It was unseasonably cold as my wife, daughter, and I emerged from a downtown Nashville, Tennessee, restaurant where we had been enjoying a Christmas Eve dinner.
All was quiet. That rarity in the South, a gentle snow, was drifting down, reflected in the Christmas lights of the neighboring buildings. It was almost magical.
You could forget for the moment the unremitting misery that was annus horribilis 2020, particularly bad in my adopted Music City home that suffered not just the pandemic but a destructive tornado in March.
Roughly 6:30 the next morning, Christmas itself, only a few blocks away from where we ate, the massive blast would occur that most of you have now seen pictures and videos of.
We had driven straight past the location on the way home, right down Second Street.
Needless to say, our Christmas plans shifted to a day in front of the television watching local news. The FBI, the ATF, Metro Nashville Police, and various other constabularies, foreign and domestic, we were assured, were on the case.
Unsurprisingly, no significant news was forthcoming, other than that three people were lightly injured and a police officer had had his hearing impaired by the blast, which was evidently heard for miles—but not by me. I was sound asleep.
More importantly, nobody seemed to know whodunit. Or if they did, they weren’t saying.
Nevertheless, something popped into my head almost immediately, the proximity to the so-called Batman Building (for its resemblance to the original), which is the tallest building in Tennessee and currently the regional headquarters of AT&T.
What I hadn’t realized was that a shorter reddish building—almost determinedly anonymous, without signage, and largely windowless—also belonged to AT&T and was described as filled with “computer and switching equipment” by the not terrifically technically informed newscasters.
That building was literally at ground zero for the blast zone. The large RV with the obviously copious load of explosives apparently had been parked directly in front of it, a huge hole blown in the building’s side.
Two facts … or were they factoids … quickly emerged.
One, whoever committed this crime had given warning of the explosion via a loudspeaker or a megaphone, telling everyone in range what was coming and to get out of the area.
This went on for about 30 minutes, even to the point of a countdown to detonation once the 15-minute warning was reached.
This was subsequently corroborated by a video recording and gave credence to the theory that whoever was responsible wanted to avoid killing or hurting people. The timing of early Christmas morning also made it extremely unlikely pedestrians would be in the area.
The second fact or factoid that emerged was fleeting—the brief mention by one of the newscasters of the accusations that former NSA analyst Edward Snowden had made about AT&T.
This one sent me scurrying to the internet. In October 2016, Anthony Cuthbertson wrote in Newsweek under the title “AT&T Spying Program is ‘Worse Than Snowden Revelations’”:
“A for-profit surveillance program carried out by telecommunications giant AT&T was more serious than the 2013 NSA spying revelations, according to digital rights advocates.
“AT&T’s Project Atmosphere was unveiled Tuesday by the Daily Beast to be secretly selling customer data to law enforcement agencies for the purpose of investigating everything from murder to medical fraud.
“Digital rights group Fight for the Future says that making customer data available to local police departments without a warrant goes beyond the government-level surveillance revealed by former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden.
“‘AT&T customers are outraged, but this affects everyone,’ Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future, tells Newsweek. ‘AT&T went far beyond complying with legal government requests and actually built a powerful data-mining product to sell our private information to as many government agencies and police departments as they could.’”
For more, The Intercept has an article, “The Wiretap Rooms—The NSA Has Hidden Spy Hubs in Eight Cities,” which includes the following:
“The NSA considers AT&T to be one of its most trusted partners and has lauded the company’s ‘extreme willingness to help.’ It is a collaboration that dates back decades. Little known, however, is that its scope is not restricted to AT&T’s customers. According to the NSA’s documents, it values AT&T not only because it “has access to information that transits the nation,” but also because it maintains unique relationships with other phone and internet providers.”
So back to whodunit …
Even with the warning, considerable collateral damage to businesses on Second Street and close by was inevitable, as if they all hadn’t had enough already.
Nevertheless, the person or persons who did this act—likely experienced with explosives in some way—ignored that potential destruction.
They clearly wanted to send a message he, she, or they believed was of more importance.
At this point anyway, that message appears to be that we live in a surveillance state from the likes of AT&T and our government, and that that must end for the survival of our republic as it was conceived.
Our liberties no longer exist. China may be trying to take us over, but we’re already halfway there ourselves.
I happen to agree with that, though not with the method in this case. That collateral damage, and the possibility of even worse, is too much for me.
But what is the method?
Given how divided our country is, what happened in Nashville this Christmas morning may have been the first salvo in a second civil war.
Just for the record, Fort Sumter, the site of the battle that began the Civil War, is only an eight-hour drive away.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that one side is impersonating the other in this action—that it’s a false-flag operation.
But if so, it’s even more a license for civil war.
Whose statues will be torn down this time?
One more positive thing for the lovers of the music in Music City: The Ryman Auditorium (aka the “mother church of country music”) wasn’t damaged.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJMedia, and now, editor-at-large for The Epoch Times. His most recent books are “The GOAT” (fiction) and “I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already” (nonfiction). Find him on Parler @rogerlsimon.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.