Nashville: A bomb blast unlike any other on American soil
[See UPDATE below.] The facts about the Christmas morning bomb in Nashville are not complicated. What is complicated is understanding who set off the bomb and why. That's because this bombing does not match any other bombs that have exploded in the Western world.
As I said, the facts about the bomb are not complicated: early Christmas morning, someone parked an R.V. in front of the AT&T building near Second Avenue and Commerce Street in downtown Nashville.
BREAKING: This is the RV that exploded on 2nd Ave N this morning. It arrived on 2nd Ave at 1:22 a.m. Have you seen this vehicle in our area or do you have information about it? Please contact us via Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463 or online via https://t.co/dVGS7o0m4v. @ATFHQ pic.twitter.com/JNx9sDinAH— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) December 25, 2020
Shortly before it exploded, the R.V. began playing a recording telling people to leave the area:
BREAKING: Audio warning was being broadcast before explosion rocked downtown Nashville. Video shows moment of blast. pic.twitter.com/3IvciFH6BV— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) December 25, 2020
Note the precision of that announcement: if you can hear this recording, you are in the blast range. The person who prepared that bomb knew precisely how far the blast would carry — and how far the announcement would carry.
Nashville police, upon hearing that announcement, went door to door telling people to evacuate:
Nashville Police: Officers conducted door-to-door checks and were able to get people to safety before the explosion this morning. They also diverted a man who was walking his dog on 2nd. Ave. just before the blast occurred https://t.co/zhMHI1pebC— FoxNashville (@FOXNashville) December 25, 2020
Doing so was extremely brave because there was no reason to believe that the announcement was honest. That bomb could have gone off at any minute.
At least three people ended up in the hospital. The police also announced that they'd found human remains, although they have not stated whether they were from a victim or the bomber.
Two law enforcement officials tell @AP authorities have found human remains in the vicinity of the Nashville explosion. It is unclear how remains are connected, whether they might belong to the person believed to be responsible or a victim. (w/ @etuckerAP) https://t.co/YEgd91Tf5C— Mike Balsamo (@MikeBalsamo1) December 25, 2020
Even if a person other than the bomber ended up dying, this bomb blast was not meant to take human life. The street would have been relatively deserted on Christmas morning, and the R.V. itself warned people to leave the area. I therefore doubt that this was Islamic terrorism because I cannot think of a single act of Muslim terrorism that did not have as its primary goal killing as many people as possible.
Unlike the Oklahoma City bombing, this bomb did not target a government building. Despite the usual Trump-haters conflating Trump-supporters and Nazis, this fact alone probably means that one of the vanishingly small numbers of actual white supremacist groups in America was not involved because those groups tend to be hostile to the government.
This wasn't the usual anti-corporate bombing. To begin with, those are usually "message bombings ("don't ship chemicals," "don't cut down trees," "don't build weapons to hurt third-world countries," etc.). The destruction was also insufficiently showy for the Antifa crowd, which views violence as theater.
The CNN connection is also unimpressive. While AT&T owns CNN, if this was an anti-media bomb, why not just bomb CNN?
In any event, this bomb had such delicacy. There is no evidence that I know of saying AT&T suffered massive structural injuries. AT&T did experience wireless and internet disruption (including 911 services, which were quickly reinstated), but the injury was still a pinprick compared to the immensity of the explosion and to a savvy bomb-builder's ability to destroy infrastructure.
In sum, it's unlikely (although never impossible) that the bomb was Islamic terrorism, or anti-government, anti-corporate, or anti-media terrorism. In some ways, the bomb was so exquisitely done — a huge explosion that wasn't meant to take any lives — that it seems like showing off. That is, it seems as though someone made a point that, if he really wanted to, he could have done much worse.
Alex Little, a former federal prosecutor, has written a lengthy Twitter thread speculating about the bomb. He covers the things that had already occurred to me, and that I wrote about, above, as well as some other things, such as a targeted attack by an overseas enemy. Because the thread runs to 67 tweets, I won't publish it here, but you may want to check it out because Little's observations are interesting and the questions he asks are important.
Speculation is always enjoyable. And until the police and FBI investigate more (video cameras, debris, witnesses, etc.) or until the bomber makes a statement, all we've got is speculation.
What's not enjoyable is realizing how seemingly easy it was for someone to do this — and again, I wonder if that wasn't the message: Americans are vulnerable. This year has shattered their confidence. They are vulnerable to disease; to "fear itself"; to malignant and tyrannical politicians capitalizing on disease and fear; to the disruption of its political systems; and now, with the year almost over, there's a stunningly competent bomber out there toying with us.
Along with everyone else, I am looking forward to 2020 ending. I am dubious, however, that 2021 will be any better — and today's bombing in Nashville gave the nervous and paranoid among us one more thing about which to worry.
UPDATE: A reader located in Nashville writes to say that my sources were not accurate:
911 service, Internet (NOC), air traffic control ARE STILL KNOWN TO BE DOWN (not as stated in the article as "quickly reinstated"). Moreover, while I can not find authoritaive comment, it is being reported that the blast also took out the "First Net Switch." THIS IS HUGE!
Image: The RV that blew up in Nashville. Metro Nashville PD.