Friday--October 25
, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 408
15 Minutes Of Terror/Fame
For Sniper-Rooting Truck Driver
...And An Equal Amount For Catholic Priest Who Rang Alert

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, October 25 -- Ron Lantz got what Andy Warhol termed his "fifteen minutes of fame" yesterday, only they weren't the kind of minutes that made him jump for joy.   They were Terror-filled minutes, 900 seconds of sitting on a keg of dynamite, hoping it wouldn't explode.

Hero Ron Lantz

        Lantz is a truck driver from Ludlow, Kentucky.  He's only five runs from retirement and has a lot to loose if his life is at risk.  But that didn't stop him from risking it anyway.
        When he pulled his semi into a rest stop on I-70 early Thursday morning, his headlights spotted a vehicle similar to the one police were broadcasting on the news as containing suspects in the recent sniper attacks that killed 10 and seriously wounded another three.  
         To confirm his suspicions, Lantz called a local radio station and reaffirmed the model, make and license plates the media had been broadcasting.   Then he dialed 911.
         Authorities told him to box in the car with his truck and wait for them.  Lantz complied, and enlisted another truck driver to assist him in surrounding the suspects' car..  
         He waited for 15 minutes, a total of 900 seconds--each second stretching to its maximum as Lantz sat in the truck's cab.   At one point, CNN news reported, Lantz got out of the cab to go to the restroom.   When he noticed the suspect's car had two people in it, he quickly returned to the cab where he said he "felt safer."
         After the authorities arrived, they spent 90 minutes surrounding the vehicle, preparing for a battle with the suspects, known to be stone-cold killers.   Fortunately, the occupants, John Allen Muhammad, 42, and his "step-son," 17-year-old John Lee Malvo, were asleep in the vehicle.    They were arrested.  The sniper rifle used in the killings was found in the backseat after police obtained a search warrant.    

          The search for the sniper's vehicle was launched thanks to a call suspect John Muhammad made to a Catholic priest in Ashland, Virginia.   The caller started his conversation with words priests often hear from those with pained souls:  "I am God."  Msgr. William Sullivan, pastor of St. Ann's Church in Ashland, took the call.   The disgruntled sniper wanted him to verify to police that he was the killer, and was angry because the police hadn't taken his calls to them seriously.   He instructed the priest to tell the law enforcement team to "check out Montgomery, Alabama."   Earlier, the sniper had left a message for police to "check out Montgomery," but didn't emphasize the world "Alabama."   This time he did.
          The police questioned the priest on Sunday, the morning following the call.   When they checked out Montgomery, Alabama, they found two women had been shot closing a liquor store in September resulting in the death of a one, 52, and the wounding of another, 20.   The method was similar to the shootings by the sniper.  One woman was shot in the face and died.   But a fingerprint was left at the scene, that of 17-year-old Malvo.   The lead was traced only after federal authorities got involved, and traced the fingerprint to Malvo.  Local police did not have access to the fingerprint records the federal authorities had.  Following Malvo's trail, the suspect's car was then bulletined to the public.
         Enter Ron Lantz, pulling into a truck stop to rest, and ending up being a key part of the capture of one of the most notorious serial killers in American history.

       I found it fascinating that two Vigilant citizens, one a Catholic priest, the other a truck driver, ended up as vital cogs in the capture of a suspect alleged to have killed so many for so little reason.   The Web of Vigilance was spun among the entire community, from the police to the public.   The conduit was the news media, broadcasting the urgency for information, and demanding details from authorities who were reluctant to release anything that might be misconstrued or jeopardize the investigation.     What forced so much public pressure was the threat issued against the children--"your children aren't safe!"  Vigilance was tied directly to the children.

        The pressure on law enforcement was similar to the Amber Alert, used to engage the general public in searching for suspects who have kidnapped children and put them in harm's way.  Amber Alert uses the Emergency Broadcast System, and has been attributed to helping locate missing children abducted by "Child Terrorists."
        Law enforcement has a history of holding its cards close to its chest.   It tends not to involve the public as part of its intelligence web.   In the instance of the Montgomery, Alabama shooting, local police did not have access to federal records.   Had they, they would have found Malvo's fingerprints on file from U.S. Immigration and the FBI.  Malvo is from Jamaica.
        It took a call from the irate sniper to a local priest to launch the information ball, and resulted in Lantz spotting the vehicle and enjoining another truck driver to box in the car and "sweat out" 15 minutes with a "sniper time bomb" sitting just a few feet away in a blue Chevy Caprice with his weapon an arm's reach away.
        This is an example that Vigilance belongs to the people, not to just a few.   It is a community effort, requiring far more than public expectation that "someone else" is in charge of its security--i.e. police, law enforcement, federal, state or local.  
        I expect the media will dwarf the roles of the Catholic priest and truck driver as mere appendages of law enforcement, but the reverse is true.   The true "Hand of Vigilance" remains always with the average citizen, the Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents, Citizens and Loved Ones of Vigilance.   They are the first line of defense, as evidenced by Lantz who boxed in the sniper suspects.

Hand of Vigilance

       Terrorism is not a national crime.  It is a community crime.  A neighborhood crime.   It is all about people seeking power over the innocent at their doorsteps--in their school yards, sitting on a bus bench, filling a car with gas, going to Home Depot.   It's not about Terrorists flying planes into World Trade Centers--that's an anomaly.  It's about injecting Fear in the average person.
        And it's not just limited to America.  In Russia, Chechen Terrorists, 12 women and 12 men, are holding nearly 700 innocent people in a theater, threatening to blow them to pieces unless Russia withdraws it forces from their land.   They have already killed a 20-year-old woman, and vowed to kill everyone held captive unless their demands are met.  They are using Fear, Intimidation and Complacency as their weapons--the bombs and bullets are incidental.   But there's no respite from Terrorism.  Even as we lock up the sniper suspect, up pops even more grim news.
        Today, the FBI released a Terrorist Warning regarding trains, saying they had evidence that al-Qaeda is planning to attack U.S. rail transportation.

         And, according to a report from Washington D.C., America is just as vulnerable as it was on September 11, 2001.  On Friday a sub-committee of the US Commission on National Security/21st Century experts headed by Senators Gary Hart and Warren B. Rudman  cited that despite all the money spent since Nine Eleven, America is still extremely vulnerable to Terrorist attacks.  The panel  had warned in March 2001 of an impending attack.

         Defending the slow process of changing the posture of internal defense, Rudman said:  "You can't assume that because the president signs a bill in the Rose Garden, everything will be fixed."   I interpret this to mean that the federal government alone cannot protect us from Terrorism, but all of us, as one Vigilant Body, can.
         One of the many flaws noted in security report is that local police have little access to Terrorist suspects, exemplified  by the block between local and federal data in the Malvo sniper case.  Additionally, the prize panel-- comprising two former secretaries of state, two former chairmen of the Joint Chief's of Staff, a former FBI director and the president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center--noted that local police departments do not have access to Terrorist watch lists provided by the State Department to immigration and consular officials.   "The cops on the beat are effectively operating deaf, dumb and blind," and "known Terrorists will be free to move about to plan and execute their attacks," the report said.      

         The report also found, police, fire and other emergency workers lack equipment needed to communicate during an emergency.   In a more frightening revelation, the panel cited that 95 percent of trade from outside North America moves by sea, and the vulnerability for the nation's 50 largest ports is years from  being secure.  More than 21,000 containers arrive in U.S. ports each day, the report noted.   A catastrophic attack at one of those ports could shut down American trade and cripple a large portion of the nation's economy, it said.
        In the final analysis, Vigilance, like the proverbial buck, stops on the average citizen's doorstep, not the president's desk. If America looks at itself closely, it will see far too many of its citizens chewing on the stale bread of Complacency.   For many years, we have all lived with a sense of invincibility.   The idea we could be brought to our knees by a mad sniper, or that our shipping could be contaminated by biochemical assault, paralyzing our economy, or that planes could destroy two of the world's great financial icons,  is something from a Tom Clancy novel.   No longer is fantasy not reality.  Terrorism is truly biting the hand that feeds it, and it thirsts for Fear, Intimidation and Complacency among the rank and file.
        Russian citizens are feeling a similar impact.   The idea that Terrorist just three miles from the Kremlin are threatening to kill hundreds of innocent men, women and children unless Russia stops its war on Terrorist rebels  is unfathomable to most.   But when enflamed Terrorists are willing to blow themselves up, and take the innocent with them, we are all forced to look at the world with a different pair of glasses--and not ones ground out of the glass of Fear, Intimidation or Complacency.

New Pair Of Vigilant Glasses

 We must put on the Glasses of Vigilance.
         We must change our thinking and reactions to Terrorism from Fear, Intimidation and Complacency to a stalwart sense of Courage, Conviction and Right Actions.  If we don't, Terrorism will win its battle.
          It won't be an easy transition, but it is a necessary one. 
         Vigilance is all about biting the Bullet of Terrorism.   It requires us as individuals to each carry a Shield of Vigilance wherever we go.   The Russians who went to see a fun, musical play are now facing the barrel of rifles and surrounded by explosives that, by the push of a button, will explode and bring an entire Cultural Center down, reigning death and destruction on people who started their evening only seeking entertainment, not endless horror.
          Not only must we bolster our Physical Vigilance, but more importantly, our Emotional Vigilance.  We must not neglect the roots of Terrorism are seeded in children by parents and loved ones.
          On the news yesterday, I was amazed when MSNBC psychological profiler, Pat Brown, suggested the profile for the sniper was the result of his troubles that began when he was a teenager, and that people who play Dungeons and Dragons and watch Arnold Schwarzenegger movies tend to be seeking fame through violence.

Kid's drawing of Arnie, THE TERMINATOR

          There was no mention by her, or Candice Delong, a former FBI profiler, that the Seeds of Terror came from the lack of parenting, the lack of teaching the child about the Principles of Vigilance.
          There was this assumption by the commentators that a twisted person becomes twisted, rather than is twisted by neglect.  There was no incrimination of parents or grandparents or communities that turn their heads and allow violence and abuse to permeate the young, malleable minds of youth seeking love and caring.
          I find it sad that our society does not demand of all those who inflict pain and suffering on others, an indictment of their parents, their loved ones, and society at large, who, individually and collectively,  neglect emphasizing their development as "Children of Vigilance."   This applies to the privileged as well as underprivileged.   The rich can as easily neglect their children's emotional needs as easily as the poor.  Emotional abuse knows no social borders.  Teen suicides provide brutal evidence of that.
         But when a child is raised under the Principles of Vigilance, constantly being shown how conjure at least One Percent more Courage than Fear, One Percent more Conviction than Intimidation, and to take the Right Actions to the benefit of the children's children's children rather than becoming Complacent in selfish pursuits, it limits the growth of the Beast of Terror within.   It forms as a blocking force to drive away the need to impose one's will on others, or to use the innocent as sacrifices for causes, or to "revenge of avenge" ones self of sufferings.   Perhaps one day schools will teach children about Courage over Fear, about Conviction over Intimidation, and Right Action over Complacency.   Perhaps they will promote to a child his or her duty as a human being to stop and think before acting, and to consider the impact on the children, the babies of innocence, as the measuring stick for their emotional development.

          I am glad the sniper Terrorist was caught by a Citizen of Vigilance.   It supports the need for more of them.
          Ron Lantz, on the edge of retirement, faced a Terrorist with no weapons except his Shield of Vigilance.  He mustered the Courage, Conviction and took the Right Action.  Now, for a brief moment, our streets are safe until the next Terrorist pops up.
         I'm also glad a Catholic priest was a Citizen of Vigilance.  Had he not taken the call, or listened, or made a call to the authorities, who knows how many more innocent people might have been needlessly slaughtered?   But he was there, he picked up the phone, he listened.   He had his Ears of Vigilance tuned into the right channel, as Ron Lantz had his Eyes of Vigilance focused on the right target.
         Finally,  I know the Pledge of Vigilance and Principles of Vigilance are not just by-products of America's introduction to world Terrorism.   They will work both for Russian and Chechen citizens.   When people start to think in terms of "what's right for the children's children's children,' the world will spin a little more secure on its axis.

Life's Vigilant Journey

         But the first step on any long and arduous journey is a long one.   To start on the Journey of Vigilance one must first look at himself or herself as a Citizen of Vigilance, and be ready to employ the Principles of Vigilance in his or her life.
         That journey can begin today, by taking the Pledge of Vigilance and then learning to live through the Principles of Vigilance.
         Start your journey today.  Take the Pledge of Vigilance.





Oct 24--Sniper Violence & Russian WTC Terrorists

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