1 May

America crossing the Rubicon: The Boston Marathon terrorists succeed far beyond their wildest dreams…

                                       

As is often the case with terrorist events, the Boston Marathon bombings had an impact far beyond the bodies of the people harmed by the delivery vehicle itself. Of course that is the very nature of terrorism, where the goal is to use the media to leverage shockingly violent attacks – but usually limited in scope – into events that shock and scare a far larger population than they could every impact directly. Whether the motivation comes from inside the head of a single person or the machinations of a disparate international movement, the goal is always the same: drive a change in behavior that they could not otherwise accomplish through peaceful, lawful means.

One of the challenges faced by President Bush after September 11th was in suggesting how Americans should react. He was pilloried by many people for suggesting that Americans “Get down to Disney World in Florida…” and that we should “Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.” That may have sounded frivolous, but the reality is, he was right in suggesting that Americans not let the cowardly terrorists cow them into hiding in their homes. Their goal was to negatively impact the United States and the American way of life. President Bush suggested Americans not allow the terrorists to make such an impact.

That doesn’t mean that there should not have been a reaction to the attacks. On the contrary. Security lapses, which would be comical if they were not so deadly, had to be addressed. From plane boarding to procedures governing the communication between government agencies, many things had to be changed and improved. While the TSA may be an utterly dysfunctional agency with inept procedures where inefficiency seems to reign supreme, it’s at least an attempt to address the procedures that allowed September 11 to occur. Other changes were put in place as well, from the creation of the Department of Homeland Security to the greater sharing of information among government agencies, both between different agencies of the federal government as well as between local, state and federal agencies. Again, no perfect solutions – not the least of which is the excessive militarization of local police forces – but at least they attempt to address obvious problems.

There also remains much to do to improve security, particularly as it relates to borders, visa control and ports, but the reality is, and the Boston Marathon bombings demonstrated this clearly: there is simply no way to be 100% secure from terrorism. In a real life game of cat and mouse, each time government ups the ante on one aspect of security, the terrorists try and find another softer target and when something occurs the process starts all over again.

While a dozen years on the United States as a whole seems to have gone on relatively unscathed from September 11 – not to discount the life altering sacrifices made by the brave military and intelligence personnel – with Boston America may have crossed the Rubicon, and indeed, just as in Rome, the citizens of the Republic should be concerned.

On Friday April 19th America awoke to the warnings that the city of Boston was in virtual lockdown. Government organizations of every kind, from elementary schools to universities to every form of public transportation were closed. In Boston and its western suburbs citizens were “advised” to “shelter in place”. The 10th largest metropolitan area in the United States, the home of 4 million Americans, was brought to a standstill by two misfits – one of whom was already dead – who had killed 4 people. In addition, remember, although these two men were indeed dangerous, this was almost a week after the bombings, the remaining suspect was on the run and there was little belief that he was in any position to inflict mass casualties on the citizenry of the Boston metro area.

So what we had were local and federal authorities searching for one man, and they essentially imposed martial law on an entire American city in order to find him. Indeed, men, women and children in Watertown were forced out of their homes at the point of a gun, simply because of where they lived. Millions of Americans were literally prisoners in their own homes in the pursuit of one man – albeit a dangerous one – but one man nonetheless, and one who was by all accounts on the run and likely wounded.

In this case the “shelter in place” orders lasted only one night because Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding in a boat. (The order was lifted an hour before he was found.) But what if he had not been found on Friday and the search stretched into Saturday and Sunday and the Governor decided not to lift the order? Would people have been forced to stay home for two or three days? What if Tsarnaev had instead hidden and died in a storm drain and was never found. How long would the lockdown have remained in place?

Today a Mirandized Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can sit back and see that with two pressure cookers, he and his brother were able to effect an impact far beyond anything they might have imagined in their wildest dreams. Which brings us back full circle to the goal of terrorism in the first place: Have an outsized impact by the strategic use of violence. What kind of a message does that send to Al Quaeda affiliates around the world or terrorist wannabes across the country? Had the brothers Tsarnaev had similarly inclined friends in Washington, New York and LA would 10% of the American population have been locked in their homes, bringing the financial and government sections of the United States to their knees? What if there was one bomb followed by coordinated bomb threats in 50 cities across the country. How many of those cities would have ended up in lockdown? 2? 10? 25? How many is OK? How long might those situations last?

A few notes to remember: The Tsarnaev brothers were first identified because of images captured by the Lord & Taylor department store security cameras – not by a government asset. Although authorities quickly distributed their photographs, it took the duo carjacking someone and robbing a convenience store before they popped up on the radar. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found by a civilian who noticed a loose tarp and blood on his boat rather than by any government agents or assets. The point is, the Boston Marathon terrorists were found because of good old fashioned detective work and the empowerment of the citizenry, not because of the imposition of a city wide lockdown and SWAT teams pulling families out of their homes at the point of a gun.

Unfortunately, humans being what they are, terrorism will likely not be going away anytime soon. Relatively free nations like the United States will always make appealing targets for cowards who cannot win their battles in the realm of ideas. The Boston Marathon terrorist attack was indeed a tragedy, and for thousands of people their lives will feel the shockwaves for years to come. It should not however be the catalyst that sets Americans cowering in corners and letting themselves be locked inside their homes. It’s bad enough that the round the clock hysteria & error filled media coverage communicates to the terrorists a fiction that they have destroyed the American way of life and have the American people shaking in their boots. We should not allow “shelter in place” and military styled assaults on innocent civilians to become the standard by which we deal with such events, lest America become a police state and that fiction becomes our reality.

About Vince

The product of a military family, growing up in Naples, Italy and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and being stationed in Germany for two years while in the Army, Vince spent half of his first quarter century seeing the US from outside of its own borders. That perspective, along with a French wife and two decades as a struggling entrepreneur have only fueled an appreciation for freedom and the fundamental greatness of the gifts our forefathers left us.
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16 Responses to America crossing the Rubicon: The Boston Marathon terrorists succeed far beyond their wildest dreams…

  1. Enchanted says: 1

    Unfortunately we know this is going to happen again and again. Since barry has been in office I believe there have been five attempts and two/three of them successful. As long as barry denies terrorism and refuses to do anything about it we will continue to see this. I would suppose if terrorists were catholic or jewish he would change his mind and call them out. However he will never go against muslims.

    As far as thinking about it. I was in wal-mart this past week-end. It was packed and I thought this would be a perfect place for a terrorist. They could place a package and no one would know the wiser. Or a church, a ball game, an event. Do I want to think this way? of course not. But one has to be vigilent now. sad, isn’t it?

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  2. Nan G says: 2

    Nothing to do with shutting people in and businesses down but all four suspects have been arrested AFTER the ”shelter in place” order was lifted.
    The last three only arrested today.
    Those bros did NOT act alone.

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  3. Budvarakbar says: 3

    The incident has illustrated several things that are slowly being revealed:

    First: The gun battle location and the boat were about 6 blocks apart – half a mile or so — #2 must have fled on foot – otherwise where was an abandoned car found? — #2 was injured and bleeding – hence blood seen on the boat — all that was needed was a group of good old boys with a couple of shotguns and bloodhounds and 10 feet of rope and a handy dandy tree.

    Second: Looks like the olde demo-Commie communication walls between the agencies are back in place — the Boston bombings came just a bit too early tho — they should have been for a republicrat administration. Combining the commo walls and the greatly increased moo-slime infiltration of all the gov’t agencies – up to and including the WH — perfect storms were and are brewing.

    Third: The lockdown and violations of the Constitution were an obvious dress rehersal of things to come.

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  4. Dc says: 4

    I see the logic behind ‘shelter in place’ being to keep the streets clear while they hunt for the persons in the area….knowing full well that it is more likely than not to end in a shootout with someone determined to die and take as many with him as possible.

    But I think the whole door to door swat team searches of houses is over the top. I understand they do it under the premise that someone may be held hostage and unable to report where they are. But, at the point you’ve emptied the streets…you’ve already taken all the eyes off the streets and focused them on homes/apts where people are locked down and eyes are focused on their property. The house to house thing is unnecessary. Somebody will notice something anything out of place on their own property and report it. ..as is what happened. Cops, dont’ know your house/property.

    Perhaps this is OT, but…related….Obama says he has a problem with holding people at Gitmo indefinitely. He even says what are we going to do? Hold them till they are dead? The answer is “yes”. Because in the same paragraph with the irony meter bending over backwards, he suggests that our judicial system is working and a better place for them…because we already have some of these people in jail for life. Um…that would mean they are going to die in jail/captivity…no?

    So, it’s ok to allow them to be silent, and lawyer up, and it’s ok to hold them in a US overcrowded prison until they die, it’s ok to kill them on the spot with a drone, but it’s not ok to keep them in gitmo until they are dead or interrogate them harshly. It sounds like to me…Mr Obama thinks we have a “moral” crisis about how we deal with people trying to kill us and blow up our towns.

    Lastly, the only “rock” Obama doesn’t want to turn over in his investigations …is the one that has information about how his admin screwed up.

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  5. johngalt says: 5

    While I believe that much of the “shelter-in-place” lockdown hysteria is being overblown by some people, I also believe that it isn’t something that people should just willingly accept as the new normal either. There are some rather disturbing videos on the internet of people being ousted from their homes at gunpoint, as well as images and video of the police actually helping residents in the locked down area, or at least generally acting as the police should be acting, given the situation.

    Will the new normal be the images of the police pointing their guns at every citizen who interacts with them during searches like this, or will those images be the outliers? That is the question that people should be asking themselves, as well as the question of will they just meekly accept it, if it comes to pass.

    Which all comes back to Franklin, who stated (paraphrased) that “those who would give up essential liberty for security, deserve neither liberty nor security.”

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  6. Felix says: 6

    There are several not so obvious but very significant lessons here. 1) the cops were not in anyway acting like soldiers. They were dressed like soldiers and armed like soldiers and many were probably vets. But they were acting like storm troops – threatening looking in their macho drag, and massed to intimidate. This is dangerous for them – because if they ever try that against real opposition they’ll be slaughtered. They looked like ducks in a shooting gallery. Their fire discipline was atrocious. They carried way too much gear in a lot of instances. 2) Intimidate who? Well it’s pretty obvious – the terrorists didn’t seem to intimidate too easily so let’s try it on the civilians eh? 3) Picture the cops trying that in Texas. It would go wrong so fast. Everybody loses. 4) The ones who manhandled those citizens (whom the cops now call ‘civilians’) should be jailed. They broke the law. There was absolutely no justification in acting as they did, screaming and pointing guns at people; a national disgrace. 5) American citizens cheered the cops. Yeah, they were from a liberal Northern city but there are many like them here in the south, too. It looks like freedom loving Americans are in real trouble.

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  7. mossomo says: 7

    @Vince. I thought the exact same thing and had fired an email off to the Fam with the subject: Boston – Crossing the Rubicon.

    Parallels. Lots of parallels.

    First lets expound on a bit of historical context. When Rome transitioned from Republic to Imperial, the citizens in the hinterlands were increasingly frustrated with rule from Rome, and a reason for that was local rule, the People’s Assembly, was slowly differed/centralized to the Senate in Rome.

    Then Rome/Senate started redistribution programs, reparation type programs, and subsidizing foodstuffs like corn. And society became increasingly fractured. Sounds almost familiar.

    That said. Boston, “Shelter in place” along with the deployment of armored military vehicles, the police looking more like military than cops, the intimidation, and the invasion of privacy/warrantless searches, and the lack of freedom of movement – none of those points should be amiss from the Boston conversation. All together, it seems an awful lot like martial law. A rose is a rose by any name.

    We went from having more armed vehicles in Waco TX than we deployed to Mogadishu, to deploying armored vehicles and paramilitary while seemingly enacting martial law in our large city of Boston almost two decades later.

    I hate to think we are slowly being purposely desensitized. But looking back, by the time Rome was Empire – the pop-culture just accepted it as truth: Emperor as hereditary. Legionaries in Rome Proper. It was a slow erosion of the Republic and the public’s perception from the norm. And that’s something to think about.

    Let’s get back to invasion of privacy/warrantless searches real quick. The Fourth Amendment (requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause) was pretty much a result from the abuse of Writs of Assistance granted by the British Empire/Monarchy.

    A lil shifting of gears but still relevant. There was a recent OpEd in the Jpost that posed some sharp questions:
    o- The author questions the long-term strategic ramifications and if this won’t be viewed as a near-surrender to terrorism.
    o- Has Israel ever instituted “shelter in place”?
    o- Is this the message the US wants to send around the world: That a single terrorist can disrupt so many lives and possibly more important – the American way of life?

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  8. justme95 says: 8

    it’s at least an attempt to address the procedures that allowed September 11 to occur

    It’s the one snippet in your post I totally disagree with. Everyone knows government is dysfunctional and should NEVER be allowed to create agencies that are better served by the business itself. New guidlines for airports would have been sufficient and allow the airlines to secure their terminals. A business wouldn’t be allowed to infringe on 4th Amendment rights while government can do whatever it pleases as its above the law now in our country and has been for decades. That being said…

    Shelter-in-place was an excuse to see how easy it would for people to succumb to Martial Law. It was the Beta Test.
    Sioux Falls, South Dakota placed a SIP on 4 schools while they looked for a guy with a pool cue case that someone thought might be a rifle case.
    Valley Springs, CA – SIP as police conducted manhunt for child murderer
    West Chester, PA – a man barricading himself in his house results in a SIP. Note the cop wearing a ski mask so he can’t be identified. Coward.
    Residents of City of Philly told to be prepared to SIP for up to 3 days “which means stocking supplies like medications, food, batteries, drinking water, flashlights and more inside of an emergency kit.” Yet Big Sis says people who stock up on food etc might be terrorists.

    When cops start to SIP people because of murder or unruly neighbors or false sightings, you know it’s NOT just about a murder, unruly neighbor, or paranoid witness. Just like the TSA is desensitizing people to sexual abuse and living without their God-given rights, SIPs will desensitize people to Martial Law.

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  9. retire05 says: 9

    @justme95:

    New guidlines for airports would have been sufficient and allow the airlines to secure their terminals

    .

    Since commercial airlines are a private industry, you’re correct, added security measures should have been left up to them. Same with airport security; airports are owned by the municipalities they are located in and are not a property of the federal government. Those cities should require airport security, not the federal government.

    I have argued this system is a violation of our 4th Amendment rights here only to be told by a California liberal that the government is keeping us safer. REALLY?

    When you purchase an airline ticket, you are engaging in a business transaction that is no different than when you buy a cup of coffee from 7-11. They are providing a service, and a product, that you pay for. If there is extra security initiated by the airlines, then you agree to the terms of the contract, or you don’t fly. But to say that the federal government, under a false meme of “security” has the right to conduct body searches on private citizens who have no criminal records/history, is just flat out bullsh!t.

    But the sheep will line up in airports, allowing poorly trained TSA workers to shove their hands down the pants of the passengers, and will say nothing because, you know, those TSA workers are so competent they are keeping us safe. Right, and the moon is really made of cheese.

    Of course, Janet Napolitano has her priorites straight. She cuts all over time for the Border Patrol, yet spends $50,000,000.00 on new uniforms for the TSA. You know because having the TSA Gestapo looking sharp makes us all feel better about the safety of flying.

    I refuse to fly which means that vacation destinations were cancelled costing not just the airlines my hard earned money but also those towns I had plans to visit my tourist dollars. If 100 million Americans demanded that our 4th Amendment rights be honored, and refused to fly, you would see the TSA Gestapo long gone.

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  10. retire05 says: 10

    @justme95:

    Just like the TSA is desensitizing people to sexual abuse and living without their God-given rights, SIPs will desensitize people to Martial Law.

    Is that the purpose of all the recent “urban assault” practices that have been going on in Houston, St. Louis and right outside of Chicago? Military exercises in the middle of the night using helicopters, explosives and practice shots from the helicopters while tanks roll through the streets?

    When that happened in St. Louis, the town folk were told it was just “National Guard” from South Carolina doing training exercises. What? There wasn’t a city closer to South Caroline than St. Louis for those exercises?

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  11. Richard Wheeler says: 11

    Retireo5 I just traveled Lax to Amsterdam to Budapest and back from Prague—smooth as silk. No harassment, pat downs or delays. Might have helped I was wearing a Marines tee.
    People I met couldn’t have been nicer.

    Do you REALLY think our Govt. is preparing to fight it’s own citizenry?

    Vince Well written and insightful.

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  12. Tom says: 12

    @Richard Wheeler:

    Do you REALLY think our Govt. is preparing to fight it’s own citizenry?

    It’s more of a fantasy than a thought. Fascists can’t countenance differences of opinion. They can’t countenance a democratically elected government when they don’t approve of who is being elected. Should we be shocked that 44% of members of the party of intolerance and gun fetishism believe “armed revolution” might be needed? Fascists aren’t very imaginative, and they’re poor losers. It’s a combination that doesn’t leave them deeply ruminating upon possible answers beyond their only time honored answer: it’s time for blood to run.

    Look upon your fellow citizens, your neighbors , America. They seem so nice and sweet, yet they dream of shooting you down in the street like a dog.

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  13. Nan G says: 13

    @Tom: You wrote:

    Should we be shocked that 44% of members of the party of intolerance and gun fetishism believe “armed revolution” might be needed?

    Um…..
    Learn how to READ a poll, Tom.
    From you own link:

    According to a survey from Fairleigh Dickinson University, nearly a third of registered voters — 29 percent — believe an “armed revolution” might be necessary in the next few years in order to protect liberties.

    OK, almost 3 out of 10 TOTAL – think armed revolution MIGHT be needed someday – in a single poll.

    Of those who said yes, 44 percent were Republicans.

    So, out of the nearly 3 of 10,
    4.4 of 10 were Republicans.
    That’s LESS than 1.5 out of 10 Republicans, Tom.
    That leaves me wondering what Party the other 8.5+ out of 10 belong to.
    Let’s see….there’s DEMOCRATS and……???

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  14. Tom says: 14

    @Nan G:

    Um…..
    Learn how to READ a poll, Tom.

    Serves me right for posting a Fox link. I figured it wouldn’t be dismissed outright as a conspiracy, but didn’t take into account the fact they’re not a real news source.

    So, out of the nearly 3 of 10,
    4.4 of 10 were Republicans.
    That’s LESS than 1.5 out of 10 Republicans, Tom.

    Ummm. I think I understand math pretty well, pretty dang good at it actually, but I have no idea what that’s all about.

    Let’s go to the actual study to clear this up. http://publicmind.fdu.edu/2013/guncontrol/

    Overall, the poll finds that 29 percent of
    Americans think that an armed revolution in order to protect liberties might be necessary in
    the next few years, with another five percent unsure. However, these beliefs are conditional
    on party. Just 18 percent of Democrats think an armed revolution may be necessary, as
    opposed to 44 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of independents
    .

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  15. Nan G says: 15

    I could have been more clear, Tom@Tom:
    You quoted me:

    So, out of the nearly 3 of 10,
    4.4 of 10 were Republicans.
    That’s LESS than 1.5 out of 10 Republicans, Tom.

    Actually the 4.4 was out of the 29%, not out of the 100%.
    So, only 14% of all the votes in the poll that the registered voter believed armed revolution might be needed were registered Republicans.
    When you refer to 44% of Republicans you are referring to only the 44% of the 29% who voted that way.
    The VAST majority of registered Republicans polled felt armed revolution was NOT going to be needed.
    About 86% in fact.

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  16. Richard Wheeler says: 16

    Nan You might also say of those who BELIEVE Repubs outnumber Dems. 2.5-1.

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