Initial Thoughts on the Boston Bombings

I rewrote my "refuse to be terrorized" essay for the Atlantic. David Rothkopf (author of the great book Power, Inc.) wrote something similar, and so did John Cole.

It's interesting to see how much more resonance this idea has today than it did a dozen years ago. If other people have written similar essays, please post links in the comments.

EDITED TO ADD (4/16): Two good essays.

EDITED TO ADD (4/16): I did a Q&A on the Washington Post blog. And -- I can hardly believe it -- President Obama said "the American people refuse to be terrorized" in a press briefing today.

EDITED TO ADD (4/16): I did a podcast interview and another press interview.

EDITED TO ADD (4/16): This, on the other hand, is pitiful.

EDITED TO ADD (4/17): Another audio interview with me.

EDITED TO ADD (4/19): I have done a lot of press this week. Here's a link to a "To the Point" segment, and two Huffington Post Live segments. I was on The Steve Malzberg Show, which I didn't realize was shouting conservative talk radio until it was too late.

EDITED TO ADD (4/20): That Atlantic essay had 40,000 Facebook likes and 6800 Tweets. The editor told me it had about 360,000 hits. That makes it the most popular piece I've ever written.

EDITED TO ADD (5/14): More links here.

Posted on April 16, 2013 at 9:19 AM • 115 Comments

Comments

sekrityApril 16, 2013 9:40 AM

Should translate that into arabic too. 30 ppl killed and hundreds wounded in iraq bombings yesterday as well. Their press has terrible commentary from what Ive read

Petréa MitchellApril 16, 2013 9:40 AM

The word "resilience" was used prominently by one of CNN's on-screen commentators (can't remember who at this point).

cakmplsApril 16, 2013 9:48 AM

I wrote in much the same vein after 9/11; of course I didn't have the audience you and those other guys do. But not a lot of those who did read what i wrote agreed with me. I'm very glad to see more thinking along these lines now.

Mark J. Blair, NF6XApril 16, 2013 9:50 AM

Fine work, Bruce. Thank you for writing that. It is not easy to remain calm and rational in the face of adversity. I hope that many will see this message of perseverance, and will be inspired by it.

PedroApril 16, 2013 9:52 AM

Keep calm and carry on. These are hard-sounding but wise words. What terrorist do not want: that we go on being normal.

KeithApril 16, 2013 9:55 AM

I think you do the piece a disservice by say "Terrorism, even the terrorism of radical Islamists and right-wing extremists and lone actors". The left-wing in the past has terrorized people as well (down a lot recently). I think everyone would do well to read the article and I think this will just drive people away.

H. SchmidtApril 16, 2013 10:25 AM

Tell me, just who are these terrorists? I'd be gladio, ..I mean glad to have an answer.

Andrew NortonApril 16, 2013 10:31 AM

I've written about this a bunch of times.
http://falkvinge.net/2011/07/28/...

http://falkvinge.net/2011/07/30/...

http://falkvinge.net/2011/09/12/...

http://falkvinge.net/2012/04/27/...

and http://blogger.ktetch.co.uk/2009/09/...

I'm working on a new version, as you did, too deal with and address what happened yesterday. Yet I still feel the same way I did 20 years ago, after almost being blown up in the IRA Warrington bombing (I walked past one of the bombs about 5 minutes before it went off).
You don't fight things by 'fighting' it. Terrorism isn't about killing, it's about fear, and Americans have become cowards, afraid of their shadow and needing 'comfort' to protect from the big scary man.

Even the UK has gone the same way. 30 years of IRA bombs, sniper attacks and mortars, and we stood firm. America has 9/11 and we went to pieces. We had 7/7 and in ONE attack, we abandon 35+years of good practice to run like headless chicken-littles.

Sickening.

BenApril 16, 2013 10:32 AM

I'm from the UK where there have been countless terrorism incidents over the years. I feel sorry for people who get hurt but in the end it is just inconvenient for the huge majority and that is about it. Most of our terrorists just gave up and became politicians, because in the end, no one cared about them or what they did enough to be fearful. Of course, now they are politicians no one cares about them or listens either.

paranoia destroys yaApril 16, 2013 11:01 AM

Ironically, I was returning to the library "Beyond Fear" the very hour the event happened.

A recent study said that people that watch a lot of TV tend to be more fearful.

It is too early to tell who is behind or any motive they had for what happened in Boston.

The first news stories are the most inaccurate.
Rather than non-stop speculation, I'd rather them resume regular programming.

With little chance of news reporting to be rational, as I tell others, turn off the news.

hmmApril 16, 2013 11:01 AM

I wouldnt say the UK "stood firm". As a result of all that IRA terrablismz the UK became the most watched society in all the world. There was also suspension of human rights permitting police to arrest and detain anybody they wanted for 7 days. It accomplished nothing what did work was the political peace process.

Even Canada once declared martial law after the FLQ was setting off car bombs almost every week and kidnapping politicians. None of us stand firm we all freak the hell out and suspend rights until policians sort out a peaceful solution.

paranoia destroys yaApril 16, 2013 11:16 AM

I'll add that Beyond Fear could have been written now about several current events related to security such as armed guards in schools despite being 10 years old.

PicadorApril 16, 2013 11:21 AM

Thanks for the spiritual guidance, Bruce. It's a message that I've really taken to heart over the last 15 years.

I grew up in Washington, DC -- my dad worked across from the White House, and his building probably would have been destroyed had the fourth 9/11 plane hit its target. I lived in Boston for 7 years, and in NYC for 5. I say this to establish that I have as much connection as anyone to the small string of major terrorist attacks in the US in the last 12 years. If anyone has a right to be irrational and hysterical, it should be someone like me whose friends and family live in these places and who spent his life in these places.

Yet, when I heard the news about Boston, my first thought was: "23 people? This is not worth worrying about for more than a few seconds. That's how many people are injured by food contamination or highway accidents in the US in a few hours. Tragic, sure, but statistically it hardly registers as noise."

Sure, I followed up by checking my email to make sure my brother and his wife living in Boston were safe. They were, as expected. They didn't get blown up by a bomb. Neither did they choke on a bagel or get hit by a bus or suffer any of the other much, much more likely ends that our fellow human beings meet every day.

I'm not making myself out to sound ultra-logical and callous. Quite the contrary -- I try to remain open to the massive tragedies that are occurring everywhere in the world every day. When you think that way, little blips like this are only terrifying because of the political and social after-effects caused by the reactions of hysterical idiots with ideological axes to grind.

A. NoneymousApril 16, 2013 11:25 AM

"And -- I can hardly believe it -- President Obama said 'the American people refuse to be terrorized' in a press briefing today."

Presidents say a lot of things.

bcsApril 16, 2013 11:36 AM

Three people in the US die from heart disease every 2.6 minutes, from strokes every 12.2 minutes and from diabetes every 22.8 minutes.

Likely, by the time you heard about it, the bombing was no longer in the top 10 causes of death in the us.

robApril 16, 2013 11:40 AM

American people refuse to be terrorized.

Hmm,
A mercury news sports columnist is quick to demand more security. ("No more whining about having to wait 10 minutes for security frisking or wand-waving at a major sports event in the United States. No more grumbling about possibly missing a kickoff or tipoff." )
Penn avenue in washington DC got closed by the secret service yesterday.
An "informed" source was quoted as saying that there were multiple unexploded bombs.
The NFL came out with a statement about upgrading their security for the next super bowl.
NYPD called in 1000 additional officers for patrol yesterday.
BART and SFPD issued statements saying that they would pay even more attention than normal.

It seems to me that we have all of this "security" yet the response is to say it is not enough. The American people may refuse to be terrorized but our private and public security forces are intent on making sure everyone is frightened.

JakeApril 16, 2013 11:41 AM

at some point, we need to stop dressing up common criminals in fancy words like "terrorist" and "sociopath". it just gives them the attention they crave.

find the responsible parties, try them in precisely as public a manner as the Constitution demands (and no more public than that), and give them an appropriate sentence. that is what is to be done with common criminals.

David MeeseApril 16, 2013 12:44 PM

Bruce - Your point about these attacks being difficult is illustrated by some of the characteristics of this attack. The attacker appears to have used low explosives - gunpowder/flash powder or black powder. I believe this because of the large volume of smoke, the lack of a crater, and the relatively low number of casualties. A 1.25 lb block of C4 will kill 50% of people at ~10 feet just from overpressure. Closer people would suffer much worse injuries than we saw. This didn't happen. The attackers had to use low explosives because it is almost impossible to acquire high explosives in the US. If they could get dynamite or TNT, they would have. The fact that they haven't speaks volumes.

Dave Meese - former US Army EOD

Bill HackworthApril 16, 2013 1:15 PM

This whole incident stinks. The chosen target is illogical for a terrorist actor, and the response is suspiciously instantaneous. Ask the question: Qui Bono? (Who Benefits?)

Fact: There was a large presence of security, bomb sniffing dogs, and bomb spotters on the roofs around the finish line and starting line, and there was a bomb drill going on in these areas during the very time of the bombing that was announced on loudspeakers (local 15 news http://www.local15tv.com/news/local/story/... A 3rd bomb, one mile away! was discovered, analyzed, rigged and safely detonated within 1 hour of the initial blast.

Requirement: The individual(s) placing the devices would have to use some pretty good tradecraft and planning in order to place 5 devices without being discovered during the plot. Meanwhile spotters and bomb dogs were running in the area, especially in the more highly controlled areas of start and finish... These attackers couldn't be stupid and accomplish their mission. They had to be very good, or insiders.

Civilian targets are not in the interest of terrorists. They actually lose legitimacy when they strike these targets. Someone who can conduct this level of planning knows this fact. Had the attackers gone after military, law enforcement, or government targets, such as the Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon, or the Israeli hostage crisis, they would be striking at a logical target. They didn't. This was carefully orchestrated to create maximum fear and panic to civilians by hitting an innocent target to create anger. So, Qui Bono?

Answer: The regime. A regime always benefits from terrifying the population. They gain more power and control.

Now it seems the captured suspect "Saudi National" has been recanted, and a new narrative is being spun of "right-wing extremists" to blame. Those people sure as hell would not benefit from such an attack, on civilians no less.. Not likely.

Come on people, we are all security professionals. Doesn't this seem awfully anomalous?


Bill HackworthApril 16, 2013 1:18 PM

@ David Meese

I completely agree with your assessment on low velocity explosives. It's pretty clear from the video and aftermath that's what it was. It doesn't look like flash powder to me from the video though. It doesn't flash, and there is a clear orange color to the fireball. It looks like gunpowder/smokeless powder.

Perhaps a reason to pull powder off the market for those who reload ammunition???

Coyne TibbetsApril 16, 2013 2:10 PM

@Schnier "the American people refuse to be terrorized"

No truer words were ever spoken. Even giving it the name "terror" offers it more than it is worth.

If you asked a terrorist, "Suppose we blow up your village? Suppose we kill your family? Will you stop being a terrorist?" His response would be, "No, I'll never give in! Never!"

That is the way every person, in every land, responds to these acts: "Terror" hardens resolve. No one has ever given an inch in response to "terror", and never will. It just makes them more determined to continue.

The fact that "terror" accomplishes absolutely nothing reduces the so-called "terrorist" to one of three categories: (1) Idiot, lacking the most basic reasoning skills; (2) insane; (3) criminal.

None of them worthy of the label "terrorist"; and certainly not of the label, "freedom fighter". And the first two categories also, ultimately, translate to "criminal".

So this wasn't "terror", it was a criminal act; and the people that did it are criminals; and crime is...ordinary.

Move along people: Nothing to see here (that is worth noticing).

Stephen DaugherApril 16, 2013 2:16 PM

Bill Hackworth-
Can I be blunt? The Boston Marathon was already a major, high profile event. Security would be tight, wherever possible, and that would include having bomb sniffing dogs around. People weren't exactly skipping tralala in complete ignorance before yesterday.

Second, has it occured to you that basically every time somebody's said to look out for people taking over, rounding people up, doing the martial law thing it hasn't happened? I really doubt it's just the intrepid conspiracy theorists revealing the plans that's doing the trick.

DaveApril 16, 2013 2:30 PM

@Bill Hackworth

You're implying, with no actual evidence, that what actually happened was that somebody in the Boston PD or FBI or whoever else was handling the security arranged the bombing, possibly at the behest of the Obama administration. Hanlon's Razor suggests that it's more likely that the security team just missed the bombs.

As far as likely culprits, based on what we know, my best guess is that we're dealing with an individual or very small group who believe they are starting some kind of second American Revolution. This person or group may view taxation as an illegitimate theft of property. Their agenda is probably not really thought out yet.

Bill HackworthApril 16, 2013 3:08 PM

@Dave,

I'm implying that I don't know what happened, only that your spidey senses should be tingling, and you should question the narrative.

If you haven't noticed, the government is not exactly trustworthy and has a history of doing all sorts of horrible stuff as well as murdering it's own people. All governments do it. The US is on official record infecting prisoners with horrible diseases for research, infecting low income black people in St. Louis with horrible diseases for research. Starting wars with lies, in which thousands die - Gulf of Tonkin, Iraq. Torturing masses of people with electric shock to prop up a regime. Sending innocent people for extraordinary rendition, where they were boiled alive and raped with broken bottles, and many more horrible things.

This isn't really a secret. It's documented in declassified documents, as well as all over NYT stories.

I know some tax protestors. I pay mine, but I don't have any issues that choose not to. They're principled people, anti-war, pro-peace. They usually have large gardens, chickens, and want to be left alone. They don't murder innocent people in a marathon. They have no upside for doing so. Other groups do. Start thinking rationally about it and the truth will set you free!


hmmApril 16, 2013 3:49 PM

Chosen target wasnt illogical since usually the point of terrorism is to kill as many ppl in a crowd as possible like the nail bomber in the UK who targeted large public markets. It was also obviously chosen because its a major intl media sporting event.

The device was reprted to be a coffee can full of ball bearings by that guy who's on camera running and falling in front of the explosion. Its also not impossible to casually stroll and drop stuff in garbage cans blocks away from each other. Afterall youre supposed to put stuff in garbage cans. A guy leaving backpacks everywhere would be suspicious.

As for motive nobody will know until they are caught or release some manifesto. I also agree with Bruce that recruitment is difficult for terrorists. The leaked AQ emails were all of infighting about money, resistance to doing acts outside their borders as they only had interest in local politics , and it was osama who wanted to attack the US nobody else.

atkApril 16, 2013 4:19 PM

@Bill Hackworth:

You can claim that you didn't imply something, but that doesn't mean the words you chose didn't imply something. It's OK to be ignorant, but be aware that multiple people are pointing this out to you.

"This whole incident stinks. The chosen target is illogical for a terrorist actor, and the response is suspiciously instantaneous." The statement that the response is suspiciously instantaneous indicates (clearly indicates, not implies) that there is something to be suspicious about with the response. Ignoring the fact that it's normal to have security around a finish line, and it's normal for the police who make up that security to want to respond and help.

"The individual(s) placing the devices would have to use some pretty good tradecraft and planning in order to place 5 devices without being discovered during the plot." Are you an expert in terrorist tradecraft? In police tradecraft? In FBI tradecraft? How do you define "pretty good" - without invoking a circular argument based on this particular event? What third party references, which someone like me will actually respect, do you have for this definition?

"Civilian targets are not in the interest of terrorists." BS. Civilian targets are the very definition of terrorism. Your statement implies that "someone else" must be responsible, not terrorists.

" This was carefully orchestrated to create maximum fear and panic to civilians by hitting an innocent target to create anger. So, Qui Bono? " Um... that, again, is the definition of terrorism. However, your "logic" follows the same tired "logic" of conspiracy theorists, and always ends up as "the government" or "the illuminati." Don't get me wrong: I'm libertarian, and I'd shrink the government to pre-WWII levels if I had my druthers, but I'm not a conspiracy theorist and I do clearly see what your words imply.

"Answer: The regime. A regime always benefits from terrifying the population. They gain more power and control. " And who could you possibly mean by "the regime"? You already ruled out terrorists. You already used "logic" that typically results in "government". You already implied either government malfeasance or expertise in working against the government.

"Perhaps a reason to pull powder off the market for those who reload ammunition??? " then sounds like implication of a motive for the government. Based on your guesswork, not on evidence.


"Come on people, we are all security professionals. Doesn't this seem awfully anomalous?" What seems anomalous to me is your writing. There are plenty of security professionals on this very bulletin board who are trying to talk facts. Not "gee, I don't know anything! I'll spread FUD by implying stuff and then deny implications!" If you want to have a rational conversation, then please talk facts. If you want to drive conspiracy theories, there are plenty of better locations for that.

Bill HackworthApril 16, 2013 4:33 PM

@hmm

Warfare is politics by other means. That is basic doctrine. Terrorism is no different. It always has a motive. Determining who benefits is a fairly reliable, though not a perfect indicator of who is behind it.

You raise an important point. None of al-Qaida wanted to be involved in foreign activities. You're on to something there. keep digging. Most of the 9/11 commissioners don't even believe their own report: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Atju9lOAtn8

As for the UK think, I have no idea. I have never looked into it. Legitimately crazy and violent people do exist, but they are very, very rare.

Bill HackworthApril 16, 2013 5:17 PM

@ATK

I'm suspicious. However, no other organization has more to gain from this kind of event than the regime.

The FBI definition of terrorism is, and this is important:
Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

I don't know how many government disaster preparedness drills you've been through, or how many intelligence briefings, but they are typically overblown terror plots that have no link to real group motivations. this reads like the most worst-case, comic book type scenarios that could occur, not like a real attack. Also, note that nobody has taken responsibility for the attack. Why would a group make such a deliberately public attack and not take responsibility. It's not logical.


There are goofy people, and goofy motivations. The Shoko Asahara, "Aum Supreme Truth" subway attacks were conducted to "divert Japanese police from investigating the cult" - crazy, nuts! However most read like these:

Truck bombing of embassy in Kenya
Truck bombing of embassy in Nairobi
Assassination of so and so

In 1998, there were 273 international terrorist attacks worldwide, 166 of which involved bombs. Of these 96 bombs of various types were directed at U.S. facilities, with the most popular target of attack being business related.

The idea of "propaganda by deed," that a single act of public violence could be used as a means of focusing public attention on a group's grievances and was more effective than distributing a thousand pamphlets was the catalyst for terrorist acts becoming popular in the 19th century.

Single-issue terrorist groups engage in criminal activity to bring about specific, narrowly-focused social or political changes.

Seeming that the US has installed soft tyranny regime since 9/11, I think it's pretty darn relevant to know what is really going on. Bruce's advice to refuse to be terrorized is great. Though if some rogue wing of the .gov is involved or complicit in this activity, I'd say that's pretty important information, and it wouldn't exactly be an outlier for that to be occurring given history of governments.

Andy SparksApril 16, 2013 6:29 PM

I’m going to run tomorrow out in the streets of my neighborhood. This weekend, I’m going to run in a 12K hosted by my community. Next month, I am going to take my family to see a movie in a theater without bringing a gun. I will attend soccer matches in crowded venues; I will go to the state fair and mingle with thousands of unknown strangers; I will take public transportation because it is convenient. This summer, I am going to board a plane and fly to England with my family. I will do all of this without fear; I will do all of this because I want to do it and because nobody will prevent me from doing it. Right now? I’m lacing up my running shoes. I am going running today.

Clive RobinsonApril 16, 2013 6:36 PM

First off let me say that as in all tragadies my first thougts go to those who have unfortunatly been hurt and injured, both directly and as friends and family of those directly involved.

My second thoughts as a life long engineer whenever I hear about a tragady is "how do we stop this happening again".

After myself nearly being a victim of a bombing in London but for the chance of timing, I've given it some carefull thought over the years.

As a result I realise that usable technical solutions will always be imperfect at best and bypassable in practice, thus of limited use.

Thus you need to examine the issue from a wider perspective either before or after an event. That is either the sourcing of materials or intelegence prior to an event and good forensics and appropriate punishment after an event.

Thus we need to look initialy at what makes up various types of bomb and why.

In the case of all bombs the main constituent is explosives. Depending on the type they are just to easy to obtain or make either from ready made explosives or components (black powder, high nitrate fertilizer etc) or from raw materials that are easily obtained in bulk with little or no checking.

Whilst it is harder than it used to be to get high explosives they are still relativly easy to steal. Such thefts will if reported provide intel and potentialy a trail to follow. However other types of explosive are easily available with little or no checking (gun fairs etc). And often component parts can be bought with little or no difficult, suspicion, checking or any type of record.

However the hard part of making a bomb made with "high explosives" is generaly the making of a reliable detonation system that will both make the main charge go high order (not just burn), but also importantly at the time required and not before. Thus very strict control on detonators whilst not stop bombs being made from high explosives will significant reduce the likelyhood of them being used.

That said in general a detonator is not needed with explosives that burn below the speed of sound usually they can be set off with a source of heat such as a slow burn fuse or match.

However the problem with non high explosive bombs is they require a container to alow the build up of overpreasure before rupturing otherwise they are generally ineffective due to minimal energy shock wave. This is the main reason pipe bombs with black powder are the usual domestic criminal bomb choice in the US.

It is going to be almost impossible to provide controled access to the materials to make a bomb casing, however to make a successful bomb is usually going to require some "experimentation" by any wouldbe bomb maker or access to design information. Whilst the experimentation might be discovered by chance, these days accessing design information is probably more likely to be flaged up if done through a library or bookshop. As for the Internet that's anybodies guess these days but if some people get rheir way in future times almost certain. There is of course a secondary problem with the Internet in that there is a lot of usless information out there so any wanabe bomb maker either needs to take it on trust or experiment, with a much higher chance of being discovered.

Contrary to what many people think due to various CSI programs the state of forensics in most parts of the US are nowhere near "state of the art" and even if they were generaly won't have information product that will identify unknown (to the authorities) individuals.

Now I've no idea who built or deployed the bombs in Boston but I'm reasonably certain that with the best will in the world they will not be identified by forensics in less than a couple of days and probably closer to two weeks. And if the bomb maker has been even moderatly carefull they will not be identified from the bombs at all.

Thus there is a chance the bomber will need to be identified in some other way. And if the bomber choses not to make any statment and does not make another attack they may never be caught.

And whilst this possibility may cause some people a degree of disquiet, I would rather that happened than the wrong people be convicted (this is known to have happened many times in the UK with IRA bombings).

Importantly the investigating authotites should be left alone to get on with the job thoroughly but without political or media preasure, otherwise a miscarrige of justice is probably going to happen. Which whilst it may be politicaly expedient will actually make the likelyhood of more attacks significantly greater.

Alan KaminskyApril 16, 2013 6:43 PM

News reports today (Tuesday) said the bombs were made from pressure cookers. Gun legislation is still pending in Congress; it's not too late to add pressure cookers to the list of banned munitions, along with assault rifles. No more homemade jams and jellies in America -- a small price to pay to be safe from terrorism.

Dirk PraetApril 16, 2013 7:16 PM

@ Bill Hackworth

Ask the question: Qui Bono?

"Cui Bono", actually. As a Latinist, I'm a bit of a git over Roman typos.

From where I'm sitting, the only things we know at the moment is that

a) There appears to have been a massive intelligence failure
b) IED's containing shrapnel and low velocity explosives seem to have been used
c) Although many victims will remain scarred or mamed, adequate incident response has saved many lives
d) In 24 hours time, no one has claimed responsability

Any form of attribution at this point is pure speculation, whether it be conspiracy theories involving government agencies, Al-Qaeda, anti-gov militias or a lone wolf. Although my gut feeling is telling me lone wolf, with the information we have today it might just as well have been Donald Duck.

Lessons learned (again):

1) Even if you spend the entire national budget on surveillance, there is no such thing as 100% protection against bombings and/or mass shootings.
2) Appropriate incident response is at least as important as surveillance and intelligence because they can and will fail.
3) There is no point whatsoever in additonal fear-mongering as demonstrated by the likes of Fox News and The National Journal. Or even worse as in the rantings of Fox News contributor Erik Rush who saw fit to call for the killing of all muslims only moments after the bombs went off. In many civilised countries, inciting to mass-murder is a major fellony carrying serious jail time.
4) Refuse to be terrorised. Not only will it discourage those who seek to terrorise us, it will just as well prevent us from falling under the rule of those who seek to (ab)use it for their own financial and political gain.

Although my thoughts go out to all victims - direct or indirect - of this heinous crime, I believe governments and ordinary folks alike may wish to seize the moment to also contemplate the faith of the people in Syria who have been enduring much worse carnage at the hands of a murderous regime on a daily basis over the last two years, and without any solution in sight.

YusukeApril 16, 2013 7:24 PM

Bruce, after reading your interview in Washington Post, I noticed that the most of scariest things in the world is slow and boring rather than quick and spectacular: Global warming, poverty, technological creep and smoking. I tend to realize how human beings are not well suited to recognize a long-term, real threat simply because the scale doesn't fit us. This is scary.

xenuApril 16, 2013 8:02 PM

The hardest part about making bombs is not killing yourself. The Unabomber had many trial and error devices that didn't work (but then again, he made them out of pieces of wood and twigs) and it may appear this bomber also failed in his other devices though it's impossible to determine if there were actually other devices found because all media is contradicting itself.

All those bomb recipes floating out there on the internet have either been changed by investigators to produce harmless reactions or changed by random people to blow up in your face.

It seems this bomber had a clue of what he was doing, but then again Anders Breivik managed a perfect car bomb and had no prior experience.

The strangest of all is there is no statement released or manifesto. Even the Taliban in Pakistan vehemently denied involvement when supposedly asked by Reuters (how they found a fixer to get his phone number, who knows). Unless of course he mailed out his manifesto day of the bombing and news station are still waiting to get it.

SolstateApril 16, 2013 8:06 PM

The press generally has been lunging towards absurdity over these bombings. Even in Australia our normally impeccable news source, the publicly funded Australian Broadcasting Commission, published in this article http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-16/... the sentence:

"The bombings have some of the signatures of an Al Qaeda-style attack - synchronised, at a high-profile event, and in the full glare of the media spotlight."

But since when have "Al-Qaeda-style attacks" ever been characterised by being made at "high-profile events" and "in the full glare of the media spotlight"? Sounds to me like another of Bruce's famous movie-plot scenarios. And this was in one of Australia's best news sources - imagine what nonsense the others are blathering!

atkApril 16, 2013 8:44 PM

@ Bill Hackworth: I'm aware of the FBI definition. I'm also aware that there is no universally accepted explicit definition. But there are things taht all definitions have in common. The FBI definition is imperfect, particularly as it doesn't identify any difference between normal military action and the colloquial definition of terrorism.

Again, you use implication and conjecture as your method of indictment. Do you have any actual evidence of any nefarious government involvement? Or do you want to talk facts?

Mark J.April 16, 2013 9:57 PM

More tripe from the Boston Globe.

http://b.globe.com/119LFkP

"But we lost something Monday, too, and that is the idea that we we will ever feel totally safe in this city again."

Speak for yourself, pal. I'll feel as safe as I would on any other day in any other city. That is to say, safe enough to calmly enjoy the city while being aware of my surroundings.

Some of our elected dolts are already alluding to the "complacency" we've slipped into since 9/11. They're ratcheting up the terrorism fear factor with one face while telling us from the other that we have nothing to fear from the average gun owner. Not surprisingly, the math says otherwise.

puffyfishApril 16, 2013 11:49 PM

I predict we spend trillions and take away peoples' rights because they are scared. Oh wait that already happened.

Your_Federalist_Papers_PleaseApril 17, 2013 2:08 AM

A federal ban on getting blown up could have prevented this.

Clive RobinsonApril 17, 2013 2:40 AM

@ Alan Kaminsky,

News reports today (Tuesday) said the bombs were made from pressure cookers. Gun legislation is still pending... ... No more homemade jams and jellies in America -- a small price to pay to be safe from terrorism

A small cooking technical point, you don't make jams, jellies or for that matter pickles in a normal aluminum preasure cooker but in a large lidless stainless steel pot called a kettle.

There are a whole heap of reasons but pitting/corosion of the aluminum and destruction of fruit structure are a couple.

That said I do like the dark humor behind the comment :-)

AdamApril 17, 2013 3:37 AM

At the height of the IRA bombing campaign, the whole thing was taking a tone of meh for Northern Ireland and Great Britain. It was still a serious threat and there were a lot of people fighting to combat it but for the population it was background noise - a threat which was so frequent it lost much of its terror. I'm sure places like Iraq where there are constant waves of car bombings adopt a similar attitude.

FPApril 17, 2013 6:47 AM

As a 2008 Boston Marathon finisher, I applaud the Bostonians that refused to be terrorized and that helped stranded and confused runners. After 40k of running, being lost in a foreign city, unable to retrieve your checked gear bag (with money, keys, cell phone, ID), is not a good place to be in.

I find it interesting that the detonation happened so late into the race. The Boston Marathon is one of the few events that runners must qualify for by running another marathon in an age-graded time. So by this time the majority of runners had finished the race.

Personally I hope that marathon running will not be turned into a high security affair.

onearmedspartanApril 17, 2013 7:29 AM

Bruce, that was a really good article you wrote. Lately, I've read some news articles with the same message i.e. USA Today (very surprising to be frank). Its unfortunate a few other media outlets have to stoke fear for profit/ratings(counterproductive!). As a proud American (and diehard Yankee fan) its wonderful to see us come together as we have. That's exactly what we need to do. It should put other countries to shame when they play into terroristic events by not living their lives, negotiating with them, and/or harboring them.

angel.heartApril 17, 2013 8:21 AM

@Bill Hackworth

[The ruling regime has the motive and the means.]

Yes, there are rogue elements in "the regime" responsible
for actually all of these spree attacks and mass murders.

Anyway who can admit to themselves the truth can see that
evidence on the faces of those guilty ones who have been
caught.

This evidence has also been told to them repeatedly over
the ages.

However, for these people there is no truth because they
believe what they want to believe based on their preferences.

They would rather chalk it all up to randomness, to epidemic
insanity, to a collective unconscious, to human beings having
possession of a mind controlling device or insanity inducing
poison then to admit the truth they actually well know.

They do not care about the price of shame they will ultimately
have to pay for the hypocrisy of their posture.

These elements are involved in a battle, they do have the
motive, they do have the means. While they are use physical
methods to achieve these aims, however the battle remains
spiritual.

To state this is even more "out there" then to state what
you are saying, though a majority of the population continues
to mouth the words of belief.

But, no, human beings are not capable of this level of
conspiracy. They are capable of being pawns in a much larger
conspiracy then this, however.

abApril 17, 2013 8:47 AM

@clive robinson

Ah, but pressure cookers are used to seal and preserve the products in glass jars with lids that include a rubber seal. The high temperature sterilizes the product and subsequent cooling causes enough contraction to vacuum-seal the lid. Techncially much of this process can be accomplished in a kettle too, but some bugs that can be killed at 115C are not killed at 100C.

So when pressure cookers are criminalized, only criminals will have homemade preserves.

JoshApril 17, 2013 10:42 AM

The link marked as "pitiful" seriously almost made me puke. I know I'm not really adding to the discussion, I just had to mention it.

Another KevinApril 17, 2013 12:59 PM

@ab

You need pressure canning for alkaline foods, such as canned corn, beans, soups, and so on. Acid foods, such as jams, jellies, tomato sauce, ketchup, sauerkraut, and pickles can be processed safely in a boiling water bath because C. botulinum - the organism that causes botulism, and whose spores can survive boiling - cannot reproduce in acid conditions.

AlanApril 17, 2013 1:20 PM

"Why Boston’s Hospitals Were Ready" in The New Yorker suggests that a cultural change since 9/11 has improved the quality of emergency medical reponse, which seems like one of the things you've been advocating for. The interesting thing to me is that the article claims this isn't a matter of a formalized system, it's that people's mindsets have changed and people just stepped up to serve.

Petréa MitchellApril 17, 2013 2:10 PM

Alan:

I'd be really surprised if the hospitals hadn't already had procedures for a sudden big influx of trauma cases even 10 years ago. There are a lot of other things besides bombs that can cause mass casualties.

Ross SniderApril 17, 2013 5:21 PM

The interview you posted made it sound as though the Boston bombings were could not have been a domestic offense. The interview sounded very "us vs. them" and I think sounded too encouraging of overgeneralizing terrorism to one specific interest group.

Clive RobinsonApril 17, 2013 6:03 PM

@ ab,

@ Another Kevin, has beaten me to the acid alkali point.

However you still don't need a preasure cooker with either a screw top or spring leaver Kilner Jar. You siply leave the lids lose and put them in an oven at the appropriate temprature for the required period of time. Though much to my surprise many people don't do it for meat and fish products in Continental Europe even when only lightly salted. And in one case Swedish lightly brined herrings are fermented in the can... (this "delicacy" is actually banned from being carried on aircraft).

Also in Britain in WWII when US Home Canning equipment became readily available they used the oven method prior to closing the can whilst hot and then popped it back in the oven lid side down (apparently they won't explode providing you "hot can" the lids on, just bulg a bit that then colapses back when cold showing you have a good seal).

The main use for preasure cookers in most parts of the world these days is that they are quite a bit more energy efficient than "open pot" cooking especialy with stew like foods. Thus they are readily available in tgose parts of the world where IED's are common. As various news outlets are discovering there is a lot of information up on the web on how to build IED Shrapnel Bombs from them.

Whilst I won't go into details the fact that the mangled lid of one has been found on a roof top sugests that the bomber has used one of the less effective bomb designs or did not have access to the likes of an auto shop type metal working facilities. Which bad as the events of Monday were is fortunate as the effective leathal radius of the bombs would have been much reduced compared to the more effective designs.

ChrisApril 17, 2013 8:59 PM

There wasn't anything in the "pitiful" link I disagreed with. I too lived in DC during the sniper shooting, and being a DoD civilian, I had access to to an air force base, which I went to for the sole purpose of using their gas station. It's one thing to logically say "I will not be terrorized", but it's another thing when someone in your neighborhood was shot while walking to their car in a Home Depot parking lot, and the shooter is still out there. Of course Obama says "we will not be terrorized". What else can a president say, when there are no leads to go on.

mooApril 17, 2013 9:32 PM

@Chris:

Fear can be a powerful emotion. But I think the point is that we can _CHOOSE_ whether we control our fears or whether we let them control us. Whether we "keep calm and carry on", or whether we give in to fear and let the terrorists win.

Of course fear is natural and we can't simply choose not to feel fear, but we _CAN_ choose to go on living our lives anyway, and all stand in solidarity against cowardly assholes who target civilians and try to use fear as their weapon.

Another powerful emotion is anger: So if you feel fear because of what terrorists have done, to you or to people you know or just to people in your city or country: Convert that fear into anger and resolve. Be angry that villains who can do such things exist in the would, and be grimly resolved not to give in to their despicable tactics and change our behaviour, because that is the _ONE AND ONLY_ way that they can win.

A peaceful, free and open society is far more valuable than any buildings or even the lives of a few dozen/hundred citizens. Lives are valuable, but freedom is priceless. Protect your free society, preserve the values and attitude that made your nation great. _That_ is how you win against terrorism.

Wesley ParishApril 17, 2013 11:01 PM

Good point. I think back to a terrorism attack in New Zealand waters, the Rainbow Warrior bombing in 1985, and how everything was locked down, gulags were set up on every street corner, a War against Terror was declared against France, and people went around covering their faces in paper bags ...

No, what happened was the New Zealand police force got on the job, intent on making up with the New Zealand public for the mayhem of the 1981 Springbok tour, asked the public for information on sightings of a vehicle suspected to be part of the crime, and if New Zealand had've had the full support of the Australian police and the US espionage network, the entire foursome of the DGSE who took part in it, would've been captured. Only two were, and the French public, in the sort of fulsome self-pity one finds nauseatingly apparent on American TV programs dealing with the Middle East, dared slander the NZ police by comparing the DGSE agents to French Resistance captured by the Gestatspolizei in the Second World War. I fancy even the two DSGE agents captured and tried in open court, found their French compatriots nauseating.

The world is sick of American self-pity. We've seen the results of that in the needless deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, etc, ad nauseam. We know you can do better, so why don't you?

itgrrlApril 18, 2013 12:19 AM

It will be interesting to see if today's fertilizer factory explosion in West, Texas will help to put yesterday's bombing in Boston in perspective. At the moment it's being reported ~70 dead, and >100 injured in West.

(A very sad event , obviously. I'm just focusing here on the relative threat/rarity of the two events.)

TerrablistsApril 18, 2013 12:27 AM

@joe

the cameras still don't make you any safer. the bomb still went off just now you have pics of the guy's who did it after the fact.

turns out 4chan found these guy's anyways before the feds did

http://i.imgur.com/i7S8bEm.jpg guy on right employing tradecraft to hide his speech (and is doing so in multiple other pics)

news report, with some pics nobody has from DHS of the same 2 guys
http://youtu.be/pWBJ4IBgjA4

FigureitoutApril 18, 2013 1:21 AM

@Joe/Terrablists
--Terrablists is right. So let's assume in a city like Boston (never been), it has like 100-500 CC cameras on intersections, at least. Given our "surveillance society" mindset, sidewalk intersections should've been covered too; easily, this is a simple engineering problem, given the access they have to do basically whatever they want. However, knowing bureaucracies...the bare minimum would be done. So they say, billions of dollars and still, they cannot easily capture a photo of someone laying a bomb.

Sounds like no matter how much access and power we give to "morons" w/ no foresight, we are still subject to angry people who do not care if they kill or permanently disable innocent people trying to live.

The real answer to the problem isn't "more security", it's everyday people connecting w/ everyday people, making connections and giving people reasons to live; encouraging others to push and succeed. Technology has pushed these connections that humans need to nowhere and thus people silently suffer until they "explode".

No need to overthink the problem, it's simple; yet awkward. But, nature is awkward as hell (how can an electron pass thru a nodal plane yet not be observed ever doing so?--Impossible according to me, it must be moving too fast.)so embrace it and stop this stupidity that will take away more of my rights...

Tim#3April 18, 2013 3:52 AM

@Ben, I read on Monday about the US Supreme Court's decision over the release of the so-called Boston Tapes containing Dolours Price's interviews. Some of those terrorists-now-politicians will have been very unhappy indeed about that decision, lets hope it doesn't result in them going back to their old ways.

Peter A.April 18, 2013 3:59 AM

Re: banning pressure cookers.

It's useless. Many years ago when my colleague and I were playing with a specific branch of chemistry, we used to buy old fire extinguishers from scrap yards. The CO2 ones had specifically strong and large cylinders.

Go on, America, ban fire extinguishers... we'll see where it leads your safety levels to.

No OneApril 18, 2013 6:48 AM

@Peter A.: Hey, if we can save one life it's worth it. All we have to do is enact stricter laws against fire-making equipment, which will yield our need for fire-extinguishing equipment obsolete.

AutolykosApril 18, 2013 7:28 AM

As has been noted on this blog before the "terrorist types" tend not to include engineers and scientists, or those in charge simply don't trust them.
That's one of the points that made the (early) German "Rote Armee Fraktion" so effective. Most of them were university students, and usually not the worst ones at that. And while the leadership was mostly from political/social sciences, they weren't short on techies either. That changed later on, when the leadership became more and more crazy and the level-headed guys quit or switched sides, while few new ones joined. Trust may also have been an issue there, though. AQ on the other hand *is* notoriously short on well educated people, as evidenced by the fact that pretty much any plot involving more complex technology than a box cutter failed*.

*In the technical sense. As argued in the article above, the reactions of our governments made even these plots a complete success.

RookieApril 18, 2013 7:35 AM

@Clive, @Terriblists

Working in the banking and insurance arena I cannot figure out why I keep hearing people saying, in effect, that cameras are next to useless for security. We use CCTV video for prosecutions on a consistent basis and it can be very effictive at putting away bank robbers and insurance scam artists. So maybe cameras aren't an effective preventive control, but when deployed properly they make a heck of a detective control. Video is usually used in conjunction with other investigative methods, but just because it's not a magic bullet doesn't mean you need to denigrate it and throw it out. The continued and repeated resistance to this part of a layered defense plan I do not understand.

Most of the people we prosecute are serial offenders, so when they get locked up everyone is safer.

DApril 18, 2013 9:00 AM

@ Rookie

The difference is that if you rob a bank and get caught you really *failed* at the crime. CCTV cameras might be great for identifying a terrorist, but once the bomb goes off there's no "returning the money to the bank" in terrorism. Most terrorist don't seem particularly concerned with getting away with it considering that most of them are motivated by ideology more than personal gain. Catching them broadcasts their message, not catching them just makes people more curious when it finally ends. Banks are known areas with known scenarios, terrorism can occur literally anywhere and take many forms. Is the solution to coat the world with cameras covering every street from multiple angles and hiring a workforce to man them?

In short, different problems, different definitions of success, different levels of effectiveness and required intrusion. Sounds like it might require a different solution.

Mark J.April 18, 2013 9:40 AM

Hmm, my camera backpack is black. That shape shown in the pic linked above could easily be a DSLR camera and lens in a normal backpack. Must have been hundreds of people carrying cameras in backpacks in that crowd.

Certainly worth investigating, but they need to tread carefully here before trashing someone who had nothing to do with the bombing.

TerrablistsApril 18, 2013 12:13 PM

@Mark J.

It's not the only pic of them there are dozens where that one guy's backpack disappears and he's walking around without it. Nevertheless, the feds are looking for them so they must have other evidence.

As for cameras as a deterrent that's silly. I seem to recall a German hackingblog constructing an IR LED hat to block your face from CCTV http://boingboing.net/2008/02/20/...

Obviously this won't work on commercial/media cameras but a determined criminal has other methods at his disposal like the Graff diamonds robbery where they used prosthetics and makeup/wigs to alter their appearance.

There was also a high profile crime in my city where one gangster walked into the Sheraton and shot another gangster sitting in the lounge. Cameras everywhere and he didn't seem to care, nor was he caught from camera footage.

TerrablistsApril 18, 2013 12:30 PM

Should also be noted media has shamelessly made some of the pics go viral while consistently giving out misinformation. CNN even announced yesterday a suspect was arrested and then after a pitchfork lynch mob crowd showed up to the federal courthouse backpeddled and claimed they were mistaken. There doesn't seem to be any sort of fact checking or filter for the media these days in their quest to be the first to break a story.

Obviously those 2 men could be completely innocent that's why we have due process and not just internets detectives and rumours. I don't remember a bombing that wasn't solved eventually, these kinds of crimes seem to guarantee getting caught

Jonathan LefflerApril 18, 2013 1:03 PM

Article in the Palo Alto Online (offspring of PA Daily News):

http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/...

Headline: Experts warn women leaders of nuclear risk
Former defense secretary: 'World is slipping backward on nuclear safety'

Main material starts:

Had Monday's explosions at the Boston Marathon contained nuclear material tens of thousands of people could have been killed, Stanford experts told a group of Bay Area women business and philanthropy leaders Wednesday.


Absurd!

JohnstonApril 18, 2013 1:09 PM

Regarding "Suspects have been identified..."

I'll believe it when I see it, so to speak. After CNN and Fox News reported a suspect arrested, and other outlets reported a suspect was to be taken to court, and a 5pm public announcement was cancelled, and then an 8pm public announcement was cancelled, I'm not holding my breath. They supposedly had these images yesterday. Why wait until later today? Is this some kind of bizarre foreplay I've never heard of? I'll believe it when I see it.

ModeratorApril 18, 2013 1:14 PM

Your Spidey sense was tingling for good reason, Clive -- Joe was a sockpuppet of a banned user. I've removed his comments and replies that quote him. I'll leave the rest of the discussion of security cameras because it's an obvious subject in light of the news and I'm sure it would have come up without his help, but please deny attention to the troll.

NobodyApril 18, 2013 4:39 PM

@Terrablists
"I don't remember a bombing that wasn't solved eventually, these kinds of crimes seem to guarantee getting caught"

Actually, unfortunately, there are many of these crimes where the criminals were not caught.

This is more obvious if one scopes out to consider these crimes are actually routine, globally (Pakistan, Nigeria, on and on). And if you scope back and look at the history -- people usually just go back to the 19th-early 20th century Communist and Anarchist attacks...

Of course, America today versus America a hundred years ago... and modern America versus a Pakistan or Nigeria... very different story.

Usually these guys want to be identified (not caught). That is kind of the whole point of why they do these things. So they can deliver their message.


I mean what was the point in this bombing anyway? Not that their point really matters, it is all just murder -- they name it one foul thing or another.

Bill HackworthApril 18, 2013 5:05 PM

@itgirl

I suspect the Texas disaster won't garner much attention for a couple of reasons. Accidents, even horrific ones, aren't as "entertaining" in the old school media's eyes as a vaporous boogeyman especially after the fire is out. How many grain elevators explode dramatically and are never reported? Secondly, it happened in Texas in a semi-rural area. The old media simply doesn't give a damn about rural people, especially Texas. The old New Yorker cover displaying a caricature of fly-over country comes to mind. But if a soccer mom scrapes her knee in NYC, New England, or LA, it's sensational. I highly doubt George Clooney will be doing a TV commercial to garner support for the victims and families, sad but true. It's too disconnected for most of the "high value" people. Just as the 130 odd innocents that were murdered yesterday in a US drone strike hardly raise any eyebrows of most Americans, and likely they're not even aware of it. Afghanis and Texans are viewed, by many, as acceptable collateral damage.

Bruce's writings on rare spectacular risks vs. ordinary danger are excellent components of this, however there's also something more to it, there's a ugly human bias portion of the picture that many don't have the courage to look in the eye. In very large top-down systems, some people are given much more value than others. It's a distortion of incentives and value. It's a trait of all hierarchical systems. It could be related to some subjects covered by Bruce in his new book on social structures and the natural tendency to keep with tribe, Dunbar's number principle, and related study.

Size and scale are a problem. They make companies, nations and systems more fragile. That's why the US was originally designed to be cellular, like most animals, or herds (fractal) - it's just more resilient in that form. I'm surprised that Bruce hasn't written anything on Taleb's work, especially his new book Antifragility. There's lots of good stuff in there that applies to large systems, risk and security of systems. Maybe it's some food for thought.

Taleb talking about these ideas in Zurich: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOUph1JpLlk

NobodyApril 18, 2013 5:13 PM

pictures of the suspects officially released by the FBI:

http://www.news.com.au/world-news/...

From a tech angle, I am surprised the FBI haven't performed work culling together the many angles they have of the suspects and creating a much more clear, recreation of what at least one of them looks like. The material they have there is definitely a lot more then what forensic pathologists have to work with on skulls.

(Some articles have the full video attached. A lot of articles appear to not even show the actual pictures or all of them which the FBI did release.)


site overloadApril 18, 2013 8:52 PM

The FBI had trouble keeping up with the demand for these pictures/media, coupled with the overreaction of poor reporting, is why not all articles have all media

dontknow howtoreplyApril 18, 2013 9:04 PM

Rookie • April 18, 2013 7:35 AM

@Clive, @Terriblists

Working in the banking and insurance arena I cannot figure out why I keep hearing people saying, in effect, that cameras are next to useless for security. We use CCTV video for prosecutions on a consistent basis and it can be very effictive at putting away bank robbers and insurance scam artists. So maybe cameras aren't an effective preventive control, but when deployed properly they make a heck of a detective control. Video is usually used in conjunction with other investigative methods, but just because it's not a magic bullet doesn't mean you need to denigrate it and throw it out. The continued and repeated resistance to this part of a layered defense plan I do not understand.

Most of the people we prosecute are serial offenders, so when they get locked up everyone is safer.


If the camereas work so well, then how did they become serial offenders? Put another way, if the cameras are so important, how can we stop there use for petty crimes that allow for release and recividism, and only focus them when needed?

HmmApril 18, 2013 10:22 PM

I don't think the picture posted by Terrablists shows the FBI's two persons of interest. It looks like that high-school kid and his running coach, who have been cleared of suspicion. One paper already set themselves up to lose a massive libel lawsuit by running pictures of that kid on their front page with red circle around his face and the title 'Bag Men'. Let's not fall into the same trap.

RookieApril 19, 2013 7:09 AM

@Hmmm

You're correct.

It turns out that depending on 4chan for forensic investigation is kinda like depending on the Hells Angels to provide security at an Altamont Speedway concert. You get bad results very quickly.

People denigrate and marginalize the FBI, but they know how to do investigations. Like Bruce often says, basic law enforcement practices are the best way to fight a multitude of crimes, including terrorism.

NobodyApril 19, 2013 8:00 AM

@itgrrl

"@Nobody: I'm surprised the FBI didn't just zoom in and enhance... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAvUFD68NEQ"

Funny. :-) But, not what I meant. I actually do not watch CSI, heh heh....

No, there was enough data of the one suspect with his baseball cap backwards to have rebuilt his face or create a more clear sketch of his face.

I was actually thinking of some cases where investigators correctly aged someone, or reconstructed their face from skulls.

No, they would have had to have gotten all of the frames of glimpses of the suspect's face and put them all together. Then, they would have had to estimate what he looked like fully with a front and side profile.

That would require, as far as I know, a lot of manual work with someone who was very talented and experienced at it. And computer wise, would probably just involve isolating every frame, and perhaps combining the frames together to create a fuzzy but full frame model. An artist would want that, but also the isolated frames.

It does not surprise me there is no process for this, though I know in some situations they do create sketches from fuzzy film.


nycmanApril 19, 2013 10:30 AM

Is it just me, or does it seem terribly easy to bring a major American city to a standstill with people cowering in their homes? No doubt psychopaths and professionals around the world will be studying the response to this incident. The officials talk big on TV, but if they're locking down an entire city in an attempt to catch one individual, they (the officials, the cops) are in full-on panic mode. I guess they are not following the "keep calm and carry on" doctrine.

mooApril 19, 2013 12:16 PM

Now this, is idiotic:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/...

Because the suspected Boston bombers immigrated from Chechnya SEVEN YEARS AGO, somehow different immigration policy would have mattered. Yeah, right.

These events should have NO EFFECT on a rational debate about immigration policy. If you want to change your policies, you should at least pretend to be changing them for sound reasons.

hwkApril 19, 2013 12:38 PM

My father always says: Don't give them the success and call them terrorists. These people are murders, nothing more.

MarkHApril 19, 2013 3:09 PM

@ Alan Kaminsky,

The best thing to stop a bad guy with a bomb, is a good guy with a bomb!

MikeApril 19, 2013 3:50 PM

Another good 'resilience' themed editorial at the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/opinion/... What is interesting is that I think we have an intersection between fear fatigue and this perceived Boston image of being a 'tough' city, and that combination has crystallized into a US-wide feeling of "we're not afraid, we're fed up and we're fighting back" with Boston as the proxy.

Mark J.April 19, 2013 9:32 PM

Those poor writers at The Onion. They don't stand a chance.

From The Boston Globe:


Breaking news
President Obama: 'The people of Boston refused to be intimidated' 10:09 PM


Amtrak resumes limited N.Y.-Boston service
Tonight's Red Sox-Royals game postponed
Bruin-Penguins game tonight also postponed
Concerts, events canceled because of manhunt
State: People at work are free to drive home

CgomezApril 19, 2013 10:40 PM

The problem is anyone can echo your words and even say your ideas out loud. Then they will turn around and present legislation that attacks the 100% of law abiding citizens who just want to go about their lives on the premise that it will save one life... somehow.

Dirk PraetApril 20, 2013 5:42 AM

@ Mark J.

I'm not entirely sure that either POTUS, executive or legislative branch have understood the meaning of "refuse to be terrorised" when an entire city is locked down over 1 fugitive and certain senators call to drop Miranda and treat the man as an enemy combatant instead. That sounds more like a precursor to martial law and the suspension of the US Constitution than to refusing to be terrorised.

Mark J.April 20, 2013 12:02 PM

My posting above of text from The Boston Globe was not a criticism of the President or the cancellation of events. It was simply meant to point out the silliness of our modern Circus Media.

This event highlighted several things that Bruce has always stated: you can't prevent attacks like these, and the initial response to events like these (which was impressive in this event) is crucial.

Only the media look really bad at this point. It would be laughable if the core event weren't so horrible.

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