Was the destruction of an Austin, Texas IRS office a criminal action, or a terrorist attack? While federal authorities are treating the plane crash as the first, the local congressman has termed it the later.
And then there’s retired police officer Lou Palumbo, who suggested to CNN’s Rick Sanchez, “If this individual had done this in Iraq, we’d be calling him a suicide bomber.”
“Yeah we would,” Sanchez replied. “You make a good point there, Lou.”
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), who represents the district where the incident occurred, seems to agree. He called it an act of “domestic terrorism.”
Joe Stack, a 53-year-old software engineer from Austin, allegedly burned down his house before flying a short distance south and slamming the single-engine aircraft into a building that housed an IRS office.
The explosion was loud enough that this reporter heard it from a number of miles away.
In a chilling message left on the Internet, Stack lashed out at the IRS, the Catholic Church, President George W. Bush, Wall Street and the wealthy, declaring that nothing ever changes until there is a “body count.”
In what is perhaps an eerie coincidence, Stack damned the IRS for costing him over $40,000 and stealing “10 years of my life,” while his aircraft hit the IRS offices at 10 a.m., according to initial reports. That time was later adjusted to 9:56 a.m.
“I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand,” he wrote. “It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.”
“This appears to be an intentional act by a sole individual and it appears this individual was targeting federal offices in that building,” Austin police chief Art Acevedo told reporters.
Fighter jets were scrambled in response to the incident, while the shocking images stirred for many Americans bitter memories of the September 11, 2001 attacks by Al-Qaeda.
“Today in the city of Austin, we saw a deliberate and intentional attack against the federal building,” said congressman Michael McCaul. “It is something that exposed the weakness we have seen since 9/11.”
“This was a Piper Dakota, one of the smallest private aircraft manufacturers. When you look at the devastation behind me, almost bringing down the entire building, it is really extraordinary.”
He continued: “It is like when you kill 13 people at a military installation, that is an act of terrorism, but when you fly an airplane into a federal building to kill people, it depends how you define terrorism, but it sounds like (it) to me.”
Crews sifting through the burnt-out office building have thus far found two bodies, according to the Associated Press.
This video is from CNN’s Rick’s List, broadcast Feb. 18, 2010.