Terrorist Plot Foiled In D.C., or, Dr. Thoreau's Combustible Constitutional Conundrum


Everybody's favorite commenter Professor Thoreau has a thought experiment related to today's news of the foiled abortion clinic bombing in D.C. From the Washington Post:

So on Sunday, more than a week after their 25-year-old son disappeared from their home and stopped returning their calls, [Robert Weiler Sr.] and his wife, Catherine, called Prince George's County police to report their suspicions, he said. That tip led to their son's arrest—but not until more than three days later. Police, he said, "sent two officers out to interview us and took our statement, and then we heard nothing back from them."

"In frustration, I contacted the FBI on Monday, and again I heard nothing back," said Weiler, 49, an administrator at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

Weiler said it appeared to him that the investigation did not move significantly until Wednesday, when agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrived at his home in Forestville for a six-hour visit.

Early Thursday, Robert Weiler Jr. was taken into custody at a rest stop in Western Maryland. By dawn, the pipe bomb he allegedly built and stored at a friend's house in the Riverdale Heights area had been partially detonated by bomb squad technicians working to disarm it.

Asks Thoreau:

A lot of Hit and Run commenters have argued that when ideological fanatics are planning to kill civilians we can't afford to utilize the normal procedures of the justice system. I'm wondering what they think the appropriate course of action would be in this case. And whether they would have given the same answer if the plot had involved a young Muslim planning to set off a bomb in a mall instead of a guy from a Catholic family planning to bomb an abortion clinic.

I would say Thoreau, Dr. of Thinkology, is setting up a little bit of a straw man, or at least I wouldn't say many Hit and Run commenters have made this argument. I'd say, newfangled constitution is not a suicide pact believers are not numerous, in either numbers or percentages, among the commenters, and for that I thank God, the Academy, and you, the Fabulous Little People.

However, as a conversation starter, I'll hazard a general reply: I believe Weiler Jr. should get a fair trial in open court, and I believe a young Muslim caught under similar circumstances should get the same; however, I think the two cases are different because Islamist Terrorism is a unique threat to our country and our people, and it will take more than the fifth anniversary of 9/11, and possibly even the 25th anniversary of 9/11, to persuade me to change that belief. (Does that make me the constitution is not a suicide pact believer? Discuss.)