Planned Suicide Attempt by A Political Dissident To Go Down The Memory Hole Yet Again?

This morning the Twitter feed on my phone (though not on my laptop) surprisingly offered this headline, "Man Arrested for Allegedly Plotting to Detonate Bomb at National Mall on Election Day." Wouldn't have expected such a jarring headline from the notoriously mainstream social media platform. Has anybody even heard about this?

Wow, I thought. Usually the mind-numbing "trends" offered by Twitter are overloaded with vanilla-nothings like #ThursdayThoughts #ThursdayMotivation and other such Orwellian distraction (does anybody believe these are actually trending, and not just innocuous coverups for what folks are really talking about? Remember that Twitter fixed the algorithms to black out both #OccupyWallSt and #BlackLivesMatter, and bury negative Hillary tweets, among other things controversial-to-the-preservation-of-the-status-quo). To be clear this didn't even trend. It was there when I scrolled down a bit and presumably part of a batch of several noteworthy stories at that time of the day.

I started to look into it a little and ponder the wider implications, as I am always intrigued by this kind of act. As suspected there's not much there and I don't have the time to dig properly. Here's the Twitter search for Paul Rosenfeld, alleged political dissident suicide bomb plotter, if you're interested. The initial peanut gallery reaction seems heavy with RW zombie mobs eager to call it a LW liberal plot, etc etc and get back to worshiping Duhr Furor. Looks like the oft-repeated line in the limited and redundant news stories at this point is that he was advocating for a political system called "sortition," a lottery-based election system.

Oftentimes with stories like these you find there's only one boilerplate version that makes the rounds, with no investigative follow up to flesh out a fuller picture of who he is/what his motivations/where his philosophies lie/what his life story up to now had been, etc. I've only be able to find what appears to be the same exact report of limited info at every outlet, as if it were written word for word by the FBI (which is what we learned during the Bush regime that it was increasingly common for tv news, for instance, to broadcast state-manufactured reports, especially during the invasion of Iraq, and "news" reports made by corporations about the benefits of their products).

But the FBI accusations that such a plan had been hatched would seem to instigate a much bigger reaction than the slim pickings appearing on Twitter today.

Whenever I hear of some such act I see it mainly as an act of selflessness (perhaps a result of combined severe depression, helplessness and outrage, etc. though nonetheless) - and it fascinates me. Appears Rosenfeld was another, who like the young man who came to Capitol Hill a few years ago bearing a sign that said simply "Tax The Rich" and shot himself, had presumably planned on sacrificing his own life to call attention to government dysfunction, malfeasance and chronic evil. Rosenfeld's story, however, appears to have included a plan for more destruction, as he was intending to detonate a 200lb bomb.

I attempt to use that word carefully but perhaps I'm using it carelessly. I'm not so sure a potential suicide bomber who was planning to detonate a bomb that would kill others too is merely selfless because he'd chosen to kill himself also, or if that makes him no different than a terrorist who blows up a market in Mosul. I suppose it would be a lot different, and much more desirable as a means to an end, if he were to have been planning to conduct his suicide mission at the annual Davos conference for example. But anyone who has gone through with plans to kill himself in order to shed light on a great political injustice is worth at least having a conversation over.

The larger picture remains: to have considered and then concocted a plan to give one's life to a cause is never a light matter. I wrote about another similar incident involving suicide at the nation' capitol at TOP, though there was the most threadbare information to be found anywhere (his name wasn't even given anywhere in the paltry reporting that even bothered with the story, a blogger somehow found it. Turns out he was a 22 yr old from Illinois named Leo P. Thornton. For days and days after I couldn't find out anything more about this young man's life, and stopped short of actually looking for phone number to dial his parents, absolutely stunned that no journalist had been curious enough to do so). In that story I also mentioned Vietnam Vet John Constantino's similar act at Capitol Hill two years before in 2013. I included his story of deep dissatisfaction with the corporate greed and government unresponsiveness in there too.

Throughout history, and even more recently, there have been many martyrs who have chosen to give themselves to a greater good by using their death to call attention to what is usually heightened, endless and unbearable injustice.

At least a couple of fellow citizens during the 1960's were compelled to do something similar in protestation of the Vietnam War. One was a father of four who self-immolated on the lawn just under the window of Robert McNamara's office. Norman Morrison was his name. He was a Quaker with three kids and only 31 years old. Just doing a quick search I'm brought to Roger Allen LaParte, a 22 yr old member of the Catholic Worker movement who apparently one week later did the same outside of the United Nations Building. How many more were there we've never heard of, because of the cowardice (some might say discernment, because of the copycat result) of the the media battening down the hatches to prevent a national discussion of the war's validity, by not granting the story the Front Page headline it mightily deserved?

Of course Thích Quảng Đức was the famous, unforgettable example. In 1963 he sat down at a busy intersection of Saigon in a Buddhist praying position, and set himself on fire. His self-immolation was documented and the pictures of him ablaze still sitting in the lotus position gripped the world's attention.

The Socialists and the Anarchists detonated countless bombs, especially during the 1920-30's, most famously cleaving a huge chunk out the Federal Reserve Building on Wall St. I read somewhere that during both that anti-capitalist/Wall St upheaval and during the anti-war movement during the 60's hundreds of bombs were set off around the country. Many were never covered by the news.

Of course 26 yr old Mohamed Bouazizi, fed up with being harassed and ticketed constantly by the state as he tried to eke out a living as a fruit peddler in Tunisia, self-immolated and immediately captured the attention of practically the entire Arab-speaking working class and then the world.

One could make the case that from Bouazizi's public suicide in Dec of 2010 there was the quick succession around the globe of the Arab Spring, the Indignados Movement in Spain, the Wisconsin Uprising, Occupy Wall St, the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement, and BlackLivesMatter.

In less than one month after Bouazizi, the 23 yr President of Tunisia Ben Ali, was deposed. That same month protesters gathered in Tahrir Sq tp protest the Egypt's infamous secret police's brutality and joblessness, refusing to leave the square until Egyptian President Mubarak was ousted. He was gone in less time than it took to for Ali to be toppled.

Literally four days after authoritarian dictator Mubarak was gone the Wisconsin state capitol building was besieged. A coalition of local folks angry about their state's increasingly draconian forced austerity on its people while the rich got ever more breaks become a lightning rod that resulted in massive statewid solidarity against RW and Neoliberal politics. First by striking teachers and then by unions and workers in solidarity with them from all over state. No one who saw that coverage can ever forget seeing farm tractors driving into downtown Madison. In May of 2011 Madrid's Puerta de Sol square was overflowing with massive crowds protesting the elections, capitalism and corruption. "A, anti, anti-capitalista" was a chant that was imported to Zuccotti Park a few months later. Occupy Wall St went global when on its one month anniversary a call to the world was put out to start your own encampment. Hundreds were formed. Tens of thousands attended, and much more widespread conversations began to take place as a result.

Seems to me the desperate, heroic stories of those willing to give their lives are purposefully squashed by a craven media who in fact do not do much more than act as protectors of the status quo and the rulers to whom they are courtiers. Most assuredly it is because an individual's story like Bouazizi's captures the imagination of the world. I'm not at all implying Rosenfled's would also. But the charges against him, I think, would at least start a national conversation beyond writing off the guy as probably just mentally ill.

When the media shirks its duty I'm forced to fill in the blanks on what might motivate a person to such action. Was he recently unceremoniously let go from a job after years of as an employee, as so many millions have also been? Has a loved one of his been told their health insurance company will not cover a major illness? Has he or any close friends of his had their home foreclosed upon because of a fraudulent subprime mortgage onto which his lending bank forged his signature? Has he watched in disgust and outrage as his hometown and those in the vicinity are taken over by yet more and more corporate monopoly domination to a degree that every one of the local businesses he grew up with are now gone because they can't compete? Has he been targeted by the IRS for some back taxes owed, an indignation that could boil over when one realized that the gov't tax agency refuses to investigate the bankers and oligarchs who routinely off-shore their money and have high-paid accountants cook the books to avoid paying taxes sent him over the edge? Has he not sat down these past few years and looked over his own station and discovered that he won't be able to survive financially into old age on the pittance of social security as the world's economy falsely inflates the cost of living because of the bogus fake money being thrown around by Wall St and "invested" into Financial Speculation, Insurance Companies and Real Estate? How much of the fine print culture we're no longer aware of when we download new apps to our phones, etc, that enables surveillance of our intimate personal and financial details, and then used to by predatory banks and corporations to keep chipping away at our ever-decreasing take-home pay with evermore chronic fees, pushed him to the brink? Maybe it's none of this. But I get a feeling some of it is probably in there.

So when something like this does manage to pop its head up, if ever so slightly as this case seems to be, one has to wonder why this one now, or how many more like this never even get a peep out of the media, or what would we attribute the FBI's release of this particular incident and not other perhaps even more incendiary ones? Is it a case of the FBI, a notoriously RW political arm, wanting to have the excuse to clamp down on LW dissent? It's not as if their whole existence hasn't already been that (see: Emma Goldman, Paul Robeson, Fred Hampton, MLK, the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War protest movement, John Lennon, Occupy, #BLM, etc). I want probing, intrepid reporters looking into all of these questions and more. But they're not there.

Be that as it may it tells me that, when no one in the colluding power nexus of the media-government are listening, there are and continue to be many folks the world over who are at their wits end and feeling a very real sense of something being far awry, and that desperate times call for desperate action.

How deep does the level of disgust and righteousness have to get for one to see no hope or recourse short of a violent act of sacrifice in order to attempt to wake the masses from their slumbering malaise? How much of the opioid crisis is really suicide from economic depression? Or the chronically un/under-employed, the millions thrown out of their homes by Wall St Economic Terrorism, the 22 US Armed Forces vets who put an end to their lives each day in America?

How did we get here? And why are we still stuck in this dehumanized rattrap of not realizing that we're each our brother's and sister's keeper - and that all the strife in the world stems directly from this?

It appears we're doomed to barbarism. Because Americans have been so conditioned with propaganda to not see the dignity of Socialism replacing the rapacious economic system of capitalism.

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Mark from Queens's picture

much like the Las Vegas mass murder spree last year, or the Panama Papers report implicating the world's wealthiest who rule us as a colluding cabal who don't pay their fair share of taxes while finger-pointing at us to pick up the slack, or any number of other stories that you can probably add (or the recent NY Times expose showing Trump to be the stupendous business fraud we know he is).

There's a definite disconnect to what's going on in our lives and what the MSM chooses to tell us is the news we should focus on. They generate the water cooler narratives. And until we're acutely aware of that, and begin to shut it off and talk about what really matters fundamentally to all our lives across race, creed, religion and partisanship, will things ever have a chance at getting better.

Whatever we think of this guy's motives, and they haven't been made clear by a dysfunctional media whose job it is to do so, a story of this kind of desperation at one's government seems worthy of a discussion to me.

Apologies also for the length. Once a story gets me going in different directions I have trouble stopping...heh.

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dervish's picture

@Mark from Queens of what a terrorist is supoosed to be, so they 86'd the story.

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"Obama promised transparency, but Assange is the one who brought it."

Pluto's Republic's picture

@Mark from Queens
...essay. It demands a non-judgmental mind to assimilate it. A privilege to read. Thanks, Mark.

10 users have voted.

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snoopydawg's picture

I saw this yesterday, but just figured it was another plot by the FBI to frame someone just to prove that they are still working tirelessly to keep us safe. Found this article about him and the reason why he wanted to blow himself up. The other articles I read on this don't include as many details as this one does. CBS said that he wanted to bring attention to his 'political views' not that he was fed up with the direction the country is going.

Here’s what you need to know about Paul Rosenfeld, his alleged bombing plot and sortition:

1. Rosenfeld Told a Reporter in Pennsylvania He Planned to Blow Himself Up Because He Is Angry With the Direction the Country & Told the FBI He Had Made Smaller Devices to Conduct Test Detonations

How many other people are out there thinking about doing this same thing for one reason or another?

Whenever I hear of some such act I see it mainly as an act of selflessness (perhaps a result of combined severe depression, helplessness and outrage, etc. though nonetheless) - and it fascinates me....

.... Was he recently unceremoniously let go from a job after years of as an employee, as so many millions have also been? Has a loved one of his been told their health insurance company will not cover a major illness? Has he or any close friends of his had their home foreclosed upon because of a fraudulent subprime mortgage onto which his lending bank forged his signature? Has he watched in disgust and outrage as his hometown and those in the vicinity are taken over by yet more and more corporate monopoly domination to a degree that every one of the local businesses he grew up with are now gone because they can't compete?

My opinion on the opioid epidemic is that people are trying to find a way to numb themselves from what their lives have become. This epidemic started not long after the economy crashed and people were losing their jobs, pensions and homes and saw how they were left to fend for themselves while the banks got bailed out..

15 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Eagles92's picture

@snoopydawg I agree with you, @snoopydawg, AND:

I believe it's also thanks to unethical, immoral, and greed-driven Purdue Pharma, who blatantly lied to physicians and patients about the highly addictive nature of their product. At the same time that health care providers and patient advocates and patients themselves were working to elevate the very real issue of chronic pain, and have it recognized as legitimate (rather than have sufferers summarily dismissed as "drug-seekers,"), Purdue swooped on the scene with a drug that could, and did, make them millions ... if they could convince physicians to prescribe it. And they did, quite easily.

Of course, there's the parallel issue of physicians who knew the real story of Oxy and actively worked to get people hooked. The LA Times did an excellent expose on that. The whole crisis demonstrates, in heartbreaking terms, how corrupt Pharma and our own health care system can be, and is.

But yes, today I think the hopelessness that people feel, and the lack of economic opportunity, continues to drive the epidemic. For anyone who hasn't seen it, I highly recommend "Heroin(e)," one of last year's Oscar-nominated shorts. (It lost out to "Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405," which is also excellent).

Mark, this is an outstanding, thoughtful essay. I hope it gets lots of eyeballs and comments!

4 users have voted.
WindDancer13's picture

I found it. I had read the headline earlier today, but didn't click on the story becasue it was released by Fox news: NY man built bomb for Election Day detonation in Washington, officials say

I often use the MSN news feed to cover a lot of ground quickly and access stories from sites that are normally behind a paywall. This story had moved quite a bit further down the page since I saw it earlier.

It was well behind the story about Melania complaining about being bullied in the WH, the Dems agreeing to sit 15 more right-wing judges so they could go on break, a man who shot his cousin for eating his potato chips. a Fox News announcement that they are cutting back on televising Trump rallies and Michael Cohen switching to the Democratic Party. (lol)

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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.--Aristotle
If there is no struggle there is no progress.--Frederick Douglass

lotlizard's picture


(via post at JackPine Radicals)

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WindDancer13's picture

10+-year-old cough drop in his pocket? Pretty sure that MO doesn't care about GW's murder record any more than she does about her husband's.

Thanks for the alternative link. I try to hoard my five accesses to pay wall articles till the end of the month.

3 users have voted.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.--Aristotle
If there is no struggle there is no progress.--Frederick Douglass

lotlizard's picture

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EdMass's picture

I hate to tell you but Fox news (my 87 yr old mother in law insists on watching) Yeiled at least 3 in-depth stories from the Bret show through Ingraham.

Personal background (he's 56), interviews of neighbors, amount and number of explosives built in his suburban basement, how he shipped materials to a drop off in NJ and the revelation that his motivation was believing in Sortition (look it up) and how they caught him because he started emailing someone in PA detailing his plan though the recipient of same denies knowing him.

Also just try the Google on "who is the new dc bomber arrested".

No coverage?

Memory hole?

Seems it is a national MSM collusion memory hole because, narrative.

You did get "mind-numbing 'trends' of Twitter" right as not the place to go to get news-worthy facts.

2 users have voted.

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Stop the War!

Awesome essay. Interesting times.

4 users have voted.
Amanda Matthews's picture

about it. His picture is even included.


He was building a 200 pound bomb. He was going to take out everything in the immediate vicinity for a truly pointless reason. He (IMO) is not a good example to use to illustrate anything except a really futile “look at me” gesture. If he just wanted to blow up himself he sure didnt need a 200-pound bomb. Half a stick of dynamite would do the job. This is no different than what terrorists do.

Federal authorities have charged a New York man with building a 200-pound (90-kilogram) bomb they say he planned to detonate on Election Day on the National Mall in Washington.


Prosecutors said he planned to use the bomb to kill himself and draw attention to a political system called sortition, in which public officials are chosen randomly rather than elected.

Here is what 200 pounds of explosives can do;


A gigantic underground explosion believed caused by a car bomb rocked the 110-story World Trade Center Friday, killing at least seven people, injuring more than 500 and leaving a four-story crater beneath the world's second-tallest building.


A deputy fire commissioner, however, was quoted as saying that officials believe as much as 200 pounds of explosives hidden in a car in the underground garage triggered the explosion.

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

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