t count if the victim reacts by saying “whatever”.

    Does an isolated, solitary act count?
    — No. And that’s why the proper usage is the plural “terrorisms”; or, if you will, “man-caused disasters. Doesn’t matter how many people get scared and/or quit their jobs as a result of that one incident; if there’s no pattern of multiple acts & at least one terrorist survivor to observe & analyze the results . . . doesn’t count!

    Was he advocating others to follow him?
    — Not necessarily. Of course, he probably has succeeded in planting the thought that ‘others MIGHT follow’ into the heads of some of the survivors. That, BTW, would be a perfect example of the ‘instilling of fear’ aspect of this TERRORIST ACT.

    Was he following a philosophy espoused by others?
    — Of course not! Who EVER heard of someone that hated the IRS, and said that they were gonna do something about it?

    Icy Texan (016cc7)

  33. Playing with definitions might get Stack called a terrorist, or not, depending.
    What annoys me is insisting that Hasan is not.

    Richard Aubrey (719ec2)

  34. I’ve seen somewhere that Stack was a gov’t employee.

    If he had been smart enough to put 500 pounds of nitrate and fuel oil explosive in the plane, he could have been McVeigh II.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  35. I didn’t consider Joe Stack to be a terrorist. After reading the comments here, I still don’t. At least from my perspective, I don’t see a network or following or group or organization of any kind to follow-up on the act. No one, from which, I would be worried might try to carry out his manifesto.

    That’s not to say it couldn’t or won’t happen again. Nor that someone might purposefully copycat him.

    But I’m confident there won’t be a movement formed to follow in his footsteps in an attempt to carry on what he did.

    Had McVeigh not been caught, he and those working with him, would have carried out more bombings.

    Others will probably follow Hasan in what he did. He does, at least loosely, belong or felt/feels an attachment to a larger group willing and capable of carrying out similar events.

    But this is a good discussion.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  36. Of course he is a terrorist, and most of his rant, puts him in the left anarchist camp, maybe he even
    peruses Greenwald, and Media Matters, thought the election in Ohio was fixed, all things are possible.
    It seems least likely that he be a conventional Tea Party goer

    ian cormac (9575ac)

  37. I would put this more simply. what moral difference is there between what this idiot did and the 9-11 attackers did?

    i mean there is a difference in his skin color, his causes, his citizenship and in his body count, but those are irrelevant to the moral issue, which is the same.

    I would say the closest to a moral difference is that there seems to an element of semi-personal revenge. it sounds like the IRS made his life difficult–he claims unfairly, but the jury is out as far as i am concerned.

    That being said, i have two quibbles.

    First, Fox news’ coverage WAS pretty comprehensive last night. But in the end while it was dramatic, it was a low body count event, so i am not sure how significant it was as news.

    Second, i don’t agree that a political cause, for the attacker, is necessary to make it terrorism. in truth i have long doubted that al qaeda really cared about anything but killing people. I think of them more like that description of the Joker in The Dark Knight: “some people just want to watch the world burn.”

    As far as pretending the anti-irs thing make him a teabagger, um, let me tell you, i have heard very liberal people say off the cuff that they actually sympathized with anyone attacking the IRS. This is WRONG, imho, but the point is its not just conservatives or tea partiers that dislike the IRS.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  38. It is interesting to note how you Americans are in a hurry to brand a whole nation as a terrorist nation due to the act of one bad apple. Yet you are careful not to use the same yardstick on yourselves when it is done by one of your own. Think what the news would have been like if this fellow was a Nigerian? Or an Arab American?There is terrorism everywhere. It is not synonymous to a particular nation, color, race or religion.

    Nigerian Observer. (ad3a3b)

  39. Actually, no when we do give consideration to Nigeria it is those spam emails for that exiled
    minister, maybe it was Mutallab Sr, and those fractious little conflicts on the Delta with the BEND, that trigger an oil spike

    ian cormac (9575ac)

  40. One thing for sure, the guy was a complete nut-case.

    bill-tb (541ea9)

  41. Interesting.

    The definition of terrorism at supports Patterico’s argument. Violence used to coerce especially for political purposes.

    Merriam Webster adds a requirement that the violence must be systematic.

    Even the authorities split on this issue.

    Hadlowe (782f02)

  42. I don’t see it as terrorism, because terrorism is designed to provoke a change by causing people who aren’t attacked to fear that they will be next; a lone wolf like Joe Stack, who killed himself in the process, can’t (reasonably) inspire fear that others will be next.

    The precise Dana (3e4784)

  43. Tamam, Dana, tamam.

    nk (db4a41)

  44. Was/is Charles Manson a terrorist? I don’t think that is the first or even second word we would use to characterize him, but one could say he did what he did out of some kind of political motive.

    If the shooter at Ft. Hood did not have documented ties to Al Queda in Yemen or where ever would we still say he is a terrorist? Yes.

    Would a serial killer of drug dealers be considered a “terrorist” if he left notes saying he wanted the border better policed? I don’t think we would unless it was a “sufficiently sized organization”.

    As said before, this seems to be more the carrying out of a personal vendetta against the IRS with political ramblings than something that was actually motivated by larger political considerations.

    A person can do many things that instill terror, but that does not make them a terrorist in the sense we speak of.

    If someone started killing police officers and sent letters in to the local newspaper that said, “I’m going to kill all of the pigs that keep oppressing us”, and it turns out the fellow is angry because his brother was shot and killed by an officer during a bank robbery, would we call that terrorism? I think we would be tempted to if we just had the crimes and letter to go on, but with all of the facts in I think we would say it is a personal vendetta.

    But what is the importance of this discussion anyway? Is there a significant point to it? Is it a matter of the White House trying to white-wash everything that could be seen as a terrorist attack, so they are simply trying to be consistent? (Even though in one sense, their short term interest would be to label this an example of the R wing fringe that HS is concerned about?)

    MD in Philly (e347b2)

  45. I don’t see it as terrorism, because terrorism is designed to provoke a change by causing people who aren’t attacked to fear that they will be next; a lone wolf like Joe Stack, who killed himself in the process, can’t (reasonably) inspire fear that others will be next.

    Honest question here. Is the possibility that other wackos are pissed enough to do the same thing to other IRS offices real enough to inspire fear, or is that too attenuated without a central wacko organizing effort?

    Hadlowe (782f02)

  46. If I ever have to go see the IRS, it won’t be an airplane flying into the building I’ll be nervous about. 😉

    nk (db4a41)

  47. In a lot of ways I understand what Gibbs might be intending to say. I believe yesterday’s incident may be more an “act of revenge” than an “act of terror.”

    Maybe we have to ask, “What makes people terrified?” It may be rooted in an incident that occurred in the past, but it’s heightened – and awakened – of fear of things to come.

    Joe Stack is another example of how society is veering more dangerous, but perhaps he’s just an isolated example. Yes, there will be more nutcases to do more extreme things in the future, but those acts will not be tied to a broader, intentional scheme set forth by Stack.

    That’s my two cents…

    Tim (00774d)

  48. But what is the importance of this discussion anyway? Is there a significant point to it?

    Language is a collaborative effort. Words, through use, approach but never achieve a universal signification throughout the populace. Conceptual words, like conservatism or terrorism are particularly hard to lock down, and we tend to do so through examples. e.g. lone gunman is not terrorism, but three gunmen is.

    This is an especially important issue in a legal context. If the general public consensus of the language is that terrorism excludes lone crackpots it might make the difference between a federal prosecution under anti-terrorism statutes and a state prosecution under state murder statutes.

    Hadlowe (782f02)

  49. …you Americans are in a hurry to brand a whole nation as a terrorist nation due to the act of one bad apple.

    I don’t think we do that. (At least the average American citizen doesn’t, no matter what the press headlines say). We called Iraq a terrorist nation, as we do Iran, because it is the position of their government to support terrorism. Even then, we recognize that many individuals, perhaps even the overwhelming majority, do not support the actions of the government.

    When a Jordanian citizen is found to be a terrorist we do not say that Jordan is a terrorist nation.

    It was an individual Nigerian that tried to blow up a plane on Christmas day, not the Nigerian people. In fact, it was other Nigerians who were most concerned about stopping him.

    MD in Philly (e347b2)

  50. Thank you, Hadlowe.

    So, if this guy would have lived, would we want him to be charged with terrorism or attempted murder/murder, etc., etc., and what kind of precedent do we want to make, and why?

    MD in Philly (e347b2)

  51. He killed a person. That’s murder. Everything else would diminish, and distract from, the seriousness of that crime.

    nk (db4a41)

  52. Not claiming any expertise here (maybe Patterico could weigh in), but looking back at McVeigh, he was tried and convicted for the use of a weapon of mass destruction and the first degree murder of 8 federal agents, the only charges that could be brought in federal court. This despite actually killing well over 100 people.

    Here, the murder of a federal employee as well as the damage to federal property would probably be enough to render him subject to federal prosecution (again, off the cuff guess.)

    Take a different hypothetical, though, and you would get different results. Take a lone wacko who has threatened to kill a bunch of random people in the community unless the city changes the zoning laws to allow strip clubs. If he then follows through and kills some random person in the park, he’s using violence to coerce political action, but is the murder enough to invoke federal anti-terror statutes? Depending on statutory construction, it might actually boil down to a federal judge’s interpretation of terrorism according to its common usage.

    Hadlowe (782f02)

  53. Hadlowe – People willing to fight for strip clubs cannot be all bad 😉

    JD (c62c91)

  54. I’d tend to agree with those who say “It wasn’t terrorism, it was personal revenge.”

    If his note had read, “The IRS is corrupt, the government is corrupt, and I’m going to strike back at them to strike a blow for liberty” or some such nonsense, I’d call it terrorism. But my understanding of his note (I haven’t yet been able to read it myself) is that it was more along the lines of “The IRS is corrupt and they ruined my life, and now they’re going to pay for it.” Which is personal revenge against an organization he felt had harmed him, rather than violence aimed at a political goal.

    (And who said terrorism had to be “suicidal” violence, anyway? The IRA bombings during “The Troubles” weren’t suicide bombings, but they were clearly acts of terrorism. Remove the word “suicidal” from your bolded definition, Patterico, and I’d have no quibbles with it).

    Robin Munn (fca9e9)

  55. Sorry, Patterico, I have to differ. To me, terrorism is violence directed at the general populace with the intention of terrorizing them into giving in to one’s goals. Not all crimes of violence are terrorism, and such an overbroad usage devalues the term.

    If Stack had flown the plane into a shopping mall to protest the IRS, that would be terrorism. This, not so much, especially if it turns out that this branch office was the one he felt so put out by.

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  56. I don’t think it is useful to label Stack a terrorist and I think it may be detrimental to the fight against terrorism to insist on calling him and others like him a terrorist.

    Think about it: we are engaged in a “war on terrorism”. So who are we fighting the war against? We are fighting organized (or semi-organized) groups of people who conduct training sessions, seek recruits, and have financial assets. We are not fighting a war against individual nut cases who live quietly among us until they unpredictably go over the edge. There is really no way that I can see that Stack’s actions could have been prevented through military or covert operations or intelligence. Bishop was not a terrorist either. I don’t see Hassan as a terrorist unless it’s established that he was encouraged in his actions by others. McVeigh – perhaps, since he was working with others and was planning his bombing for some time. Eric Rudolph – perhaps, to the extent that he planned multiple acts and was possibly helped by others.

    The meaning of labels such as “terrorist” lose some of their effectiveness when overused. We have seen this with “racist” (applied blindly to opponents of affirmative action, for example) and “anti-semite” (applied by some to even mild critics of Israel).

    I seem to recall a thread on this blog regarding the use of the term racist. My take on that was that someone can make a racist statement without being a racist, and we should use such labels carefully. Similarly, Stack’s act was “terroristic” in that it very much like actions that have been taken by terrorists, but I think it only cheapens the word and dilutes the fight against terrorism to call him a terrorist.

    Bruce (caaa43)


    Dan Collins is in the hospital.

    JD (c62c91)



    Terror yes, Extremism definitely, Dem or GOP backing no way.

    How to charge them is the question. In my mind if they fit the unlawful enemy combatant type definitions of LOAC, terrorism is the way to go. To extend it to US domestic terrorism is not all that different than slapping on a hate crime charge for someone involved in an incident deemed racist.

    I’m not a lawyer so be gentle!

    vor2 (c9795e)

  59. Call Joe Stack a Liberal, a Conservative, a Subversive, a Terrorist, label him what you will. If it makes it easy to label what clearly you don’t understand then by all means label him.

    But don’t presume that by labeling him you’ll either understand his act or be able to prevent others from acting in kind.

    Stephen (9755c3)

  60. He’s a terrorist, he attacked a Federal building, his motivations are all over the place, a lone wolf. probably

    ian cormac (9575ac)

  61. Re the Marine barracks in Lebanon:

    Per Wikipedia for what it’s worth…

    The U.S. still categorized this attack as an act of terror as it was directed against off-duty servicemen, which the U.S. defines as non-combatants.

    jeff (192441)

  62. IRS acquiring shotguns:

    I wonder if the IRS will issue an RFQ for anti-aircraft guns.

    Joe the Pilot (9755c3)

  63. I think I was right in my comment #11. The victim was the IRS manager in charge of collections. Wouldn’t that be exactly who Stack was going after?

    j curtis (5126e4)

  64. j. curtis,

    I was only gonna give Stack a 9.5 for style points. But you say he took out the IRS manager in charge of collections? I’ll give him a perfect 10!

    Joe the Pilot (9755c3)

  65. The U.S. still categorized this attack as an act of terror as it was directed against off-duty servicemen, which the U.S. defines as non-combatants.Hmmm … that would make many acts of the French Resistance “terrorism”. Or for that matter Washington attacking the Hessians in Trenton late on Christmas Day. Nonsense.

    To me, the IRA bombing Harrod’s was terrorism, but trying to bomb Thatcher was just war.

    There may be a point where the connection is too vague (bombing a DMV office because you think taxes are too high, say), but just because the Marines weren’t alert doesn’t make it terror.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  66. When will we hear calls for background checks and waiting periods for the purchase and/or use of Pipers?

    Gibbs? I asked yesterday if anyone knew what Baghdad Bob was doing; we need an up-grade in the WH Press Office.

    It almost sounded as if the closing of Stack’s manifesto was directed at an individual IRS agent when he said “…sleep well”.

    AD - RtR/OS! (02a1f9)

  67. there is no question there is “debate” on the definition of terrorism. Sometimes its honest, like most of the good people here. sometimes its dishonest, because they want to basically say that everyone who committs acts of terror on people they don’t like, or for reasons they sympathize with, isn’t terrorism. And then there is the really douchebaggy crap where they pretend isreali is a terror state.

    this is the definition i go by:

    carrying out acts of war where 1) you target civilians, 2) you act as a combatant, but don’t do anything to mark yourself as a combatant, or 3) you hide behind/amongst civilians.

    Some people like to put in a political motivation element to it, and that is a reasonable position, but its not mine.

    Btw, exit question. Liberals are trying to tie this to the tea party movement on the theory that if people agree that the tea party movement encourages terrorism, that americans will convince themselves that this is a bad movement. But, um, if bad acts carried out in the name of a movement discredits the movement, then how come they aren’t more supportive of isreal?

    just askin’.

    The mature answer is this. In a democracy we discuss and decide really important stuff. For instance, liberals claim that their health care proposals will save lives. Conservatives claim that free market principles will. Both sides, therefore, believe that the other is urging us down a path that will actually result in people dying. and the rhetoric gets heated, palin worryign about death panels, while that idiot democrat claims that the republican plan is to die quickly. both people use words that if taken seriously might motivate a person to use violence to achieve their ends. that violence is regretable to both sides. and neither side is responsible for the violence of the extremists.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  68. “…down a path that will actually result in people dying…”
    Comment by A.W. — 2/19/2010 @ 12:56 pm

    The Boomer Generation long ago lost sight of the fact that…
    We All Die!

    AD - RtR/OS! (02a1f9)

  69. […] Crasher’s Marxist Rant to Paint Him as Tea Party Protester Patterico’s Pontifications: Joe Stack Was a Terrorist Ace of Spades HQ: Another Story from Today (A Really Good […]

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  70. Is this Joe fellow a terrorist? Hmmmm… it depends on what he had in mind. Was his motive to strike terror or just retribution? It is really a question of motives.

    Nigerian Observer (afb735)

  71. I don’t personally feel strongly one way or the other what we call Stack. I think politicians, in an effort to score political points, have all but rendered the term “terrorist” meaningless. But the discussion is interesting.

    If we look at Stack’s manifesto, his words show that one of his motives is plainly political and that in his ideal world, he would inspire others to act:

    I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.

    I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less.

    Myron (6a93dd)

  72. 63.Re the Marine barracks in Lebanon:
    Per Wikipedia for what it’s worth…
    The U.S. still categorized this attack as an act of terror as it was directed against off-duty servicemen, which the U.S. defines as non-combatants.
    Comment by jeff — 2/19/2010 @ 9:50 am

    — That’s right. It was terrorism because it was not directly related to armed combat in a declared war.

    And neither is what Joe Stack did. Thank you for agreeing with me.

    Icy Texan (f3341b)

  73. 72.Is this Joe fellow a terrorist? Hmmmm… it depends on what he had in mind. Was his motive to strike terror or just retribution? It is really a question of motives.
    Comment by Nigerian Observer — 2/19/2010 @ 2:39 pm

    — Even Moron was able to figure out that Stack’s intent was intimidation to make a political point.

    Icy Texan (f3341b)

  74. […] Patterico’s Pontifications » Joe Stack Was a Terrorist I didn’t consider Joe Stack to be a terrorist. After reading the comments here, I still don’t. At least from my perspective, I don’t see a network or following or group or organization of any kind to follow-up on the act. … […]

    Daydream Darling » Stack (f7db02)

  75. […] as Tea Party Protester Patterico’s Pontifications: Casualties and the Austin Plane Attack and Joe Stack Was a Terrorist and Plane Crashes Into Austin Building (Updated x3) Mcnorman’s Weblog: Joe Stack 1956-2010 […]

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