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Archive for July, 2012

Money from the U.S. Federal government may have helped pay for the guns and ammunition used by James Holmes to murder a dozen people and wound scores of others in the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., July 20.

This startling news was reported in the July 23 New York Times—but it was buried deep within the paper, halfway through a story about President Obama’s visit to Aurora.

In the story, the Times reports: “The police believe that Mr. Holmes began planning his rampage for months, when he began acquiring the materials that he would use in both the shooting and to rig his apartment.”

The article goes on to say:

“There were also clues as to how Mr. Holmes might have paid for the weapons and other materials he acquired. He was receiving a $26,000 stipend, in monthly installments of $2,166, for a National Institutes of Health neuroscience training grant for the graduate program he was enrolled in at the University of Colorado-Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, a spokeswoman said.”

In a front-page article in the same edition of the newspaper, the Times reports that Holmes “ordered 3,000 rounds of handgun ammunition, 3,000 rounds for an assault rifle, and 35 shells for a 12-gauge shotgun—an amount of firepower that costs roughly $3,000 at the online sites—in the four months before the shooting.”

There is no reason to believe—as of yet—that anyone within any Federal agency was directing Holmes to buy firearms or ammunition. There is no hard evidence to suggest the involvement of any government agency in the incident in any way. But the fact remains that federal dollars were likely used to pay for the weapons and ammunition.

“Oh, what a stretch!” some might exclaim. But is it? How would the Federal government itself view a situation in which an individual funneled $2,000 per month to someone who used that money to buy weapons and ammunition to commit a domestic atrocity against civilians? Would the Federal government be at all interested in looking into the matter to determine whether the funds were transferred with the intent to bankroll terrorism?

If the Patriot Act and the United States Code are any guide, then the Federal government would be very interested indeed. In fact, Federal law provides for prison terms of up to 15 years for anyone who provides “material support” of terrorism and life imprisonment if such support results in loss of life.

Under Title IV, Subtitle B of the Patriot Act, the phrase “to engage in terrorist activity” is given numerous definitions, including this one:

. . . to commit an act that the actor knows, or reasonably should know, affords material support, including a safe house, transportation, communications, funds, transfer of funds or other material financial benefit, false documentation or identification, weapons (including chemical, biological, or radiological weapons), explosives, or training . . .

[emphasis added]

Under 18 USC § 2339A of the United States Code, anyone who provides “material support or resources or conceals or disguises the nature, location, source, or ownership of material support or resources, knowing or intending that they are to be used in preparation for, or in carrying out” certain terrorist acts may be “imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both, and, if the death of any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”

Material support of terrorists is defined in the same section of the United States Code as, among other things, “currency or monetary instruments or financial securities.”

Should this transfer of Federal money to a man who bought arms and ammunition to commit an atrocity not at least be examined? Or is the Federal government above being held to its own standards of scrutiny?

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