The Sikh temple shooting, which left seven dead including the shooter, has left me feeling more shaky than the shooting in Colorado, which seemed more random.
I write that even though the skeleton of these stories is roughly the same. One man with a grudge takes semi-automatic weapons and opens fire at a public or semi-public event where people are gathered for some socially acknowledged purpose—education, work, politics, entertainment, worship. Some people die. Others are wounded. The gunman may or may not have the presence of mind to execute himself. Or he may choose to be martyred, putting himself in line for police to kill him.
It’s unusual for a domestic terrorism suspect to have a fan club. But every morning of Tarek Mehanna’s eight-week trial late last year on federal terrorism charges, supporters packed the domed, ornate courtroom in downtown Boston, smiling and waving whenever Mehanna turned to face them.
I understand that reporters want to hold the Obama campaign accountable for its rhetoric and tactics, but there’s a point where that goes from sensible to absurd. In the latter column is a “gotcha” from ABC News:
The Obama campaign opened up a new line of attack on Mitt Romney Friday, suggesting that as commander-in-chief Romney might not have made the same decision to order an attack by U.S. forces to kill terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden that President Obama did.
After Osama bin Laden was killed, I wrote a somewhat contrarian piece arguing that the government should release a photo of his body. I then went on NPR's On the Media to talk about it, alongside the New Yorker's Philip Gourevitch, who was rather contemptuous of my position (audio here, transcript here), but I stuck to it.
Earlier today, the AP reported on a massive domestic intelligence gathering operation run by the NYPD. I spoke with the Brennan Center's Faiza Patel, author of the center's report on domestic surveillance, about the implications of local law enforcement engaging in intelligence gathering for counterterrorism purposes and the differences between the FBI and NYPD's legal authorities and accountability mechanisms. The following transcript has been edited slightly for clarity.
What did the NYPD do that technically the FBI doesn’t think it’s allowed to do?
President Obama hosted an Iftar dinner celebrating the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan yesterday, and used it as an opportunity to urge tolerance and recognize the contributions of Muslim Americans. At one point in his speech, he pointed out that, contrary to conservatives claiming that Muslims collectively attacked America on 9/11, there were Muslim Americans on the plane that crashed into the towers:
I meant to respond to this earlier this week, but I think the notion that al-Qaeda is on the verge of defeat would best be taken with more than a grain of salt. As Daveed Gartenstein-Ross points out, we've heard this before -- government officials have been periodically writing al-Qaeda's obituary since 2003:
Philip Gourevitch of The New Yorker and I debated the merits of releasing a photo of Osama bin Laden's body on NPR's On The Media. Here's his piece on the topic, here's mine, and here's the discussion:
President Obama visited the site of the World Trade Center today and laid a wreath to honor the victims of 9/11. This comes four days after the killing of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the terrorist attacks. Above, President Obama accompanied by a New York City Police Office, New York City Firefighter, and Port Authority Officer at Ground Zero.
Politico bemoans the post-bin Laden "politics as usual" atmosphere on Capitol Hill:
Capitol Hill was awash in unity Monday in the immediate aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s killing.
But unlike the post-Sept. 11 environment, the feel-good moment might not survive even the next 24-hour news cycle.
President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and other security officials listen intently as they receive a status update on the mission against Osama bin Laden. Last night, Obama declared that U.S. forces had succeeded in killing bin Laden, and after spending time in U.S. custody, bin Laden's body was buried at sea.
Obviously, the successful operation against Osama bin Laden is great news, and President Obama's speech announcing the historic accomplishment was excellent. But those who think that it's great political news should remember George H.W. Bush's approval ratings in 1991. If unemployment remains high and the recovery remains weak, Obama could absolutely lose in 2012.