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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The blast in Manhattan and the ever-present shadow of terror

Yesterday morning, at about 8:40 AM a gas explosion caused a building on Upper East Side to collapse. There were no fatalities in the blast though several people sustained injuries of various degrees of severity.

I first heard about this event from Marc Parent who also asked, "Will a sudden announcement be made that an Iranian suicide bomber did it?" So far that has not happened and by now I doubt it will. However, some very peculiar happenings are associated with this situation, and I definitely think they are worth a mention.

The New York Times published a detailed article about this event today (Blast Levels Manhattan Town House; Inquiry Focuses on Injured Owner, July 11, 2006). The prevalent version of the events according to the authorities appears to be that one of the destroyed building's occupants, Dr. Nicholas Bartha, was going through a difficult divorce and experiencing bouts of severe depression, and that this could have been a suicide attempt on his part. If so that attempt failed; it appears that Dr. Bartha is the most severely injured of all the victims. "He had second- and third-degree burns over 30 percent of his body, one law enforcement official said."

And this version of the events could be true. It could also be a case of a genuine gas leak and subsequent spontaneous explosion, even though that is a little harder to fathom given an e-mail Dr. Bartha sent out earlier that morning that reads a lot like a suicide note:

Law enforcement officials said the explosion rocked the neighborhood less than two hours after Dr. Bartha had addressed a disjointed, erratically punctuated e-mail message to his former wife, Cordula, with copies sent to Gov. George E. Pataki and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, and to the Fox News personalities Sean Hannity and Brit Hume, among others.

In the message, he told her: "“You always wanted me to sell the house. I always told you, 'I will leave the house only if I am dead.' You ridiculed me. You should have taken it seriously."

He also wrote, "When you read this lines your life will change forever. You deserve it. You will be transformed from gold digger to ash and rubbish digger."

He sent the message at 7:30 a.m. Twenty-one minutes later, Con Edison received a call from employees of the private club next door, the Links Club organized early in the 20th century to promote golf saying they smelled gas. Michael S. Clendenin, a spokesman for Con Edison, said it sent a mechanic, who arrived at 8:20.

Mr. Clendenin said the mechanic called in at 8:45 to report the explosion. The mechanic was not injured.

So the situation seems to be reasonably clear - a psychologically unstable man going through a difficult phase in his life decides to self-destruct taking some of his surroundings with him. However, there are still questions to be asked. According to the same New Your Times article,

In a sign of the concern the blast generated, the first official word came from the White House, which announced that it did not appear to have been the work of terrorists. And detectives began piecing together a New York story of real estate and divorce, anger and money— and a house valued at $6.4 million.

I would certainly be curious to know how the White House could determine that the situation was devoid of the tell-tale signs of a terror attack even before the local police officers working the scene had a chance to make their own conclusions. It almost makes it sound like the detectives began to "piece together" their investigation after the White House gave them directions to follow in their work.

Here Marc Parent expresses incredulity at the fact that the building was pretty much completely flattened. That does seem curious but in my opinion it is possible that a gas explosion - especially in the basement of the building - could have brought it down. I have once seen consequences of an oxygen tank explosion and it does create some massive devastation, destroying brick assembly structures and bending metal ones. I have no relevant expertise but would imagine a gas explosion could wreak similar type of destruction. And if this was a terrorist attack - whether a genuine one or of the false flag variety - it would be a very inefficient one. All the perps would have had to do was wait another hour for all the office workers to arrive and they would have had lots of victims to show for their effort. That alone makes it doubtful that this was a terrorist attack.

It is unmistakably clear, however, that the management of terrorism-related news has become completely politicized and largely divorced from the real life. When the hapless terrorist wannabes like the "Miami seven" make front-line news whereas William Krar, a man prepared to launch a major terror strike and only stopped by a chance arrest, remains in obscurity you start wondering if the real-life events matter to those who are supposed to inform us of them. And both the government and the media seem to be carefully editing the terrorism-related news to formulate a certain message, not to present the situation as it really is.

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