‘To intimidate or coerce a civilian population’

‘To intimidate or coerce a civilian population’ January 5, 2012

Melissa McEwan at Shakesville notes that this Bobby Joe Rogers, 41, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., was charged today with “one count of damaging a building by fire or explosive.”

But he was not charged with terrorism. Why not?

McEwan links to this AP story: “Authorities: Man charged in fire at Florida clinic says he was motivated by dislike for abortion

Authorities say a homeless man charged Thursday with setting a New Year’s Day fire that gutted a family planning clinic told investigators he acted out of a strong disbelief in abortion and was also fueled by seeing a young woman enter the clinic while he looked on recently with protesters.

Bobby Joe Rogers, 41, was charged with one count of damaging a building by fire or explosive and was being held Thursday at the Escambia County Jail in the Florida Panhandle region. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

In an affidavit, prosecutors say Rogers told investigators he went to the Pensacola clinic of American Family Planning around midnight on New Year’s eve with a fire bomb he had crafted from a 32-ounce beer bottle and gasoline with a wick made from an old shirt.

He told them he lit the bomb, threw it against the building and watched it burst in flames and ignite the building, the affidavit said.

… The two-story Pensacola clinic that was gutted by flames has been attacked before. It was bombed on Christmas Day in 1984, and in 1994 a doctor and a volunteer who escorted patients to and from the clinic were shot to death as they arrived. The gunman, Paul Hill, was executed in 2003.  Pensacola was the site of other abortion-related violence in 1993 when Dr. David Gunn was shot and killed at another clinic by an abortion protester.

The firebombing of the clinic in which Rogers was charged was an act dangerous to human life that was a violation of the criminal laws of the nation and the state of Florida. It appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, and to influence the policy of the government.

If that sounds like legal language, that’s because it is. Here is the definition of domestic terrorism in the U.S. Code:

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

Prosecutors accuse Rogers of “damaging a building by fire or explosive,” and that seems appropriate.

But it wasn’t just any building. He chose this building for a reason, and that reason was to intimidate and coerce a civilian population and to influence government policy by intimidation and coercion.

How is that not domestic terrorism?

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