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Monday, August 14, 2006


Arms caches, large and small

BBC World News just reported on searches going on on the premises and surroundings of the two dozen British men recently arrested on terrorism charges. Closing the piece, the reporter solemnly informed us that the police had found...one rifle in one site, and one handgun in another. Wow. A regular arsenal.

This got me thinking about the case of Robert Ferro, which has never to my knowledge even made the news outside of Southern California. Not once has his name appeared in either the New York Times or the Washington Post. Just some minor case, right? No. Robert Ferro was caught with an arsenal of more than 1500 weapons, including 35 machine guns, 130 silencers, two short-barreled rifles, a live hand grenade, a rocket launcher tube and about 89,000 rounds of ammunition; I read somewhere this was the largest cache of weapons ever confiscated in the United States. So why hasn't this caused a major terrorist scare in the United States? Because, of course, those weapons weren't intended for use in the United States, they were intended for use by Alpha 66 in overthrowing the Cuban government, and indeed, Ferro claims (not necessarily believably) variously that either the weapons were supplied to him by the U.S. government, or that he had the "permission" of the government to have them.

By sheer coincidence, this case just returned to the news (the local news only) two days ago, when Ferro was in court claiming illegal search warrants were used and that the case should be thrown out. If his name were Mohammed and not Robert (probably really Roberto), he would long ago have found himself in Guantanamo, search warrant or no search warrant. If his name were Mohammed, all it would take would be one handgun for BBC News (or all the American news sources) to be trumpeting the major terrorist threat. But with the right name, and the right target for your terrorism, the media won't even bother reporting your story. Even if you were caught with the largest arms cache in the history of the United States.


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