Odds and Ends

First off, let’s wish Marcy a big Happy Birthday! The woman is doing nothing but getting younger and smarter. Amazing.

Secondly, my fine Emptywheel friends, I’d like to apologize, I got a little sidetracked today with some work and duties with my daughter, Jenna. And, honestly, far more of my day was spent learning about some of the players and watching the action in Twitter Fight Club. While our own @emptywheel met her unfortunate demise in the second round (without question hampered by her lack of access to internet connection), I was somehow or another asked to judge the Elite Eight, which is taking place today. If you want to weigh in with your votes, all the Twitter Fight Club info is here. These are all excellent people participating in this game, and it is really a lot of fun. I have, just today, been exposed to several people I did not previously regularly track, even though I knew who they were.

The downside is, for all these reasons, plus now that there is once again a three hour difference between me and the east coast, I am hopelessly deep in the day without having written any substantive posts. In light of that, I will post a couple of interesting quick hits for discussion and make this an open thread for those subjects and all other things generally.

First up: A bit of a weird case was announced today in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA). An American citizen, Eric Harroun, was arrested for what appears to be pretty much only foreign terroristic acts:

A former Army soldier from Phoenix who joined rebels fighting the Syrian government and boasted to FoxNews.com of his exploits as a Muslim soldier of fortune earlier this month was arrested Wednesday in Virginia and could face life in prison.

Eric Harroun, 30, who left the Army in 2003 on full disability pay after a truck accident, was charged with conspiring to use a rocket-propelled grenade while fighting with the al-Nusrah Front, an organization also known as Al Qaeda in Iraq. Harroun, who was in Syria or Turkey when he spoke to FoxNews.com by Skype, was nabbed shortly after flying in to Dulles International Airport after a voluntary interview with FBI agents, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.

There are all kinds of fascinating about this story. For one, Harroun was just featured in a big story in Foreign Policy. The FP story was only dated March 22, so the timing of when they really interacted with Harroun (the earliest date FP noted was March 2nd and the latest March 16th) in relation to the time and circumstances of his arrest are interesting. Here is the critical affidavit filed on him in EDVA so far. And here is a piece by Bobby Chesney at Lawfare on the Harroun announcement, and I completely agree with him about the curious disconnect between the charge maybe called for under 18 USC 2339(D) and the one contained in the one page, fill in the blank complaint that was filed, of 18 USC 2332(a)(b).

Second, the Sweet Sixteen is underway. I have a rooting interest in the Arizona Wildcats, who are playing an evil Bit 10.2 team, Ohio State. Go Cats! also on tap tonight are Marquette/Miami, Syracuse/Indiana and, in a battle of surprise teams, Wichita State/La Salle. These are all fantastic games, but I think the Buckeyes, Marquette and Indiana will likely win out. The one that is a crap shoot and really fascinating is the Wichita State Shockers and the La Salle Explorers. The Shockers have big and tough inside and the Explorers have guards. I always default to killer guard play in the tournament, and I will ride with La Salle.

Okay, what else you got? Whether in the news, March Madness, or anything else, let fly.

14 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    @rosalind: Uh, yeah, that was pretty lame of me, no? It has been corrected and the responsible individual sacked. Honestly, this day has gone all kinds of haywire.

  2. Really? An RPG = WMD??? LOL says:

    The weird charge against the Arizona Jihadist

    Last Friday, FP featured a very strange interview with Eric Harroun, the Phoenix-bred US Army vet who claimed to have spent several weeks in Syria with the al Qaeda-linked group Jabhat al-Nusra, fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s government. Harroun has since returned to the USA and was apparently arrested after being questioned by FBI agents at Dulles Airport.

    The criminal complaint filed against Harroun gives a wide overview of his case, but the charge against him is surprisingly specific:

    Based on the foregoing, there is probably cause to believe that, in or about and between January 2013 and march 2013, ERIC HARROUN conspired to use a weapon of mass destruction, ie a Rocket Propelled Grenade, outside of the United States, in violation of 18 USC §2332a(b).

    But as Lawfare blog’s Robert Chesney writes, “I would think 18 USC 2339D (receiving military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization) would be a perfect fit here, at any rate, and am a bit surprised not to see it.”


  3. Peterr says:

    @bmaz: I can relate.

    But it brought a smile to my face when I got home after our Maundy Thursday service to see the last two minutes of Arizona v The Ohio State University. OK, it was the last 10 seconds that brought a smile to my face.

  4. Peterr says:

    @bmaz: This is not the first time someone has said that.

    And it won’t be the last, I’m sure.

    Now, where are the keys to Marcy’s liquor cabinet? I could use a beverage.

  5. Peterr says:


    *referee blows whistle*

    Ref: We’ve got a violation of Godwin’s law — that’s a two shot foul.

    Peterr: I’ll take two shots of “Black Bush” please.

  6. Former 11BP says:

    @Really? An RPG = WMD??? LOL: Question here re: “But as Lawfare blog’s Robert Chesney writes, “I would think 18 USC 2339D (receiving military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization) would be a perfect fit here, at any rate, and am a bit surprised not to see it.”” <<< isn't this guy a former member of the US ARMY??? if yes, then he received his military-type training from the US ARMY – not some syrian rebel group.

    i received my military type training from the US ARMY at Fort Benning Georgia. if i were to go and seek adventure overseas i am good to go as soon as i arrive – i do not need any training.

    From what organization did the mercenary Erik The Prince receive his military type training – US NAVY – so why weren't he and his fellow blackwater mercenaries arrested??? they did the same thing – went overseas and fought – but on the "right" side (with the usa's okay).

    that is the difference here.

    and no way no how is a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) a Weapon of Mass Destruction – a WMD is an atom bomb, a thermonuclear bomb, a hydrogen bomb, a 747 flying into a building – those are WMD’s. the usa looks like a klownshow with the WMD charge.

  7. thatvisionthing says:


    If I Had A Rocket Launcher
    Bruce Cockburn
    Stealing Fire, 1984
    True North – Universal Music

    Here comes the helicopter
    Second time today
    Everybody scatters
    and hopes it goes away
    How many kids they’ve murdered
    only God can say
    If I had a rocket launcher
    If I had a rocket launcher
    If I had a rocket launcher
    I’d make somebody pay

    I don’t believe in guarded borders
    and I don’t believe in hate
    I don’t believe in generals
    or their stinking torture states
    And when I talk with the survivors
    of things too sickening to relate
    If I had a rocket launcher
    If I had a rocket launcher
    If I had a rocket launcher
    I would retaliate

    On the Rio Lacantun
    one hundred thousand wait
    to fall down from starvation
    or some less humane fate
    Cry for Guatemala
    with a corpse in every gate
    If I had a rocket launcher
    If I had a rocket launcher
    If I had a rocket launcher
    I would not hesitate

    I want to raise every voice
    At least I’ve got to try
    Every time I think about it
    water rises to my eyes
    Situation desperate
    echoes of the victims cry
    If I had a rocket launcher
    If I had a rocket launcher
    If I had a rocket launcher
    Some son of a bitch would die

    Canadian. Human.

  8. What Constitution? says:

    Thanks for that U2 video. I hadn’t watched it before but when you posted it, I thought “Hmmm, I’ll bet someone found some impressive pictures to go with that….” Yep. Day is looking up.

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