Writes Spencer Ackerman at Wired's Danger Room: A “weapon of mass destruction” is "a very broad category under federal law. Grenades, mines, missiles and rockets all apply. So do homemade bombs of the sort Tsarnaev allegedly constructed."

34 Responses to “Why was the suspected Boston Bomber charged with using a "weapon of mass destruction"?”

  1. I should think a bomb would be the classic definition of a WMD.

    • Dan Hibiki says:

      and a boulder is a massive weapon of destruction.

      But that’s truly classic weaponry.

    • billstewart says:

       A big bomb is logically a WMD.  A small bomb isn’t.  But the Federal crime definitions seem to treat a car bomb as a WMD, so when the FBI entices a wannabee terrorist into building a car bomb using FBI Fake Explosives, he gets charged with making and deploying WMDs.

    • jerwin says:

      The classic definition is the A-bomb.

  2. Chris Patmore says:

    It was to prove that Iraq really did have WMDs, according to their definition. 

  3. theophrastvs says:

    Wouldn’t a number of assault weapons be capable of that much “mass destruction?”

  4. willemr says:

    I don’t think so. In the lead-up to the  Iraq war a WMD was pretty clearly defined as a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon.

    Using it for homemade bombs makes the term WMD rather useless in practicality. Why isnt an assault rifle a WMD considering it can kill just as many, if not more?

  5. J R says:

    Seems like the police are getting carried away.Can’t they get the same penalty without controversial language?

  6. Rindan says:

    The naming seems a little dumb after the whole Iraq War Part II thing, but I have no problem with tossing illegal “stuff that blows up” into a separate bin from illegal “stuff that throws bullets”.  I am too lazy to look it up, but I have a feeling the law using this words predate the Iraq war which gave it a new common usage.  ”Weapons of mass destruction” only means nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons because of the Iraq war.  Pre-Iraq war, if someone told me that a bomb was a weapon of mass destruction I would probably just nod and say “yeah, that makes sense”.

    • travtastic says:

       According to Wikipedia, the term was initially used to refer to aerial military bombardment, and shortly thereafter to NBC/CBR weapons.

      • Rindan says:

        Uhg.  Make me look it up will you?  1994 is when this law was written.  I’ll give it pass.  The term WMD was used before that date to mean NBCs, but it didn’t hit epic popularity until Iraq War Part II.

        IANAL,but I believe this is the law in question: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2332a

  7. Expereal says:

    3 people died.  Many more were injured and/or horribly maimed.  The fact that many, many more didn’t die was chance.  What precisely is your perspective here?

  8. dalewynn says:

    There are many more important questions to be asking about this situation, including what’s being covered up.

    • Boundegar says:

      You mean, what eldritch abominations drove these once-sane men to such gibbering depths of madness?  Ia!  Ia!

      • SumAnon says:

        Iä! Shub-Niggurath!  May the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young bless us and keep our livers safe!

    • Mitchell Glaser says:

      I saw idiots the day of the tragedy who claimed to already have evidence that the Government did it. Made me want to hurl.

  9. incipientmadness says:

    I’m all for taking terrorism seriously, but if we learned anything last week it’s that industrial accidents are a bigger threat to life and property.

    • Rindan says:

      We don’t need your non-hysteria talk here.  This is ‘murica!  In ‘murica we eat our Big Macs with extra large fries and extra large soda while worrying about terrorist killing us without even the slightest sense of irony.   Take your pussy liberal talk about not being terrified of terrorist elsewhere.

      • I took a break from the news for a week, because quite frankly I only needed to hear about this incident once and was already bombarded with every detail within minutes of it happening.

        It’s actually quite depressing to come back to BB after that time and find 4 stories on the front page relating to the incident. BB are as guilty as all the other media. Hysteria and click-bait bullshit with nothing of any actual substance.

        Sad really.

    • anansi133 says:

       If violence’s impact is what you want to talk about, then the intention behind the violence shouldn’t matter. But cancer plumes and decades of litigation don’t sell adspace, thus it’s the malice that sees print.

  10. Looks like weapons of destruction all need to be rebranded mass destruction.

    This hammer I hold in my hand, caused Mass Destruction of Drywall when I was remodeling a few houses.

    I guess I am armed and dangerous.

  11. grimc says:

    Know what should be classified as a WMD? A fertilizer plant that stores 1350 times more ammonium nitrate than it should owned by a company that lies about it. Al Qaeda shouldn’t even make an effort. Just let the US continue to deregulate itself out of existence.

  12. Rick Adams says:

    Crap, I suppose I’ll have to go register my hands now, dammit.

  13. tnmc says:

    Since Massachusetts does not have the Death Penalty, in order to keep it on the table he had to be charged with a Federal crime.  This would appear to be the rationale.

  14. peregrinus says:

    So when we invade DKPR PRKD NKDPR North Korea will it be on the basis of Weapons of Humungous Ginormous Destruction?

  15. I keep thinking that “weapons of mass destruction” is one of those needless redundancies, like “crack cocaine”, “black ice” and that widow woman who used to walk her big St. Bernard dog on Easter Sunday until she met a Jewish rabbi…

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