Pavlovian Politics: Leaders Line Up To Call For Increased Surveillance In Aftermath of Boston Bombing

220px-2013_Boston_Marathon_aftermath_peopleBelow is my column today in USA Today on the Boston bombing and the call for new security laws and expanded surveillance. I have been doing interviews trying to caution against these calls for immediate action — a mantra that we hear after every attack no matter the cause. I am in Chicago today and was struck by how quickly Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel called for more surveillance cameras in a city with one of the largest surveillance systems in the United States.

For civil libertarians, all terrorist attacks come in two equally predictable parts.

First, there is the terrorist attack itself — a sad reality of our modern life. Second, comes the inevitable explosion of politicians calling for new security measures and surveillance. We brace ourselves for this secondary blow, which generally comes before we even fully know what occurred in an attack or how it was allowed to occur.

Politicians need to be seen as actively protecting public safety and the easiest way is to add surveillance, reduce privacy and expand the security state. What they are not willing to discuss is the impossibility of detecting and deterring all attacks. The suggestion is that more security measures translate to more public safety. The fact is that even the most repressive nations with the most abusive security services, places such as China and Iran, have not been able to stop terrorist acts.

While police were still combing through the wreckage from the Boston Marathon, politicians ran to cameras to pledge more security measures and surveillance. Indeed, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel demanded more cameras in response to the Boston attack. Chicago already is one of the most surveilled cities in the United States. Emanuel’s solution: add some more. It is a perfectly Pavlovian response of politicians eager to appear as champions of public safety.

We need to resist the calls for a greater security state and put this attack into perspective. These two brothers built homemade bombs with over-the-counter pressure cookers. They placed the devices in one of the most surveilled areas of Boston with an abundance of police and cameras. There is only so much that a free nation can do to avoid such an attack. Two men walked in a crowd and put two bags down on the ground shortly before detonation.

No one is seriously questioning the value of having increased surveillance and police at major events. That was already the case with the Boston Marathon. However, privacy is dying in the United States by a thousand papercuts from countless new laws and surveillance systems. Before we plunge ahead in creating a fishbowl society of surveillance, we might want to ask whether such new measures or devices will actually make us safer or just make us appear safer.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and a member of USA TODAY’s board of contributors.


95 thoughts on “Pavlovian Politics: Leaders Line Up To Call For Increased Surveillance In Aftermath of Boston Bombing

  1. The U.S. has a long tradition of passing bad laws for good reasons (eg RICO).

    Unfortunately, politicians rarely repeal those bad laws.

  2. We need more cameras for the entire south and west side of the city of Chicago! Then, here in STL, We need cameras for the entire city and north county (suburb).

  3. Time for electronic chips in every person that is a citizen, resident or visitor. Total surveillance 24/7. Perhaps that will satisfy them, tho’ I doubt it.

  4. Raff,

    I’m not sure of your position here… Are you for more government intrusion in the public….

    I see the, this government being more covert than the nanny state of Hitler…. And the nazi party….

  5. While I agree with the concerns about privacy, the fact is that once you leave your home, you have lost privacy. So while it is true that such increased surveilance poses risks in the wrong hands, as long as we have all of our freedoms of press, speech, and religion, I see no problem from this. As long as we can control the lawful use of such devices, then I am willing to install more of them. We cannot afford to have police on every street, but having cops on every street will not mean a loss of our freedoms or privacy. The cameras are the best alternative and are no more intrusive of our privacy than putting street lights on streets to light up the area to enable people to see more of what is going on.

    The only danger I see is what happened in Houston with the red light cameras. They were supposed to be for safety, but in reality the whole point was to generate revenue for the city. Since I was a victim of one, I had to pay a rather steep fine. Houston outlawed these cameras, and I fully supported that. The reason I hate those cameras is that I got a ticket even though I had come to a complete stop when turning right on red. I later found out that 85% of all tickets were written for incidents like mine. It turns out that the operator of the cameras had put in a THREE second limit for writing the ticket. You had to be completely stopped for THREE seconds before turning. The law only required that one come to a complete halt before proceding. So the camera company was in effect writing new laws. We definitely need to keep watch for such abuses in installing more cameras.

  6. I agree w/ the trepidations of those vis a vis surveillance. However, there is no expectation of privacy when you’re in public. That said, The Teeny Tiny Mayor of Chicago is a good example of the WORST type of pol. That’s the ones who use a tragedy to scare people and get them to give up their rights. It seems the goal of both govt. and media is to scare the shit out of people. And, The Weather Channel is one of the biggest culprits. People panic and run for the hills if Mike Seidel is in their town

  7. Raff,

    During the summers, crime is at its worst in almost evey major city in the United States. The countdown to criminal activities starts June 1st (or whenever school ends).

    By the way, do you or anyone against cameras in these ‘hot spots’ live in these areas? If you do, then you would applaud these cameras! If you don’t, then I can assume that you don’t care either way?

  8. Chicago’s surveillance system is working so well to keep crime down…along with its gun laws, of course. We should all copy these in our cities. (Sarcasm, for those who might think I’m serious.)

  9. Dear Prof.Jonathan Turley, I am a regular reader of your post,I have a problem and I don’t know if you could be of help but,after reading most of your posts,I believe you may give me attention. Let me know if you want to assist before pouring my heart out. Thank you sir. Yetunde Raji(Mrs).

    Sent from my iPad

  10. Without getting into the Constituional issues of continuous surveillance of all citizens, the pragmatic problem with all these cameras is the volume of information they gather. Who can really review and analyze this material? Who will? No until someone gets killed. Will it lower crime? Ask Chicago.

    Politicians have already eroded so many of our Constituional rights that many people just shrug but it is a serious matter. I’ ll bet many of the more surveillance crowd also oppose gun control. Go figure.

  11. The police state will not feel comfortable until it knows the actions and whereabouts of every citizen at every moment. Of course, unless you want to buy truck loads of AK47s or thousands of rounds of ammunition, then you can do as you please. Also, I wonder if they will also call for increased oversight of chemical and fertilizer plants since they caused more death and destruction than “terrorists”.

  12. To Justice H, there will be no viewing of 99% of the tapes for the simple reason that there will be no reason to. if there is a shooting or other crime committed in the area, THEN you can bet it sure will be used and viewed.

    The police have a hard time getting witnesses to testify especially in gang related shootings out of fear from the gangs. So having more tapes and cameras will get around this problem and hopefully over time, make it less likely for gang slaying to continue. This will aslo stop some crime as more crooks are captured thanks to this new technology. There is nothing on earth that can prevent all the attacks that we have had, but it sure will make it harder for criminals to get away.

  13. We need cameras with sound in every room, hallway, stairwell, and elevator where politicians can be found. We need ankle gps bracelets on every politician. Only then will I fell safe.

  14. nick spinelli 1, April 19, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    I agree w/ the trepidations of those vis a vis surveillance. However, there is no expectation of privacy when you’re in public.
    We are talking about the kind of public we expect and want.

    We already know what kind of “private” we expect and want.

    We want a public with no dicks in government period!

    You want the government to lock down cities, beginning with liberal cities like Boston (San Francisco next folks?), every time a couple of people are accused of something but never charged because they die before trial?

    And the only one keeping the city in lockdown all day is a 19 year old kid.

    That makes certain authoritian things way too “very easy.”

    Chicago had 26 killings over a short span of time recently, but nobody went all stark Hollywood all of a sudden and demanded martial law.

    JT has it right … we are headed in the WTF direction.

  15. Randyjet,

    100% in agreement! Many of the current cameras in the City of Chicago are downtown or around banks, schools, and other financial institutions. You could probably count on 1 hand how many cameras are located in neighborhoods on the South & West side of the Windy City (where most of the criminal activity occurs).

  16. Nick S,

    The cameras are located are the businesses on the south & west side of the Windy City, not the neighborhoods. But I am willingly to back down if you provide me with proof stating other wise.

  17. The siren call of Google Glass is that we can have crowdsourced video of all this stuff for Reddit to analyse combined with advertising in the frames. It’s a win-win!
    …Unless you’ve been tagged while being a teenager and everyone assumes ( or needs to) that you never matured. Or something.

  18. After seeing the 911 building blown up I have been waiting for the next big event…I even predicted that it would be used to further our domestic police state…

    But they will need more to get the kind of restrictive laws they want…so you can expect more…

  19. RWL & Randy Jet…so you don’t mind camera’s as long as they aren’t used against you…LoL

    Chicago got 3 vans to check speeds at construction zones, they claimed a average of 7500 construction people a year were killed, as the reason for the speed traps.
    I thought it was interesting, so I checked up on their claim…which turned out to be accurate…BUT! What they didn’t tell you was that half of those 7500 construction workers were killed by their own people!!
    So if their claims to lower deaths was true, did they get 3 vans for OSHA to check construction sites? (Or was it just for revenue?) Guess…LoL

    Drug confiscation laws were passed to seize drug profits, but police took BILLIONS from people, 85% were never arrested or charged with any crime! Hmmmm

    My point being, no matter WHAT they tell you, if there is a law…(or device they say is to catch criminals) they will USE IT AGAINST ANYONE!!

    I’d like to know if you’d be ok to ‘chip’ people, cause it will only be used against criminals….and if you believe that…

  20. The police have over 8000 cameras located throughout the city @ last count. Additionally, earlier this year, The CTA in conjunction w/ the Chicago Police network, have begun installing cameras on all platforms and stations along w/ cameras on trains. You can google it and read extensively, or you can just dig in your heels. And, I have worked in the southside and westside neighborhoods. There aren’t many businesses in those neighborhoods and the businesses that do operate there have zero clout. And, if you know anything about Chicago, IT’S ALL ABOUT CLOUT. The poor citizens of the south and westside get cameras for their neighborhoods, which the good people like; but they don’t get the patrols, which they desperately need. That’s for the white folk.

  21. Is not Chicago one of those towns where they prosecute you the citizen for taking videos of the cops? The blog here needs; to address the right of us citizens to photograph the igPays in all phases of their activities except for possibly when they go into the outhouse. The videos need to immediatley stream up into the Cloud where the opCay cant seize the camera and ruin the video or film or electronic device which holds the video stream. Rodney King. Remember that? The opCays were beating him and the film got out and riots broke out. We need more videos and more riots. Especially in ChiTown.

  22. Nick S.,

    8000 cameras located where? Until you can show me an article, census tract data, etc., showing that at least half of these cameras are located in neighborhoods of the south & west side of Chicago, then I will agree with you. And yes, I have relatives who live on the southside, off of halstead. I also have relatives who live in Cicero. I was there last summer, no cameras in both neighborhoods, but plenty of gunshots after 9pm during the summers.


    Why would you not try a method to prevent crime in a high area? If it doesn’t work, then remove them. Please don’t compare construction workers being killed on the job with a 14 year being shot to death while waiting for a bus.

  23. Firstly, As you should know, Cicero is it’s own little corrupt city and not part of Chicago. I have never read about Cicero Police having video cameras, they may or may not; I don’t know The ACLU and Northwestern University have papers online complaining about the placement of surveillance cameras in poor neighborhoods. There’s an article in the SF Chronicle dated 9/23/07 titled, “Cameras Survey Chicago’s Toughest blocks, But Do They Reduce Crime.” There are many more articles, a more recent one in the Wall Street Journal also talks about cameras in the inner city of Chicago. The cameras are mounted on telephone poles and stand alone poles high enough to make it difficult to spray paint. The cameras also have audio programmed to pick up gunshots and automatically ring the closest police station. Maybe you simply weren’t looking in the right places last summer? But, I tend to agree that these cameras are only good @ solving crimes. They may have some deterrence but probably not much. When some 18 year old gangbanger, who is not very bright and full of testosterone, decides to shoot someone dead, he won’t think about cameras. It might help convict him, but that doesn’t do much for the victim or family. Patrols help stop crime, but those are for white folk.

  24. Every time some criminal or crazy person (or both) commits a horrendous act (9/11, Sandy Hook, Boston Marathon) there is someone from the right (Dick Cheney) or left (Diane Feinstein) who wants to restrict our freedoms. Since there is an unlimited supply of bad people out there it is clear that ultimately we will have to live in chains for our own protection. We need to “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

  25. The Boston event will be another excuse to ratchet up surveillance, dump more money into Homeland Security for armored personnel carriers and weaponry and we lose a little bit more of our freedom once again.

  26. “…we have more CCTV cameras per square mile than most places on the planet,” he says. -John Biggs, London Assembly Member

    London Marathon organizers pledge to keep calm and carry on


    John Biggs, London Assembly Member for the constituency of City and East, where a large part of the race is run, says spectators and athletes will be overseen by an increased security presence.

    “There will be more police officers on duty and we have more CCTV cameras per square mile than most places on the planet,” he says.


    And let me say it again. It’s already worse than many know or believe.

  27. “We’re on lockdown…”, but:


    Dunkin’ Donuts In Certain Boston Areas Stay Open To Serve Police During City Lockdown

    Posted: 04/19/2013 1:36 pm EDT

    On Friday afternoon, a handful of Dunkin’ Donuts stores remained open in the Boston area to serve coffee and donuts, despite the widespread lockdown of the city and surrounding areas. Karen Raskopf, chief communications officer for Dunkin’ Brands, said the orders to remain open came from the city.

    “At the direction of authorities, select Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the Boston area are open to take care of needs of law enforcement and first responders,” Raskopf told The Huffington Post in an emailed statement.

    BuzzFeed first reported the news on Friday morning that many outlets were still open, noting the city’s reputed affection for the national donut chain. However, in neighboring Watertown, some Dunkin’ Donuts were ordered to close by late morning, according to two stores contacted by The Huffington Post.

    Surya Thapa, owner of a Dunkin’ Donuts store on Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown said he was ordered to close around 11 a.m. He said the loss of business could cost him as much as $4,000 to $5,000 for the day. Despite the loss of business on Friday, Thapa said he supported closing down his shop. “I cannot risk my employees’ safety,” he said.

    When asked about safety concerns at the stores that are open, Raskopf said, “The select open restaurants in the Boston area are those in areas with a heavy law enforcement concentration in order to serve first responders. We have been in touch with the authorities regarding which restaurants to have open and closed.”

    In downtown Boston, most restaurants were shuttered at Friday lunch hour.

    One dining institution, however, was open for business. When contacted by The Huffington Post, Wesley Hagan, an employee at the Union Oyster House, confirmed that the restaurant was open on Friday and the oyster bar was stocked. Hagan said the restaurant had not been ordered to close.

    “People still need to eat,” he said.


    Not that I would ever begrudge a guy (or gal) a “donut”…, but…

  28. I think history will show that the Boston attack was the tipping point that ushered in the widespread use of domestic drones by the national security state.

    For those who have not seen just how detailed and powerful the tracking capabilities are of these devices, consider the NOVA show earlier this year “Rise of the Drones”. For a brief intro and demonstration of just how sophisticated the imaging is, watch from 30:30 for 5 minutes.

  29. Here is my hope: For once in the evolution of mankind, those with the power will see the great(er) significance of ethics, then that they make an evaluation of ethics that puts the overall good of mankind ahead of the immediate good of those with the power. Those that control the communications, not through economic means, but by technological means, might be able to undertake a thought process in the application of their skills/power at a new level than has been applied by past leaders, merely because of the much greater world wide information almost immediately available, thereby providing greater data for the determination of all of those affected, how they are affected and what is the better good applied to the entire spectrum of those who are sharing this planet. (I know, dream on, but watch what communication will achieve, by accident or on purpose.) In the case of surveillance, maybe folks create some protective measures as to application, but first there will be important, life changing, misapplications of the data, hopefully resolved by litigation, but only after impact is felt.

  30. In the Polizeistaat, “Rights” are what the Polizei chose to allow – or not. Or the “Justice Department.”

    “Rights” — how quaint …

  31. Why Should I Care That No One’s Reading Dzhokhar Tsarnaev His Miranda Rights?

    When the law gets bent out of shape for him, it’s easier to bend out of shape for the rest of us.

    By Emily Bazelon|Posted Friday, April 19, 2013, at 11:29 PM


    Who gets to make this determination? The FBI, in consultation with DoJ, if possible. In other words, the police and the prosecutors, with no one to check their power.

    The New York Times published the Justice Department’s memo in March 2011. The Supreme Court has yet to consider this hole the Obama administration has torn in Miranda. In fact, no court has, as far as I can tell.

    And so the FBI will surely ask 19-year-old Tsarnaev anything it sees fit. Not just what law enforcement needs to know to prevent a terrorist threat and keep the public safe but anything else it deemed related to “valuable and timely intelligence.” Couldn’t that be just about anything about Tsarnaev’s life, or his family, given that his alleged accomplice was his older brother (killed in a shootout with police)? There won’t be a public uproar. Whatever the FBI learns will be secret: We won’t know how far the interrogation went. And besides, no one is crying over the rights of the young man who is accused of killing innocent people, helping his brother set off bombs that were loaded to maim, and terrorizing Boston Thursday night and Friday. But the next time you read about an abusive interrogation, or a wrongful conviction that resulted from a false confession, think about why we have Miranda in the first place. It’s to stop law enforcement authorities from committing abuses. Because when they can make their own rules, sometime, somewhere, they inevitably will.


    Carmen Ortiz. Ring any bells?

  32. April 16, 2013 was the anniversay of this famous quote that is as relevant today as it was at the time it was written:

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

    Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963
    US black civil rights leader & clergyman (1929 – 1968)

  33. Timely and Essential caution; The incident was catastrophic and deeply wounds the cultural fabric, but to alter the nature of our constituional democracy would be an historic misappropriation of infinitely greater impact on our Nation and no doubt the future of the world. While it is understandable that we stand and applaud the relentless pursuit of the ruthless and distorted perpetrators of this vicious mass atrocity, we must recognize that crisis drive reactionary opportunism never rests in the arena of power and the political pursuit of evermore control. A structural precedent has been set that has profound ramifications if left unquestioned. Marshall law and rule and the military lock-down of society is something that bleeds history with tragic episodes of politcal abuse of power. The media frenzy that accompanied the massive “swarming” technique was sensationalized and filled with military jargon (“intelligence” has now replaced “information” at the speculatively enhanced news coverage). While the up side of this historic response appears to be all united and glossy in a mass consensus of proud American defiance, a careful review objectively must conclude that given other circumstances of the potential events possible in our future, it was confusion and massive display of para-military (and military) occupation of an entire major city with “Black Hawk” combat helicopters flying overhead, and announcements that the President was sitting in the (war-room) “situation” room conferencing with a committee of appointees and assessing as well as monitoring the situation as if it were a combat zone overseas. One reporter commented that everyone from the Secret Service to volunteer NYC police were on duty in the swarming currents of high tech military-like saturation.

    To my knowledge…there were no drones…. (this time…).

  34. He will be Mirandized. However, the DOJ is invoking the exigent circumstances clause that allows them to question him only about any other bombs or ongoing plots/co-conspirators. That exception seems reasonable to me. Once that questioning is completed, he must be Mirandized. I know many here disgree and I respect that disagreement.

    My wife is a great partner to watch this stuff on tv. CNN brought in the august Jeffrey Toobin in to explain the Federal process after the arrest. He pissed on his leg getting it almost ENTIRELY wrong. Some producer must have even known he was talking out of his ass because Anderson Cooper abruptly cut him off and they didn’t return. We had a good laugh on a serious day.

  35. This may well be the most important critical article for the decade to come: So many laws have been altered and precedents set…one must consider the possibilities: Crisis, Justification and Legitimation has mutated America into a self-induced trance…one that Suharto might have inspired rather than Kennedy!

    Consider: The State has just acquired the operational apparatus to lock citizens into their home (now termed “shelter in place” in the new jargon of Marshall Security forces); and although the political language initially sounded like it was a request, there were many reports where people were ordered into their homes. More interesting, the (consolidated News) media in NYC was interviewing people in the street and the inference involved the question of how New Yorkers should prepare for the same action…as though it were a Fait accompli. Everyone responded on cue as a normative acceptance under the current circumstances…. New Yorkers are no longer New Yorkers in this Brave New World.

    Is it too cynical to wonder how the term SEQUESTER is suddenly the political flavor of the month? No doubt “lock down” will be rephrased in the future to underscore its merits over its implications for dis-empowering citizens and restricting movement under politically pronounced necessity.

    Consider: Unified Quest 2011 [and] ; where “Army officials met outside Washington…. for a thought experiment about the implications of a large-scale economic breakdown that would force the Army to absorb significant funding cuts and prepare the service for an increased role in keeping domestic order amid civil unrest,” reported on the recent games.
    The article says officials chose the global financial collapse scenario because “it was deemed a plausible course of events given the current global security environment.”
    “In such a future,” it reports, “the United States would be broke, causing a domino effect that would push economies across the globe into chaos.”

    Take a good careful look at the entire North East Coast and the process that just took place. Granted we need to be ever vigilant and ready to escalate any forces to meet all challenges and threats…but, unless we find out more about the immediate areal threat…this was a man hunt turned into a war zone.

  36. As a point of information:

    “The Mother Of The Boston Bombing Suspects Was Arrested For Shoplifting Last Year”

    Read more:

    A woman believed to be the mother of Boston bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev was arrested last year for shoplifting at a Cambridge Lord & Taylor department store, according to a police briefing in the Natick Patch.

    Here’s the June 13, 2012 report from the Natick Police:

    7:42 p.m.: Loss prevention from Lord & Taylor called to report they had detained a shoplifter. Zubeidat K. Tsarnaeva, 45, of 410 Norfolk St., Apt. 3, Cambridge, was arrested and charged with larceny over $250 (women’s clothing valued at $1,624), and two counts of malicious/wanton damage/defacement to property.

    Tsarnaeva shared an address with the two brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings. (end of excerpt)

  37. I think both sides are presenting valid arguments. First, there is no expectation of privacy in a public place. Second, it is true there is a growing surveillance goal of gov’t. Third, it is not totally able to stop crime.

    One aspect I would like to convey is the burden of believing gov’t is watching (and not in the black helicopter paranoid sense) is something that is not healthy for liberty or living in a free society.

    Imagine driving on a vacation and having to constantly worry that if you go even 5 miles over the speed limit, or change lanes without signalling even when nobody is around that suddenly an electronic ticket will be assessed against you by some camera system? IT would be stressfull at the very least. Nobody should have to live with the worry of being absolutely prosecuted for any minor discretion. That is what a surveillance society would offer. IT is not that I am condoning minor traffic violations, but with greater surveillence comes harsher enforcement especially if automated , discretionless systems are created.

    I would rather see 100 ten over the limit speeders get away with it, than having a system where 100% of them are cited every time.

    Freedom must include freedom from unreasonable worry.

  38. anonymously posted 1, April 20, 2013 at 11:24 am

    “FBI agents interviewed bombing suspect in 2011″

    The FBI has been known to recruit, from Police Departments, Arab-American Officers to entice, as Al Quaida does, selective morons like this kid to act out terrorist crimes. The Newburgh 4, for example couldn’t spell Manhattan, much less find it. Nor could they build a bomb without mucho guidance. A similar case was just tried under great controversy in Portland OR. and there is a track record of such entanglements if not entrapments. Was these kid “predisposed” to bombing by outside agency? That’s going to be a pivotal question. Unfortunately, we can not even rule out the FBI in that regard based upon real cases in the last decade where they literally guided suspects into and through the motions of terrorism by bombing (seemingly to substantiate National Security funding and infiltration strategies in Police Forces across the country). I am not saying this is what happened here, but blow back is a hard brick in the face when it happens.

  39. “I am not saying this is what happened here, but blow back is a hard brick in the face when it happens.” -Bruce E. Woych



    “How FBI Entrapment Is Inventing ‘Terrorists’ – and Letting Bad Guys Off the Hook”

    POSTED: May 15, 2012
    By Rick Perlstein


    “Not a single “terrorism” indictment has been thrown out for entrapment since 9/11 – not the Liberty City goofballs supposedly planning to blow up the Sears Tower who had no weapons and refused them with offered; not the Newburgh, New York outfit whose numbers included a schizophrenic who saved his own urine in bottles. (Even the judge who sentenced them said “the government made them terrorists.”)” -Rick Perlstein


    Let’s repeat that: “Even the judge who sentenced them said “the government made them terrorists.”

  40. Professor, we don’t really know that these two brothers committed these acts. You’re reinforcing the idea of their guilt. I don’t know how you can trust such reports, particularly being so well versed in the corruption and media manipulation rampant in our “policing” entities.

  41. Getting background to these “control” and power abuses of a surveillance state; we are a product of historic recurrences.

    “The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow a watchman to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether or not they are being watched.”

    He supplemented the supervisory principle with the idea of contract management; that is, an administration by contract as opposed to trust, where the director would have a pecuniary interest in lowering the average rate of mortality.”
    “Bentham conceived the basic plan as being equally applicable to hospitals, schools, sanatoriums, daycares, and asylums, but he devoted most of his efforts to developing a design for a Panopticon prison, and it is his prison which is most widely understood by the term.

    Bentham himself described the Panopticon as “a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example,…”

    Appropriately enough, Bentham got his idea from his brother, an early proto-managerialist working for a Russian Prince as an industrialist attempting to devise a system “…as a means of allowing a small number of managers to oversee the activities of a large and unskilled workforce.”

    (see the link for the full article:

    [The framework of surveillance capture devised by Bentham was critically utilized by the French philosopher Micel Foucault]:

    “Although the Panopticon prison design did not come to fruition during Bentham’s time, it has been seen as an important development. It was invoked by Michel Foucault (in Discipline and Punish) as metaphor for modern “disciplinary” societies and their pervasive inclination to observe and normalise. “On the whole, therefore, one can speak of the formation of a disciplinary society in this movement that stretches from the enclosed disciplines, a sort of social ‘quarantine’, to an indefinitely generalizable mechanism of ‘panopticism’.”[36] The Panopticon is an ideal architectural figure of modern disciplinary power. The Panopticon creates a consciousness of permanent visibility as a form of power, where no bars, chains, and heavy locks are necessary for domination any more.[37] Foucault proposes that not only prisons but all hierarchical structures like the army, schools, hospitals and factories have evolved through history to resemble Bentham’s Panopticon. The notoriety of the design today (although not its lasting influence in architectural realities) stems from Foucault’s famous analysis of it.

    Building on Foucault, contemporary social critics often assert that technology has allowed for the deployment of panoptic structures invisibly throughout society. Surveillance by CCTV cameras in public spaces is an example of a technology that brings the gaze of a superior into the daily lives of the populace.”
    Panopticism in Foucault’s Discipline and Punish

  42. “Professor, we don’t really know that these two brothers committed these acts. You’re reinforcing the idea of their guilt. I don’t know how you can trust such reports,”
    Probable cause to arrest bombing suspects is usually sufficient when they have been photographed in the area just before detonation and in their flight from the law they murder a police officer and throw bombs and fire guns from their carjacked vehicle when pursued by the police.

  43. This was posted on
    in the comments by “Anime” and it clearly pertains to the insidious and ubiquitous nature of these surveillance encroachments:

    The quoted statement:
    “While the lamestream media was/is preoccupied with current events, “On Friday, Anonymous called for an Internet blackout in protest of CISPA, which passed the House on Thursday. If signed into law, CISPA would make it legal for websites to give your personal information to the U.S. government without your permission. Naturally, the hacker collective anonymous is not happy, calling for an Internet protest on Monday, April 22.”:

    from James Kwak’s “Fatal Sensitivity” at Baseline Scenario.

  44. Back on track with potential “domestic” considerations: Mike Spindell has brought up Russ Baker’s insightful commentary that includes the following:
    ” Was there anything else we could have been focused on? There was, but it was just too “distasteful” to broach, at least in the early hours. Perhaps counter-intuitively, it was the Fox brand (admittedly a local station, not the propagandistic Fox News Channel) that dared to raise questions about events that terrorize the public. In this report, the correspondent dares to remind us that the FBI has in the past had close relationships with people who want to blow things up, and has even facilitated these plots up to the point where law enforcement can intervene to thwart the bad guys. Was a similar sting in place at the Marathon – a sting that went horribly wrong?”

    and here’s the “report” he indicates:

  45. QUite a number of FBI “successes” in preventing terrorist attacks involve them false-flag recruiting and training potential bombers. They equip them with dummy bombs and arrest them in the act of trying to detonate.
    They also get their marks to involve others.

    Given that the FBI were aware of the elder brother accessing various websites, it would be a certainty that they would try the same procedure with him.

    I suspect that his interest was in sites related to Chechen resistance to Russia.
    From the little I have read about the brothers, they might be an unlikely pair of self-starting terrorists.

    What was the point of that particular bombing? Where is the manifesto? That’s going to be a very interesting part of the questioning.

    It seems from comments by his parents and the article linked below that he wold have had difficulty in making physical contact with Chechen fighters.

    This would make him an ideal candidate for a FBI “success” stunt. If the mark is feeling frustrated in trying to make contact, he’ll be very open to a false flag approach by the FBI.
    What if…
    – An FBI agent or a turned Chechen recruits and grooms the brothers.
    – They get trained up for an operation.
    – The brothers slip the leash and do an independent solo run – with live bombs.

    That’s just a speculation based on nothing other than the FBI standard ploy – and Murphy’s Law.

    It’s a pity that the elder brother died, as he would probably have been the main point of contact for any genuine or any FBI recruitment.

  46. “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: The Big Issue Is Not Miranda, It’s Presentment”

    Posted on April 20, 2013 by emptywheel

    “There are a lot of reasons why delaying reading Dzhokar his Miranda rights are wrong, ethically. But I’m not as worried about that as the possibility they’ll stash Dzhokar away for a couple of weeks without a lawyer or any oversight. And in any case, the Administration seems intent on developing both means of curtailing rights.” -emptywheel


    “Next for Boston suspect: 5 legal questions”

    By: Josh Gerstein
    April 19, 2013 10:06 PM EDT

    Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said that he saw no legal basis for holding the suspect as an enemy combatant.

    “I am not aware of any evidence so far that the Boston suspect is part of any organized group, let alone al Qaeda, the Taliban, or one of their affiliates — the only organizations whose members are subject to detention under the Authorization for Use of Military Force, as it has been consistently interpreted by all three branches of our government,” the Michigan Democrat said in a statement on Saturday.

  47. “Bombing suspects’ mother: FBI monitored older son ‘at every step’”


    As I’m sure you well know,from its inception the FBI has been an organization that relied more on building favorable publicity rather than really pursuing justice. Its founder, J. Edgar Hoover, was a petty, egotistical man who used the Agency to glorify himself. It became an organization that prized conformity over creativity. Even its vaunted services, such as its Crime Lab have been found to be corrupt. I would suspect them capable of anything in the pursuit of personal and institutional glory.

  48. “PRESENTMENT” Anon…as usual you are astute at educating the rest of us. I had no conception of “presentment” as a term or a categorical concern and appreciate your hand in getting this material to the site. The article is extremely interesting as is the comment stream which must be taken objectively as a full spectrum (reactionary & responsive) “observation” of the ungoing social & legal, & political impact of this complex arrangement of events and consequences. For my part, I added one question to the mix at the other comment stream:
    green card vs citizenship designation…

    Bruce E. Woych on April 21, 2013 at 10:19 am said:

    “Just a thought, but had they managed to catch both Brothers alive they would have had one confirmed citizen with the 19 year old, and as I understand it…the older Brother only had a green card status. The distinction should be relevant to future situations, and clarified under the circumstances.”

    While emotions are understandably high and relatively extreme in places, objective considerations are not to be construed as lack of sympaty or empathy for the victims. Nor (particularly) for “anyone” capable of perpetrating these atrocities (and that includes institutional instrumentalists that may exist in the background). But one further caveat; it is perfectly understandable that the police in Boston deserve our gratitude in apprehending the “suspects” charged in this gross insult to humanity. But that, in itself, does not erase the deeper complications of constitutional political rights that may be trampled if we simply cheer in an environment of tears and fears. The totality of this is historic, not localized incidental.

    Thanks, Anon…Bruce

  49. Mike Spindell 1, April 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Despite the SCOTUS ruling I believe that the “Public Safety Exception” is unconstitutional.
    Yep, some folks read English then derive a different meaning from it than the Supreme Five do, especially the dissenting Almost-Supreme Four.

    I do not know how they figure that “The Public Safety”, a variant of the theme “the common good”, is served by removing what established the common good.

    The Constitution.

    To water down the Constitution is to water down the common good, the public good.

    Eventually, all that is left is a trickle which never gets down to the common, down to the public, down to the good.


    Simulation Exercise Examines Atrocity Prevention Board’s Role in Preventing and Responding to Mass Atrocities
    By Samane Hemmat
    Crimes Against Humanity Program
    “This summer, Human Rights First and the National Defense University’s (NDU) Center for Applied Strategic Learning (CASL) conducted for the second time the simulation exercise Shrouded Horizons, which examines the challenges of identifying and responding to potential mass atrocities. Twenty-six representatives from ten agencies of the Sub-Atrocities Prevention Board (APB) working group participated in a simulation and round-table discussion examining prevention of mass atrocities, U.S. response options, and international efforts to prevent or mitigate crimes against humanity.”
    overview: Human Rights First:

  51. of interest:
    A-Z Guide > Law > Crimes Against Humanity
    Crimes Against Humanity
    By M. Cherif Bassiouni
    Crimes against humanity
    “Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, “are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of human beings.[1] They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority.”


    “The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (often referred to as the International Criminal Court Statute or the Rome Statute) is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on 17 July 1998[5][6] and it entered into force on 1 July 2002.[2] As of 1 February 2012, 121 states are party to the statute.[2] Among other things, the statute establishes the court’s functions, jurisdiction and structure.”

    British News Reports a “…startling claim made to Channel 4 News by the father of the two Boston bombing suspects. Anzor Tsarnaev has told our man in Dagestan, Nick Sturdee, that the elder of the two brothers, Tamerlan, called his mother on Wednesday – two days after the bombing – Telling his mother that the FBI had contacted him and that they believed he was behind the deadly attack. Tamerlan told her that he responded to the FBI accusation by saying “that’s your problem”.

    If this is rumor, apparently it has gone international and so too has the questionable reputation of our FBI enlistment and facilitation programing of unstable profiles.

  54. […] Washington’s Blog cites numerous sources — including an NSA veteran, Fortune Management,Wired, and constitutional and military law expert Jonathan Turley — which show that the NSA PRISM program, and other Orwellian surveillance programs, are useless and ineffective, resulting in false information and are actually hindering the process of good police work and intelligence gathering. It didn’t stop the Boston Bombing or 9/11 either. […]

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