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View Diary: Search continues for Dzhokar Tsarnaev (318 comments)

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  •  Aren't any acts like this outside of an active war (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999, Alexandre

    considered terrorism, especially if they target civilians?

    Technically terrorism has no legal definition (not really or accepted widely enough) as far as I know, but insofar as the zeitgeist is concerned, it's 'terrorism.'

    •  Technically, it does. (4+ / 0-)

      under U.S. law --

      (2) the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents
      22 USC 2656f(d)(2)

      Motive is key.

      •  But international law does not agree with us, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Villanova Rhodes

        does it? That's where I find it confusing.

        And that does not match up with the dictionary definition perfectly, which is the "systematic use of violence to achieve SOME (emphasis mine) goal."

        •  I'm not aware of an international law (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a gilas girl, Spit, Ninepatch, poco

          consensus definition of the term, but it's not my area of expertise. In any event, I don't see how it would matter in this domestic incident. I do agree that the popular & media usage of the term is distressingly flexible and often incoherent & nativist, if not flat racist.

          In policy (who prosecutes, what penalties, etc.), legal definitions trump dictionary definitions. That dictionary definition would apply to a lot of crimes that aren't federal crimes at present, and I'm not anxious to expand federal criminal jurisdiction. And yet it would not cover a one-off, non-systematic act of real politically motivated terrorism. I don't find it a useful one. But it's an interesting discussion.

          •  This ^^^ (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Villanova Rhodes, poco

            Thanks for posting this.

            I feel like we've been having this conversation for a really long time, though.

            ::sigh::

            Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

            by a gilas girl on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 01:23:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  My point was there was no consensus on the term. (0+ / 0-)

            Basically.

          •  Sure, in policy, but not in speech. (0+ / 0-)

            Legal definitions totally trump dictionary definitions in law and policy. Just not in speech and internet posts, IMO. Your mileage may vary, of course.

            That dictionary definition would apply to a lot of crimes that aren't federal crimes at present, and I'm not anxious to expand federal criminal jurisdiction.
            My point wasn't to legalize that definition but to point out that the word was used and existed long before 9/11 and has had many different contexts. I think the definition is sufficiently broad to cover how it's been used for a lot longer than the "War on Terror" has existed.
      •  thanks for this. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Villanova Rhodes

        Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with a-holes - William Gibson. (-9.75 / -9.05)

        by doesnotworkorplaywellwithothers on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 01:35:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  no, not all (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, poco

      consider the blackmailer who wants money from the government or else he/she blows up random people. Thats not terrorism.

      motive is rather central to the definition.

    •  And the Zeitgeist doesn't consider our drone (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Laconic Lib

      attacks terrorism.  What kind of sense does that make?

      The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

      by lysias on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:54:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do our drone attacks target civilians? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jan4insight

        I think they are considered an agency of war (military force) that do not seek to attack civilians and thus not considered that, but honestly the issue there comes down to what "war" is, which is the huge issue at hand today (not how we kill people or what tech we use but in the context we do).

        Anyway, I don't really KNOW my stance on "drones" (except that I don't care about the tech aspect) since the different strikes sometimes seem different to me.

        A "military force" is not generally considered terrorism even if it is a pretty awful, unjust military force - ours or anyone else's.

        •  That raises the question of why terrorism is (0+ / 0-)

          regarded as so uniquely awful, if awful, unjust uses of military force do not share in the opprobrium.

          The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

          by lysias on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 01:21:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sure. (0+ / 0-)

            I don't necessarily consider terrorism "uniquely" awful compared to war or other acts of violence, though I do think it is more jarring when terrorism (or any acts of large scale violence, whether it is to some end or not - political or apolitical) happen in a setting that is blatantly 'unexpected' or should not be expected. In a 'warzone' (hard to tell what is sometimes these days), you expect some degree of atrocity. At a sporting event, one does not. Theoretically.

            The motive behind violence does not make it uniquely awful to me. Terrorism seems to be, however you want to whittle it down, about motive.

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