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Pop Quiz: Domestic Terrorism Edition


Answer this question correctly within three seconds and you win nothing:  When was the last attempted act of domestic terrorism using a bomb intended to cause mass casualties?

one, one thousand...

two, one thousand...

three, one thousand...

Time's up, what's your guess?

If you're like most people, you probably said the Times Square bombing attempt from last May. It received intense national and international news coverage and many of the 24/7 cable channels were live from the scene for days afterward.

Of course, that answer is wrong.  The correct answer is the Spokane bombing attempt, which happened just last week on MLK day. That attempt, in which a backpack bomb was left on a parade route could have, according to the FBI, caused severe casualties. "[This device] clearly would have had the potential to inflict multiple casualties, injury and death, to humans," agent Frank Harrill said. "We're treating this as an act of domestic terrorism."

Another official, speaking anonymously, said that "[The FBI hasn't] seen anything like this in this country. This was the worst device, and most intentional device, I've ever seen."

The bomb itself was sophisticated and had a remote detonator. Had it gone off during the parade, countless people, including, perhaps, children, would've been killed or injured.

So, I guess my question is why has there been such a huge discrepancy between this story and the NYC Times Square attempt? Let's look at a few things both incidents had in common:

1. Both were intended to inflict mass casualties.

2. Both were likely in support of a radical political or social agenda.

3. Both were acts of domestic terrorism

4. Neither bomb went off.

Now let's look at a few things that were different:

1. One happened in the media hub of the world, one happened in Spokane.

2. One involved a Muslim extremist, one has racial overtones to it.

So is the media just lazy and doesn't want to fly to Spokane, or are they simply unexcited because this attempt may "just" be the work of white supremacists instead of Muslim extremists?  I have a guess, but it should be worrisome to all of us that the media itself has so much power to control what we perceive as being a big, important news event.

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