Napolitano rules out terrorism in IRS plane crash
By Spencer S. Hsu
A suicide plane crash that killed the pilot and an Internal Revenue Services worker at an office building in Austin, Tex., Feb. 18 was not a case of domestic terrorism, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday in a radio interview.
The pilot, A. Joseph Stack, 53, "had his own personal issues and personal motives," and was carrying out a personal agenda, said Napolitano, interviewed on The Diane Rehm Show.
"To our belief, he was a lone wolf. He used a terrorist tactic, but an individual who uses a terrorist tactic doesn't necessarily mean they are part of an organized group attempting an attack on the United States," Napolitano said.
Local police on the day of the crash in northwest Austin ruled out terrorism as a factor, but federal authorities ordinarily leave the decision of whether to charge a domestic suspect with terrorism-related crimes to the FBI and prosecutors. In this case, Stack died at the scene, leaving the characterization of the incident open to debate.
On the day of the crash, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs initially said that the incident did not appear to be related to terrorism but later said that he meant that it appeared not to be tied to a foreign-based plot by a group such as al-Qaeda. He declined to rule out domestic terrorism.
In Austin, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee who represents the Austin area, told Fox News, "I think when you fly an airplane into a federal building to kill people ..... it sounds like it to me."
Republicans have criticized the Obama administration's national security policies, seeking to gain political traction by casting Democrats as weak in their handling of terrorism detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian suspect in a failed Christmas Day bombing attempt aboard a transatlantic jetliner landing in Detroit.
In this case, however, Stack referred in a self-described "rant" to a "storm raging in my head" in a suicide note posted on his web site, even as he detailed grievances with government, "Mr. Big Brother IRS man," large corporations and the powerful.
Napolitano distinguished Stack from Timothy J. McVeigh -- who was convicted and executed for carrying out the 1995 attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people -- citing McVeigh's "tactics, organization, motivation and the like."
"When you get to a lone wolf, which is what really the Austin issue was, it's very debatable whether you would put them in the same bucket," Napolitano said. "For my purposes, it's, 'Where do we focus our resources?' And where we focus our resources is on protecting the country from organized attacks."
March 9, 2010; 1:25 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Security
Save & Share: Previous: Hoyer blasts Massa health-care claim
Next: Business groups plan TV assault on Obama health-care plan
Posted by: ssterno | March 10, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: RayOne | March 10, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: gbooksdc | March 9, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: w04equals666 | March 9, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: fbutler1 | March 9, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rexreddy | March 9, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: edismae | March 9, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.