Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Should The TB Man Be Prosecuted For Terrorism?

With the world so focussed on terrorist activities, and average citizens finally doing their part to report suspicious people, we are going to face some tough decisions on what we will prosecute as terrorism.

One of the few justifiable arguments against the Patriot Act is that normal crimes may become a terrorist crime due to interpretation, and US law has been trending towards making minor disturbances felonies rather than simple warnings as they were in the past. I wrote about that trend here.

Which brings me to this case of the guy with a rare, advanced form of tuberculosis flying around the world.

We have been concerned about bioterrorism in the US for quite some time. This fear was realized with the anthrax attacks after 9/11 which had Americans petrified of opening their mail. Of the known bioterrorism agents out there, smallpox is of the greatest concern to authorities. Tuberculosis isn't on the list of bio-agents, but many have been clamoring for TB to be included amongst the threats. It seems they will be able to get some traction due to this case.


A man with a form of tuberculosis so dangerous he is under the first U.S. government-ordered quarantine since 1963 had health officials around the world scrambling Wednesday to find passengers who sat near him on two trans-Atlantic flights.

The man told a newspaper he took the first flight from Atlanta to Europe for his wedding, then the second flight home because he feared he might die without treatment in the U.S.

At first glance it seems that maybe this wasn't a big deal. Many people do their best to get back to the US for medical treatment. It does show that he was aware of his illness, however, and still chose to fly around the world.

Health officials said the man had been advised not to fly and knew he could expose others when he boarded the jets from Atlanta to Paris, and later from Prague to Montreal.

The man, however, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that doctors didn't order him not to fly and only suggested he put off his long-planned wedding in Greece. He knew he had a form of tuberculosis and that it was resistant to first-line drugs, but he didn't realize it could be so dangerous, he said.

So health officials are saying this guy was told to not fly, and that he was fully aware of possible exposure to other people. A claim he refutes.

I am leaning towards the health official's story because the man said he rushed home because he feared he would die without American medical treatment. Clearly he knew his illness was dangerous. Besides, when you get sick you run home and research your illness as much as possible, and we all know the dangers of TB. I find it near impossible for this guy to plead ignorance here.

His blunders would continue ...

He flew to Paris on May 12 aboard Air France Flight 385. While in Europe, health authorities reached him with the news that further tests had revealed his TB was a rare, "extensively drug-resistant" form, far more dangerous than he knew. They ordered him into isolation, saying he should turn himself over to Italian officials.

Instead, the man flew from Prague to Montreal on May 24 aboard Czech Air Flight 0104, then drove into the United States at Champlain, N.Y. He told the newspaper he was afraid that if he didn't get back to the U.S., he wouldn't get the treatment he needed to survive.

Now his claims of ignorance are completely out the window. Regular TB is dangerous enough to not fly, and he was contacted in Europe with the news that he had super TB. He was then advised to turn himself in, and go into isolation. An order he blatantly ignored.

Not only did he not go into isolation, he didn't turn himself in, and after being told again to not fly ... he flew into Canada after making stops in other countries. Then he drove from Canada to the US. Never adhering to the orders to go into isolation, and turn himself in.

Now the passengers and crews of the flights he took have to be tested several times until they are in the clear. So far nothing has turned up, but they have no way of knowing how many people he came in contact with while he was galavanting around Europe and Canada. The threat of the disease spreading has not gone away.

The CDC told him he couldn't fly aboard commercial airliners.

"I thought to myself: You're nuts. I wasn't going to do that. They told me I had been put on the no-fly list and my passport was flagged," the man said.

He told the newspaper he and his wife decided to sneak back into the U.S. through Canada. He said he voluntarily went to a New York hospital, then was flown by the CDC to Atlanta.

He is not facing prosecution, health officials said.

"I'm a very well-educated, successful, intelligent person," he told the paper. "This is insane to me that I have an armed guard outside my door when I've cooperated with everything other than the whole solitary-confinement-in-Italy thing."

So the CDC told him he couldn't fly, but he thought they were nuts, and we are supposed to believe he's intelligent? It would be hilarious that he is making the case that he has cooperated if it wasn't such a dangerous situation. It is nice to know that he is facing prosecutions, but what kind?

Which brings me back to the original question ... Should he be prosecuted for terrorism? It might seem a little extreme, but this guy was a walking, talking biological weapon. He also intentionally ignored advice to travel on two separate occasions, and he snuck into the US after he was put on the no fly list because of his disease. He may not understand why he's under armed guard, but I do.

Many of you may correlate this case with deliberately infecting people with AIDS. I believe that to be attempted murder (murder if successful), but others have made the argument for that being a terrorist act. Clearly AIDS is an epidemic, and any successful biological attack would create an epidemic. The difference is that you must have contact to contract AIDS, but TB is spread through the air. The mere presence of this guy in any building, or outdoors, may lead to a massive epidemic.

Regardless of if you believe he should be charged with terrorism (which carries a light sentence anyway) we must agree that knowingly put thousands of people in danger. There can't be a light sentence for his blatant disregard for human safety.

Take the poll below, and share your answers.

Should The TB Man Be Charged With Terrorism?
He should be charged with attempted murder
He should be charged with reckless endangerment
He should not be charged with anything free polls


2 comments to "Should The TB Man Be Prosecuted For Terrorism?"

Anonymous said...
5:05 PM

You're a retard. Stop being scared of everything and everybody and live your fucking life.

Casey said...
1:40 PM

Truly pathetic "anonymous." Grow a pair, and stop hiding.

I'm not scared of TB or little snobs like you. Nor did I imply it.

Sorry you don't have the basic brain power to understand what I was writing about.



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