Zero tolerance follies
For those of us who remember the almost daily pronouncements by Administration officials in the run-up to the Iraq invasion of 2003 about the dangers posed by Saddam Hussein's arsenal of WMD's, we may have been a bit non-plussed by the charges brought against the Boston Marathon bombers: "unlawfully using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction." Not to understate the horrors inflicted by the bombing, but Sarin, anthrax, suitcase nukes, that we can see. Pressure cookers? As Spencer Ackerman explains in Wired, though, using a "destructive device" qualifies as a weapon of mass destruction, and that's defined very broadly: just about any old bomb, including a home-made one, will do.
So I guess Kiera Wilmot can thank her lucky stars that she's at least not facing Federal prosecution for what could have been a high school science project gone wrong.
Wilmot, a 16-year-old student at Bartow High School in Florida, mixed up some household chemicals -- toilet bowl cleaner aluminum foil -- in a water bottle to see what would happen. What happened is that a small explosion caused the top to pop off, followed by billowing smoke. No one was hurt -- the incident occurred outdoors -- and everyone agreed that Kiera Wilmot hadn't intended to hurt anyone; her principal noted that she was "a good kid" who "has never been in trouble before. Ever." He had a little chat with Kiera about the dangers of doing things like that, and Kiera "told us everything and was very honest. She didn't run or try to hide the truth."
So, chat had, no one's hurt, life goes on, right? Well, life goes on in Bartow High School, but it does so without Kiera. She's not only been expelled, but on Monday morning she was arrested and charged with "possession/discharge of a weapon on school property" and "discharging a destructive device."
Oh, and more news: those offenses are felonies, and Kiera will be tried as an adult.