TODAY'S QUESTION: Was the Austin, Texas, plane crash an act of terrorism?

Monday, February 22, 2010 | 12:21 p.m. CST

Thursday’s plane crash into an Internal Revenue Service office in Austin, Texas, has caused some debate on what to label the attack.

After posting an anti-IRS note on his Web site and setting his house on fire, Joseph Stack flew a plane into the IRS office where nearly 200 employees work.

After stating earlier that it didn’t appear to be terrorism, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said later that afternoon he would wait for the end of the investigation before determining what to label the action.

However, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, labeled the crash an act of domestic terrorism and compared the incident to the Oklahoma City bombing.

Ken Gude, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said it differed from the Oklahoma City bombing because Stack acted alone. Gude urged caution before placing any label on the event, though he said it had all the markings of domestic terrorism.

The FBI defines domestic terrorism as a violent act directed at elements of the government or population by groups or individuals who are based and operate entirely within the United States and Puerto Rico without foreign direction.

Ami Pedahzur, associate professor at the University of Texas, whose field of interest is terrorism, said Stack’s crash had elements of terrorism but didn’t have the element of political change as a goal, which makes it vague in definition.

Would you define the Austin, Texas, plane crash as an act of terrorism?

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maurice tebele February 22, 2010 | 1:06 p.m.

Terrorism without a doubt. Over the past 9 years, since 9/11 the media has caused our minds to associate the word terrorism with acts committed by Muslim nations; not to say they don't have good reason too, but we should not let the media redefine terrorism.

Stack did have the goal of political change in his mind when he crashed his Piper into that building. And his acts were indeed terrifying ones, hence satisfying the definition of terrorism.

I like the use of terms like 'domestic terrorism' or 'international terrorism' to differentiate between the two different definitions we have in our minds, but to exclude the term 'terrorism' because it was done by a citizen of our nation is wrong. This was brutal terrorism.

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Maria Kelly February 22, 2010 | 3:05 p.m.

Yes. When a person terrorizes another, he becomes a terrorist.

If we don't call this terrorism, then what is it? Where do we draw the line?

I read an article that the terrorist's daughter considered him a hero, but called his act inappropriate. That's an understatement!

I'm sure the families, friends, supporters, etc. of the 9/11 terrorists considered them heroes for going against the big and powerful USA, but probably thought their act was a bit "inappropriate."

Nobody wants to be called a terrorist. Immediately after the 9/11 attack, the IRA (of Ireland) declared a truce with their rivals. Why? Funny, they didn't want to be considered terrorists!

(Report Comment)
Andrew Hansen February 23, 2010 | 10:26 a.m.

No, not really. Despite the polticial bits in his suicide note this was really more about a crazy person going out to hurt the people whom he felt had directly wronged him.

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Judy Gibson February 25, 2010 | 7:39 a.m.

No, I don't believe so. The man was frustrated and defeated by an agency of the US Government. He "spoke out" in the most public way that he could hoping to "connect" with others and awaken their consciences to the inequities that he (and possibly they) had been subjected to.

It was sad but this is a time of high stress due to the failing economy, wars that are not progressing and are badly conducted (and unauthorized by the people of this country), increasingly radical political organizations and no signs of progress on virtually any level.

It was, seems to me, and act of desperation and capitulation. "Terrism", Geo. Bu$h's term, is much over used and of little value.

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