Sunday, October 18, 2015

After nearly two decades, the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City is remembered and its 20th anniversary commemorated by survivors, friends, families, and other Americans. With over 168 casualties, this attack was “one of the deadliest act[s] of terrorism in U.S. history” prior to September 11, 2001. Unlike September 11th, this attack brought to light the previously inconceivable danger of “American citizens targeting their own government with a deadliness hitherto unseen.” This, in turn, brought attention to the brewing dangers of the “extreme right,” due to the anti-government ideology and white supremacist attributes of the two culprits, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, responsible for the bombing. Prior to the bombing, in the FBI’s annual report on terrorism as of 1994, it focused more on the activities of Puerto Rican radicals and other seemingly harmless extremists, such as those for animal rights and the environment, rather than right-wing extremists, which were only devoted one measly paragraph, without mention of the rapid increase in militia and sovereign citizen movements. Two events in particular that took place in Idaho and Texas, respectively, apparently instigated the outrage of the right-wing extremists, who saw them as “deliberate attempts by the government to kill American citizens.” However, following the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, the FBI began focusing on new priorities, hiring new agents, and distributing them to different domestic terrorism cases, resulting in an expansion of the Joint Terrorism Task Forces. Subsequently, many arrests involving terrorist plots and hate crimes were made, seemingly showing the United States’ new found recognition of the dangers of the extreme right-wing. However, this was not very long-lived, as following the events of September 11, 2001, the new focus of the public, the media, and more importantly, law enforcement and the government, became the issue of Islamic extremism. Instead of drawing the attention of the nation to both potential dangers, 9/11 basically stole all the attention, albeit rightfully so. However, while the whole nation’s focus was on the danger of radical Islamic terrorism, the danger of right-wing extremists did not subside. According to the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, right-wing extremists were behind over 47 different terrorist acts, conspiracies, or plots during the period between 1995 and 2000, and at least 42 different actual or attempted terrorist acts from 2009 to 2014, which is surprisingly, fairly recent. This shows that the levels of violence by the extreme right have remained very similar to that during the time of the Oklahoma City bombing. The point is, the United States is not limited to being threatened by just one source, but multiple, and it is important to keep this in mind and learn from it, particularly regarding the events of the Oklahoma City bombing. Hopefully, with the 20th anniversary, Americans will be reminded of this once again, and be able to respond more effectively to such ideological violence in the future.
This story addresses multiple issues related to our class, with the most important one being national security. In this case, however, the terrorists were Americans, thus making it an issue of domestic security. On the other hand, the author tied the events of the Oklahoma City bombing with the events of September 11th together in a very skillful manner, by contrasting them by their source of danger, only to address them both as issues that must be taken seriously, particularly by the American people and the government. It is likely that as a result of the latter, clandestine government actions, such as that of extraordinary rendition were devised and are still being carried out. It is also likely that the culprits behind the bombing, being anti-government right wing extremists, were very distrusting of the U.S. government, which can relate to our cases of legal cases involving extraordinary rendition, as well as the government getting involved in them and asserting the state secrets doctrine. We have discussed the possibility of previously rendered suspects actually becoming terrorists after their release. On the other hand, the government’s misuse (abuse?) of the state secrets doctrine in order to cover up their involvement in extraordinary rendition most likely does not reflect very well on many Americans, as well. Lastly, it is important to note, although not mentioned in this article, the previous suspects of the bombing (not long after the actual bombing) before they were determined to be McVeigh and Nichols, were actually believed to be three people of Middle Eastern descent. This is interesting in that although the author of this article claims that right-wing extremists were a problem during the 90s (time of Oklahoma City bombing), the issue of Islamic extremists did not arise until 9/11, there may have already been some awareness to the dangers of Islamic extremists, which resulted in the unreasonably racist belief that the culprits were Middle Eastern, only to later find out that they were two Caucasian, and more importantly, American, men.[0]=1351422923&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Av%2Cm%3Asa&hsimp=yhs-001&hspart=mozilla&tt=b (where I got the other information not from the article)

No comments: