Saturday September 17, 2016, New York City was once again the center of troubling news. At about 8:40 PM an explosion occurred that injured 29 people. 1 individual is reported to be in serious condition but expected to survive. That explosion was at 23rd St. & 6th Ave.
It took little time for NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio to report that he believed the explosion to be an intentional act. He would not go so far as to say that it was an act of terrorism, or connected to a bomb in Seaside Park, NJ that detonated earlier in the day. That New Jersey attack is believed to have targeted the U.S. Marine Corps. who were conducting a race at the time.
As the hours and investigation continued, 2 additional devices were believed to have been found in NYC. One was found at West 27th Street & 6th Ave, appearing to be a modified pressure cooker. At 3:56 AM this suspected device was announced to be just a pressure cooker. Then at roughly 3am another device was reported by Jean Cesarez of CNN to be found at 28th Street & 5th Ave. By 3:40 AM CNN reported that the 3rd device on 28th Street was determined to be a false incident.
The question being discussed on CNN by 3:10 AM was why these locations. Reporters on the scene in lower Manhattan for CNN stated on-air,
“…I can’t understand why these Streets were picked.”
Why indeed these locations (in New Jersey and 23rd Street in New York)? Is there a connection to the attack in New Jersey? Why is this NOT being called a terrorist attack?
The facts are still being determined in the early hours of September 18, 2016. But there is strong reason to believe, as suggested by guest consultant Steve Moore at 3:14 AM on CNN, that this is an act of terrorism – potentially created by an inept bombmaker. And it may well be connected to the event in New Jersey though no official connection has been made yet.
With the clarity of understanding the explosions (in NJ and NYC) as acts of terrorism, the locations chosen are very understandable. Terrorism regularly targets military that are unaware – such as with IED attacks. Terrorism, especially incidents in the US to-date, commonly attack civilians as they live their day-to-day lives. The San Bernadino shooting and Orlando Nightclub attack were clear examples of this. The fact that 23rd Street is a largely residential area should not confuse news media on the motivation of terrorists – unless the potential to alter the direction of the discussion is desired as occurred after Orlando.
Taken separately why would this be called an “intentional act” by Mayor DeBlasio but not a terrorist act, with similar language used in Seaside Park? The most clear answers would be economics, as additional terror attacks on NYC (or in New Jersey) would affect tourism. Similar to what happened after the first Twin Tower attack in 1993. Given the fragile economics of New York, which has had an exodus of over 600,000 people and $22 billion in wealth, economics matter.
In addition another factor would be politics. If New York City remains a terror target, the claims by the Obama Administration and the Hillary Clinton campaign that the nation is safer than when under Republican President Bush is undermined. The suggestion of success in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the continuing battles with ISIS, come under scrutiny and likely challenge if NYC is not reliably safe. At a time when Hillary Clinton is losing ground for failure to disclose the condition of her health, and President Obama has taken to using race to motivate support in the 2016 Presidential election, failure of international policy could eliminate the potential of a Democrat win.
In many ways this is like the way that the Benghazi attack was misreported to the public as being caused by a video instead of a terror attack. As Ben Rhodes, then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser, stated in his Benghazi memo as found by FOIA from Judicial Watch,
“To underscore that these protests are rooted in and Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”
Though America has since learned that the connection to a video was a false narrative, it was only learned after the 2012 election occurred. It would not be beyond the imagination to see additional acts in NYC downplayed for similar effect.
In a similar way the explosion in New Jersey seems to be left unconnected to the explosion in New York City. How an attack that seems to have been timed to try to create maximum casualties against US military would not be seen as a terrorist act is unclear. Given the relatively close locations (81 miles) and the fact that early reports seem to indicate that both devices may have been made inefficiently (there were 3 pipe bombs in NJ, though only 1 detonated), some level of co-ordination would appear likely.
Again, if that is the case – which has NOT been confirmed at this time – the political impact is a negative in presidential politics. If these attacks are connected in any way, the blowback politically could even affect Congressional, State and local races. Democrats that had aligned with President Obama’s international policy and supported the early actions of the Clinton State Department could find voters anger leveled at them in the election polls.
While questions abound, and as details are learned, there seems to be no question that both incidents on September 17th were terrorist acts – meant to target the US military and civilians alike. Perhaps the only question is if these are home-grown terrorists or fanatics that infiltrated the nation. Depending on the answer to that final question, the official definition may vary from terrorism to a far less politically charged title, in the same vein as the Ft. Hood shooting, That incident became a workplace shooting even as the shooter declared the fanatical religious and political motivations of the crime.
Thus far no American has lost their life in these 2 incidents. But as pressure mounts to understand who did this and why, the likelihood of a change in the way these incidents are defined and who or what should be blamed, may well take a path that logic will not be involved with.