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Get your terms right.  Intentionally snarling the traffic on the George Washington Bridge last September was not a mere act of retribution, political payback, coercion, or whatever else people have been calling it.

It was an intentional act of sabotage.  It didn't destroy structures, but it did destroy the function of those structures for extended periods of time.  If that had just been a matter of incompetence, it would not be sabotage.  But it was intentional -- intended to sabotage traffic flow.

We have another word for that sort of thing under federal law.  That word is terrorism.

And, damn right, people should be prosecuted for it.  That or we should change the relevant laws, because if they don't apply here they are obviously worthless.

From the relevant page on the FBI site that defines terrorism:

There is no single, universally accepted, definition of terrorism. Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).
Blocking lanes of traffic is a use of force.  (If you don't believe me, join a protest and try it sometime; see what the police and the courts say.)  Whichever of the various prevailing theories as to what motivated the Christie Administration officials to block traffic, it was clearly intended to intimidate or coerce government officials to further political objectives.

That's terrorism.  Obama bin Laden could not have gotten away with bombing the Twin Towers if he had snarked "time for traffic problems in Lower Manhattan."

Terrorism doesn't have to involve killing people -- although at least one woman did apparently die as a result of the Christie Administration's actions to block bridge access without good reason.  It can involve intentionally destroying property or disrupting its use.

Under the USA PATRIOT Act, domestic terrorism is defined as:

activities that (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the U.S. or of any state, that (B) appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping, and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
Point "(C)" is a given here.  Let's look at the rest.

Was throttling the bridge traffic for hours "dangerous to human life"?  Yes.  If Al Qaeda took an intentional act with this result, would we have any doubt about that?  Do we really think that they'd get off on that technicality?

Did it "violate criminal laws"?  Sure it did.  And that's "(A)."

What about "(B)"?  Does it appear to have been intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population?  Yes.

Was it apparently intended to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion?  Yes.

I could even make an argument that it would fall under the rubric of "mass destruction."  If a terrorist group had dumped many tons of boulders at those chokepoints, would we say "oh, don't worry, it wasn't terrorism because we were able to clear them out in four days"?  I doubt it.

People are tossed out of this country because they once gave soup to a soldier for a vicious regime (or a vicious resistance group, or a non-vicious resistance group that we happen to dislike) on the basis that they aided and abetting terrorism.  That seems a few orders of magnitude less significant than this.

If you don't think that this should be considered "terrorism," then change the laws.  You can make a decent case for that -- although I doubt that the FBI and DHS would agree.  But so long as those laws are on the books, enforce them fairly against all.  That includes domestic government officials who engage in intentional sabotage that substantially disrupts our society.

Let's start throwing around the "T" word and demand federal prosecution.  If they want to deny that it applies, it should be good for a laugh -- and it will be educational, too.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                           -- Saul Alinsky

    by Seneca Doane on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:57:01 AM PST

  •  YES! n/t (5+ / 0-)

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:59:29 AM PST

  •  It wasn't terrorism (7+ / 0-)

    and judging from your avatar -- extremist views are something to which you adhere.  The federal definition doesn't even come close.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:07:23 AM PST

    •  You have the option of (0+ / 0-)

      not looking at my diaries if you don't want to see my avatar -- although why you dislike is interesting, as I assure you that it is one that has never before appeared on this site.

      If you want to accuse me of "extremist views," I strongly encourage you to exercise that option.

      As for your last sentence, conclusory arguments aren't actually arguments, so there's no arguing with them.

      Good day, madam.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                             -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:33:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Even if you could try to stretch the definition (7+ / 0-)

      you shouldn't. Protesters of all kinds sometimes block traffic. I wouldn't want to establish a precedent that could be used to charge them with terrorism.

      •  In your view, does the phrase "blocking traffic" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite, JamieG from Md

        really constitute an adequate description of what happened there?

        When protesters block traffic, there's usually an alternative way around.  It may involve some backing up, some U-turns, etc.  And it generally doesn't last for long because, among other things, it's not acting under color of law.

        Doesn't it seem like there's space for keeping this many people bottled up for this long, with the attendant effects on their own lives and the economy, to be construed as fitting within the definition of terrorism while a garden variety protest rally blocking an intersection for five minutes would not?

        "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                               -- Saul Alinsky

        by Seneca Doane on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:56:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  How about when OWS blocked the Brooklyn Bridge? (0+ / 0-)

          Prosecutorial discretion is an important part of the justice system. If the DoJ indicts anyone in the Chritie administration on federal criminal charges it will not be for terrorism and for good reason. Opposite of your advice I think the DoJ will tread very lightly in this case so as not to appear partisan. If they make any indictments at all it will be because they have overwhelming evidence for the crimes charged.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 07:28:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tell me, given the law that I cited, why you (0+ / 0-)

            don't think that the facts we know would support a terrorism charge.

            Not why "it wouldn't be prudent, it might look political," or any other such extraneous consideration.

            No -- just "do the facts and the law warrant it?"

            If they do, then we can argue about whether it is prudent for the DOJ to accuse Christie's gang with an act of domestic terrorism.  But at least then we'll have started by asking the right question.  And we'll have helped the public see this act for what it is.

            "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                                   -- Saul Alinsky

            by Seneca Doane on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:25:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I think the key to making the stretch here (4+ / 0-)

        in part A is that they were informed of the dangers it was causing to emergency response. I'm not so sure I'd agree on all aspects of the Tword. They may not have realized they were endangering human life at first, but after the first day, no excuse. Thank goodness no one died from their efforts. If Foye hadn't shut them down, it's inevitable that eventually someone would.

        As far as their intent (part B), I'm not sure we know what it was. The assumption is that it was for endorsement of Christie. I think $$ is at the root of it some how.

  •  Sure, why not? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    white blitz, eztempo

    Pretty much anything passes for terrorism nowadays.

    That's a rather low bar.

    I'd like to go for treason as well - that might be a slightly higher bar but heck, if it's appliable to Mr. Snowden (which occurs from time to time, even right here at DailyKos) it's shouldn't be that big of a stretch for this guy.

    •  No, it wouldn't be treason (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Check the Constitutional requirements for that.

      The statutory definition of terrorism is pretty low, though.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                             -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:30:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Mebbe not treason (0+ / 0-)

      But I'm sure there's some commuters in New Jersey that would like to see Bridget Kelly and David Wildstein in front of a firing squad.

      •  Answering the assertion that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "what they did meets the legal requirements that we use to label something terrorist activity" with "yeah and next you'll say it's treason but it's not treason" is, to put it mildly, not arguing in good faith.

        "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                               -- Saul Alinsky

        by Seneca Doane on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 05:26:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  So a street protest that shuts down traffic (0+ / 0-)

    is an act of terrorism ?

    Tens of thousands of protesters have disrupted traffic at major intersections and marched on government offices in Thailand's large and hectic capital city this week.

    The protests, dubbed "Bangkok shutdown," had begun Monday without serious incident. But on Tuesday night, two people were shot and wounded, an explosive device was thrown at an opposition leader's house, buses were set alight and police officers were attacked, according to authorities.

    The protesters say they want Thailand's political system overhauled instead of new elections scheduled for next month. They're demanding that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government be replaced with an unelected "people's council."

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:09:43 AM PST

  •  Yes, it's terrorism (2+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Wisper, white blitz
    Hidden by:

    Just like Occupy Wall Street were terrorists. In fact, you could replace every reference to Christie's aides in this diary with OWS and the diary would read exactly the same.

    Jesus, I through peak partisan had been reached on this subject.

    Look, I tried to be reasonable...

    by campionrules on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:39:28 AM PST

    •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Free Jazz at High Noon

      How did OWS endager people's lives?  By making them take an alternate route one or two blocks away?  Think it through.

      And for OWS -- I presume that you're talking about the occasional marches down the street rather than the occupation of Zuccotti Park -- the intent was not to keep people stuck in their cars for a time period that would lead to foreseeable health problems for many people who had been expecting a normal -- or no worse than garden-variety rotten -- commute into Manhattan.  You really think that a march down Wall Street is the same thing?

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                             -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 12:01:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So how long must people be (0+ / 0-)

        stuck in their cars before a tactic is labeled terrorism?
        How limited must highway access / alternate routes be?
        I'm thinking of this:

        •  Case law would sort that out (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          And I'm pretty sure that this

          Slow-moving vehicles traveling south on I-75 near I-94 in an apparent protest brought traffic to a near standstill and attracted state police to the scene Thursday afternoon.

          Michigan State Police issued citations to nine drivers for traveling under the minimum speed limit, said Lt. Mike Shaw.

          "We're not so much concerned about the protest as them endangering other motorists," Shaw said.

          would be recognized as of a different nature than what Christie's people did.

          "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                                 -- Saul Alinsky

          by Seneca Doane on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 12:32:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well, in Portland (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Unca Joseph

          people got out of their cars and cheered us terrorists, so much harm we caused them.

          This is insane. A marathon bicycle race for some non-profit fund raiser here in Portland caused more of a traffic jamb than any Occupy event. Were they terrorists too?

          "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

          by ZhenRen on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 07:49:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you misunderstood (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            my comment. I'm certainly not arguing that any of these protestors were terrorists- quite the opposite.
            I find the idea of applying terrorism statutes to a traffic jam to be a very slippery slope- and a dangerous precedent.

            •  My apologies (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gramofsam1, Unca Joseph

              I hadn't read many comments, just skimming. That it is a slippery slope is indicated by the suggestion by someone (in response to the diarist) that OWS was terrorism.

              This is exactly what the right wing does, using the terrorism label at the slightest opportunity.

              "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

              by ZhenRen on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 09:09:13 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Hide rated (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Unca Joseph

      Occupy Wall Street were non-violent and engaged in civil disobedience by breaking curfew law, failure to get a permit to assemble or march (some of which were made up on the spot to retroactively impugn OWS), but to call them terrorists is insulting, and a lie.

      If OWS were terrorists, then so was the Civil Rights Movement, the early labor activists, the peace activists, in short, anyone who engaged in civil disobedience.

      This American preoccupation with security, so that it labels anything it doesn't like as terrorism is being taken to the levels of absurdity.

      Shoo off to some right wing site. Shoo!

      "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

      by ZhenRen on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 07:45:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh for fuck's sake (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    campionrules, gramofsam1, Pirogue, VClib

    ... then again, it is only Wednesday.  I suppose the "Try them for TREASON" nut-job arguments aren't really due until late Thursday so maybe this is right on schedule.

    And your attempted distinction to indycam's OWS comparison is equally ass-clownish.

    Over 700 OWS people were arrested for blocking the Brooklyn Bridge on a weekend last October.

    They were verbally warned by police, continued to walk into the NY bound lanes and were arrested for disobeying a lawful order.  The majority were simply issued a summons, only a few were ever taken into custody.

    If the NYPD were so utterly fucking stupid to attempt to leverage a "TERRORISM" charge into blocking bridge traffic, this site would have been inflamed with righteous furor and Ministry of Truth would have been outright apoplectic.

    ...yet here we are reading a diary calling for the same silly silly shit.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 12:24:09 PM PST

    •  This may shock you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, JamieG from Md

      but there are lots of other nearby ways to cross over or under the East River into Manhattan other than the Brooklyn Bridge.  Not so for the eliminating the GWB as a way in from that part of new Jersey.  And everyone knew it.

      The OWS people engaged in that action also knew -- because they weren't acting under color of law -- that whatever disruption of traffic flow they created would be symbolic, quite temporary, and something around which people could plan.  Christie's people knew that it would last for as long as they wished and that people wouldn't know in advance and couldn't make other plans.

      You don't address the language of the law that I presented.  That's sad.

      I suggest that you monitor your own behavior and decide whether you really think it appropriate to go into someone's diary and call them "ass-clownish" and promulgating "silly shit."  It might be more appropriate if you really knew what you were talking about -- but you don't.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                             -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 12:41:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What they did had the effect of impairment (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gramofsam1, Susan G in MN, a2nite, eztempo

    and misappropriation of a public resource for purposes which have a taint of criminality and conspiracy.      This is what they did and this is what they should be prosecuted for.

    Not terrorism.

  •  Holder? Prosecute? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eztempo, Seneca Doane, JamieG from Md

    Quit it, man, you're killing me.

    •  Yes, there is that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JamieG from Md

      It's not like he set up a medical marijuana shop, after all.

      I didn't say that the DOJ would prosecute, just that it should.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                             -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 05:28:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm all for education... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    ...and agree that we need to seize these teachable moments.  I'd love to hear someone point out the terrorism statute to Wolf Blitzer and watch his head explode.

    •  That's the spirit! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This is a meme with a sound basis (even if it would never happen.)  I'm surprised -- but also unsurprised -- to be met with quibbling.  If this makes it seem that terrorism laws are too broad, people should agitate for changing those laws.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                             -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 05:30:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Are the terrorism statutes used against American (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    citizens? In the Oklahoma bombing for example - did any of the charges include terrorism or just regular criminal charges? Or is that a bad counterexample either because it predated the terrorism statutes, or because there is no clear effort to coerce anyone?

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 04:52:30 PM PST

    •  A lot changed after the USA PATRIOT Act (0+ / 0-)

      was enacted.

      In this case, Christie's approval is UP among Republicans.

      Why?  Because of his association with and possible sponsorship of an act of domestic terrorism.

      I shouldn't really have to connect the rest of the dots for people here.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                             -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 05:32:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Since and IH highway runs over the bridge (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JamieG from Md, Seneca Doane

    presumably the Fed Gov could look into a prosecution.

    I doubt they will but I like the thought.

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