Instant Mail Bomb Theory: 'False Flag Tactics'

Some on the right think this is a ploy by some on the left
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2018 1:32 PM CDT
As Mail Bombs Were Found, Cries of 'False Flag' Sprang Up
This image shows a package addressed to former CIA head John Brennan and an explosive device that was sent to CNN's New York office.   (ABC News via AP)

(Newser) – Rep. Maxine Waters was the intended recipient of not one but two mail bombs, but she tells Blavity that she won't be intimidated. "We have to keep to doing what we're doing in order to make this country right," she says. "That's what I intend to do, and as the young people said, 'I ain't scared.'" Waters also accused President Trump of "dog-whistling to his constituency" and contributing to the current political climate. (Waters previously earned the enmity of Trump supporters by advocating for Cabinet members to be harassed in public.)

  • Keeping track: Politico rounds up all those targeted so far, from George Soros to Joe Biden. Waters and Biden had two devices sent their way, and the AP counts 10 devices in all. Most devices were sent through the mail, though some were hand-delivered, reports the New York Times.
  • False flags: As soon as the story began breaking, a conspiracy theory began circulating on the right that the perpetrator was actually someone on the left, trying to make the right look bad. "These smell like the false flag tactics of unhinged leftists who know they’re losing," wrote media personality John Cardillo, per the Washington Post. Rush Limbaugh also said a Democratic operative was more likely, because "Republicans just don't do this kind of thing." The Post story digs into the phenomenon of false-flag theories.

  • Deleted tweets: Lou Dobbs of Fox Business Network also joined the false-flag crowd at least temporarily, reports CNN. "Fake bombs," he wrote in a tweet that he subsequently deleted. "Who could possibly benefit by so much fakery?" Another since-deleted tweet of his said the scare was Democratic manipulation to "change the narrative" from immigrants at the border.
  • The bombs: The mailed packages contained what the AP calls "crude pipe bombs." For example, those seized Wednesday had a small battery and were packed with powder and shards of glass. The body of the bomb was a PVC pipe, about six inches long, and covered in black duct tape.
  • Familiar image: NBC News reports that at least one of the devices, the one sent to John Brennan at CNN, had an image from a meme that has been circulating on the right for a few years. It's a parody of an ISIS flag that includes the slogan "Get 'Er Done" and has suggestive silhouettes of women, per the New York Post.
  • Hard to trace: It's been four decades since Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, sent out his mail bombs, and the Wall Street Journal explains that it's easier than ever for copycats to do the same. “Damn near everything is available if, one, you know where to get it and, two, if you know what you need,” says a retired ATF agent. The internet helps with both those things, he adds.
In a morning tweet, President Trump blamed the media for the caustic political climate. (Read more mail bomb stories.)

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