Re: Tainted quote

Steve VanSickle (
Mon, 22 Mar 1999 15:36:02 -0600 (CST)

On Mon, 22 Mar 1999, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:

> well defined command structure:
> as an insurgency, the last thing that would keep them viable were if their
> command structure were publicly known. Jus t because it might not be
> known, or even completley known to the entire organization, does not mean
> there is not one. The cell structure is a well recognized system of
> structuring an insurgency organization.

Absolutely. "Well defined" does not necessarily mean "publically known". I'm sure a proper cell system would qualify.

> control of territory:
> this is not well defined. You could say that simply being able to elude
> capture, thus denying the government's ability to police an area effectively,
> is at least a measure of control. By your criteria, Thomas Paine was a common
> criminal.

Really? I wasn't aware that he engaged in any activity other than sedition. The militia skermishes and the Continental Army easily qualify under the stated definition. This is irrelevent, however, since the Hague and Geneva Conventions are a hundred years and more in the future.

> Considering how much the government likes to govern by poll results, you could
> call areas where the government has a minority of local support as
being under
> the tentative 'control' of the insurgency.

That is one possible interpretation.

> Must wear uniforms:
> I know of no insurgency organization which has ever had more than a small
> fraction which actually wore what could be considered uniforms. Nor would any
> of them wear such unifoms in public where they could easily be identified by
> government agents.

"or other means of identification". Could be as little as an armband. Perhaps a good definition of "territorial control" is being able to identify yourself by whatever means as an insurgent in relative safety.

> If this were a real criteria, then movements like the PLO, NRA, ANC,
> Sandinistas, Contras, Zapatistas, Mujahedin, Viet Cong, Chinese democracy
> movements, as well as the American Revolutionaries would all be nothing but
> common criminals.

Indeed, most of the governments have tried very hard to define these groups as such. Remember, you invoked the Laws of Warfare as justification for your position. I thought it might be enlightening to relate (my perhaps poor memory of) what they really say. You do realize that the Laws of Land Warfare refer to a very specific set of rules set out by the Hague and Geneva Conventions, don't you?

The purpose of the definition I related was not to determine who was right or wrong, but who signitories to the treaties are required to accord the rights and priviledges of prisoners of war and who may be treated as a criminal. Which, indeed, seems to be the distinction you were trying to make.

As for the groups above, they seem to me to mostly meet the definition. The ANC, Sandinistas, Contras, Zapatistas, Mujahedin, Viet Cong all were organized (more or less), controlled territory, and had means of identifying themselves when safe. The PLO and the IRA are marginal cases. I wasn't aware, though, that the NRA and the Chinese democracy protestors were engaged in armed revolt.

> Every movement starts out with nothing. Your criteria are merely the measure
> of what an insurgency needs to accomplish to have hope of being successful.

Good point! This no doubt influenced those who wrote the treaties.

> What I find so remarkable, and indicative that the government had a hand in
> it, was a) how handily McVeighs actions neatly castrated the burgeoning
> militia movement, and
> b) how easily he was caught, the license plate on his care dissapeared.
> c) the evidence about John Doe #2
> d) the evidence that there were booster charges placed on the basement
> structural columns that were of typical BATF training manual construction.

I find it difficult to believe that a) the government could so competently conduct such an operation and b) the "militia movement" needed any help whatsoever in self-destructing.

> By the way, I also think McVeigh should hang.

I wrote that he *deserves* to hang. Whether he *should* or not is a far more complex question