Last week’s awful tragedy at Los Angeles International Airport, which by all accounts involved a lone and troubled individual, was notable for the commendable calmness surrounding it. There were no calls for military detention, no cries of “act of war,” no demands that the President intervene to prevent the accused, Paul Ciancia, from “lawyering up” such as were heard in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. But the act itself is difficult to distinguish from what, in other cases, is described as terrorism that supposedly exceeds the competence or jurisdiction of civilian authorities. It was politically motivated: Ciancia’s writings were laced with anti-government sentiment. It was an explicit attack on government agents in the performance of their duties. It terrorized civilians.
If Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte as well as Rep. Peter King are unwilling to grant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev a presumption of innocence in the Boston marathon bombing, perhaps they might be willing to start the debate surrounding the terms of his detention with a presumption in favor of the Constitution instead: namely, that our founding document, cumbersome protections and all, is sturdy enough to protect the nation even in cases of the most heinous and outrageous acts and the gravest enduring dangers.