Monday, April 29, 2013

From Mushroom Clouds To Pressure Cookers

Anzor and Zubeidat Tsarnaev
 (Dmitry Kostyukov / The News York Times via Redux)
Last week, the George W. Bush presidential library was dedicated. It was a lovely ceremony with all living presidents attending and saying wonderful things about each other. Even Jimmy Carter had nice words for George W. Bush. American democracy at his best.

Even though the library is not yet open to the public, there has been extensive media coverage of the various exhibits about both the Bush domestic and foreign policy agenda. It seems that Bush wants the public to remember that there was more to his administration than wars. Whether he will be successful in adding dimension to his legacy is doubtful. The Bush name will always tied to the Iraq War and the catastrophic failure to find WMDs.

In a strange twist of fate, the library dedication happened the same week that WMDs were making news in Boston. The FBI charged bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with "use of a weapon of mass destruction". The WMD in question was not anything that could produce a mushroom cloud. It didn't involve chemical or biological weapons. Or any weapon that generally comes to mind when the term "WMD" is mentioned. The weapons used in Boston were pressure cooker bombs.

Which begs the question: If pressure cooker bombs or other low grade explosives are considered weapons of mass destruction, can we say that WMDs were found in Iraq after all? I do not mean to be  facetious  or make light of the tragedy that occurred in Boston. The innocent face of the youngest victim, Martin Richard, is not something I will soon forget. Young lives lost and many injured who will have a long road to recovery. What happened in Boston was an evil, cowardly act.

I am just having a tough time viewing low grade explosives as weapons of mass destruction. Especially, when considering that if the suspects had been armed with AR-15s more lives would have been lost. Somehow, guns can never be considered WMDs. Not even the 100 round magazine used in Aurora. I suppose we should be grateful that the word "explosive" was not used in the Constitution or we would have the NRA standing up for the right to bear bombs. "You will only pry this bomb out of my cold, dead hands".

Authorities have revealed that the mother of the Boston suspects was placed on a terrorism database in 2011.  Not only has the definition of WMD been scaled down, we have gone from terror figures like Osama bin Laden and Mohammad Atta to Zubeidat Tsarnaev. A former cosmetologist facing shoplifting charges for allegedly stealing $1,600 in dresses at a department store. From ambitious terrorist attacks involving hijacking commercial planes and hundreds of thousands of dollars in financing to $30 pressure cookers and two carjackers having to use their own cash to refuel the stolen vehicle.

Perhaps, it is a testament to the effectiveness of the measures implemented in the last dozen years that we are now are having to dumb down the war on terror. During the last campaign, Barack Obama declared that Al Qaeda had been decimated. If the new face of jihad is the Tsarnaev brothers and their mom, I would have to say that Obama was absolutely correct in his assessment.