Thursday, December 18, 2003

Speaking of American citizen terrorists . . .

From David Neiwert I learn that his friend and fellow reporter Daniel Levitas has more information coming out about those Terrorists in Texas:

In April, as Baghdad fell and American soldiers began searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, federal officials uncovered a cache of deadly chemicals much closer to home — in the eastern Texas town of Noonday. The stockpile included a fully functional sodium cyanide bomb capable of killing hundreds, as well as neo-Nazi and antigovernment literature, illegal weapons, half a million rounds of ammunition, and more than 100 explosives, including bombs disguised as suitcases.

Now if only they had found a copy of the Koran on them maybe they'd be in a Navy brig today somewhere near Padilla, Ashcroft would be holding a press conference in front of a screen with dozens of stenciled "Making America Safer" slogans on it and it would be leading the all news cycles. Just like Padilla. But they weren't like Padilla. They were red blooded American Militia.

William Krar, a 62-year-old manufacturer of gun parts and a right-wing extremist who had rented the storage locker in which the cache was found, has pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing a chemical weapon and faces a possible life sentence. Two others — Judith L. Bruey, Mr. Krar's companion, and Edward Feltus, a member of a paramilitary group called the New Jersey Militia — are awaiting sentencing.

But surely Ashcroft is all over this, right? Right?

Americans should question whether the Justice Department is making America's far-right fanatics a serious priority. And with the F.B.I. still struggling to get up to speed on the threat posed by Islamic extremists abroad, it is questionable whether the agency has the manpower to keep tabs on our distinctly American terror cells. There is no accurate way of analyzing the budgets of the F.B.I., Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security to discern how much attention is being devoted to right-wing extremists. But in light of the F.B.I.'s poor record in keeping tabs on the militia movement before the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, one wonders whether the agency has the will to do so now.

"Unfortunately, keeping track of right-wing and neo-Nazi hate groups isn't necessarily a path to career advancement in the Bureau," a Justice Department official told me not long after the Oklahoma City attack. "Agents get ahead by solving real crimes, like bank robbery, espionage and murder."

Remember folks, sodium cyanide bombs, illegal weapons, half a million rounds of ammunition, and more than 100 explosives, including bombs disguised as suitcases don't threaten American security, terrorists do. And they're not terrorists if they're Americans with real American names like William, Judith or Edward. But it would be a very different story if their names were Mohammad. Or Jose.

Well, maybe not a different story. But I'm sure it's a story we'd at least be able to hear about.