Attack on the Capitol!

By Jay Holmes

What if a terrorist group managed to detonate a bomb in the Capitol building? In the War on Terror, one of the most obvious targets in the United States is our nation’s iconic Capitol building. If terrorists did manage to bomb the Capitol what would the reaction be?

image by Raul654, wikimedia commons

image by Raul654, wikimedia commons

Most readers will likely remember that on 9-11, the Capitol was saved from a terrorist attack. Not by the US military, the intelligence services, or any law enforcement agency, but rather by unarmed passengers on United Airlines flight 93 when they resisted the al-Qaeda criminals that had hijacked their flight. Thanks to their courage, flight 93 was stopped from crashing into the intended target, the US capitol.

Undoubtedly, some members of the Department of Homeland Security spend their hours considering the possibility of another attack on the Capitol and work to prevent it. They’re too late to prevent it. It’s already happened, but it’s best that they keep it from happening again. As much as I dislike about half of our congressmen, I don’t want to see them attacked again.

Many in the USA may have long forgotten that a gang of violent foreigners already succeeded in attacking our Capitol.  Which Islamist radicals managed to pull it off? Can you remember? Let me give you a couple of hints. They were not Islamic. They were English, and they succeeded.

In 1814 during our poorly planned and ill-conceived War of 1812, British soccer fans dressed in red uniforms similar to those of the British Army invaded Washington DC and expressed their displeasure with American literature by setting a bonfire in the still uncompleted Capitol using books from the library of Congress.  Even back then, congressmen knew what British soccer fans were like and they mustered the good sense to leave the premises before those fans arrived. After roasting some unpalatable English food over the fire, the British soccer fans departed. Fortunately for the US, British taxpayers grew tired of the higher taxes and loss of trade with the USA that the war had provoked in Great Britain, and in 1815, Great Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent, promising to keep their soccer fans on their side of the Atlantic.

Fortunately, no British tourists have behaved quite so poorly since that terrible night in 1814. Unfortunately, other folks have not been quite as well behaved in the Capitol since then.

If some members of the press feel a bit abused these days by the current administration, they should feel lucky compared to 19th century DC reporters.  If we don’t count the vicious fist fights that occurred between congressmen in the 19th century, then the next attack occurred on February 28, 1890 when the tall, muscular ex-congressman William Taulbee of Kentucky assaulted a small and very sickly journalist by the name of Charles Kinkaid.   Taulbee had previously assaulted Kincaid in public, but the local authorities ignored the attacks. Taulbee harbored a raging grudge against Kinkaid because the journalist had exposed an extramarital affair between him—a married, ordained Methodist minister and congressman—and a female employee of the US patent office. Taulbee’s wife was less forgiving than Hilary Clinton and sent him packing. The conservative voters that he represented with a conservative platform were less forgiving than modern voters and Taulbee had to resign.  On February 28, 1890 when Taulbee attacked Kinkaid on the east stairs of the House Chambers, Kinkaid shot him in self-defense. Taulbee died a few days later. Supposedly, the blood stain can still be seen on the east House stairs.

William Taulbee, image public domain

William Taulbee, image public domain

In 1915, in response to the US declaration of neutrality in World War One, German immigrant Erich Muenter, aka Frank Holt, detonated a bomb in the Senate visitor’s waiting room. Fortunately, the bomb detonated at 11:50 p.m. and nobody was killed. The next day, Muentner shot and badly injured JP Morgan Jr. Muentner was arrested and committed suicide in his cell. Whether or not it was an “assisted suicide” is unknown.

For the next 39 years, peace reigned on Capitol Hill. Then, on March 1, 1954, Puerto Rican Nationalist terrorists Lolita Lebron, Rafael Miranda, and Andres Cordero fired shots from the House gallery and wounded five congressmen. Fortunately, they were captured before they were able to kill anyone. Unfortunately, they were captured alive and were brought to trial. They got long sentences, but Cordero was released from prison in 1978 due to terminal cancer. His fellow assailants and a co-conspirator were released in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter as part of a plan to gain the release of US prisoners in Cuba.

The next gang of terrorists that managed to carry out an attack against the Capitol was a group of very odd and incompetent criminals that called themselves the Weathermen. On March 1, 1971 a bomb they set exploded at night in a men’s rest room in the Senate and nobody was injured. The Weathermen carried out several bombings in the US, and their apologists claim that they never hurt anyone. That’s simply not true.  When they bombed a San Francisco police station, one policeman was killed and one was badly injured. Fortunately, the Marxist Weathermen managed to kill more of their own members than they did their intended victims when a nail bomb they were constructing exploded in their Greenwich Village apartment in New York City and killed three of them.

On November 7, 1983, a Weathermen splinter group calling themselves the Armed Resistance Union bombed the US Senate at the now traditional 11 p.m. capitol bombing hour. They were apparently unaware that the fighting was over in Grenada, as they were demanding an end to the “brutal US War in Grenada.” Fortunately, by adhering to that important 11 p.m. bombing schedule, nobody was hurt.

Unfortunately, the next attack on the Capitol was not as harmless. On July 24, 1998, a mentally ill man by the name of Russell Weston entered the Capitol and murdered two Capitol policemen. He explained that he was saving the US from being destroyed by cannibals. Weston had been previously diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic after repeatedly threatening neighbors at his home in Montana, but he had been released after 51 days in a mental institution without adequate follow-up treatment. After the shooting at the Capitol, he was found to be incompetent to stand trial and he is still in a federal institution.

So if you visit our nation’s Capitol, arrive early because the security measures will slow you down a bit. Be patient. The security is justified.

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18 comments on “Attack on the Capitol!

  1. If they’d have been Millwall footie fans, America would be under the proper control of her Majesty E11R, and things would be as they should be.

    None of that American freedom nonsense, none of that men playing girls games, such as rounders.

    Rupert Murdoch would be rotting in Guantanamo.

    Things would be in order, right and proper.

    brendan

    • Jay Holmes says:

      Hi Brendon. If Her Majesty had been on the English throne in 1776, we might in fact still be the same nation. Unfortunately, the fellow in charge at the time was not nearly as reasonable as the current monarch so here we are.

      Having rupert Murdoch in Guantanamo sounds like a great idea but it seems that he had (and perhaps still has) a cozy relationship with the UK government and unlike you and I has no need to obey laws.

  2. Hi Jay.

    If they aren’t considering it, they should.

    What worries me most is that most Americans don’t seem to care very much about this scenario. The apathy is astounding. But I suppose people would rather play their games on their iPhones than consider some scarier things like our national security. It’s too bad.

    • Jay Holmes says:

      Hi Renee.

      We humans tend to ignore danger as we grow accustomed to it. One of the problems with Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense sysyetm is that many Israeli’s now consider air raids to be an entertainment opportunity and run outside to watch the interception of incoming rockets rather than hiding out in shelters.

      I will continue to hope that the DHS is wisely using at least some of their huge budget to keep the Capitol safe. Like any large government organization they would likely tell us that they are doing a great job of keeping us all safe.

  3. Jay,

    Lot of yapping on Twitter yesterday about drones being used inside the borders.

    I argue that a government’s first role is defence of the realm. We cannot see into the future, so to proscribe a potentially useful weapon for observation and interdiction as a drone from use surely cannot make sense.

    I got told I was advocating treason.

    Let me state, I’m not advocating the use of any form of weaponry against anyone, but we do not know what the bad boys will get up to tomorrow. I like to keep ALL the powder dry.

    Treason? Surely not. It can’t reasonably be argued that it’s okay to blow up furriners abroad, and absolutely not use hellfire missiles on our own rogues.

    brendan

    • Jay Holmes says:

      Hi Brendan. Yes I have been following that. I am not against the technology being used domesticly but I am not confident that all of our vast police and security services can always be trusted to use that technology justly.

      Unfortunately police departments and federal agencies all face the same terrible challenge. They recruit from the human population and they are run by politicaly motivated individuals.

      In my opinion it was a huge mistake to rush to create the Department of Homeland Security. They seem to have very quickly gotten comfortable with the “above the law and constitution” attitude displayed by their leaders. Many of their rank and file are great folks but their leadership is shameful. Congress and our present and prior administrations have been much to careless in controlling the DHS.

      • Jay,

        Thank you.

        It’s an enormous help to have an opinion other than the polemics I get handed out down here in GA. Even the intelligent have this relentless right wing bent. I can’t question anything without getting battered round the lugs. If I nail shibboleths too hard to the wall, they get a right hump on and even cry sometimes.

        Some of my neurons are still working and I have been around an influential pol and journo or two. So when someone starts, “selling,” me an idea too hard, I’m already on page ten, but the droning keeps on attempting to convince me.

        It is refreshing to have you about the place, Senor. Muchachas Gracias.

        brendan (Atlanta Communist Collective:) One Day The South Will Rise!

        • Piper Bayard says:

          Brendan, I realize that people have strong views that often lead them to be insulting to those who see things differently. It’s quite popular and politically correct these days to direct such scorn toward the right and toward Southerners, as if those people, while occasionally intelligent, are still nothing but talking dogs. Perhaps it would be more constructive of you to try and see things from their perspective in an attempt to practice the tolerance that everyone seems to be preaching these days.

          There’s a saying in sheep country. “Ten thousand wolves can’t be wrong.” I doubt so many people would hold the positions they hold if there wasn’t a good reason underlying. Even though others might not give that reason the same weight due to different cultures and experiences, it is still worthwhile to offer those people the respect of realizing that not all of them are droning out mindless dogma.

          We appreciate it when people share their views. We ask that they please do so without denigrating others.

          • “We ask that they please do so without denigrating others.”

            Piper,

            I’ve now got two responses which appear to upbraid me to what I had intended to be a complimentary post on the nature of this blog. In that it gives to me a refreshing, less than polemical view.

            I wasn’t aware that I was criticizing anyone’s view in particular. I do object to the didactic nature of politics in America. Everything is two sided and never the twain will meet.

            I asked Jay a specific question, on legal issues and I got back a wonderful free from bias answer. That’s what I was complimenting.

            As it happens, I love the South. I feel very privileged to live here.

            I hate its politics, and at times, I feel that they grind it out too much, and much like the religion, if you dare to ask even a reasonable question, the responses can be overwhelmingly critical. I often tell them I’m a communist, merely to set their springs bouncing.

            I am, by virtue of my main job in life, politically unattached. There is a great freedom in that.

            I don’t object to anyone’s political viewpoint, I just object to getting hammered with it, and whatever anyone tells me to the contrary, there is way too much of that in the South.

            I think there should be room for discussion of any particular issue without judgement. Politically, I’m a pragmatist. Consensus works, idealism and radicals do not.

            Now, having said that. I accept your reproof. and will exercise extreme caution in ventilating my opinions on anything in future.

            brendan

  4. Enjoyed the post. What is it with weathermen? Ours are slightly odd and incompetent, too. 🙂

    • Jay Holmes says:

      Hi Danni. If your local “weathermen” stick to meteorology be glad. A bad weather report is way better than a bombing mishap.

  5. Jae says:

    Another reason to do an e-congress. If every congressperson was in their own home state most of the time it would be hard for terrorists to take them all out in one go. Plus it would be hard for the lobbyists to lobby more than one congressperson at a time. And it would be much easier for constituents to let their congressperson know exactly how they feel about how they’ve been voting. Win-win-win. And it would cost the taxpayers less too. Go e-congress.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      NICE, Jae! Very nice strategy.

      While I don’t think Denmark’s socialist government would work well here, I absolutely adore that lobbying is illegal in Denmark. American politics would be far less freaky to me if lobbying were a thing of the past.

    • Jay Holmes says:

      Hmm. I like your idea. One reason that corruption is so bad in Congress is the fact that they all operate within the “Beltway culture”.

  6. The story told in our schools about the burning of the Whitehouse August 24, 1814 is remembered a little differently. lol We just finished celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 here. The British flag flew that day, raised at the order of British officers, but that army was mostly made up of Canadian militia and First Nations people. Both sides like to claim the victory in that war, but the honest truth is that the only losers were the First Nations people who were promised many great things by General Brock and the British government that were never honoured. 😦

  7. tomwisk says:

    Hi Holmes, your post was informative and entertaining. But, and here’s a big but, the Congress has been acting the ass lately. Republicans and Democrats posturing for the media and blaming each other for the present crisis that I believe they created to expedite the 2016 election. Neither side is happy with Obama and they’re positioning themselves for a run. Your post is but a small piece of the theater that is Congress. I say take away their pay, perks and privileges. When they begin to act like adults elected to legislate. The people are too gullible to clean house maybe a grassroots bipartisan movement to “motivate” Congress would goad them..

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