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Thursday, 14 August 2008

Was Eric Rudolph the Olympic Park Bomber?

Final Edition
Many of my readers will remember the 1996 Olympic Bombing in Atlanta. Suspicion immediately focused, of all things, on the security guard who discovered the bomb. This is somewhat akin to blaming the Pearl Harbor attack on the radar operator who reported the incoming bombers. With such an approach, it's no wonder it took prosecutors nine years to put the case to rest. . .

Law enforcement officials have a hard time. They are authorized--yea, encouraged--to deceive, intimidate, and deprive suspects in hopes of tricking them into making a confession. What they aren't allowed to do is simply to ask nicely for one (Miranda vs. Arizona). This is unfortunate, as it only encourages the suspect to say what he thinks they want to hear, rather than giving them what they won't give him--the truth. And it encourages a suspect who would have been likely to give them the truth, had he been asked, to refuse to say anything. Such was the case with Richard Jewell, who was eager to help solve the crime he had been the first to discover--until he realized the he was being deceitfully manipulated into confessing the crime himself.

The FBI suspected that Richard fit the "lone bomber" profile. This was preposterous, for the following reasons:

1) The bomb detonated at Centennial Park was a masterpiece of design. Somebody whose career has consisted of writing parking tickets is not going to have any idea of how to make a highly technical bomb. Somebody, on the other hand, who spent time in the airborne infantry would. Strike one for clueless investigators: Richard Jewell had no military experience.

1) Richard Jewell's background and training was that of a security guard and a police officer. This is not the sort of person who commits mass murder on the sly. Police officers are paid well, and like to keep their jobs and pension plans. Police officers are trained to prevent casualties and investigate explosions. Contrast this to a soldier: soldiers are focused on maximizing causalities, and don't get any training on how explosions are investigated--just on how they are carried out. Strike two for clueless investigators: again, Richard Jewell had NO MILITARY TRAINING!

Now, have you ever wondered why they call those outposts in Afghanistan "Terrorist TRAINING Camps?" Could it be because terrorists, in order to be effective, first need to be TRAINED?

One begins to suspect that none of the FBI agents assigned to the case had ever humped a pack on a 25-mile hike.

Given their cluelessness in the initial stages of the investigation, and the way they focused on entrapping Richard Jewell into confessing rather than investigating the crime itself, I was not impressed, years later, when authorities linked Eric Rudolph to the Olympic bombing.

Like accusing one of the investigators of the crime, it just didn't make sense. Rudolph was a crusader; his focus in recent years had been on targeting abortionists and their henchmen. The Olympics had nothing whatsoever to do with such a one-man crusade, and it just seemed par for the course for the FBI to jump at the chance of pinning the bombing on a suspect who wasn't available to defend himself.

Imagine my surprise, then, when, after his eventual apprehension by a rookie small-town cop on the lookout for teenage vandals, Eric Rudolph confessed to the Olympic Park Bombing. I still wasn't convinced; knowing the tactics used so far in this case, I expected this was probably a coerced confession. After all, he was already implicated in one murder, and given the public mood in the South at the time, would never see freedom again anyway. They actually execute abortionist assassins down there!

But Eric Rudolph, now safely ensconced at the country's only Super-Max facility, has written in detail as to why he set the bomb at Centennial Park. It was, as he tells it, actually just a trial run in his one-man crusade against abortionist and their fellow-travelers. Not wanting to hurt any innocent bystanders--then or later--he called in the bomb threat an hour before it was set to go off, so as to ensure that only investigators would be around when it blew. But alas, he hadn't counted on the dismal incompetence of the Atlanta 911 dispatch system; the first dispatcher hung up on him, and the second time he called the dispatcher failed to catch the location of the bomb. So it was that Richard Jewell discovered the bomb a full 10 minutes before the authorities finally received word that it was about to go off. Instead of killing the investigating policemen he expected, Eric Rudolph's first bomb injured 100 innocent bystanders, one of whom subsequently died. Hearing of the explosion on the news, a frustrated Rudolph set off the rest of his stock of bombs in a deserted area and fled the scene

Having cut short his career as a terrorist, Eric Rudolph narrowed his focus, culminating in attacks only on abortion providers and their protectors: first on policemen investigating an explosion, and, when that failed to produce the right kind of casualties, directly on the abortion clinic security guard investigating the remotely detonated explosive device that then took his life.

By all definitions, Eric Rudolph was a terrorist in 1996. His attack on Centennial Park was only remotely related to his military objective of eliminating elective abortion in the US. But the shock of seeing his attack succeed instantly cured him of his terrorist tendencies. The bombing in which he was eventually implicated for first degree murder was not a work of terrorism, but a targeted assassination.

For his involvement in the Olympic Park Bombing, it is accurate to refer to Eric Rudolph as a terrorist. But to use that term to describe his later career is inaccurate and misleading. He is, and always has been throughout his post-military career, a crusader: one who attempts, through military means, to drive the infidels from the holy land. America is his holy land; rampant fornicators are his infidels.

Yes, Eric Rudolph was the Olympic Park Bomber. But this act of terrorism was an aberration in his long career as a crusader, and the term should not be attached to him as descriptive of his standard operating procedure. Never again did he place a bomb where it would be likely to injure an innocent bystander.

That, by the way, is why those who insist on keeping the term "American terrorist" in his Wikipedia biography are wrong.

And it is because of them that I wrote this article. I hope they read it.

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