Fat Steve's Blatherings

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Color Me Unimpressed


        Efforts continue to play down the OK suicide bomb story.  In my arrogant opinion, they aren't convincing.

At Length:

        Glenn Reynolds points us to a post by Cathy Young that says that bloggers "cried wolf" over the Oklahoma bombing incident.

        Now first off, that's a truly lousy metaphor.  The boy who cried wolf lied, in order to generate excitement.  Even if every blogger was wrong about this (including me) we were sincere.  Call us Chicken Littles if you would, but keep your fables straight, OK?

        Second, Young's reasons for discounting the concern are summed up in two online stories.  One is the Caerdroia post I previously critiqued.  'Blowing people up is against everything the Triangle Fraternity stands for.  He wasn't a Muslim.  And he could have killed lots of people beside himself.  Of course he tried to buy fertilizer, he was making a bomb to kill himself with.'  The arguments ignore the fact that Hinrichs may have violated the fraternity's ethics; that the claim he wasn't a Muslim comes from Muslims, a group not known for honesty when embarrassed; that the reason Hinrichs didn't kill anyone except himself may be an accidental explosion; and that Hinrichs definitely tried to buy a "significant quantity" of ammonium nitrate, a great material for homemade bombs.  "Significant quantity" sounds like much more than you need to blow yourself up with, if you just want to commit suicide.

        In addition, Young links to a WSJ.com article about Hinrichs.  It informs us that Hinrichs "suffered from depression."  I believe them, but so what?  I suffer from chronic depression, and take drugs to control it.  My depression might lead me to taking my own life, but it wouldn't determine the means or locale.  Hinrichs could have been inclined to kill himself because of depression, and then decided to kill others at the same time, two birds with one bomb.

        The FBI is quoted as saying:
        At this time, there is no known link between Hinrichs and any terrorist or extremist organization(s) or activities.

        So?  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  And how did the FBI determine this lack of connection?  We aren't told.  You might also remember that the FBI proclaimed, five weeks after the '93 World Trade Center bombing, that there was no evidence for state sponsorship.  In fact, there's strong evidence that Iraq at the very least aided least aided "Ramzi Abdul Yusef" in setting up a false identity for use in fleeing the United States after the blast.  I wonder if this very hedged denial of terrorism is similarly suspect.

        David Boren, the OU prez, wrote:
        there's no evidence of a conspiracy involving others which creates an ongoing threat to our OU community.

        Analyze Boren's statement, and you'll realize it doesn't mean there was no conspiracy, nor does it mean that Hinrichs wasn't attempting terrorism.  Just that OU hasn't found evidence that he was part of a terrorist conspiracy.  Absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence, Davie.

        Joel Hinrich's father makes a number of statements in the article, only one of which he's in a position to testify to: Joel didn't grow a beard recently, he's had one since he left high school.  But the article also mentions that "in some photographs," Hinrichs "can be seen with" a beard [emphasis added].  That implies that in others, he isn't bearded, which supports the statements that the beard he had when he died was of recent growth, which is consistent with the statement that he recently became a radical Muslim.  I wonder if Hinrichs's father is lying to protect his son's name?

        And way down near the bottom of the piece, you find this:
        In fact, authorities did find, in Mr. Hinrichs's bedroom, additional explosive material. They detonated them at the police firing range the next day, jolting the city again.

        Gee, doesn't "jolting the city again," sound like there was a lot more explosive left in his room?  Makes me suspect that Hinrichs made up lots more than he needed to kill himself with.  Possibly just a miscalculation, but why didn't he take it with him, if he was only intent on suicide?  Why'd he leave it around, where it might injure others?  That doesn't make sense — unless he had another target in mind for it.

        I frankly don't understand what the Journal thinks it's getting at with this sentence:
        An off-duty Norman police officer, overhearing Mr. Hinrichs's conversation in the [fertilizer]store, ran a check on his license plate and found no cause for alarm.

        If you were planning to set off a terrorist bomb, exactly what part of your vehicle registration record would that be listed in?

        And a local television news program reported that Hinrichs "much of his time at the Norman mosque."  The TV station is standing by that.

        I'll need more than Young offers before I decide that Hinrichs was just committing suicide.



  • I think you'll find that I noted the argument I was making was irrational; I am well aware that violating such a code of ethics is not exactly a huge step for most people. That said, the point of my argument was to show that the arguments in favor of terrorism in this case are often just as irrational, such as, "he had a beard!!!!"

    By Blogger Jeff Medcalf, at 2:30 PM  

  •         Well, if your arguments are irrational, I see little reason to spend further time on them.

            I will note that argument in Hinrich's case was that he'd suddenly grown a beard, after hanging around with the mosque, suggestive of a convert.  While that by no means settles anything, it isn't irrational to take it into account.

    The House of Saud Must Be Destroyed!

    By Blogger Stephen M. St. Onge, at 4:32 AM  

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