The last post got me to thinkin'. I've noticed that a lot of people in the blogosphere have expressed frustration with the authorities here in the U.S. with the way that they report terrorist acts. This post by Prof. Reynolds about the Maryland sniper attacks expresses some frustration with the way that the police are reluctant to label the attacks as "terrorism". It's expanded here, and here, and here.
Sure, it's terrorism. A criminal act that causes harm for harm's sake certainly fits the bill. But one of the Emails that Prof. Reynolds quotes gets a little hysterical.....
"It was indeed terrorism. We in Montgomery County were absolutely terrorized: kids locked into schools, people afraid to leave home, police everywhere."
Hmmmm. This pretty much describes what happens down in Florida every time a hurricane sweeps through. To be fair, the reader was making the point that it didn't have to be a foreign or organized terrorist network like al Queda. Just some bozos that want to shoot people will do. But it seems that people look at the reluctance by law enforcement to label an act as "terrorism" is an attempt to put one over on the public. Somehow. For some reason.
The police in the U.S. are very sensitive to public opinion. They're subject to the will of the voters, and their budget is allocated out of tax money that is controlled by elected officials. No matter how well staffed or equipped a police agency is there's never enough resources to do everything that needs to be done. If the voters demand that these resources be allocated to something then the police have little choice but to do it, even if a professional can tell in a hot minute that it's going to be a waste of time.
When someone hears the word "terrorist" they think of someone who has a vast network of support behind them. An outlaw organization that provides money, planning, equipment and training so the poor dupe can give his all for the movement. If the public demands that the police investigate such an organization then that's what they'll try to do, even if there's no such organization.
You can see how reluctant the police are to say the T word when it came to the LAX shooting. A guy, acting alone, with no ties to a terrorist organization, shoots up some people at LAX. A terrorist act? Sure. But there's very good reasons why the police aren't going to come out and say it is when there's no evidence of the bogey man under the bed.