The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

The Facts of the Seth Rich Murder That Don’t Support Conspiracy Theories

The Facts of the Seth Rich Murder That Don’t Support Conspiracy Theories

Our David French with what needs to be known and said about the murder of Seth Rich:

The conspiracy is based on a true event — the terrible and unsolved murder of Seth Rich, a young Democratic National Committee staffer. Early the morning on July 10, an unidentified assailant shot Rich in the back. The police haven’t solved the crime, and their current best theory is that the attack occurred as part of a botched or interrupted robbery. Rich’s valuables, however, were still on his body, and the police (so far as we know) have no leads…

For the theory to be true, its believers have to demonstrate that Rich leaked to WikiLeaks, that someone in the DNC (or the Clinton camp) in turn had Rich murdered, that the D.C. police are intentionally slow-walking the investigation, that the major intelligence agencies (namely the CIA, FBI, and NSA) are together either deliberately concocting a story about Russian interference or too stupid to recognize an inside job, and finally, that the remainder of official Washington is either oblivious to or colluding with conspirators who’ve damaged relations with Russia in hopes of bringing down a president. Oh, and did I mention that the family of the slain young man is also either in on the conspiracy or unaware of its existence?

Rich’s parents write in the Washington Post today:

The circumstances of what happened next are still unclear. We know that Seth was abruptly confronted on the street, that he had been on the phone and quickly ended the call. We also know that there were signs of a struggle, including a watchband torn when the assailants attempted to rip it off his wrist. Law-enforcement officials told us that Seth’s murder looked like a botched robbery attempt in which the assailants — after shooting our son — panicked, immediately ran and abandoned Seth’s personal belongings. We have seen no evidence, by any person at any time, that Seth’s murder had any connection to his job at the Democratic National Committee or his life in politics. Anyone who claims to have such evidence is either concealing it from us or lying.

…We know that Seth’s personal email and his personal computer were both inspected by detectives early in the investigation and that the inspection revealed no evidence of any communications with anyone at WikiLeaks or anyone associated with WikiLeaks. Nor did that inspection reveal any evidence that Seth had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks or to anyone else. Indeed, those who have suggested that Seth’s role as a data analyst at the DNC gave him access to a wide trove of emails are simply incorrect — Seth’s job was to develop analytical models to encourage voters to turn out to vote. He didn’t have access to DNC emails, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee emails, John Podesta’s emails or Hillary Clinton’s emails. That simply wasn’t his job.

The fact that Rich’s valuables weren’t taken was indeed odd, but it’s hardly unthinkable that his assailant panicked and ran after the shooting. The Washington, D.C., police failing to generate leads is not the least bit surprising. In 2015, the D.C. police solved only 62 percent of the city’s homicides. The closure rate has been as high as 96 percent in 2011 and as low as 60.5 percent in 2003.

Then again, what makes someone believe in a conspiracy theory is not facts, but a need to believe.

No, ‘Unity, Love, and Coexistence’ Will Not Resolve the Threat of Terrorism

There’s not too much point in fuming about Katy Perry’s saccharine-to-the-point-of-insulting comments about the Manchester bombing, her declaration that, “I think the greatest thing we can do is just unite, and love on each other… no barriers, no borders, we all need to just coexist.”

I just wish there was someone around Perry who could pull her aside after a statement like that and say, “Katy, dear, a lack of unity, love, and coexistence is really not the problem here.”

If there were 20,000 people around the bomb as it detonated this week, 19,999 of them had no real significant conflict with each other. Whatever gripes, grievances, and problems they had, they had no murderous rage directed at another person. They just were there to either enjoy a concert or do their jobs at the venue.

There was only one guy in that whole crowd who couldn’t unite, who didn’t have love for anyone, and who couldn’t coexist with everyone else around him. And all it took was his bloodthirsty act to end young, innocent lives and create a lifetime of pain for so many people there that night.

Unity, love, and coexistence? We saw how quickly and eagerly people were to open their homes and offer assistance with the #openformanchester campaign. Generous souls have already donated more than one million pounds to help the families. So many people donated blood that the blood banks in the Manchester area said they’re full and can’t take any more contributions.

The vast majority of people walking down the street in Manchester on any given day are good people — or at least, they bring out their best in a crisis. This is not a collective or a societal problem, and it doesn’t do us much good to pretend that it is, that if somehow we just walked around with more “unity, love, and coexistence,” the problem of the next suicide bomber would be resolved.

I’m sure this hits home for Katy Perry; as she said in that interview, “Ari’s fans are my fans and my fans are Ari’s fans.” Yes, that’s precisely the point, in the eyes of the Islamists, you must be wiped out. Through no real fault of your own, you have filled them with murderous rage simply by existing and contradicting their twisted dark vision of how the world should be. This is what unites Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren, you, me — they hate all of us. None of us did anything to them, insulted them, provoked them, mistreated them, or “triggered” them. We have to dispel this idea that there’s some proper combination of words and actions that will stop them from wanting to attack us.

The only way they will not feel murderous rage towards us is if we completely submit to their worldview. That’s their idea of coexistence.

A couple folks online are focusing on the “no borders” aspect of Perry’s comments, and arguing that the Manchester attack demonstrates the danger of refugees or immigrants. The problem with this argument is that the bomber* was born in Manchester. His parents were Libyan refugees who fled the rule of Qaddafi.

Of course, there’s this troubling comment from his imam:

At the mosque, Mohammed Saeed El-Saeiti, the imam at the Didsbury mosque yesterday branded Abedi a dangerous extremist. “Salman showed me the face of hate after my speech on Isis,” said the imam. “He used to show me the face of hate and I could tell this person does not like me. It’s not a surprise to me.”

It’s great that the imam is preaching against ISIS. Of course, if it’s “not a surprise” that someone chose to become a suicide bomber…was there something else this imam could have done that could have prevented this?

Then again, maybe everybody was reporting this guy…

Abedi had traveled to Libya within the last 12 months, one of multiple countries he had visited, the official said. And while he had “clear ties to al Qaeda,” the official said, Abedi could have also had connections to other groups.

Members of his own family had even informed on him in the past, telling British authorities that he was dangerous, according to the intelligence official.

The U.S. official said Abedi’s bomb was “big and sophisticated,” using materials hard to obtain in Britain — meaning “it’s almost impossible to see he didn’t have help.”

* Because some suicide bombers, mass shooters, etc. want their names to be remembered after they die for their vicious acts, I generally refer to them as “the bomber” or “the shooter” in print — a small effort to ensure they are denied their ultimate goal. I leave the name in when it is mentioned in another report.

A Quick Point about the Economics of Journalism

On Twitter a few days ago, Sean Hannity was fighting with Kevin Williamson and went on some sort of tirade about how the National Review cruises were some sort of … luxury payout for our entitled tushes or evidence that we’re the true media elites or something. (I guess the idea is that we’re overpaid. For the record, Hannity made $29 million last year.)

Y’all know the cruises are part of how we keep National Review going, right? Our wonderful readers pay to go on the cruise, the cruise line gets a portion, the Cruise Authority which organizes the whole thing gets a portion, and NR gets a portion.

We’ve always been upfront about what keeps NR going; the generosity of readers like you. Ad sales are part of our revenue, subscriptions are part of the revenue, and so are the cruises… and then as we ask for help from readers. I know, it stinks. You hate when we ask, and we hate asking. But that is the reality of the opinion-journalism business.

That’s not the way it works for, say, a cable channel like Fox News Channel. Fox News makes money through advertising, yes, but it also collects, as of 2014, about a dollar per cable subscriber per month, regardless of whether that subscriber watches. You may love Sean Hannity, or you may hate Sean Hannity, but if you subscribe to cable, you pay the cable company, the cable company pays Fox News to carry its shows, and Fox News pays Hannity.

We don’t have that. That’s not how it works for a web site. Your Internet provider doesn’t give NR a cut of your monthly payment. We put out what I think is quality journalism, reporting, commentary, analysis, humor, debate, updated at all hours, weekdays and weekends… and it’s all pretty much free. Even a lot of the print-magazine pieces end up posted online for free eventually. If you felt like NR gave you a quarter’s worth of value every day, you would still pay $91.25 per year. (A full year’s subscription to the print magazine is $29.50 – that comes out to $1.23 per issue!)

So if you can help, we appreciate it. And thank you for reading.

ADDENDA: J. D. Mullane, columnist for the Burlington County Times, sounds like he’s read Heavy Lifting, and laments the endangered species “Maximus breadwinneris.”

Great news for naval aviators: Tom Cruise says that yes, a sequel to Top Gun is in the works.

Speaking of long-awaited returns, I started writing up “my best guess at what the heck is happening in the first two episodes of Showtime’s Twin Peaks and it’s running long, so part one will probably appear in tomorrow’s Jolt…

Unveiling the odd couple of protagonists for HBO’s True Detective, Season Three…

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