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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."

By Post Editor  |  March 9, 2010; 1:25 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Security  
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Of course she says this. That way Obama can say there wasn't a terror attack on their watch and the the owners of small planes, with which this act of terror was carried out, and their lobby groups can say "told you so"

Posted by: ssterno | March 10, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

She is famous for saying,
'Nothing here to see, Keep Moving'.
But that was only Christmas Morning.

Posted by: RayOne | March 10, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

It is a sad day when people suspend common sense just to fit a political agenda. It wasn't terrorism. He had a personal agenda.

If everything is terrorism, than terrorism becomes an ordinary event, nothing notable.

Posted by: gbooksdc | March 9, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

he was a tea party terrorist..

Posted by: w04equals666 | March 9, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Well, God___... it's not "terrorism" because the guy wasn't affiliated with Al Qaeda? Since when has the term "terrorism" been specialized to mean only "Islamic extremists" or those sympathetic to their "cause"? I guess if he were wearing a Hamas jersey, then he'd be a "real" terrorist. If he was carrying his Hezbollah card on him, then he'd get to be called what he really is/was.

Wow, when an angry Muslim crashes a plane into a building, they are 100% emphatically a terrorist or militant.
When some random white guy does the same thing, he was just angry. What hypocrisy.

Terrorism is terrorism. Yes, the tactic is the same, Napolitano, which is why they are the same thing. Terrorism is a tactic... that's what should define it.

This was just the IRS building in Austin, TX. What if it happened in DC? What about crashing into a major bank headquarters? Does it get to be called terrorism, then, or will it be ruled out, too?

How about that shooting at the Pentagon just a little while ago with the dude from California. Also, not terrorism, huh? I would say so, if it was to elicit a response from a major player such as the gov't or an industry.

How many of these teabaggers have to "martyr" themselves before that is officially deemed a treasonous terrorist organization?

This is just the Obama Administration trying to play defense. They don't want to call him a terrorist, because they don't want to rile Fox News and the teabaggers that help foment this kind of behavior with their distortions, outright lies, and unwarranted venom. This is one of those moments where I'm disappointed in this Administration for not being straightforward. If I did that kind of crazy cr&p, I know I'd be labeled one.

Posted by: fbutler1 | March 9, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Yes indeed! let's move on!
Nothing more to see here!
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!
The fact that this guy was a 9/11 truther and a democrat left wing nut job means nothing because they don’t exist it is all in your head. Only republicans do that kinda’ stuff!

If he was a Republican tea bagger we would never hear the end of it!

Posted by: rexreddy | March 9, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh, my, oh, my, what is a Republican to do?

Jump on Obama for being soft on terrorism?

Attack their own party, particularly the C Streeter, Tea Party wing, for encouraging anti-government sentiment and stirring it up into rage and then remaining still about what is causing the craziness?

Posted by: edismae | March 9, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

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