Who’s really to blame for the ‘suspicious packages’? (Opinion)
Law enforcement has made an arrest in the bizarre case of the devices resembling pipe bombs being sent to prominent detractors of President Trump. The reports on Friday focused on the 56 year old man arrested in Florida having a long history of arrests including theft, steroids and a bomb threat in 2002.
A few things struck me in the reporting of this case and the conversations that I've been having with the public throughout the week. Seemed that most people did not feel scared or unsettled as so many media outlets reported. Many simply didn't care and were more concerned about the Nor'Easter hitting us tonight.
Some people who let their negative feelings be known on social media and on our phone lines about the President, were quick to blame Trump with the hashtag #MAGAbomber trending hours after the first report. I also observed a real doubt about the intention of the suspected domestic terrorist, even after the arrest and seizure of the van.
Was this really an attempt to hurt someone? After all, the "bombs" have reported to be inert and not made to detonate. Was this a greater plot to disrupt and election and create a public alarm? Was this simply a test of law enforcement response and resources? Or just a disturbed individual acting out alone?
For me, it's about facts. And we have a few already thanks to the determined and successful work of the heroes in law enforcement. Given the facts so far, many of my friends on the Left and the Right have been aggressively tweeting completely opposite takes. Some going so far as to call the entire episode a "hoax". Some saying the only reason there is doubt is because the suspect isn't a Muslim.
Let me take a shot at defining what is really meant by hoax. The "hoax" is the twisted radical ideology of some Democrats who seem celebratory that the van recovered by Law Enforcement allegedly belonging to the suspect is covered in Trump bumper stickers along with other political messages. This fact seems to back up the narrative that this is somehow related to the aggressive and sometimes abrasive rhetoric coming from the President.
Thinking, rational adults know that it's patently absurd to blame the President for the bizarre and dangerous behavior of this individual, if he's in fact the only one involved. It's irresponsible for the media to continue a narrative that harsh political rhetoric somehow caused a mad man sending bomb-like devices to scare people. It's certainly possible that things are exactly as they are reported today and an unstable criminal set out to disrupt and scare prominent Democrats. It's also possible that there is more to the story that we know at this moment.
This morning, I had a conversation with former FBI special agent, Navy SEAL and counter-terrorism expert, Jonathan Gilliam. He was directly involved with the investigations into two terror incidents in New York City, the first in 2008 when the armed forces recruiting center was bombed and the second with the failed bombing in Times Square in 2010. We spoke before the authorities made an arrest, but I thought you would appreciate how he broke down the investigation and eliminated suspects.
Jonathan walked us through the speculation about who may have ultimately behind the act of terror. He was clear that this certainly falls into the definition of terrorism as the packages were a clear attempt to intimidate. Many theories are still being pushed, even after the arrest today and we won't know everything until the investigation is complete.
That said, Jonathan made great points about ruling out some of the theories circulating before the arrest. He said it's unlikely that this was a foreign entity, like the Russians, as the incident would likely be considered an act or war. As far as radical terrorists, including ISIS, again unlikely because they don't go for intimidation, they kill people. As far as the theory of a right-wing conspiracy, history shows destruction with real explosives, don't forget the Oklahoma City bombing, would be more of the M.O. That leaves the theory that the whole thing was a Left-Wing attempt to intimidate and dominate the news cycle leading into the mid term elections.
There is certainly a history of voter intimidation among far-left radicals and given the evidence discussed so far, it seems the suspicious packages were not bombs ready to explode and cause injury, damage and death, but were made to look like bombs, again, intended to spread fear and intimidation.
Given the "hiding in plain sight" nature of the act, the targets and the suspect's public political displays, there may be a lot more here than meets the eye. But whether you believe there a deeper plot to disrupt our democracy, or that the man in custody acted alone because he hated the targeted people, there's no room for the ridiculous argument that President Trump and his supporters as a whole had anything whatsoever to do with this.
So relax on social media, enjoy the weekend, celebrate the outstanding work of law enforcement and wait for all the facts to be uncovered before you react.
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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