The real FBI gets its man

The real FBI gets its man
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Let me re-introduce you, America, to the real FBI where investigations are run out of field offices by working agents, and not by politically influenced elites of the upper echelons of headquarters. These FBI agents, out on the street, partnered with sister agencies and local police, can focus with awesome intensity and resourcefulness when dangerous prey needs to be caught.

After two years of enduring bi-partisan verbal muggings for the missteps of its former feckless leadership, the real FBI reminded us this week where the important work is done on behalf of the American people.  

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On Tuesday, a bomb was delivered to the mailbox at George Soros’s New York residence. Twelve more followed in the next two days, addressed to prominent Democrats and others perceived to be aligned with the Democratic Party. Just three days later, on Friday, the real FBI made an arrest. Remarkable, and a tremendous relief to us all. FYI, the arrestee’s name won’t be used in this article out of principle. The weak like their notoriety.

Speaking from experience, bombing investigations are tremendously difficult and too many bombing cases go unsolved. Building an improvised explosive device, or IED, (government-speak for homemade bomb) and getting it to go off when you want it to is not easy. Many practitioners are called “Lefty.” The tradecraft has improved because successful designs are readily available today.

Cowards use bombs to ensure greater distance between victim and attacker and improve the chances they won’t get caught. It often works.

Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, is the most infamous example. He maimed and killed with his mail bombs without getting caught for 18 years. Despite immense investigative resources and technology poured into that case, forensic leads that could pinpoint his identity were few. Had his brother not ultimately dropped a dime on him, he might still be bubbling in his pathetic shack.

But there are important factors surrounding “this week’s IED trafficker” (we’ll call the alleged bomber TWIT, for short) that the FBI, to its credit, was able to rapidly exploit to find and arrest him.  

Loudest is his apparent emotional and psychological instability. To be clear, instability is not insanity. Unless proven insane, TWIT is solely and completely responsible for his actions. Details are still emerging, but early clues of inordinately odd behaviors were evident in TV reports.

We’ve all seen heavily tattooed vehicles on the road expressing every political viewpoint imaginable. We give them an extra lane when passing by. Why? Because we know intuitively the orchestra is possibly missing a conductor. Most are harmless, troubled souls.

TWIT, however, with his white van and shouting windows, allegedly decided to act out. Fortunately, the acutely unstable are not normally practiced in evidence concealment. And so he left behind a trail of useful clues, to include — according to the FBI’s arrest warrant application — a fingerprint on one of the mailings, DNA residue, and his digital wake on social media that contained the same misspellings he used on the mailed packages.  

Discovering and forensically treating this to enable an arrest warrant within a couple of days is tremendous work by the FBI and its partners. The fact that the IEDs did not explode was fortuitous for potential victims and for the investigators. Further investigation will determine whether their failure to explode was by design or incompetence. Either way, as FBI Director Christopher Wray pointed out, this was no hoax. These are bombs and can be charged as such.

Political violence, sadly, has not been uncommon in our country. Many older Americans possess vivid memories of a young president gunned down and two others who survived shootings. From Gabby Giffords to Steve Scalise, simply holding political office or representing a party was enough to get shot and brutally injured. TWIT’s alleged attempt at mass assassination is our latest reminder of the lurking passenger of violence that has traveled alongside politics in this country for two centuries.

Most Americans are bemused by the sanctimonious finger-pointing of those in the political class who practice exactly what they accuse the other side of doing. Ideology anger, particularly since the Kavanaugh hearings, seems exceptionally high right now, amplified by a horde of 24-hour “news” channels that report on little else. Our violent fellow traveler recognizes his openings.  These mail bombs shouldn’t come as a surprise. Politicians and their media mouthpieces don’t cause political violence, but their careless, poisonous, relentless rhetoric isn’t helpful.

Many in our deeply divided governance are testing the boundaries of what can be said in order to exploit this week’s vile actions politically without appearing distasteful. It can’t be done. Bombs are horrific in intent and effect. Our focus should be unified on a single theme of justice that includes magnificently deterrent punishment for political violence. Safety for all first, politics later … or never.

Violence and its inflaming rhetoric is the default of the personally unstable, the angry, the guilt-ridden. It is the hell-sent solution of politically bankrupt ideologies that have resulted in more death and misery in the last 100 years than all other violent acts combined.

We as a people should not tolerate the low discourse so prevalent today among certain angry members of our political and media class who relentlessly point out and magnify fringe differences and pit us against one another. In the atmosphere they’ve created, they endanger us and themselves. They provoke the violent passenger of history. If it keeps up, the FBI will stay busy.

Kevin R. Brock, former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, was an FBI special agent for 24 years and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). He is a founder and principal of NewStreet Global Solutions, which consults with private companies and public-safety agencies on strategic mission technologies.