SWAT: Is America Coming Under Martial Law, Redux

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

Dragnet_title_screenLike 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: http://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: http://jonathanturley.org/2013/01/26/carmen-ortiz-prosecution-for-political-ego/    and this: http://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: http://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


113 thoughts on “SWAT: Is America Coming Under Martial Law, Redux”

  1. Richard Donohue, Boston Transit Police Officer Wounded In Shootout With Bombing Suspects, Still In Critical Condition

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Doctors say the Boston transit police officer wounded in a shootout with the marathon bombing suspects had lost nearly all his blood and his heart had stopped from a single gunshot wound that severed three major blood vessels in his right thigh.

    Surgeons at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge say 33-year-old Richard Donohue is in stable but critical condition. He is sedated and on a breathing machine but opened his eyes, moved his hands and feet and squeezed his wife’s hand Sunday.

    Emergency workers started CPR on the scene to restart his heart. Doctors say he is expected to make a full recovery and that nerves and muscles in his leg are intact.

  2. Beth Israel medical staff tried to revive suspect
    By Liz Kowalczyk
    Globe Staff

    Dr. David Schoenfeld was reading on his couch when a fierce gunfight and explosions broke out near his Watertown home early Friday morning. Expecting massive casualties, he told his wife goodbye and bolted out the door to work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Less than 10 minutes after arriving in the emergency department, he witnessed the aftermath of that battle.

    At about 1:20 a.m., emergency medical personnel wheeled in Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, handcuffed, unconscious, and near death. His tattered clothes had already been cut away. More than a dozen police officers surrounded him.

    Emergency crews were performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Tsarnaev, who had massive injuries, including burns on his right shoulder, bullet wounds, and a gaping slash on his torso.

    Trauma teams had been alerted that one or more people injured in the gun battle, possibly a suspect or a police officer or both, were on the way, and they wore protective gowns and gloves. They checked Tsarnaev for radioactivity with a Geiger counter; none was detected.

    “I don’t think people were worried for their safety,’’ Schoenfeld said. But “we knew this was not a normal night for trauma . . . we were waiting for the other shoe to drop.’’

  3. nick,

    Beth Israel and Deaconess merged some years ago. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a Harvard Teaching Hospital.

  4. Quite interesting! Ironic the suspect is being treated @ Beth Israel Hospital. There are hospitals affiliated w/ vistually all major faiths. However, I know of no Muslim hospitals in the U.S. Does anyone here know of one?

  5. Bombing Suspect Is Responding to Questions in Writing

    Menino said he agreed with the decision to shut down the city Friday because of multiple events, including the discovery of a pipe bomb unrelated to the marathon attack.

    “At that time we found a pipe bomb at another location in our city of Boston,” he said. “Another individual was taken into custody.”

    Menino did not elaborate on the pipe bomb incident.


    Note: Menino is mayor of Boston.

  6. Boston is a relatively small city geographically speaking with no obvious dividing lines.

  7. “Enjoyed the day off.” “ENJOYED THE DAY OFF!! How insensitive from an allegedly caring, positive man. Must be Mr. Hyde who contributes here.

  8. From one of our local stations:

    Boston Marathon suspect killed, second sought after Watertown explosions, gunfire
    Watertown explosions follow killing of MIT Police officer

    The two bombing suspects were chased into Watertown following the fatal shooting of an MIT Police officer and the carjacking of another person.

    The carjack victim said the brothers told him they were the Boston Marathon bombers.

    During the pursuit, grenades and other explosives were thrown from car by the suspects and gunfire was exchanged in the area of Dexter and Laurel streets.

    “A bomb went off with a huge cloud of smoke, with another bomb and then it was even more chaos on the corner where they kept firing. And there was a black Mercedes SUV that stormed through the corner and hit a police cruiser. And right after that occurred, I saw a police officer, he had his foot on the dead suspect with the gun pointed at him,” said Mike Julakis, who lives on Dexter Avenue in Watertown.

    Doctors at Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center, while not confirming they treated the bombing suspect, said the man, who was pronounced dead at 1:35 a.m., had blast wounds.

    During the pursuit, MBTA Police officer Richard Donohue, 33, was shot and taken to Mount Auburn Hospital in critical condition. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, known as Marathon bombing suspect No. 1, was killed.

    “I can confirm that a Transit Police officer was wounded. He is being treated at this hour at a local hospital,” said spokesman Joe Pesaturo. The officer has been on the force for three years and is married with a 6-month-old child.

  9. Clara,

    Boston Marathon suspects ‘armed with bombs and grenades, planned more attacks’
    Published time: April 21, 2013

    The Tsarnaev brothers suspected in the deadly Boston Marathon bombings were carrying homemade bombs and grenades, which they lobbed at police when cornered, the city’s police commissioner said. He added that the suspects had planned further attacks.

    “We have reason to believe, based upon the evidence that was found at that scene – the explosions, the explosive ordinance that was unexploded and the firepower that they had – that they were going to attack other individuals,” Commissioner Edward Davis told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.

    “That’s my personal belief at this time,” he continued.

    He said that more than 250 spent rounds of ammunition were found at the scene, and that the ground was “littered with unexploded improvised explosive devices that we had to point out to the arriving officers”.

    Another device was found inside a vehicle the brothers had previously carjacked.

  10. I’m sure most of the people in Boston feel grateful, but their gratitude is not the point. Many no doubt enjoyed having a day off, but you don’t close down an entire major City over one thug supposedly trapped in a “perimeter” in a small section of a metropolis.

    1. “…you don’t close down an entire major City over one thug…”
      an abundance of precaution would be a gross underestimation of what was expended. Somewhere along the line we should see some financial figures for what business revenue was lost, wages unearned…and of course the final bill for the massive manpower and technical support including heavy vehicles expense and from reports I have seen at least 2 Black Hawk helicopters used over the swarm of para-military forces on the ground. These were visible during the day on some of the news coverage, and also the reports have them operating after dark as well along with “other” helicopters (we would expect). I don’t suppose we will ever get a full assessment that includes the Amtrak and Penn Station closings and other North East Coast costs (including overtime police duty).

      One interesting item found on searching for further information about these operations is that apparently the Black Hawk helicopters have been doing maneuvers over Boston (and Miami & Los Angeles as well) for some time. At least 15+ were reported doing night maneuvers in August 2012. Another report stated that a Black Hawk helicopter landed on a Best Buy roof during the lockdown.

  11. Did anyone else think the “shelter in place” was because of a dirty bomb concern?

  12. SWM, I spent a couple days in Austin visiting my niece and brother-in-law in January. It’s a great city.

  13. nick, I agree with you that the majority of the people in Boston approved. I have cousins there and my daughter’s best friend lives in Cambridge only a few blocks from where the kids lived. She said did not want to go out as long as they were roaming around. I have said I like Austin, and San Antonio is definitely on the upswing.

  14. Never been to a firing range and only fired a gun in training @ Leavenworth back in 1976. Also had to be tear gassed to know what it’s like..it really sucks! You’re better than this Dredd.

  15. Nick,

    “Texas” may suck, but the Texas Oasis rocks.

    A friend of mine from Alaska used to say: “If Texas does not climb down from the heights of is inflated ego, we will cut Alaska in half and then Texas will be the third largest state.

  16. Dredd, I’m too f@ckn’ old to be “horny” for anything. And, I have NEVER been horny for war. I’m a Viet Nam aged boomer who was blessed w/ a 352 draft number. I would have been drafted only if we went to war w/ the Soviet Union. Relax, just because I disagree w/ your take on the search in Boston doesn’t mean you need to demonize me. There are many here who abide what was done. And, as stated previously, apparently few, if any, Bostonians have a problem w/ what was done. When you compare Boston to Texas you shoot yourself in the foot…as it were.

  17. nick spinelli 1, April 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    When Elaine said, “I’m still packing” I first thought she meant she had a gun! That would have knocked me off my chair. Books makes much more sense
    Stop messing with the NRA and you too can carry books.

    It won’t hurt your .00red-neck calibre cognition at the firing range Mr. Spin Elli:

  18. Blouise, I don’t see a Thelma and Louise moment in you women, even though SWM is in Texas. I would never call her a “Texan” because that’s tantamount to an expletive for her, and I respect her dislike for where she resides.

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