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May 14, 2007

NYT Strains Mightilly To Find "Religious Motivation" For Fort Dix Six, Sadly Comes Up Empty

But at least they tried. (Newsbusters link; click with a clear conscience.)

It is unclear what role, if any, religion played in the attack Mr. Shnewer and the five other men are charged with planning. (The sixth suspect, Agron Abdullahu, had no apparent connection with Al-Aqsa or the South Jersey Islamic Center.) The authorities have described the suspects as Islamic extremists, but the lengthy criminal complaint summarizing the F.B.I.'s 15-month undercover investigation of the group does not mention where -- or how often -- they prayed. Certainly there is no evidence that they picked up radical ideas at either mosque.

I'm kind of laughing at the idiocy of the NYT. Not just the obvious stuff -- they can't apparently see any religious motivation when Islamists are shouting "Allahu Akbar" as they fire guns at human silhouettes, but the less obvious stuff.

Apparently they think that criminal indictments usually do include the number of times the accused prayed in their bill of particulars. And therefore the lack of mention of such details is ipso facto evidence that the men did not pray at the mosque very often (if at all).

The only situation in which it would be proper to note such a thing in an indictment would be if the mosque -- or rather its leaders -- themselves being indicted as co-conspirators or on the related charge of advocacy to commit terrorism.

Little bit of legal knowledge for the New York Times: Most (nearly all) criminal laws have "state of mind" as part of their definition, usually (almost always) defined as "intent" to do the illegal thing. (In other words, even if you shoot your friend while hunting, you are not guilty of murder or attempted murder assuming you thought, incorrectly, he was a deer.)

Motive is not part of that "state of mind" for any crimes, with the notable exception of "hate-crime" penalty increases. (Which is why so many legal theorists find such laws unprecendented and wrong-headed -- they seek to penalize mere "thoughts" and "beliefs" rather than the age-old penalization of a simple intent to commit an illegal act.)

Another broad exception to the no-particular-penalty-for-motive can be found in death-penalty eligibility laws, which may specify stuff like a "motive to profit from the murder of the victim" as making a defendant eligible for the death penalty.

Those exceptions aside, "motive" is something cops look for in order to narrow a range of suspects -- but motive is almost never an actual element of a crime (and when it is mentioned in criminal law at all, it is not an element of the crime per se but an aggravating factor for increased penalties for that crime).

In the excellent book Homicide by David Simon, he notes that oftentimes cops have no idea what a drug-dealer's exact motive was in killing someone. And they're often annoyed at jurors' expectations that a precise motive will be provided. "Look," one cop says in Homicide (this is paraphrased), "I have no idea why Shortie the Crack Dealer shot Mickey the Shrimp. I just can prove he did it, and he intended to do it. I don't know what goes on in the minds of these idiots/lunatics/sociopaths, and the law simply doesn't require me to prove that. It only says I have to prove that Shortie the Crack Dealer did shoot Mickey the Shrimp, and that it was premeditated and intended. That's all. Motive is a crime-solving tool, but not an element of any crime."

Motive is often addressed in criminal trials, of course, but only to demonstrate intent, which is an element of most crimes. It's hard to claim you shot someone by accident when it just turns out you 1, hated that person and 2, stood to gain financially from his death and 3, went around for three weeks saying "I can't wait to shoot that son of a bitch because doing so will make me so happy I'll have a three-week full-body stroke-inducing orgasm."

So motive may be mentioned in an indictment, but simply as evidence as to what actually needs to be proved (intent).

When a bunch of guys are on videotape planning the murder of US soldiers, you simply don't need to delve deeply into motive. Because their intent is already proven conclusively.

I eagerly await the New York Times' page one story demolishing the "Bush Administration's claim" that Osama bin Ladin himself had "any religious motivation" in planning the 9/11 attacks.

That is where we're heading.

"Bullies:" Former co-host Karol actually knew the Duka brothers of the Dix Six plot back in her Brooklyn youth, and reports that they were thugs and bullies.

Which does sort of indicate that religion is only a contributing factor in the jihadist psychological profile. Essentially, these men are megalomaniacs, sadists, and psychopaths, animated, as many serial killers are, by their own sense of failure but the burning desire to "acheive something." (Most serial killers are lower-middle-class to middle-class types, often with civil servant jobs or some other lower-status job that pays the bills but is hardly associated with success, and the serial killer bug strikes them in those difficult 25-to-35 years when one begins to realize the cold hard truth that the dreams of one's youth have been beaten into a bloody pulp by the reality of life and one's own limitations.)

Animating all of these thugs is the fascist/psychopathic need to punish others for their own failures, losers pushed to prove they "matter" by imposing their otherwise-impotent wills on innocents to prove they can do so.

In that sense, religion isn't the primary animating motive for these guys. Simple brutish psychopathy borne of the Napoleon/loser complex is. But their religion -- by giving such vicious murder a spiritual and ideological justification -- is a very strong contributing factor, stripping away the usual social codes against killing and replacing them with a social code encouraging killing.

BONUS! Actually, there was strong evidence in the indictment the planned murders were religiously motivated. I even quoted this myself last week, but forgot it.

Volokh Conspiracy didn't:

“When it comes to defending your religion, when someone is trying to attacks your religion, your way of life, then you go jihad,” Eljvir Duka, 23, who also went by the nickname Elvis, is quoted as saying in the complaint.

Guess where that very quote was reported.

No, seriously, guess.

In the New York Times -- in a previous story about the Dix Six.

How bad is circulation at the New York Times? This bad: Not even fucking New York Times reporters read the fucking New York Times, even when they're covering the same story previously reported in the fucking New York Times.

They don't even read their own newspaper... for basic background.

And yet, you know, if you don't read it: You're a knuckledragging troglodyte.

More: Allah reproduces parts of the indictment noting a religious motivation.

So the very professional well-paid j-school-educated staff of the NYT was unable to read a fairly brief indictment, and yet the untrained blogger Allah managed this difficult trick.

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posted by Ace at 06:35 PM

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