James Cavanaugh : Why pipe bombs sent to Democrats and CNN were probably designed to inflict real harm
Let’s be clear here, this is domestic terrorism. These mail bombs were designed to put someone’s life in danger with the intent to coerce the civilian population or influence the policy of government. That is the definition of a domestic terrorist — if it was sent from overseas, or was sent by someone inspired by foreign terrorists, then it would fit the definition of international terrorism. (But of course, sending bombs and creating bombs violates many other statutes besides terrorism. Once caught, prosecutors will have many options and many ways to charge the individual or individuals responsible.)
During my decades with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), I handled a lot of violent crime. I was a bomb investigator. I was a hostage negotiator. And I learned to investigate and recognize patterns in behavior, as did my colleagues.
Mail bombs have long been used to create a feeling of fear and uncertainty. I worked on the team that apprehended the D.C. sniper, and the feeling at that time was similar. Everyone in the Washington D.C. area felt like it could have been them. There’s this feeling of: It could happen to me. There’s a feeling of being watched. Someone in a basement somewhere, with evil motives, is able to reach out and touch me from afar, without ever leaving his basement. It’s a terrible feeling.