New York Times Editorial - Arrest that dangerous man
Copyright by The New York Times
Published: August 25, 2006
We've been fascinated by the story of how Jim Bensman of Alton, Illinois, went to a hearing about fish and wound up as a potential terrorism suspect.
As Cornelia Dean reported in The New York Times, the Army Corps of Engineers held a meeting in Bensman's neighborhood to talk about helping those fish swim around the locks and dams it has constructed on the Mississippi River over the years. One option - clearly not the Corps' favorite - was to eliminate a dam in East Alton. To illustrate that idea, the presentation included a picture of a dam being dynamited.
Bensman rose later to support removing the dam. Big mistake. A local paper reported that Bensman told the Corps he "would like to see the dam blown up." A Corps security officer read the report. He decided that Bensman was threatening a public facility.
An FBI agent then contacted Bensman, who was surprised to learn that U.S. investigators believed a terrorist might announce his plans at a public hearing. When the agent said he wanted to visit his home, it occurred to Bensman that he needed a lawyer. At that point, Bensman said, the agent threatened to "put you down as not cooperating."
All this started because Bensman believes the Army Corps builds way too many locks and dams on the Mississippi. We have always thought so, too. But not in any way, shape or form that involves any kind of sabotage whatsoever.