November 01, 2002


Just go look.

Don't mess with Texans.
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Mark Steyn sums it up:

On Tuesday, 20,000 close personal friends gathered in the sombre cloisters of the U of M basketball arena to pay tribute to his life and memory in a service that made the Iranian obsequies for the Ayatollah Khomeini seem a model of taste and restraint. There would have been 20,001, but, in keeping with the bipartisan spirit of the event, Vice-President Dick Cheney was told to stay away. Governor Jesse Ventura, Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott and former Republican Senator Rod Helms were allowed in, but just so the mourners could boo them. If you missed the three-and-a-half-hour live broadcast on all Minnesota channels, here's the short version of the Democratic eulogies:

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your votes."

But let's take a look at the longer version. The Reverend Jesse Jackson compared the late Senator to Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. That sounds pretty impressive, until you remember that, at the memorial for NBA star Len Bias, who died of a cocaine overdose, the Rev. Jesse compared the deceased to King, Gandhi, Mozart and Jesus Christ -- "all young, gifted, strong and militant, all taken in the prime of their lives." Evidently, Senator Wellstone wound up with the condensed version of Jesse's standard eulogistic shtick, as indeed did Jesse himself when in 1988 he was compared to Dr. King and Gandhi by Jimmy Carter. It would be interesting to know what a Democrat has to do not to get compared to King and Gandhi, though I recall that, at the height of his Monica troubles, Bill Clinton was reduced to comparing himself to Dr. King.

"Mahatma Luther Wellstone"...where does he come up with these lines?

(link via Henry Hanks)
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James Lileks guts Fritz Mondale's warmed-over nonsense.

Quoting Mondale--"We have a United Nations. Let's use it. We have allies. Let's enlist them."

I got some steaks once from a company in Omaha; they were packed in dry ice. It took less than an afternoon to thaw. Mondale made this speech several days after he was unpacked and reanimated by the DFL, so he had the chance to catch up on current events. Surely he knows other nations are on board for Iraq. Which leads to one of three conclusions:

1. Mondale is a blatant racist. Arab allies don’t count. Turkish allies don’t count. He thinks we need more European - i.e., white allies. Is that what you mean, sir? No?

2. Then he believes that we should not go to war unless we have allies. If Germany, France, and other assorted puckermouths spit a nein and a non, then we ought to stand down. Our failure to secure their assent will mean our cause is wrong. This is perfectly in line with something a French gentlemen told me the other day, when I asked why China should have veto power over US military action: “Because they are one-quarter of the world’s population.” Ah. Of course.

Is that what you mean, Mr. Vice-President? No?

3. Then perhaps he believes in his heart that any excuse to avoid military action is a good one, as long as it results in a shiny medal doled out by Nordic bureaucrats.

It’s probably three.

The rest is just as good.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Scott Ritter, weapons inspector-cum-Saddam apologist, is becoming increasingly delusional:

Scott Ritter, who served as a weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-98, said Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's opposition to military action in Iraq during his campaign for Sept. 22 elections conveyed an important message to the American public.

"The German election resounded across America, Germany sent a clear signal to the American people that Germany would not participate in a war against Iraq," said Ritter, in Berlin to speak at a weekend forum.

He's playing to the home crowd as usual--the forum was in Berlin. As for the German election "resounding across America," the only thing most of us got from that election is that a bunch of German politicians think Bush is like Hitler in spite of the fact that he hasn't led us on a racial slaughtering campaign or overrun any of our neighbors, and that Germany is now vying for the title of Most Vile and Pantywaisted Former Great Power, a title held by France since its inception.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


An international delegation has arrived in Florida to monitor Tuesday's elections. To make sure everything's on the up and up, naturally. As the absurdity of this story speaks for itself, I'll refrain from offering any snarky commentary.
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Jesse "The Governor" Ventura is still upset about the Wellstone sendoff earlier this week. So much so he intends to send the Senate into chaos for a couple of months. He may appoint some average dude to fill Wellstone's seat--and the average dude won't be a Democrat:

A spokeswoman for the governor's office said hundreds of non-politicians have called, dropped off resumes or sent letters, saying they're interested in the job. A few politicians also have applied.

"Saturday night, I was at a party where I ran into an old friend who's a garbage man, and he said he might want to do it," Ventura told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "And I thought it was kind of appropriate. A garbage man certainly can spot garbage when they see it."

Ventura, who left the Wellstone memorial early, his wife in tears, said he felt "very used and abused," adding the rally was mean-spirited.

"I'll return the favor now," Ventura said. "Always remember, we SEALs, we don't get mad -- we get even."

What this move could do is erase the Dem plurality until January, when the new Senators are inaugurated.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The GOP takes frequent heat from the Democrats and their allies in the press for its connections to business interests and business lobbies. We've all heard the canard that "big oil" is really behind the Iraq war effort, that "evil" pharmaceutical companies are forcing the GOP to deny passing a prescription drug benefit, and so forth and so on. But we never hear about the business lobbies that prop up the Democrat machine, do we?

Yes, the Dems are every bit as beholden to a select few business lobbies, one of which is the abortion industry. That's right, industry. Since 1972 there have been an estimated 42 million abortions in the US--abortion is a multi-million dollar affair. At least three major Dem partisan attack groups are closely tied into the abortion industry: the National Organization for Women, National Abortion Rights Action League, and Planned Parenthood. All three groups conduct political activities on behalf of Democrats, and all three groups are composed of people who have some vested interest in keeping abortion unsafe for babies, legal, and not very rare. It would be a fascinating exercise to go through the membership roles of NOW and NARAL and see how many of the names turn up somewhere in Planned Parenthood's clinic ownership or management lists.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


As the 2002 campaign winds down, the Democrats are pulling some odd maneuvers. First, they gay-baited in an ad in Montana. Then, a Democrat Senate candidate in South Carolina insinuated that Rudy Guiliani had some odd relationship with gays, or Shi Tzus, and in Hawaii they accused the GOP gubernatorial candidate of hiding a secret lesbian affair. In Minnesota, the Dems apparently snubbed a qualified and very popular black candidate so they could dust off Fritz Mondale one more time.

One wonders if Sen. Robert Byrd (KKK-D, W Va) isn't running the donks' national strategy this year.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:28 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 31, 2002


have arrested a Chechen terrorist carrying 18 pounds of mercury. That's enough to poison an awful lot of people.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


has been linked via ballistics to a murder in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. One of John Muhammad's former Army COs says he was a "screwball,", adding that no one in their unit respected him, and that he once stole an M16 rifle to try and frame another soldier. Nice guy this Muhammad is turning out to be. And we now have a few more details about Muhammad's alleged attempt to kill fellow soldiers in the Persian Gulf:

[Former Army Capt. Rick] Martin thinks a grudge that Muhammad held against another soldier led to his pulling the pin on an incendiary grenade in an Army tent near the Iraq border in January 1991.

"Someone yelled, 'Fire!' and his platoon scattered out of the tent," Martin said. No one was injured in the blast.

Martin said investigators found the grenade pin near Muhammad's bunk and determined the grenade exploded on the other side of the tent. They interviewed Muhammad, and he was arrested, Martin said. He said he does not know what happened to Muhammad.

Records show Muhammad entered the Louisiana National Guard in the late 1970s and was disciplined for striking an officer and demoted from sergeant to specialist. He entered the regular Army in 1985 and left active duty in 1994 with an honorable discharge.

Suddenly my honorable discharge seems a lot less valuable, if this loser can get one. He tried to kill American soldiers in a war zone, if this story is true. Sheesh. I had speeding tickets get me in more trouble than this guy apparently got into.

I have to say, this story gets a little weirder every day. It's starting to look like Muhammad just likes to kill people, and finally decided that since he was pretty good at it he'd just go ahead and turn it into a way to make a political statement and maybe a pile of cash on the side. Many, many scholarly books will surely be written about this guy, his sidekick and their murderous spree, which seems likely to include at least a few more homicides before we're done with it.

UPDATE: Christian Weber, a "terrorist profiler" (I put it in quotes because I've never heard the term until now), says John Muhammad's past fits the profile of young men exposed to Islamism who then gravitate to the extremes and finally into jihad. Others who fit this pattern include John Walker Lindh (didn't he have an Arabic name?), Jose Abduyah Padilla Muhajir, and Richard Reid (didn't he also have an Arabic name?). The Feds are also investigating John Muhammad's links to Antigua as a possible link between him and Reid. The "shoe bomber" was caught trying to blow up a flight from Paris to Antigua via Miami.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:04 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


, and I know a few you were because you wrote to ask me, why I'd suddenly dropped the usual logo for this site and replaced it with the logo that indicates support for the Dallas Cowboys (currently 3-5, and having just lost consecutive overtime heartbreakers), here's the scoop. The guy in that logo is Emmitt Smith, and he has accomplished something that should be impossible for a guy that's shorter than me: he's now the NFL's all-time leading rusher (for you non-football types, that's a guy that carries the ball without having had it thrown to him). He passed the great Walter Payton, and leaves the inexplicably popular but nasty Barry Sanders in third. Here's a list of Emmitt's other football achievements--most consecutive seasons over 1,000 yards, all-time leader for most rushing touchdowns, and so forth highlight his resume. He's a real manchild, especially when you consider that he has run most of his career behind a patchwork offensive line, isn't very big and isn't very fast. He's just good, and very determined, and he's also a decent human being.

So that's what that's been all about. Trust me, a suitably bellicose logo will grace the JYB in due time.
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I don't usually get into the latest web-doohickey of the day, but Googlism actually made me laugh out loud. Here's what it said about me:

bryan preston is a writer and television producer
bryan preston is making the case and a very interesting one
bryan preston is spooky
bryan preston is a good kisser
bryan preston is a must read for everyone
bryan preston is a slut
bryan preston is afraid that i believe salvation is "guaranteed by strict adherence to church ritual
bryan preston is following some interesting stuff

I don't know where that fourth one came from. My reputation is surely enhanced by it, though.

As for this blog, Googlism turns up some oddities:

junkyard blog is a dallas cowboys fan
junkyard blog is then linking to f#@*world
junkyard blog is going to try to tie in the threads from his coup yesterday
junkyard blog is looking at the possibility that jose padilla is the oklahoma city bombing suspect john doe #2
junkyard blog is a refreshing bit of american open air
junkyard blog is cool
junkyard blog is

I think the last one's the best one. JunkYard Blog is.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


may be fighting the war on terror more aggressively than we are. When a suspect ship enters our waters, we detain it, scrutinize it, quarantine it, generally harass it. When suspect boats do suspect things in Yemeni waters, they will be blown up.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


. Your government may punish you by forcing you to become a Muslim.

(thanks to Dave)
Posted by B. Preston at 09:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Historian Bat Ye'or appraises the world's situation as it deals with Islamism. This piece also inspired a little passage in my "Wellstone funeral" rant a couple of posts down--the bit dealing with Christianity and self-criticism. She touches on it, but I wanted to flesh it out at bit more and explain its origins.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 30, 2002


is now the late Senator Paul Wellstone's replacement. Let me tell ya a little story about what a class act Mr. Mondale is.

In 1995 I was a military journalist stationed in Tokyo. On January 17 of that year, a 7.2 earthquake destroyed Kobe, a bustling Japanese city of several million, and killed thousands. A shocked Japan reeled, and for the first time in memory appealed to the outside world for help. Naturally as it's best friend and protector, the United States stepped up, offering whatever assistance Japan would need to get back on its feet. It was probably the saddest time I remember in all my years in Tokyo.

At that time, former Vice President Walter Mondale was the US Ambassador to Japan, having been appointed to that post by President Clinton. Japan greeted Mondale's appointment with amazement--as a former Vice President, he had enormous stature there, so to the Japanese his ambassadorship signaled that the Clinton administration really cared about relations between our two countries. His appointment had been one of the few moves of which I approved at the time, not because I liked Mondale but because the Japanese liked Mondale.

On the day following the Kobe quake, I found myself at the US Embassy in Tokyo covering a visit by Gen. John Shalikashvili, then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His trip to Japan was on the books long before the quake, but the disaster understandably came to dominate his talks with Japanese generals and government officials. The US Embassy hosted a kick-off meeting between the press and the principals, and that meeting included Gen. Shalikashvili, Lt. Gen Richard Myers (then commander of US Forces Japan, currently Chairman of the Joint Chiefs himself) and Ambassador Mondale on the US side, and a few local generals and dignitaries on the Japanese side. Standard high level dog and pony, in other words.

Mondale was seated to stage left of the podium, and as one general after another, and one official after another, stepped up to deliver brief remarks about the Kobe situation, I noticed that the ambassador seemed...passive. He was sitting with his knees so far apart they might have been in different zip codes, elbows firmly planted on those knees, and his head resting in a cradle formed by his hands. He sat like this for a good little while.

He was asleep. On stage, in front of press and generals and grief-stricken Japan. While our military types did their best to console a hurting host nation, our emissary to that nation paid them a great insult by falling asleep, literally, on the job. It never became a headline, and never caused any international incidents, but it always said something unpleasant to me about the character of the man Walter Mondale.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:32 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


, or pep rally, or whatever you want to call it, says to me that the right and left in this country essentially have nothing to talk about anymore. The blue state/red state divide is more than just a reflection of political opinion, but of actual culture. I'm not really talking about the so-called "culture wars" here, but just a general difference in philosophy about what is proper and improper, what is seemly and unseemly, and what constitutes respectful versus disrespectful behavior.

A US Senator was booed for attending the memorial service of a man he opposed politically but never uttered an unkind word about. The Vice President of the United States was disinvited because he'd helped pick the dead man's campaign rival. And one of the deceased's friends said that the best way people could honor the dead was to cast a vote for some other guy who's probably not far from the grave himself. This is all disrespectful behavior, both of the living and the dead. That so many attendees saw no problem with the events, and actively participated in them, says that they didn't see it as disrespectful, but as proper and fitting.

And that's where the disconnect is. When the center-right says that we need to defend the country, the left responds "Yeah, from the Christian right!" When the center-right says, patiently, "No, from a madman with weapons of mass destruction and the tendency to use them," the left dissolves into incoherence because it can't see any threat beyond the latest utterance of Jerry Falwell. On the subject of national security, there's simply nothing remaining to talk about. Those that get it, get it and know what to do. Those that don't get it invent conspiracies and accuse the other side of all manner of evil.

Then there's the matter of respect for the law. In 2000, after the death of Mel Carnahan, then running against Sen. John Ashcroft for that state's senate seat, was killed in a plane crash three weeks prior to the election. Though the dead are obviously not eligible to seek public office, the governor of the state, a Democrat like Mr. Carnahan, let it be known that Carnahan's name would stay on the ballot, and should his corpse defeat a living, breathing Senator, the governor would hand the job to Mrs. Carnahan. The corpse won, the wife got the job, and out of respect for the family's loss Sen. Ashcroft declined to challenge the election in court, where he almost certainly would have, finally, defeated the dead man campaigning. That same year, of course, the Florida debacle ensued in which a sitting Vice President tried to get the vote-counting standards changed in the midst of the election no less than three times, attempted to cherry-pick which counties would have to recount their votes, and the single court that saw things his way became the rallying point for the hard left while the handful of courts that decided the other way hardly get a mention, and so forth. This year we've had New Jersey, where the Democrats swapped candidates long past the legal deadline thanks to some silly liberals on the state's supreme court, while an ocean away in Hawaii the Dems tried the dead trick again, keeping a deceased candidate in the governor's race in the hopes that she would bring back the Missouri magic. At least this last trick seems destined to fail. What all of this shows, to me at least, is a deep-seated contempt for the law and the process by which we designate who serves in office and who doesn't. It's not based on any principle other than maintenance and expansion of their party's power, and it's becoming a real threat to the way we elect our representatives.

The divide is not just in the political arena, and doesn't just show up when candidates die. Religion is the other big chasm dividing us. Yesterday, I posted a quote from a Mark Steyn column comparing fundamentalist Christians with Islamists, intending for the nth time to demonstrate to the thicker-skulled folks in the world that all religions are not equal philosophically, morally or spiritually. While Islamists run around stoning women (but not men) for engaging in adulterous affairs, and killing innocents from Bali to Kuwait to suburban Washington, DC, their Christian equivalents in terms of contempt for modernity and stifling social norms are busy driving horse buggies and raising barns in rural Pennsylvania. For those of you who don't get it yet and still think all religions are the same, there's a reason Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church--the pope's authority had become corrupt. Since the days of Martin Luther, well actually long before the days of Martin Luther but most obviously since his time, Christianity has had within it a tendency to weed out the murderous radicals and self-criticize that Islam in its present form simply lacks. This comes directly from Christ, who taught that we all are sinners, that we should only judge others in the full knowledge that our own standards will be someday used to judge us, and that no one who has sinned is entitled to sit in ultimate judgement over another. This is powerful stuff, and sets Christianity apart from pretty much every other creed, yet to the Christian haters who mostly reside on the left their own ignorance justifies their repeated and gratuitous displays of contempt for all faiths in all times. They're the equivalent of Michael Moore criticizing the life work of Alfred Hitchcock. They simply don't possess a deep enough knowledge of the subject to be capable of rational discourse concerning it.

Speaking of rational discourse, that's one more subject about which the right and left simply have no more common ground. While the right isn't perfect, it tends to base its arguments on things like facts and logic. The right will say "Based on what happened in the early 60s and the early 80s, cutting taxes will over time add to the government's treasury by freeing up capital that creative, enterprising Americans can channel into useful endeavors." The left will say "Look at them! The right is trying to starve your children again! They're trying to kick old people out in the streets again! The evil, rich bastards--vote for us so we can fight them some more!" It's as if, to the left, people from the right don't have any children, or grandparents--we're all just rich people born at 25 and remain ageless until we die, but not before feeding on the carcasses of the last caribou in Alaska. On the subject of guns, a person of the right will tend to say "If you ban guns, you're not only violating the Constitution, but you're guaranteeing that only criminals will have guns, since criminals by definition don't respect the law." And the left will respond "But, so many kids die from guns every year. So many people get murdered by guns every year. Guns are the cause, and guns must go." People--dumb people mishandling firearms, bad people who shoot innocent people--never enter the equation. They're so fixated on the instrument that they lose sight of the fact that it takes a human to animate it.

So anyway, like most people of the right I'll keep trying to discuss the issues with the all humor I can muster and all the intelligence I can scrape up, but I'm becoming increasingly pessimistic about the end result. A good man, with whom I disagreed 100% percent, has died and his friends have turned his bones into a political talisman. It's sickening, and far worse than anything the Wellstone's political enemies ever did to him.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:11 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 29, 2002


has developed a sandwich that lasts three years--without needing refrigration.

Those of us who've eaten MREs--Meals Ready to Eat, Meals Rejected by Everyone--find this story devoid of any surprise whatsoever. Kind of like the meals themselves.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:55 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


the following headline...

Serbia detains assassination suspects

...prompting Walter Cronkite to exclaim "My God, they really have started World War III!"

Thankfully, no Austrian Archdukes were involved in the incident.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


apparently had copious contacts with top al Qaeda brass and the government has documented those meetings thoroughly, but for obvious reasons doesn't want to share the data with his lawyers. His defense lawyers, therefore, don't want the presiding judge to view it either. One more reason to detest defense attorneys.

Some will say that Muhajir's predicament is an abridgement of his civil rights, and could lead to the loss of same by the rest of us. I say it's prudent, as the man's arrest was based on information obtained from top al Qaeda brass currently sunning themselves in Gitmo. The same is very unlikely to happen to the rest of us.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


No, I’m not having a Falwell moment. I’m also not expanding my definition of terrorism to include killers that I would not have called terrorists prior to 9-11. For instance, prior to 9-11, I would not have called David Berkowitz a terrorist. I wouldn’t have called Ted Bundy a terrorist, either. But I would have called Yasser Arafat a terrorist, and I would have called Tim McVeigh a terrorist—whether he was working for Iraq or not. Arafat and McVeigh get the terrorist designation because there was a political point to their killing, and because that political point has over time come to be associated with an expressly political philosophy that has included the wanton killing of innocents as a standard tactic. Berkowitcz and Bundy don’t get the terrorist moniker because they just killed both because they were demented and hearing voices emanating from canines and because they liked killing and got some perverse satisfaction from it. McVeigh and Arafat probably do (or did, in McVeigh’s case) like killing, but the perversion doesn’t seem to drive it—the killing is a deliberate tactic designed to elicit a response or set of responses from the perceived enemy.

Accused sniper John Allen Muhammad, based on what we know about him today, falls into the terrorist regime for this very reason: From what we know today, his killing had a political point and was designed to elicit a response from his enemies. He also fits the definition of terrorist based on the circumstantial evidence thus far uncovered and publicly available. Further, he fails to fit the definition of a serial/spree killer in at least one crucial detail, which is ritual. According to the histories of most serial killers, there is nearly always a ritual aspect to the crime. The killer may design a ceremony around the killing, may make a game out of it, or in some other way prolong the killing, or may design a ceremony or ritual around the corpse once the killing has taken place. Muhammad and his sidekick, John Lee Malvo, seem to lack the ceremonial aspect to their killings. In fact, the killing circumstances that may be deduced thus far—distance, firing only one shot in all cases, and firing from a type of cover with easy access to escape—are tactical as opposed to ceremonial. They set up the killings to facilitate their escape which allowed them to kill again, but the setup utterly lacks any kind of ritual symbolism.

Political Point

The political point of Muhammad’s killing spree seems obvious, which is usually the case in political and terrorist killings. Terrorists on the West Bank want to eradicate Israel, so they kill Israeli citizens. Chechen terrorists want Russia to pull out of Chechnya and grant it independence, so they take a thousand hostages and threaten to kill them unless Russia does what they want. And so with Mr. Muhammad, who wanted to attack the United States at its political heart and expose its impotence in dealing with him. He encircled the nation’s capital with senseless murders, careful to kill in a variety of age ranges and racial categories, and careful to kill victims doing everyday things like gassing up their cars or waiting for buses. There was no rhyme of reason to the killing, and once he struck on a Saturday night toward the end of the spree, there was no discernible pattern—and that was the point. The last remaining superpower, the supposed oppressor of Muslims around the world, can’t even protect a 13-year-old boy walking into his school just a few miles from the White House. That’s a very powerful political point, and goes to the heart of one of our society’s most basic seeming contradictions: How can a nation be both totally safe and totally free? The answer is that we can’t, and that liberty does have a price which includes a measure of risk, but that price may be too high for many to pay in an increasingly risk-averse society. Muhammad seemed to be exploiting that dichotomy.

Intended Response

The Muhammad/Malvo killing spree also seems to have included an intended response on the part of law enforcement and the public. Of law enforcement, the killing was intended to expose impotence and therefore create frustration. This, he probably hoped, would lead to overreactions, false arrests, multiple public statements stating false evidentiary leads, and desperation. This in turn would lead to a breakdown in society’s trust of law enforcement, an increase in vigilantism and, eventually, anarchy. Yes, it’s a grandiose goal for two men with a bushmaster, but then again toppling the Twin Towers was a grandiose goal for 19 men with a handful of boxcutters, though obviously not an unattainable goal. Muhammad’s problem was his impatience, and the response of the public, which he didn’t anticipate.
The alleged sniper seems to have intended the public to panic from the outset, then turn on law enforcement as the killings continued. He also seems to have intended the panic to freeze up the entire region, and lead people to cease all activities that force them outside of their homes for any length of time. Hence the warning that our children were “not safe anywhere, at any time.” Instead, the public’s response was measured and never rose to the level of panic. People became edgy, avoided sidewalk cafes and some gas stations and cancelled many outdoor school activities, but never refused to go to work en masse and never turned on law enforcement, even when there might have been a reason to do to. We went about our business, though always on the lookout for white vans and suspicious characters.

As the public failed to panic, and the police failed to overreact (in fact, they might be accused of underreacting) in spite of saturation news coverage, the killers became impatient and started devising ways to ratchet up the pressure. First, by leaving clues like the Tarot card, then by calling the police tip line and finally by leaving letters demanding a large sum of money. In all this the killers thought that they were giving the police enough to verify their credibility but not enough to sniff them out, but here they were wrong: Leading police to the Montgomery, Alabama shooting led them to John Lee Malvo, who had unknowingly left behind a fingerprint, which led police to Tacoma, WA and finally to John Allen Muhammad, and the game was over. Impatience became the killers’ worst enemy. It’s important to note here that the killers were not trying to get caught, as many serial killers end up doing: The killers here were trying to establish credibility among the tens of thousands of callers to the tip line, thereby allowing them to directly taunt the police and, via press leaks, the public.

Circumstantial Evidence

The alleged snipers as terrorists scenario is by no means an open and shut case. Muhammad and Malvo, alleged killers of ten while wounding three, did many things that don’t seem to fit what we think of as terrorists at all. They don’t seem to have any hard links, so far, to any known terrorist group. But al Qaeda isn’t the kind of group that publishes org charts—it’s a loose terrorist “think tank” that aims to inspire, as well as directly fund and execute, terror attacks. Neither of the accused is Arab, and only one is Muslim. But the group recently broken up in Michigan and Oregon was composed mainly of radical African-American Muslim converts. In the midst of Muhammad and Malvo's rampage, they called two priests who they wanted to act as intermediaries between themselves and the police. And they extorted money, which terrorists tend to avoid. Terrorists extort political prizes, such as patches of land, the freeing of fellow terrorists currently behind bars, or other concessions, but seldom demand money.

So while some evidence runs contrary to the traditional idea of a terrorist, much more runs directly toward concluding that the pair were on a terror mission of some sort. For starters, Mr. Muhammad operated two illegal businesses known to facilitate terrorism, document forgery and human smuggling. This summer, police in Baltimore broke up a ring of alleged document forgers when its leader stirred up unrelated domestic trouble with a neighbor. Upon his arrest, police discovered half a dozen illegal immigrants, all of Middle Eastern origin, working with him and, likely, passing through the area en route to some terror mission. Various members of the 9-11 hijack team were in the nation illegally, some carrying false documents identifying them as airline pilots.

While living in a Bellingham, WA homeless shelter last fall, Mr. Muhammad was known for voicing support for the 9-11 hijackers, and for his interesting financial habits. According to Rev. Al Archer, who operated the shelter, Muhammad often traveled by air to destinations around the country and even internationally, which is rare to say the least for the residents of such shelters. Muhammad also had the reputation of flashing large amounts of case from his wallet. Rev. Archer felt so strongly that something was amiss, that Muhammad was in fact a member of some terrorist organization, that he called the FBI. The Bureau agreed that Muhammad seemed like he was up to some mischief, but lacked sufficient evidence to move against him. One wonders why a man financially capable of flying about the country and sporting a large sum of cash would choose to live in a homeless shelter. The fact that he apparently worked out in a nearby YMCA, but chose not to live there but in a homeless shelter, deepens the question.

In the past year or so, Mr. Muhammad changed his name to reflect the religion that he had followed for the previous 16 years. He also acquired a henchman in Mr. Malvo, and a car which he would allegedly use to move from one shooting to the next, and which he would modify to make his attacks easier to conceal. He acquired the tags and title for that car on September 11, 2002 at 8:52 am, thus commemorating the terrorist attacks of the previous year, and of which he publicly approved, and on a day that included a bomb scare on the very building in which he got his paperwork.

But what of his past? Mr. Muhammad, then known as John Allen Williams, served in the US Army, famously fighting for the cause of freedom in the 1991 Gulf War. His actual Army record is spotty, though, to say the least. While in the National Guard, in separate incidents he struck a superior and disobeyed a direct order, earning him two courts-martial. In spite of that record, he was accepted for active duty in the Army, where he didn’t leave behind too many fond memories, and may have tried to kill US soldiers preparing to battle Saddam Hussein:

Squared away, physically fit, with a crushing handshake, he was superficially an adequate soldier, serving as a mechanic in a combat engineering brigade. His sergeant, however, says he was “trouble from day one. You’d give him an order and you’d get a certain glare,” retired Sgt. Kip Berentson told NEWSWEEK. “He loved being in charge and he had a warped sense of humor.” Williams’s unit was sent to Operation Desert Storm to clear mines and bulldoze holes in enemy lines. A few nights before the invasion of Iraq, Sergeant Berentson awoke in the early hours to find his tent, with 16 sleeping men inside, on fire. Someone had tossed in a thermite grenade. Berentson, who was fed up with Williams’s insubordination, immediately suspected Williams and told the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division. Berentson says he last saw Williams being led away in handcuffs. Williams’s military records make no mention of the incident; indeed, they suggest Williams had a distinguished gulf-war stint. But Berentson always kept Williams’s name and dog-tag number in his wallet. He says he was not surprised to see Williams’s face on television. “He was,” he added, “a damn good shooter.”

After his Army days, which ended in 1994, he drifted around, divorced a couple of wives and spirited his children away to Antigua, which is where he met Malvo. Malvo became something other than a son figure, and something other than a friend, and eventually traveled back to the States with Muhammad. Back in Washington State, Muhammad bragged that he could kill a man from half a mile away, and talked about planning terror attacks with a confidante. He also bought a rifle in spite of the fact that there was a restraining order placed against him by a former wife, and at some point trained Malvo how to shoot.

Based on the above circumstantial evidence, I believe that John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, should they be convicted of carrying out the deadly shooting spree of October 2002, are terrorists under the widely understood rules of defining terrorism. They’re probably freelancers and therefore not directly tied to any terror organization, but that doesn’t make them any less terrorists. In fact, their case implies that America faces a grave danger from within, in the form of radical Muslim converts adhering to anti-American political points of view and capable of creating terror by simply picking up a rifle, or making a homemade bomb, or even wielding a knife or a vial of poison. Civil rights leader Roy Innis calls such potential terrorists “non-spiritual converts” to Islam, and recently warned the White House that there may be thousands of such converts out there, just waiting for their own inner cue to madness. They won’t need falsified visas or other documentation to get them into the country—they were born and raised here.

God help us if he’s right.

(Chris Regan contributed to this report)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:18 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


, the blogname of GWU student Rachel Jurado, describes the most recent anti-war rally in DC (aside--shouldn't we start calling them "anti-peace" rallies, since they have the effect of pushing us closer to war? That would make the Vietnam-era protesters "pro-communism," which seems appropriate as well.). Good stuff, if you're into acerbic anti-peacenik commentary laced with wit and a dash of stewing anger, and who in the blogosphere isn't?

Speaking of Miss Profiling, she's been published on the subject of chicks and guns over at The American Enterprise.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Christian fundamentalists with their Muslim counterparts. Oh, Mark Steyn already has:

You get the picture: Sure, Muslim fundamentalists can be pretty extreme, but what about all our Christian fundamentalists? Unfortunately, for the old moral equivalence to hold up, the Christians really need to get off their fundamentalist butts and start killing more people. At the moment, the brilliantly versatile Muslim fundamentalists are gunning down Maryland schoolkids and bus drivers, hijacking Moscow musicals, self-detonating in Israeli pizza parlours, blowing up French oil tankers in Yemen, and slaughtering nightclubbers in Bali, while Christian fundamentalists are, er, sounding extremely strident in their calls for the return of prayer in school.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


thinks the decade before us is the most dangerous America has faced since the '60s. And he'd be right, too, if he were talking about the 1860s.

You see, while the 1960s had all sorts of stuff going on--Cuban missiles, Vietnam and so forth--it wasn't really much more dangerous than the 1950s, and was probably on balance less dangerous than lots of other decades. The 1960s generation, of which Cronkite is a member, loves to go on and on and on about what a time it was, as though that single decade sums up their entire lives. I suppose for many of them it does, which says more about them than they'd probably like revealed.

But viewed objectively by someone who wasn't there (me), the 1960s had a lot going on, some of which was good (anti-communism; civil rights; a majority of Americans who actually held down real jobs and didn't spend ten years smoking, injecting and inhaling various drugs), some of which was not (lots of people who did do lots of drugs; the over-sexualization of society; abdication of responsibility; Madeline Murray O'Hair; the anti-war movement, which ended up comdemning millions of Vietnamese to tyranny under communism; general loss of faith in most institutions). But while the 60s generation loves to talk about how close they came to revolution and so forth, the same decade a century before saw an actual revolution, a real honest-to-goodness Civil War that cost us a half million and nearly destroyed the nation forever. In that light, it's tough to convince me that the 1960s were more dangerous to America than the 1860s, or the 1940s for that matter.

Cronkite, like most of his 1960s compatriots, is an incredible narcissist: everything that he lived through was bigger than anything anyone else lived through, ever. Vietnam was a way bigger experience in their eyes than, say, World War II could have been for the preceeding generation, and the assassination of John Kennedy was far more of a watershed than, say, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln could've been for those living at the time. It's very revealing when the 60s types wax nostalgic or compare any other time to "their time." They show the rest of us where their hearts still are, and just how much they really are relics frozen in time.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 27, 2002


remains a dead heat.
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, one member of the the alleged sniper team (he hasn't been convicted yet, though the case against him looks overwhelming), seems to have a long history on the wrong side of the law. The Seattle Times reports that he's been involved with smuggling illegals into the US, and with using and manufacturing false IDs.

Hm. Human smuggling and fake IDs. Two little cottage industries that facilitate terrorism. Still, the whole thing must be a coincidence. I'm sure it means nothing.

Here's one other little oddity, though. Remember those anthrax-laced letters of last year? Their return address said "Greendale School," which have led many to tie them to Steven Hatfill--he lived near a school located in a town called Greendale when he was in Rhodesia (there's much dispute over whether the primary school there was ever actually called "Greendale School). Well John Allen Muhammad has a link to a Greenville school in Antigua. He sent his kids to Greenville Primary School, one of Antigua's most exclusive (and expensive) private schools when he lived there, though he had no job and no visible means of support. Other than the aforementioned human smuggling operation, that is.

Greenville...Greendale. Maybe nothing, maybe something.

The "Greendale School" was supposedly in New Jersey (the one in the anthrax letters is ficticious). At the time of the attacks last fall, Muhammad lived in a homeless shelter in Bellingham, WA. I haven't found anything about him travelling to New Jersey at any time last fall, nor anything linking him to a source of anthrax, but you never know what may turn up if we keep digging around.

UPDATE: This story indicates that Muhammad did travel from Washington State several times last year to several destinations, and often flashed a wallet full of cash. This while living in a Bellingham, WA homeless shelter.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack