Lawyer: Pipe Bomb Builder Only Planned To Kill People Because He Loved America So Much
Ian Benjamin Rogers of Napa, California, was charged on Wednesday with possession of unregistered destructive devices — five pipe bombs and materials to make more explosive devices, including "black powder, pipes, endcaps, and manuals, including The Anarchist Cookbook, U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook, and Homemade C-4 A Recipe for Survival." These devices were seized from his residence and business along with 49 guns, several of which fired automatically. One of these was a "kit-built replica MG-42 belt-fed machine gun" best known for being used by Nazis during WWII.
Shockingly enough, it is not actually legal to have a stockpile of pipe bombs and illegal weaponry, even if — as Rogers told officers — it is for entertainment purposes only.
These are the things he is actually being charged with. He is not being charged with loving Donald Trump too much.
He is not even being charged with planning to use these pipe bombs to attack those he perceived as enemies of Donald Trump, including local Democrats, George Soros, Twitter, and Facebook, though the fact that federal agents found discussion of such plans on his cell phone was included in the complaint against him.
Further, text messages recovered from ROGERS's phone indicate his belief that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, and his intent to attack Democrats and places associated with Democrats in an effort to ensure Trump remained in office. For example, in a message that I believe ROGERS sent on January 10, 2021, he said, "We can attack Twitter or the democrats you pick" and "I think we can attack either easily". When the other person responded, "Hmmm" and "Let's go after Soros," ROGERS said, "We can attack Twitter and democrats easy right now burn they're shit down," whereas targeting "Soros," which I believe is a reference to George Soros, would require a "road trip." The next day, ROGERS sent another message to the same person: "I want to blow up a democrat building bad". "The democrats need to pay," he added. "Let's see what happens, if nothing does I'm going to war" "Democrats, Twitter, etc" "I hope 45 goes to war if he doesn't I will". [...]
ROGERS added, "Let's see what happens then we act," but followed it up with "I'm thinking sac office first target" "Then maybe bird and face offices". I believe that when ROGERS said, "sac office first target," he meant that their first target should be the offices of California Governor Gavin Newsom in Sacramento. I further believe that when ROGERS said that the "bird and face" offices would be next, he meant the offices of Twitter ("bird") and Facebook ("face"), because both social media platforms had locked Trump's accounts to prevent him from sending messages on those platforms. "Sad it's come to this but I'm not going down without a fight" "These commies need to be told what's up," he said.
In addition to this stockpile of weapons and explosive devices, federal agents also found a "Three Percenter" sticker on his car, along with a "White Privilege" credit card with various references to Donald Trump on it.
Three Percenters are a far-right anti-government militia, so named after the erroneous "fact" that only three percent of American colonists fought against the British during the American Revolution.
But again, the thing Rogers is actually being charged with is possession of explosive devices and weapons it is illegal for him to have. The reason these other details are included is because they make it pretty darn clear that Rogers was not making pipe bombs "for entertainment purposes only." Of course, it would still be illegal for him to use pipe bombs for entertainment purposes, because of how they would "kill anyone within five feet and seriously injure anyone within 20 feet." according to the Napa Sheriff's Department.
Rogers's attorney, who says he has 38 letters of community support for Rogers, said of his client, "He was an enthusiastic follower of the President of the United States. That used to make him a patriot and now that makes him a terrorist."
Except, again, he had illegal explosive devices and was talking about using them against people to achieve his political aims, which would make him a "terrorist" regardless of whom he supported. If he was hoarding pipe bombs because he was an enthusiastic fan of Calista Flockhart and wanted to blow up those standing in the way of an Ally McBeal reboot, that would also make him a terrorist. A terrorist is someone who uses "terror" to achieve their social or political aims, whatever they may be.
The Washington Post reported:
Jess Raphael, his attorney, said Rogers's comments represented a "bunch of hyperbole and pro-Trump histrionics that follow in line with, I guess, tens of millions of other people who supported Mr. Trump."
"There is nothing that I have seen that supports any conclusion that he was actually planning any kind of organized action," Raphael said, adding later: "He's one of these people who loves Donald Trump. I don't get it. But I don't have to get it to defend him."
Rogers is entitled to a defense, of course — and I get why Raphael thinks this is the way to go here. There aren't a lot of wells to go to in a case like this, and the "Trump made me do it" defense is very popular these days. But it seems like a bad idea to just assume that a guy with a bunch of illegal pipe bombs who is talking about attacking various targets is just doing some hyperbole out of patriotism and love of Donald Trump and let him go on about his business. That is something that could go very, very wrong. It would be pretty horrible if he did go and blow some people up and law enforcement ended up having to go, "Oh, well we knew he had all these pipe bombs and was talking about blowing people up, but we thought he just really loved America!"
There's no question that Trump people say a lot of wacky things — but there is also not much question that many of them are willing to do crazy things and there's not really a good way of determining which is which. In matters of pipe bombs, however, it's probably always best to err on the side of caution.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse