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17 April 2013

Pressure Cooker: In Hunt for Bombing Suspects, Speculation Runs Rampant

By Robert Stacy McCain

This morning’s headline at ViralRead:

Trying to focus on the crucial facts of the story can be difficult, when cable TV news is full of time-filling chatter about things that aren’t actually news, alternating with the dramatic reiteration of banal facts that everybody with Internet access knew about 12 or 18 hours ago. Three people killed. Legs blown off. Seventeen people hospitalized in critical condition. “A city mourns.” All of this chatter from talking heads, while the familiar video footage rolls on split-screen.

Damn, I hate TV news.

The scale of the attack and the crude nature of the explosives, coupled with the lack of anyone claiming to have been the perpetrator, suggested to experts that the attacker could be an individual or a small group rather than an established terrorist organization. …

Nonetheless, a senior law enforcement official said that authorities were also looking into connections between pressure cookers and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Qaeda franchise in Yemen, largely because the design of the explosive device was described in a 2010 issue of the group’s online English magazine, Inspire.

“The pressurized cooker is the most effective method,” the article said. “Glue the shrapnel to the inside of the pressurized cooker.” The article was titled “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.” ….

Rudimentary explosive devices made from pressure cookers have been widely used in attacks in Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Pakistan, all countries where the cooking device is common, according to a Department of Homeland Security warning notice issued in 2010. 

But they have occasionally turned up in attacks in the United States as well:Faisal Shahzad, an American citizen who attempted a car-bomb attack on Times Square in May 2010, had a pressure cooker loaded with 120 firecrackers among the improvised explosives in his S.U.V. The devices smoked but never exploded.

Watching TV last night — no need to identify the particular cable-news host, since they’re all equally idiotic nowadays — I heard the question asked, What does the type of bomb tell us about why someone did this? 

The honest answer would have been, “Absolutely nothing,” but the guest “expert” said something a bit more clever than that, because saying clever things — rather than honest things — is what TV news is about.

Look: I understand the desire to know the motive behind this atrocity, but until we know who did it, we can’t possibly know why they did it and, in remarking the media’s premature obsession with “why,” Da Tech Guy is compelled to quote Monty Python dialogue.

That’s how blatant the media’s absurdity has become: We cannot understand it except in terms of its joke value.

Complaining about media, however, is not news, so I don’t have much time for it today, except to briefly note the exemplary douchebaggery of Salon’s David Sirota, the guy who says it is crucially important that a “white American” be apprehended for this terrorist deed.

Yeah, that sums it up pretty good, although it must be admitted that some conservatives were a bit too quick to jump on the reports that a Saudi student was a suspect. Of course, those reports were  based on actual facts — cops grabbed this guy running from the scene of the bombings and served a search warrant at his apartment — rather than mere political convenience, but I kept emphasizing the obvious truth that we don’t know jack shit yet.

There is a regrettable tendency to play Internet Detective in situations like this, to imagine that bloggers can solve the mystery by clicking around the Web, even while there is an entire Joint Terrorism Task Force – experienced professionals with direct access to evidence – working night and day to find the perpetrators of this horrible act.

Who did it? What do we know? Both Ed Driscoll and Allahpundit have examined the mystification of “experts,” one of whom, Mark Pitcavage, is a ridiculous academic douchebag who got a million-dollar federal grant from Janet Reno’s DOJ back in the 1990s to train law enforcement about the dangers of domestic right-wing militias, thus wasting money to completely distract cops from the kind of terrorists who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks — but NEVER FUCKING MIND THAT, OK?

Angry? Never mind. My anger is irrelevant at this point, and both Pitcavage and his fellow “hate” expert Mark Potok seem to be correct in saying that there’s something screwy about this bombing attack on the Boston Marathon. It seems too puny and crude to be an Al-Qaeda attack, nor does the targeting of this event seem to fit the profile of the typical domestic “anti-government” terrorist.

So, unusual crime . . . unusual motive? Unusual perpetrator?

That’s just speculation, of course, but it’s a scenario we can’t rule out: This evil act might be the work someone whose motives don’t fit neatly within the political categories we think of when we think of terrorism. Maybe it’s somebody like “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, a deranged sociopath crazy enough to want to blow people up, but cunning enough to get away with it for years.

And now . . . back to the news.

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