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Greenwald: Why is Boston 'terrorism' but not Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson and Columbine?

By Glenn Greenwald | The Guardian

Two very disparate commentators, Ali Abunimah and Alan Dershowitz, both raised serious questions over the weekend about a claim that has been made over and over about the bombing of the Boston Marathon: namely, that this was an act of terrorism. Dershowitz was on BBC Radio on Saturday and, citing the lack of knowledge about motive, said (at the 3:15 mark): "It's not even clear under the federal terrorist statutes that it qualifies as an act of terrorism." Abunimah wrote a superb analysis of whether the bombing fits the US government's definition of "terrorism", noting that "absolutely no evidence has emerged that the Boston bombing suspects acted 'in furtherance of political or social objectives'" or that their alleged act was 'intended to influence or instigate a course of action that furthers a political or social goal.'" Even a former CIA Deputy Director, Phillip Mudd, said on Fox News on Sunday that at this point the bombing seems more like a common crime than an act of terrorism.

Over the last two years, the US has witnessed at least three other episodes of mass, indiscriminate violence that killed more people than the Boston bombings did: the Tucson shooting by Jared Loughner in which 19 people (including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords) were shot, six of whom died; the Aurora movie theater shooting by James Holmes in which 70 people were shot, 12 of whom died; and the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting by Adam Lanza in which 26 people (20 of whom were children) were shot and killed. The word "terrorism" was almost never used to describe that indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people, and none of the perpetrators of those attacks was charged with terrorism-related crimes. A decade earlier, two high school seniors in Colorado, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, used guns and bombs to murder 12 students and a teacher, and almost nobody called that "terrorism" either.

In the Boston case, however, exactly the opposite dynamic prevails. Particularly since the identity of the suspects was revealed, the word "terrorism" is being used by virtually everyone to describe what happened. After initially (and commendably) refraining from using the word, President Obama has since said that "we will investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had" and then said that "on Monday an act of terror wounded dozens and killed three people at the Boston Marathon". But as Abunimah notes, there is zero evidence that either of the two suspects had any connection to or involvement with any designated terrorist organization.

More significantly, there is no known evidence, at least not publicly available, about their alleged motives. Indeed, Obama himself - in the statement he made to the nation after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured on Friday night - said that "tonight there are still many unanswered questions" and included this "among" those "unanswered questions":


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To keep truthers silent

and perpetuate the 9/11 lie

irrational thought processes

that include: they were immigrants and there were bombs used in a crowd of people. But most importantly that's the way the media is being told to spin it. People are getting fed up with the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, they are going to have to come up with new threats to justify the trillions stolen from the people to give to the military industrial complex. That is the hard truth of the matter, it's going to get much worse before it gets better I'm afraid.

The bold effort the present bank had made to control the government ... are but premonitions of the fate that await the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it-Andrew Jackson

There motives have not yet been revealed

No one knows the motives, to say they have political motives is false.

Wow. I'm surprised, and

Wow. I'm surprised, and disappointed, that no one here has a good answer. It is not because they used bombs that makes it "terrorism". Terrorism is defined by having a POLITICAL end. Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech etc... Were just mass killings. It wasn't political. The killers weren't trying to get political hostages released or troops removed from foreign countries. The Oklahoma bombing was terrorism because Timothy McVeigh had political motives attached to the event. If this had nothing to do with islam and it turns out it's just a couple kids that wanted to kill people for attention like at Columbine... Then I would agree it would be the same as Sandy Hook. But it's not. There is a big difference.


I agree so I voted it up... however weather or not someone wants to hurt or change a power structure or make a political statement, mass killings produce terror. so while your completely right on the definition some argue its simply semantics. but semantics are important.

Drone strikes on schools and Shooters in a mall or place of work are all examples of horrific crimes on a populace that inflict a sense of terror.

But you answered the question asked correctly. Your completely right

---Want to discuss politics with Mormons? Please read:

"Latter Day Liberty"-Connor Boyack(forward by Ron Paul

Doctrine and Covenants sections 134 & 89

Watch Secretary of Agg Ezra Taft Benson's discourse on "The Proper Role of Government"


Nothing but Semantics

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
John Adams

Because they're brown and

Because they're brown and have foreign names. Probably more so because the feds knew about this group.

WMD. Anyone can shoot. Gun.

WMD. Anyone can shoot. Gun. Not everyone uses bombs.

I agree!

I bet all those kids in the schools were very terrorized! Those attacks were not "political" so the politicians will not call them such. The Texas military base attack, done by a man screaming Allah Akbar was called a "workplace incident"!?

I trust the politicians to get things right?! NOT!!

Good article on why Boston (but not

other mass killings) called terrorism.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

In the words of Gaylord

"Why is Boston 'terrorism' but not Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson and Columbine?"

In the words of Gaylord Phocker,,, Bomb, bomb, bomb,,, bomb bomb bub-bomb....

“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.” ― Henry Ford.