Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

John Cole nails it

with 2 comments

From Balloon Juice:

Remember the other day when Hillary Clinton asserted that she did not think drone attacks killing civilians could be viewed as a form of terrorism by the Pakistani populace? This cracked me up:

A letter about healthcare reform to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), apparently from former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, triggered a security scare that briefly shut down much of the Senate on Wednesday.

The typed letter, tucked inside a hand-written business envelope, appeared in Reid’s office without postage, in an outgoing mailbox bin. A Senate postal clerk noticed the envelope and alerted a Reid staffer, who in turn notified Capitol Police about 2 p.m.

A small swarm of officers responded, first shutting down the hallway outside Reid’s office and then taking the even rarer step of shutting down the wide Ohio Clock corridor that senators use for press conferences outside the Senate’s main entrance. Mindful of the ricin and anthrax attacks in 2001, teams of hazardous materials technicians were called and tested the envelope before opening it and discovering Koop’s letter.

“The staff in the Capitol in particular and on the Hill in general are very sensitive to mail that ends up in an office and hasn’t been cleared,” said Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer.

So, to review. When Pakistani citizens watch their friends and neighbors blown up by missile strikes, it is the position of this administration that they should not view it as terrorism. On the other hand, when we receive a letter without a stamp, we shut down a portion of the most powerful government in the world out of a general hysteria over terrorism.

I’m even going to go out on a limb and wager that more Af/Pak citizens have been killed by missiles than Americans have been by unstamped letters.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2009 at 5:07 pm

Posted in Daily life, Terrorism

2 Responses

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  1. I’m not with him on this one. Terrorism has a meaning, a specific meaning, and it isn’t “the inadvertent killing of civilians during wartime.” it may be regrettable, it may be unconscionable, it may be Wrong–but it isn’t terrorism unless it’s direct goal is to influence the politics of that civilian population.

    And what a bunch of bedwetters in the capital have to do with this, I can’t fathom. So they were jittery about an envelope. This has what to do with civilian deaths in Pakistan?


    4 November 2009 at 5:57 pm

  2. I think that what he’s thinking of is not so much the political meaning of “terrorism” but the experience itself: you’re going about your daily business, when suddenly there’s a terrible explosion that kills dozens—men, women, and children—including your wife and child.

    Was it a car bomb? A suicide bomber? A missile from a US drone? I don’t think you would greatly care: whoever did it, in your view, would be a terrorist, and your grief would not be assuaged by assurances from the US that we don’t really intend collateral damage but also are unmoved by it: we’ll keep up our tactics that kill civilians.

    The contrast is between how we expect the civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan to just accept the situation stoically and how we ourselves respond to the tiniest possible intrusion of threat.


    5 November 2009 at 8:04 am

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