Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
Like most of us I have been watching the developments in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy throughout the week. Because I’m retired I probably logged more hours of viewing it on TV than most people who are younger. The initial bombings on Monday and their aftermath made me terribly sad at the loss of innocent lives and the maiming of so many, which will have future pain and consequences for the entire lives of the victims. As a father and grandfather how could I not feel painful tears for the death of an 8 year old and the lifelong pain of his parents? Yet beyond that sadness, I also felt a sense of anxiety in my chest as I listened to the hour upon hour of cable news coverage and the analysis of “terrorism experts” aligned with prognosticators telling us what it all means.
My anxiety did not stem from fear of terrorism, because that fear is irrational. This is so not because terrorism is a chimera, but because this type of terrorism is an all too real fact of the lives of humanity and indeed while we in America have suffered it, so has the rest of the world to an even greater degree. Great Britain, Spain, Iraq, Israel, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia etc. and so on and so forth. Life itself is always uncertain and unseen death lurks as a constant possibility for even the most protected of us. This has always been the human condition and the truth is that as the eons of human history have passed we are far safer now than our ancestors ever were. Yet it is also a human necessity to maintain the illusion of our own safety and indeed immortality. When horrors like the Boston Marathon bombings occur it tends to shake up our human illusions and engender fear. In the aftermath of these horrors though come the “explainers” whose attempts to soothe us only increase the fears. Following the “explainers” come those who would exploit the aroused fears for their personal gain or predilection. This happened in America from 9/11 and in its wake the false meme “This Changes Everything” was transformed into a reality of war, torture and the shredding of our Constitution. My anxiety was raised because as I watch this all unfold on TV I became fearful of how this new attention arousing horror would be used by those intent upon transforming this country into a Police State under the guise of saving it from terror.
Last night I watched the TV coverage from 5:00 pm until Midnight. In the aftermath of the successful capture of the second suspect and with the bows taken by the innumerable Law Enforcement Officers (LEO’s), my anxiety reached a point of fruition where I saw that this whole incident does not bode well for us all and for our freedoms. The climax of that during the self-congratulatory press conference was the introduction of the vile U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, who will be handling this prosecution. For those where the name Carmen Ortiz doesn’t ring a bell please follow these links to recent blogs by Jonathan Turley and me: https://jonathanturley.org/2013/01/30/the-obama-administrations-inspector-javert-federal-court-rejects-forfeiture-effort-by-the-office-of-carmen-ortiz-in-stinging-rebuke/ and: https://jonathanturley.org/2013/01/26/carmen-ortiz-prosecution-for-political-ego/ and this: https://jonathanturley.org/2013/01/18/the-obama-administrations-inspector-javert-speaks-ortiz-issues-statement-in-swartz-case/
Ms. Ortiz responded to a question by confirming the “Public Safety Exception” would be invoked in this case, which would delay informing the suspect of his Miranda rights and keep him from seeing an attorney. The use of this Court approved “exception” basically takes away the Constitutional Rights of defendants presumed to be terrorists and yes this is something that we as ordinary citizens should worry about as explained here: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/04/dzhokhar_tsarnaev_and_miranda_rights_the_public_safety_exception_and_terrorism.html
There had been speculation throughout the day that this “Exception” would be invoked, indeed the “estimable” Senator Lindsay Graham has called on the President to invoke this “exception” and now after the successful capture we get confirmation that the Administration would do just that and this information is relayed by a U.S. Attorney who has exhibited the tendency to use the power of the office to harass at least one person into suicide.
There was more though about the whole way this case played out that disturbed me further and it is something that I have written about recently: https://jonathanturley.org/2013/03/09/swat-is-america-coming-under-martial-law/
After the death of the older brother in the shootout in the middle of night and the escape of the younger brother initiating the massed manhunt, the entire City of Boston was in effect shut down. Maybe I’m too blasé in attitude but this seemed to be an extraordinary measure. Even in the direct aftermath of 9/11 only Lower Manhattan below 42nd Street was shut down and that was due to the chaos and disruption in the aftermath of the collapse of the World Trade Center disrupting the subways and other New York City services. In this case the citizens of an entire large City were ordered to remain indoors indefinitely. Now I can understand this precaution taken in the Watertown area alone, but all of Boston seems excessive. It essentially held an entire City hostage to the whims of one admittedly dangerous 19 year old, where all the evidence would lead one to presume was on foot, since LEO’s quickly discovered the abandoned, hijacked Mercedes he drove through a police barricade to escape. I found this troubling.
It was ironic in the end, that the suspect was eventually located as a direct result of the “shutdown” being lifted, by a man who came out of his house, noticed blood on the tarp of his boat and peeked in to see the suspect covered in blood. Also troubling to me was that once the suspect had been located it seemed like every sort of LEO from the area drove down congesting the streets with an abundance of vehicles, armored cars, ambulances and trucks of various kinds. Actually an hour into the siege I saw three Federal Government, Black SUV’s pull up into the crowd of vehicles and LEO’s and these were presumably the FBI arriving on the scene. Actually, the Agencies represented there were beyond count. There were at least the Watertown PD, the Boston PD, the FBI, and the DEA (why?), the ATF, the Massachusetts State Troopers, the National Guard (why?) and who knows who else. The show of force to capture one cornered and bloody young man was extraordinary and I think far out of proportion to the mission at hand. Indeed it seemed that many officers came down to feel like they had gotten into the action, rather than out of need. That this terrorist was captured alive is indeed salutary, but the show of force seemed out of place and will no doubt serve as a model for future situations. This indeed seemed to be the “Martial Law” that I discussed in my blog linked above.
Please understand I’m not implying that the capture of the suspect and the solving of this act of terror, at least of the immediate perpetrators wasn’t a good bit of work by law enforcement, because it was. Yet if you think about it, as with most stupidly committed crimes a good deal of the work done was not trailblazing a new path, but actually using long established law enforcement methods updated by our digital age. The cameras that captured the original pictures belonged to Lord and Taylor, not the City of Boston. The video of the two men that was played over and over was a direct analogy to something that we’ve used in this country for hundreds of years, the wanted poster. While it might come out that the video of the perpetrators initiated leads as to the men’s identities from friends and acquaintances, it was the killing of the MIT policeman that focused the attention of the area where the bombers were confronted. Finally, even though a supposed perimeter had been established that cornered the younger brother, he was as admitted by the police holed up in a boat one block outside that perimeter and only discovered by a private citizen. This was good police work, but not astounding police work and yet the hagiography has already begun about this case and precedent will be established based upon it. I am glad for the capture, interested in discovering the reasons for this terrible act, but depressed that it may represent a further step towards a police state in America, under possibly martial law. What do you think?
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger