What (doesn’t) cause terrorism

Over the weekend terrorist attacks took place in New York and, of all places, St. Paul, Minn.

And Scott Shackford reports:

Since this is an election revolving around blaming and punishing people, of course that’s where the political discussion went. Reminding us that they are both terrible on issues of free speech, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both had awful things to say about everybody’s civil liberties in the fight against terrorism.

Trump, [Tuesday] morning, on Fox & Friends, blamed the freedom of the press because of the publishing of magazines that instruct people on how to make bombs. He insisted that he believes in the freedom of the press (doubtful), but also called for anybody who provides instructions on how to build bombs to be arrested because they’re “participating in crime.” He also said some people who operate websites should also be arrested for “inciting violence. … They’re making violence possible. They should be arrested immediately” for operating websites that give instructions on making bombs. …

In typical Trump (and Fox & Friends) fashion, everything discussed is so vague as to be unclear what he means. Does he believe it’s a prosecutable offense to simply publish information that can be used to make bombs? It’s absolutely not, but it’s often worth trying to tease out the bigger issue Trump is trying to get at. I want to maybe guess that what he really wants to do is go after sites that are actively attempting to stir up terrorism on behalf of the Islamic State, but maybe that’s giving him too much credit. If he thinks that the providing of information is what makes the violence possible, then he’s got a problem because—even if it were legal for the United States to prosecute people simply for providing information that could be used for violent means—the ability to access information on the Internet doesn’t end at the U.S. borders. Who is he going to arrest?

Trump’s response is awful, but represents a commonly held attitude: Quite a few people want to censor information that can be used for violent means without actually thinking through the unintended consequences (maybe remind them of the court ruling that a school could ban patriotic apparel if it offended students and potentially stirred up violence).

Trust Clinton to match Trump with her own broadside against free speech in response to the attacks and to make it all about Trump himself. Clinton said that the things Trump says is being used as a recruitment tool for ISIS and flat out essentially accused him of treason (without actually using the word).

From New York Magazine:

“We know that a lot of the rhetoric that we’ve heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorists, in particular ISIS,” Clinton said “They are looking to make this into a war against Islam, rather than a war against jihadists, violent terrorists — people who number in the, maybe, tens of thousands, not the tens of millions. They want to use that to recruit more fighters to their cause, by turning it into a religious conflict.”

Clinton went on to note that Trump’s comments have been used for the recruitment of terrorists online, according to former CIA director Michael Hayden.

“We also know from the former head of our counter-terrorism center Matt Olsen that the kinds of rhetoric and language Mr. Trump has used is giving aid and comfort to our adversaries,” Clinton continued. [emphasis added]

Not entirely sure how social signaling is going to help with the war on terror. Also not entirely sure it’s going to help with the election. When you’re accusing Trump of treasonous language, what are you saying about his supporters? Frankly, this statement is probably much nastier than the “deplorables” comment, but it’s probably too subtle to register to a lot of people. (David Harsanyi noticed over at The Federalist.)

And Clinton may not want to prosecute people for posting information that authorities deem dangerous, but she most certainly wants to fight terrorism by censoring the Internet, and she wants Silicon Valley to help. She endorses a very technocratic approach that assumes the right people and the right technology and the right algorithms will somehow make sure only the bad people get censored. But tell that to anybody who has had to suffer the abusive enforcement of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Moving down the Bill of Rights, Brian Anderson (not the Brewers’ TV announcer) reports:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has suggested that a democratic gun control bill would have stopped these attacks and stated unequivocally that the legislation would stop any further attacks like them. So yes, the democratic leadership believes a gun control bill can stop terrorists from stabbing and bombing.

The democrats are pushing a bill that would ban people who are on the FBI terror watch list from purchasing a gun. It’s terribly unconstitutional because it strips a person of their rights without due process, but who ever said lefties give a shit about the Constitution or people’s rights?

“It’s hard to believe in America today an FBI terror suspect not allowed to fly on an airplane can walk into a gun story in Las Vegas, New York City, anyplace, and legally purchase explosives and assault weapons,” said Reid on Monday.

Are there any gun stores in New York City? I know for a fact that no one, including terrorists, can buy an “assault weapon” in NYC or anywhere else in the state because they were banned by the SAFE Act. I’m also pretty sure explosives are not for sale in the Big Apple. Is he trying to suggest that terrorists can walk into Sack’s Fifth Ave. and pick up some designer C4, and that somehow a gun control bill would stop this? Sadly, yes.

“We can argue from now on about whether this bill would have prevented this weekend’s attacks,” Reid said.

Only an idiot would argue that a gun control bill would stop terrorists from stabbing or bombing innocent people. Gun control laws don’t even stop bad guys from getting guns, so they sure as hell won’t stop them from getting knives or making improvised explosive devices.

If you think that was stupid, check out the punch-line:

“But one thing is for sure, it would prevent the next attack,” Reid finished.

Let’s think about this for a second. Reid is pushing his “no-fly no-buy” gun control bill that would keep people on terror watch list from being able to legally purchase a firearm. If it were to pass, a person would have to be on the list to be prevented from buying a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer. Most lone-wolf terrorists are not even on this list and it certainly doesn’t address the reality that criminals don’t purchase firearms legally and have absolutely no problem getting their hands on a gun.

And all of that ignores the fact that the terrorists in Minnesota and New York didn’t use a gun in their attacks. One used a bladed weapon and the other used homemade bombs. Not only won’t Reid’s pet legislation stop any future terrorist attacks, it wouldn’t have come close to stopping the attacks over the weekend.

On to the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments, Mediaite reports …

Speaking to supporters in Florida Monday, Donald Trump denounced that the alleged NYC bomber would be given hospitalization and legal counsel in accordance with his constitutional rights.

“Now we will give him amazing hospitalization. He will be taken care of by some of the best doctors in the world. He will be given a fully modern and updated hospital room,” Trump said.

The suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami, an Afghan-born naturalized citizen, was injured in a shootout with the police Monday morning before being apprehended. The FBI said he was “directly linked” to the homemade bombs that appeared over the weekend in New York and New Jersey.

Trump continued: “And he’ll probably even have room service, knowing the way our country is. And on top of all of that, he will be represented by an outstanding lawyer. His case will go through the various court systems for years and in the end, people will forget and his punishment will not be what it once would have been. What a sad situation.”

He argued for the need for “speedy, but fair trials,” as well as a “very harsh punishment.”

He also said that authorities must use “whatever lawful methods are available to obtain information from the apprehended suspect to get information before it’s no longer timely.” (Previously on the campaign trail, Trump has spoken of his enthusiasm for waterboarding and other methods of torture.)

Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday evening, New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo responded to Trump by saying, “Welcome to America. We have a system of jurisprudence. You’re innocent until proven guilty. You have a right to counsel. And you have the right to hospitalization if you’re ill.”

Cuomo added, “Let’s not lose ourselves in an effort to protect ourselves. We want to protect America. What is America? It’s the rights that we’ve established.”

He said, “I fear sometimes with this rhetoric that people are suggesting we lose what’s special about us in a way to protect ourselves. And that doesn’t work. It’s not who we are. Let’s preserve the system. Let’s be fair about it. Let’s keep our heads.”

Whether terrorists should be handled by the criminal justice system or the military is an interesting argument. In this country as of now, the criminal justice system handles alleged terrorists, and defendants have rights in the criminal justice system.

Perhaps a law should be created that requires political candidates to pass a test about the U.S. Constitution before they’re allowed on the ballot.

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