The Boston Marathon Bomber Manhunt

I generally give the police a lot of tactical leeway in times like this. The very armed and very dangerous suspects warranted extraordinary treatment. They were perfectly capable of killing again, taking hostages, planting more bombs—and we didn’t know the extent of the plot or the group. That’s why I didn’t object to the massive police dragnet, the city-wide lock down, and so on.

Ross Anderson has a different take:

…a million people were under virtual house arrest; the 19-year-old fugitive from justice happened to be a Muslim. Whatever happened to the doctrine that infringements of one liberty to protect another should be necessary and proportionate?

In the London bombings, four idiots killed themselves in the first incident with a few dozen bystanders, but the second four failed and ran for it when their bombs didn’t go off. It didn’t occur to anyone to lock down London. They were eventually tracked down and arrested, together with their support team. Digital forensics played a big role; the last bomber to be caught left the country and changed his SIM, but not his IMEI. It’s next to impossible for anyone to escape nowadays if the authorities try hard.

He has a point, although I’m not sure I agree with it.


EDITED TO ADD (4/20): This makes the argument very well. On the other hand, readers are rightfully pointing out that the lock down was in response to the shooting of a campus police officer, a carjacking, a firefight, and a vehicle chase with thrown bombs: the sort of thing that pretty much only happens in the movies.

EDITED TO ADD (4/20): More commentary on this Slashdot thread.

Posted on April 20, 2013 at 8:19 AM189 Comments


Andrew Gumbrell April 20, 2013 8:26 AM

One obvious difference between a manhunt in the US and the UK is the near cerainty that such a fugitive would be armed in the US and quite unlikeley to be so in the UK.

AT April 20, 2013 8:41 AM

I agree with the above comment – the likelihood of the suspect carrying a lethal weapon must be weighed into the proportionality of the response. It’s expected in the United States that suspects are heavily armed until they are apprehended.

That said, I think it’s a little too early to tell whether this was the right move, but I hope the question is at least asked. It’s impossible to separate signal from noise in terms of what intel law enforcement was receiving. I expect that the use of drones will quickly enter into the national discussion again…

Steven Thomas Smith April 20, 2013 8:44 AM

I listened to gunfire, choppers, and sirens from under lockdown last night. Before that, I had to fly home and hope that the airport would remain open and that taxis could be allowed to drive to my neighborhood. And before that, we had planned to take my young child to the marathon to show her the runners at the finish line where we and others usually stand—and where the bombs were detonated.

So I feel a personal connection to the victims, their families, and everyone asked to stay at home during the manhunt.

Anderson’s post is nonsense.

The immediate threat now is not from low-functioning terrorists, but from cowards who will try to use this event to attack the Constitution. Don’t let them. And laugh at their cowardice.

I’m heading out to enjoy a run along the Charles now …

Adam Holland April 20, 2013 8:52 AM

It’s a tough call. It would have become even more difficult to justify the city-wide shutdown if they hadn’t been able to find him within a day or two. It certainly fails any C/B analysis, as compared to what we are willing to do or spend re: other deaths.
Dan Gillmor asked if all these events proves is that terrorists and their acts have made Americans afraid of their shadows.
I don’t think fear is entirely correct. Bizarrely conditioned to overreact to certain types of violence is better.
Case in point. A lot of local people (I’m in the Boston area) were up all night Thursday into Friday because of the gun battle, sirens, SWAT searches, etc. but I spoke with someone who had also been up Wednesday all night because someone had been shot on her street. It’s foolish to try to measure deaths against each other, but there was no lockdown of the block, or massive manhunt to find that murderer. Why not?
It’s as if we’re only willing to swing the disproportionate hammer when the violence violates norms, so to speak.
And sadly, gun deaths, or those form factory explosions are background normal these days, seen as not violating of the social compact.

Another thought is that this is analogous to the punitive lawsuit against a slip and fall plaintiff that costs more than the settlement would. Sending a message to the next one.

Chris April 20, 2013 8:55 AM

Obviously it’s easy to second guess those charged with making these decisions and to call out instances where the end result supports your position. I doubt anyone risked imprisonment for venturing out, more likely an eye-opening greeting from armed and alert defenders of the peace. If I were in Boston I think I would’ve stayed out of the way of the police, and if I were in charge I don’t know that I would’ve made a different call.

Jim Harper April 20, 2013 8:56 AM

I share your sentiments, Bruce, and Ross’s. Law enforcement should have plenty of leeway in these situations, and I think the city-wide lockdown was disproportionate.

The issue will truly be joined at some point in the future when police try to take a city into lockdown, and some guy goes to work anyway, because he doesn’t think the police have authority to issue such an order. They arrest him and charge him with “interference with a police operation” or some similar catch-all.

Does the judge clear him? Or have we just embraced arbitrary government power a little more tightly?

Torcant April 20, 2013 8:58 AM

I’m more interested in knowing how did they manage to identify the suspects. If it’s a fruit of unconstitutional surveillance or not. The city lockdown is not really a big deal for me.

Sharon Machlis April 20, 2013 9:01 AM

It does not appear that Mr. Anderson was paying close enough attention. The lockdown didn’t happen after the bombing or even after suspects were identified. It was only after there was also a carjacking, an assassination of an officer sitting in a car, as well as a major firefight in the middle of a residential area, that the lockdown occurred.

The idea was to keep out of the way and let law enforcement do their very dangerous job, as well as to prevent more loss of life. While I’m sure there were libertarians and others locally who objected, the overwhelming feeling I heard from people I know personally who were affected was support for the decision.

Rob April 20, 2013 9:03 AM

Sharon, support for the decision and the decision being the correct one are not the same thing.

cakmpls April 20, 2013 9:05 AM

Totally apart from the other issues: if this turns out to be essentially an escalated school shooting, two disaffected young men yelling, “Look at me!”–doesn’t this lockdown encourage others to do the same or worse? “I shut down a whole major city, a whole area! I kept kids home from school and closed businesses and cost people millions of dollars!”

Jenny Juno April 20, 2013 9:05 AM

IIRC, they only caught the guy when they lifted the lockdown. The boat-house owner went into his backyard, noticed something was awry with the boat-house door and called the cops. For extra irony, the suspect was outside the perimeter of the search area.

Assuming that’s all true and not just more of the made-up-on-the-spot reporting the newstainment channels have been dishing out, it would seem that the lockdown was definitely the wrong call in this case.

Mr April 20, 2013 9:06 AM

First off – Bruce, you don’t sound like your normal self here… you’re usually very good about not jumping to worst case scaremongering conclusions – but that’s what I see in your post above. Given the time that had past between the marathon and when the shutdown was instituted, was the tradeoff of the shutdown of virtually the entire city worth it?

Second, they would have likely caught the guy sooner if they had released the city-wide shutdown as soon as they had created their perimeter.

moo April 20, 2013 9:07 AM

It was an extraordinary (and extraordinarily expensive) measure.

My understanding, which might be incorrect, is that the lockdown was initiated after an MIT cop had been ambushed and died of multiple GSW’s, after the police chase with gunfire during which one of the suspects was throwing grenades or some kind of IEDs at police?

So the cops know they are extremely dangerous, they still have guns and explosives in their posession. They are still in the area after monday’s bombing, which makes them look like garden-variety psychopathic homegrown terrorists (international pros would be long gone). They might very well try and repeat their monday attack, say, by hiding more IEDs around the campus of MIT or something. “Terrorist attack in progress” might have seemed a real possibility to the decision-makers who asked for the “shelter in place” order. Even now that its over, we don’t yet have enough (public) information to say whether or not they overreacted. For now I’m willing to cut them a lot of slack on it, because if another pressure cooker bomb had killed another dozen people less than a week after the first attack, EVERYONE would accuse these same authorities of not doing enough to protect them.

I read somewhere that 15 police officers were wounded in the middle-of-the-night shootout where suspect 1 was killed. When they had the house surrounded, and news reporters were being kept back from it, one reporter wrote that a cop yelled something at him like “If you knew what was going on, you wouldn’t be here”.

The police arrest violent felons every day, but most of those felons don’t possess homemade bombs of proven destructive power and a demonstrated willingness to use them to try and murder as many people as possible. This guy was literally the most wanted person in North America, and desperate enough to do anything.

The fact that they stayed in the area after the Monday attacks suggests they had nowhere to slip away to.. Their endgame might have been to continue with more attacks, or to martyr themselves in a shootout with police (as the elder brother perhaps did). Authorities must have been extremely nervous about the prospect of more injuries or deaths, until they got him successfully into custody.

So my opinion, for now at least, is that the lockdown was justified and the police responded extremely well to rapidly contain and neutralize an extremely dangerous threat to public safety.

Sharon Machlis April 20, 2013 9:12 AM

Call me wacky, Rob, but living here as I do in a democracy, what people think about their leaders’ actions matters to me. Possibly even more than outsiders who witter on without full knowledge of what was going on. It astonishes me that someone could talk about the decision as if it were just based on the bombing on Monday, while neglecting to mention what happened Thursday night and Friday. There would have been no lockdown if there hadn’t been the carjacking, assassination and subsequent firefight.

Julie P April 20, 2013 9:13 AM

I think it was appropriate in this case. I also clearly see the gray areas of “what does and does not justify this?” Do I like the message of “If you mess with us we’ll turn off the entire city and not stop until we ferret you out, – yes, I kind of do. I also realize I like it only because I perceived the fugitive in this case to be a “bad person” who offended my sense of right and wrong to the core. Maybe the next guy won’t be so bad in my opinion.

We don’t have enough information at present. I feel it is reasonable for the authorities to with hold a significant amount of information in the few days after something like this, to not compromise the case and, honestly, to prevent vigilantism among a city with thousands of people experiencing very deep emotional reactions. Remember, the first photos of “suspects” were totally innocent people. The most productive response to this is let’s give a couple of months for all the peripheral edges to be cleaned up and then take a look back and see how it could have been handled better if necessary. I look to the recent events and horrible errors made in LA as a possible alternative to how Boston was handled. Right now, I feel judgementalism in any form is the most destructive thing we can do toward hopes of a better-handled situation in the future.

Lollardfish April 20, 2013 9:14 AM

My problem is this:

Thousands of police searched for hours to find the fugitive, and failed, even though he was hiding within their primary search area.

When the order was lifted, hundreds of thousands of citizens went out to check things that were important to them, and ten minutes later, the fugitive was found.

Doesn’t that suggest that shutting down the city was the wrong tactic?

Suzanne April 20, 2013 9:18 AM

Yeah, different situations. Boston didn’t lock down right away. It was only after a running firefight began during which multiple explosives were being dealt with by police. I don’t remember anything like that during the London search. Boston was responding to a firefight, not the search.

Steven Thomas Smith April 20, 2013 9:19 AM

they only caught the guy when they lifted the lockdown. The boat-house owner went into his backyard, noticed something was awry with the boat-house door and called the cops. For extra irony, the suspect was outside the perimeter of the search area.

This is true. However it is also true that everywhere was a ghost town, in and out of the perimiter, making inconspicuous street travel all but impossible. Furthermore, all police focus was in the area surrounding the shootout, where people were evacuated from their homes, not under “house arrest”. In the lockdown areas, there were a few private individuals out on the streets, riding their bikes, driving, walking running, and certainly no police enforcement. The lockdown was a de facto request, widely and happily granted.

This is Boston—you’d have do act pretty egregiously to get the police to pay attention to anything you did, especially when they’re doing real work. So jaywalk, but just don’t cross their line.

Suzanne April 20, 2013 9:21 AM

And once police thought it was a traditional search again they called off the lock down.

Nicholas Weaver April 20, 2013 9:22 AM

A very cynical take from Clark @ Popehat:

Not only noting that it was a citizen, after the lockdown was over that noticed the suspect, but also that the police requested that Dunken Doughnuts remain open to feed the cops.

Because its OK to shut down the rest of the city, disrupting millions of dollars in economic activity. But cops need their doughnuts.

Kept April 20, 2013 9:23 AM

The “police dragnet” was not even consistent. After the bombing, there was no dragnet when the police had the least available information. After finding the two bombers, capturing/killing one, the police then decide to institute a dragnet when they have more information. It’s an unknown how the remaining bomber, on the run, was now a danger to millions of people when their apparent plans endangered at most a few hundred, but unlikely. However, the house-to-house searching was simply ridiculous. The remaining bomber was found by a civilian looking out the backyard window. Imagine a situation where the bomber was not found for a week or more, or never.

Brian April 20, 2013 9:24 AM

Ross Anderson: “Whatever happened to the doctrine that infringements of one liberty to protect another should be necessary and proportionate?”

Call me crazy, but I think that’s exactly what happened here. A temporary lockdown in an extraordinary circumstance with a reasonable short term goal seems like a fine example of “necessary and proportionate”. It’s like the travel bans that are sometimes put into place during extreme weather. Government restricting your right to travel is normally something to be deeply concerned about, but during a blizzard I’m not sure you can make the same argument.

Scott April 20, 2013 9:31 AM

Um, isn’t lockdown/martial law the wrong word[s]? I thought it was that they asked people to stay inside, not forced them.

Sharon Machlis April 20, 2013 9:34 AM

You are assuming, Lollardfish, that the suspect would have taken the same exact actions had the shutdown not happened. And that it wouldn’t have been easier to slip away if people were all going about their business as usual. Was he too wounded to do that anyway? Maybe, but no one knew that, nor do we know whether he would have been strong enough to do so hours earlier.

Officials in good faith took the actions they thought would be best to try to save lives and protect public safety. This was not a case of severely sacrificing civil liberties for the sake of security – this was a very temporary emergency – or instituting silly measures for show like not letting me take shampoo or yogurt onto a plane. As moo notes, no one here has all the facts. And second guessing without all the facts irritates me more than a shelter in place order.

Ac2 April 20, 2013 9:38 AM

From afar I’m not certain if it was a request to stay at home (eg blizzard) or a curfew style lockdown with people outside arrested/ stopped & forced to go home.

The former seems perfectly reasonable, the latter seems excessive.

J.D Bertron April 20, 2013 9:43 AM

It was a temporary violation of one’s freedom for the benefit of everyone else – including their own safety. I can’t see a problem with this.
What will be more interesting is to see what kind of permanent loss of freedom will result, as surely some politician will suggest passing some new rule.

Kate Conat April 20, 2013 9:46 AM

Let’s acknowledge that this was not your average fugitive with a gun. There were explosives involved, which changes the dynamic of police response. This kid was quite capable of leaving a bomb next to a child (as shown in video retrieved after the marathon bombing) and, after three people had died and over 175 were wounded, he calmly tweeted the next day that he was “stress free.” Let’s acknowledge that the police had been in a chase in which this fugitive and his brother had thrown explosives from their car. Let’s also acknowledge that the police did not know how many more explosives he might have on him.

You can say the officials responded with an over-abundance of caution, if you like, but I see it as an attempt to eliminate endangering citizens. Just imagine a scenario in which the fugitive took a family hostage in its home, or walked into a store and took employees and customers hostage, threatening to blow the place up. The threat of explosives changed the response – as it should have.

And, by the way, the Dunkin Donuts and another coffee shop were not “ordered” to stay open to serve police. The shopkeepers decided that on their own.

Larry Sanderson April 20, 2013 9:46 AM

Overkill. Completely insane overkill.

On the other hand, if sporting events are our circuses, they attacked our circuses! Circuses are cheaper than more bread, so in that sense, it was a completely sane response. It’s almost like they’re running scenarios for the jack-booted thugs. 😉

Imagine Boston was London or New York City… Wait, our government shut the whole country down after New York City…

David April 20, 2013 9:47 AM

Do we live in a police state? Can the police legally keep a whole city under lockdown? Sounds to me like the terrorists won this time.

Wintermute April 20, 2013 9:54 AM

There are two separate issues here. One is the lockdown. On this point I am torn. Overall, I think it’s an over-reach.

The other issue is the house-to-house searches. I do not recall any clause in the US Constitution that gives the police the authority to do this. Having a fugitive in the area is NOT probable cause, so any searches should have required warrants. I hope someone who was searched sues the Boston PD over this.

Allen April 20, 2013 9:55 AM

This is all theater to get us to focus off of the fact that government involvement has been exposed. People are conditioned to accept the official narratives and further are brainwashed into thinking that to disbelieve such obvious false narratives is mentally impaired or criminal. The so called authorities have been exposed and to focus on anything else is to be brain damaged.

Sharon Machlis April 20, 2013 9:58 AM

Correct, Scott. People were asked, not ordered. The actual wording at the press conference was “We’re asking people to shelter in place.”

Most people complied because there was an overwhelming sense of wanting to do whatever little they could to help law enforcement officials in a dangerous situation. As far as I’ve heard, no one was arrested or ticketed or fined if they didn’t comply. But it seems that people here still believe in community and trying to do things for the common good. That doesn’t exclude believing in liberty. It means that sometimes you are willing to think of the needs of others instead of only yourself.

It’s often a delicate balance between the rights of individuals and the needs of the community. This was perhaps well demonstrated by the response to an Arkansas state legislator tweeting that “Boston liberals cowering in their homes” probably wished they had an assault rifle to protect them. The overwhelming response, including from people in Watertown, was that, um, no, they didn’t think untrained, frightened vigilantes with weapons would help the situation, and they were more than happy to leave the manhunt and public safety to trained professionals. (And that it was ludicrous to talk about cowering when so many civilians had rushed toward bomb blast victims to help, despite not knowing if there would be further attacks.)

Alan April 20, 2013 9:59 AM

FYI, The MIT Police are police officers, not security guards. It is a police department consisting of sworn police officers with the power of arrest, etc., that have jurisdiction within the MIT campus and its environs. There are similar police departments at other universities in Massachusetts, such as Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern, etc. That system may be unique to Massachusetts, but that’s how they do it up there.

Alan April 20, 2013 10:01 AM

P.S., see for example :

“All university police officers are warranted under Chapter 22 C, Section 63, of the Massachusetts General Laws after receiving formalized training in police sciences at the Massachusetts State Police Academy and/or the Massachusetts Police Training Committee. Each officer receives further specialized training through various federal, state and local criminal justice training centers. The department continually sponsors in-service training programs for its members to keep them abreast of the latest in medical and police science techniques.”

Sharon Machlis April 20, 2013 10:03 AM

Wintermute, people I saw interviewed in Watertown said police went house to house ASKING if they wanted their homes searched for security reasons. It would really be helpful to try to get the facts before jumping to conclusions.

HenryR April 20, 2013 10:25 AM

Two months ago the Governor shut down half the state due to a blizzard. If yesterday had merely been another snow blizzard this discussion would not be taking place.

Instead it was a risk of a blizzard of bomb fragments from a man with an unknown number of bombs remaining. The shutdown both deprived him of targets of opportunity and made it easier for police to spot his movements, if any.

Ashley April 20, 2013 10:25 AM

I don’t know if I agree with locking down the greater Boston area in pursuit of 1 person, and I have family living there. However I don’t think the parallel with London is exactly a fair one. London is basically carpeted with CCTV that the police have ready access to. Every car coming into and out of the city is recorded and can be followed. I don’t know if Boston has that level of surveillance. It doesn’t sound like it if they used footage from a department store to identify the bombers. And Watertown certainly wouldn’t have that level given it’s a small town. I don’t advocate carpeting cities with state-run CCTV, but it can explain the difference in response. That and there were no other incidences after the initial bombing. Also, they’re two different cultures and London has been through IRA bombings. It’s not fair to compare the responses.

AlanS April 20, 2013 10:25 AM

I live in walking distance of all the locations where the events unfolded over the last week. My take on this at the moment is that the lock-down made sense but could have been greatly restricted. The lock-down appears to have applied to Watertown and all the surrounding towns and Boston. If you look at the geography of the lock-down, it didn’t make a lot of sense for large areas of Newton and Brookline, a good part of Waltham and large sections of Boston proper. Other towns, such as Somerville and Arlington, which were much closer to the unfolding events were not in lock down; people were merely advised to stay home.

I think there are other questions that should be asked such as:
1. Did the intense media coverage hinder or help? These sort of events get turned into media extravaganzas. I am not sure that this is at all helpful to the police doing their job or a balanced response to the events.
2. Was it terrorism? Terrifying for many people, yes, but that doesn’t make it terrorism. Terrorism is usually undertaken for some type of political, religious or ideological reason. At the moment there is little evidence of that. It may be these acts were merely carried out by a couple of disaffected youth without a genuine ideological purpose. That would make the event more akin to Columbine and the numerous acts of mass violence in the US than an event like 9/11. There’s a lot of talk about them being from Chechnya and Muslim suggesting some ideological purpose but that doesn’t really come across from the people who have been interviewed and who know them. I guess more information will come out that will answer this question.

Frank April 20, 2013 10:26 AM

I think it’s also worth pointing out what didn’t happen here.

There were no mass shoot-outs over mistaken identity resulting in civilian deaths.

There were no mass arrests based on profiles.

There were no taserings or shootings of anyone guilty of wearing a white hat.

There is plenty of room for debate over whether or not the strategy was appropriate or necessary, but the much credit is due to the many officers involved for a well controlled, highly professional execution of the plan. If we could wave a magic wand and ensure this kind of conduct by police all the time, we’d live in a much better world.

B. Johnson April 20, 2013 10:33 AM

I’ve got more than a few friends in Boston and the general consensus among them (I’ll admit it’s a narrow sample, given the general type of person I’m friends with) is that they were perfectly willing to stay home, and, according to them, that was a fairly popular opinion in general.

People either realized that it was a truly dangerous situation, and they should stay in out of sheer self-preservation, or they were committed to staying home to contribute to the police’s efforts to catch the suspects to prevent danger to others. Or some combination of both.

I consider myself a fairly rational person and if something like that was going on in Vegas, and I didn’t have a job where I would be called in specifically because this was going on, I’d stay home. And I’d tell everyone I care about to stay home. It was a real danger; the most dangerous large-scale situation in the US I can think of outside of LA’s riots.

I may catch some flak for expressing this opinion, but I think it’s valid. Things like this are perfectly acceptable steps for a government to take providing they are aimed at protecting the public (and can reasonably be believed to be for the public’s safety) and short-term. Hell, I’d almost go as far as saying that this is, as part of a government’s obligation to protect its population, the correct response.

kashmarek April 20, 2013 10:36 AM

Like it or not, security firms everywhere are salivating like Pavlov’s dog over the possibility of orders for thousands of camers per square mile, much like what the British have done. It’s all about the money at the expense of those who are forced to pay (one way or another).

AlanS April 20, 2013 10:48 AM

Hardly an answer to a pressing question of the day, but today’s Boston Globe quotes a spokesperson for Dunkin’ Donuts that they stayed open at the direction of authorities. No request for Starbucks to stay open. The Globe notes that Starbucks closed all 64 stores.

Rob April 20, 2013 10:51 AM

Sharon, Look up “Tyranny of the Majority” and “argumentum ad populum”

I have absolutely no trust in what the vast majority of people think about security. 2/3 of people supported full body scanners in airports. Does that make it good or useful? Since you read this site, I assume you know the answer to that question.

Roxanne April 20, 2013 10:58 AM

I agree with the lockdown on the Watertown area – but the whole Boston metroplex? That was overkill. I understand the motivation – if anyone is moving, it’s the suspect – but the police became the terrorists in this case. “Be Afraid!!” they preached.

Remember: Ultimately they shut down Boston for one teenager with one handgun. How much did it cost? No one will ever want to count that up.

Did the terrorists get their money’s worth? Oh, yeah.

Meanwhile, based on the photos they’ve released, I don’t think this kid knew he was carrying a bomb in that backpack. He was far too casual, and in too good of a mood. Brother #1, though, looked grim, and had his backpack strapped down. I think Brother #2 thought he was off with his brother for a fun afternoon at the Marathon, and didn’t find out until the bombs went off what was really up.

It does show what one guy with access to a hardware store can do, eh?

Sharon Machlis April 20, 2013 11:07 AM

Rob, I am sure you know the difference between people agreeing to a very temporary measure (less than a day) and other, more permanent policies.

If you had been here and chose to listen to what local leaders were saying, you would have heard repeatedly that they did not want to use this incident to change our core beliefs in an open society that is welcoming to all.

It is partly because at no time did people see political leaders trying to manipulate public fear for political gain or to institute draconian measures for no reason that the public was willing to trust this very short-term measure.

Michael Brady April 20, 2013 11:38 AM

Cop-killing, bomb-chucking, car-jacking terrorist on the loose? Thousands of angry, exhausted, adrenalized cops with M-4s searching every “warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse” for him? Sounds like a really fine day to stay indoors at home.

Fleg April 20, 2013 11:43 AM

If nothing else, it proves that two determined individuals can launch a very successful denial-of-service attack against a major US city.

Eric Thomas Black April 20, 2013 11:47 AM

I think it is important to point out that they didn’t find him until after they released the lockdown. At that point the owner of the boat went outside and noticed the blood and was able to report his location. By locking down the entire city they lost a lot of eyes and ears in the search.

And seriously, it was a 19 year old college student, not Lex Luthor.

mike moritz April 20, 2013 11:54 AM

Martial law for a country where everybody seems to have a gun seems ressonable to me. I think the US is a nuthouse be governed by its inmates. Crazy people who need a strong hand. Freedom is for responsible people. You lost that chance. But God still protects his beloved, even in crazy and violent world like ours, I live in Brazil and can testify that.

moo April 20, 2013 12:05 PM

Ryan, however, does wonder about the unprecedented action by authorities to shut down Boston, given the cost. “We’re going to hear more about that in the next couple of days.”

Looking ahead, Leuprecht said, “When an attack does happen the best way to deter future attacks is to show that society bounces back quickly, that society does not buy into the psychology of terrorism, of fear, of civic, economic, political paralysis.”

“If we don’t act in a resilient manner, then in a way the terrorists have won,” he added, noting that the main goal of terrorism is to instill fear but “if we show that we’re not scared and show we’re not deterred, that’s the best way to show that these attacks are relatively meaningless.”

Bob Harrington April 20, 2013 12:07 PM

Do you still think Boston Police don’t need M16’s? Do you still think the only terrorism the face are “red lights” as you said in 2009! How would you like to go up against an AK47 and bombs with a pistol?

Jmcc April 20, 2013 12:11 PM

Suspect two was found less than 700 yards away from where the shoot out took place the night before.

Police claim that they searched the boat earlier.

But the fact remains that the reason he was found was because a citizen walked outside his house, noticed a blood trail, dfollowed it to the boat, looked inside, and saw the bomber then called the police.

In other words, the suspect was found because the lockdown was ended

Herman April 20, 2013 12:17 PM

So, I take it that the Department of Homeland Security will now ban all pressure cookers.

Musashi April 20, 2013 12:20 PM

In London, the Police did manage to kill an innocent Brazilian man, too.
Not their finest hour.

Wintermute April 20, 2013 12:33 PM


It would be easier to get my facts straight if there wasn’t so much misinformation out there already, and I could actually find a source that said the searches were not mandatory. All I can find are references to door-to-door searches. No mention of permission being asked. And one article from a source I trust mentions doors being kicked in where homeowners did not respond. This would indicate they were not asking for permission to search, at least in cases of unoccupied homes. If this report is true, I stand behind my statements. If it’s false, then I’ll gladly retract it.

I’m still torn on the whole lock-down thing. I mean, on the one hand, it kept Boston PD from shooting the wrong people, but on the other, it seems to have been a waste as it wasn’t until after it was lifted that a citizen found the suspect.

Whatever April 20, 2013 12:34 PM

From a Western-Europe country view, it looks like Security Theater, and in contradiction with “we refuse fear”. Doesn’t look like limiting/avoiding fear to the people.

James B DiGriz April 20, 2013 12:42 PM

“the sort of thing that pretty much only happens in the movies.”

I.e. the sort of thing that lends credence to the possibility that the whole outrage was a scripted, staged, planned, and choreographed false-flag security theater production. (Not to mention extemporaneously edited, however ham-handedly, but that’s a side issue here.)

But, nah, that’s crazy talk. Obviously.

obarth April 20, 2013 12:49 PM

To put things in perspective:
– those guys cost a lot less life than guns (about 100 deaths per day in the US)
– those guys cost a lot less money than bankers and banks who were never even looked at seriously by lawmen.

I feel for the people who got hurt. In the grand scheme of things though, it is but a blip in a general situation that includes much bigger, recurrent, chronic problems.

Vested interests are leveraging the matter as much as they can to both divert attention, and move the needle their way.

We must keep things in perspective, and focus the really important stuff.

Daniel Stoltzfus April 20, 2013 12:54 PM

We may never know if the boat was searched or not. I suspect they did not. If they lie about a helicopter finding the kid than they probably won’t tell us they didn’t search the boat. My guess he was there all day long.

Wintermute April 20, 2013 1:00 PM

“This is Boston—you’d have do act pretty egregiously to get the police to pay attention to anything you did, especially when they’re doing real work”

It’s irrelevant to the rest of the discussion, but I found this statement fairly amusing, as, in the past, there was the whole Aqua Teen Hunger Force thing, then Boston PD calling in the bomb squad for the city’s own traffic devices looking “suspicious.” Or maybe they just weren’t doing “real work” on those occasions?

Delta April 20, 2013 1:02 PM

My instinct is that the lockdown was an overreaction. A cordon around the immediate area, or even a town or two? That I could forgive. (n.b.: I lived and worked in Watertown for about 10 years.) But the entire city of Boston, 1 million people? Seems like ludicrous, historically unprecedented overkill. Furthermore, I’m really highly troubled by (a) how quickly officials could shut down, lockdown a city and flood it with militarized soldier-cops, armored vehicles, and combat helicopters, as well as (b) reports that the suspect was intentionally not read his Miranda Rights. To me, that is mind-blowingly frightening.

Sharon Machlis April 20, 2013 1:15 PM

IMO Wintermute this is exactly why people who were not here should be cautious about jumping to conclusions — at least until they feel they actually know what was going on.

If you weren’t here and you acknowledge there’s “so much misinformation” out there, how can you feel confident that you have accurate data to draw any appropriate conclusions?

chrishawn lee April 20, 2013 1:23 PM

why are we giving some college kid the power to shut down a major metro area, 2 major sporting and countless other events down? we need to stop hiding and start interacting that is what stops this.

Wintermute April 20, 2013 1:31 PM

Sharon – In light of misinformation, one has to chose the sources of information to believe. In my case, the information that at doors were kicked in comes from a source I trust. Was this source misinformed? Possible. But I trust the source for their past accuracy. It’s also possible you’re misinformed about it being consensual.

Being there is irrelevant. Most of the misinformation I was talking about is coming from people who are there.

trainreq April 20, 2013 1:37 PM

I view this as a lesson learned from Los Angeles. The shoot first, ask questions later mentality of police enforcement does not go well when people are on the street, so they ordered a lockdown. They were protecting people from law enforcement, not from these two imbeciles. Arguably many thousands of law enforcement officers at peak alert have the greater capability for devastation.

pB April 20, 2013 1:47 PM

The London bombers were not fleeing from a hot pursuit, heavily armed, shown willing to kill a policeman, jack a car etc.

These idiots did NOT kill themselves in their bomb attempt. I think it is naive in the extreme to believe that you can just blithely go on about your business while such a pursuit is going on.

If the bombers were laying low or on the run on the QT then there would be no need to lockdown the city.

Even with the lockdown there were a couple of people who ended up face down on the pavement, imagine how many more there would have been if there had been crowds out on the street watching.

moo April 20, 2013 1:48 PM

In other news, they’re not going to Mirandize him (at least not until after the special interrogation team has a chance to coax some priceless counterterrorism intel out of him).

I wish I could say I was arsed about this, but there’s clearly a national security interest in learning whatever they can about his affiliations, who might have radicalized and trained these two, whether they have any other “terrorist buddies” who might want to conduct similar attacks, etc.

Alas, its not nearly as bad as what I actually half-expected to happen, which was for him to be declared an ‘enemy combatant’ and swiftly whisked away to some secret facility, never to be seen again. At least they probably aren’t going to waterboard him… much as he might deserve it, that’s just not what civilized societies are supposed to do (and more importantly, it doesn’t work).

But seriously, I hope that they tread carefully with this “rare exception”, because once you start down a slope like that, its all too easy to not stop.

Steve April 20, 2013 2:02 PM

You can ask the same question when vehicles were banned from all roadways during the big snowstorms?

The rationalization is that it is justified in that it saves lives — especially when foolish drivers skid on the ice and run over pedestrians.

The rationalization here is we have an action adventure movie playing out in real life and not only will the search be facilitated with the lockdown, but lives will be saved by avoiding creating soft targets where people have aggregated like subway stations, etc.

It also wasn’t at all clear there were additional accomplices so even if Watertown was locked down….did we want to create a soft target like Downtown Crossing?

Eric R. April 20, 2013 2:14 PM

Authorities asked people to shelter-in-place to assist with the search, and trusted them to exercise good judgment in doing so. Nothing wrong with that on a threat-to-liberty front. (Setting aside the question of whether it was a wise/effective tactic.)

Something I haven’t seen talked about as much was that the MBTA was shut down, involuntarily denying transit to anyone relying on it – and once taxi companies also stopped service, if you didn’t have a car you were SOL. Again without casting judgment one way or the other as to whether it was necessary/useful/wise – among people I know it was certainly more intrusive than the shelter-in-place request.

Makscash April 20, 2013 2:30 PM

It did look like security theatre. However the other dead guy was strapped with an explosive suicide vest and trigger so they had reason to believe the escaped suspect might jump on a bus and blow himself up or take hostages again.

I didn’t think they would find him in the dragnet just like they didn’t find Dorner. US military also did these house to house searches in Iraq after the invasion yet were unable to round up weapons since residents just buried them in their yard.

I’m also wondering how the older brother escaped intelligence, when he had a youtube page under his name covered in pro-Jihadist propaganda, the FBI was warned about him, and everybody who knew him said he was a radical zealot psychopath they didn’t want anything to do with.

Anyways glad the Boston PD didn’t shoot at everything that moved unlike the LAPD during the Dorner manhunt. Given that just 2 terrorists with crude bombs and handguns were able to shut down an entire city for 24hrs I’m sure future terrorists took note of this.

Tom Swiss April 20, 2013 2:57 PM

Apart from legal and ethical considerations, the lockdown was a tactical failure. The suspect was caught only after it was lifted — people cowering in their homes, whether out of their own fear or at the direction of the “authorities”, can’t “see something, say something.”

The manhunt reminded me more of the tale of Alice’s Restaurant than of a sensible attempt to locate a suspect: “…being the biggest crime of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted to get in the newspaper story about it. And they was using up all kinds of cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer’s station.”

And shutting down a whole city with a couple of small bombs has to look really, really good to terrorists.

D.P. April 20, 2013 3:04 PM

Comparison with London is flawed in many ways. It made sense to ask people to stay inside in the morning. However, in the afternoon, there was no hot pursue, and it was clear that the suspect had dug in somewhere. Thus keeping people inside in the whole metropolitan area (outside of Watertown) was not really necessary. In fact, it was better to let people to go outside on their own business in daylight than at night when the suspect was more likely to move. The suspect would be easily spotted if he tried to move during daylight, so chances of him organizing another terrorist attack were absolutely minimal, and you cannot keep people inside forever.

JoeV April 20, 2013 3:07 PM

So. How do you suppose they are “coaxing” information out of the 19 year old suspect, who’s currently in the hospital? Withholding pain meds with the promise of “spill the beans and we’ll dose you up good?” Actually, they do that already in prisons across the country, truth be told. But, it isn’t torture!

Anon April 20, 2013 3:14 PM

Hey JoeV the suspect is at Beth Israel Hospital, the same place that reports it gave its best medical care to the other suspect. On behalf of my friends who work at the world-class medical institutions in this city, I take strong exception to you insulting their professional ethics.

Thomas H April 20, 2013 3:39 PM

According to the BBC, the police will indeed withhold reading his Miranda rights:

This means we can count this as a victory for the terrorists. I frankly am also quite worried by the amount of people calling for torturing the suspect to get answers, and their angry reactions to pointing out that such an attitude makes them about as bad as the terrorists. Maybe it’s better if the suspect dies in hospital if they do indeed chuck out his constitutional rights.

Time will tell if they plan to do this for any similar suspect or only the Muslims.

As for the lockdown, it’s understandable to do this locally given the threat from the suspects, but locking down the whole of Boston does sound somewhat excessive. Worse, it raises another risk: terrorists could intentionally trigger such a state and then detonate bombs in locations where a lot of people gather…

Jones April 20, 2013 3:48 PM

It was a temporary violation of one’s freedom for the benefit of everyone else – including their own safety. I can’t see a problem with this.

This, folks, is the problem with America nowadays. No, you cannot justify violating my freedoms just because you’re a paranoid coward with no grasp on probability, even if those violations are temporary. The TSA wouldn’t have a right to exist even if it was a temporary ‘solutions’, and neither should things like this.

Don’t be a freedom-hating government cheerleader, okay?

Jones April 20, 2013 3:53 PM

Besides, telling people not to travel due to a blizzard (which should still just be a suggestion, in my opinion) is different than punishing (practically what it is) absolutely everyone for the actions of a few.

Such things cannot be justified even if they save lives. Hell, the TSA claims that its existence saves lives and that it is therefore necessary, but surely any freedom-loving individual would rather have freedom than safety (especially since your choice to forgo freedom affects everyone, not just you).

Johnston April 20, 2013 4:14 PM

I listened live to the Boston police scanner all night Thursday, and all day Friday, until 30 minutes after they took suspect 2 alive. They were finding pipe bombs and other IEDs at various places throughout the night, and believed suspect 2 (white hat) likely had a backpack or more full of them. They also knew that suspect 2 had been at his university on Wednesday and Thursday, which is probably why they evacuated.

Keep in mind that most of Boston was not locked down. People were asked to stay at home, not forced to. Apart from public transportation and Watertown, there was no lockdown in Boston.

@Michael Brady

You should listen to the archived Boston PD scanner tapes. They are very professional and calm, for hours on end. Listen to them, then talk.

I think a lot of people who didn’t follow the manhunt closely, and didn’t agree with the Boston PD’s approach, would change their minds if only they would have listened to the police scanner for as long as I did (I didn’t even sleep Thur night!). There is SO MUCH that the media never reported. Boston PD’s response was calm, professional, and quickly found suspect 2, taking him alive, and without injuring anyone else. Compare this to the LAPD’s manhunt of Christopher Dorner.

Anton April 20, 2013 5:04 PM

There might also be a causal connection. Without the attention caused by the “lockdown”, the guy may not have gone out to check his boat.

Cellar April 20, 2013 5:07 PM

I looked at it and thought “This is how Americans do this sort of thing. Super-sized, like they do everything else.”

Add to that the militarisation of police services, poiniered with the SWAT teams that’re now used way, way beyond their original remit, and add to that the post-9/11 ideas about “security”, and, well, the results are predictable. Very dramatic and very ineffective.

Just look at them: FBI agents, dressed like a “warfighter”, in camo gear. In a city. Like they were up against all the citizens, instead of just, er, one, as the other was dead already.

There is no indication to suggest more sense or reason here. A large contingent of donut eating someones was having a field day, is all.

The sad thing is that a country like the UK has had its troubles for decades –and they’ve learned to move on instead of panicking, supposing they hadn’t learned the exact same thing in the blitz– yet post-9/11 they too took a number of “anti-terrist” measures that restrict everyone but make none safer. Thus, the USoA is spreading the love.

What I think about it? I think that our political leaders the world over are failing us, and I think that the one country conceived on ideas and built and set up around a framework to safeguard against governmental abuses is failing the world in letting the abuses run the government.

That means exactly that The American People are not doing their job keeping their governments in check. But that’s no news, so it didn’t surprise me.

William Smythe April 20, 2013 5:13 PM

Just look at the mass disruption, attention and fear that the two events in Boston created. That’s exactly the goal of Terrorism. If your desire, as a populace or government, is to see enacted a real life Hollywood script, then the way the news media, police force and Gov. reacted is the way to go; I however believe this is the wrong approach since it was a spectacular success for the terrorist. This will just encourage more. There’ll be more idiots who want to go down in a blaze of glory murdering innocents. The govt and media will play into their hand (as they did here) and announce to the world how dangerous the situation is and we need to limit our freedoms to be safe. And this is the goal of terrorism. They seek to amplify relatively small acts to cause a huge reaction.

You shouldn’t allow such successes. You shouldn’t allow a small horrible act to be amplified into an international issue. Again, that’s what is sought in a terrorist act.

It’s hard to do the difficult thing and not give in to terrorism. But that’s why it’s so successful.

If this story including the events on Monday was burried on page 8 of the Boston Herald, then Boston and the nation would be far safer.

Until we learn, as a population, that the relative risk of dieing in a terrorist attack is far less than dieing in your car from an accident, or in your home from an accident, or of being murdered by a non terrorist in your city or even of being killed by lightning, and that folks is never then we’ve made terrorism a successful strategy. The kind of frenzy that happens when these things occur will just encourage more of it.

As horrible as it is to say, until terrorism is common place and therefore boring, our reaction to it will most likely always give the terrorists what they want… attention.

Clive Robinson April 20, 2013 5:40 PM

The only thing I can say about this specific case is there is way way more rumor and false information floating around than facts.

So a comment or two in the general case,

Firstly altough to many this looks like “war on the streets” akin to a full blown millitary offensive, it was not an offensive but defensive action against an assumed limited in number enemy of unknown armarment.

If you have one guy with a pistol or shotgun in open ground what to do is fairly well practiced and understood and therefor “a measured response” or “proportianate response” is more or less known.

Thus the question of what “a measured response” would be in this case would be an unknown as the situation was in effect unknown.

It has been said before that the problem with defence is knowing when you have spent enough. Knowing when you have spent to little is usually obvious in that you get attacked. And knowing if you have spent to much is just guess work at best based on 20/20 hindsight of any given outcome.

What is clear is that Boston was in effect attacked twice, once by tht bombing the second time by the killing of a police officer and a running gun battle apparently involving home made handgrenads or other explosives.

Thus it would be easy to see that as far as the Boston authorities were concerned they were not expending enough on defense…

Secondly I know that Boston has a reputation for over reacting in the past and I’m sure that this was in the back of peoples minds when they were making the initial decisions.

Thirdly is another issue which is innocent bystanders. It’s fairly clear that the person who built the bombs had no qualms about killing or maining inocent bystanders. But perhaps oddly the persons being chased had taken what were in effect hostages (car driver) and let them go. Two compleatly different behaviours which in effect jib with each other if they are the same people.

In light of this the authorities had the issue of unpredictable behaviour or perhaps other unknown persons to deal with.

A difficult call to make thus erring very much on the side of caution or with hindsight over reaction would perhaps be a safer route in the face of the unknown of the situation.

So perhaps we should not regard it in terms of authoritarian FUD but bureaucratic H&S over protection in which case I’m fairly certain most Bostonian’s are currently breathing a little easier, but still have their fingers crossed, afterall it had been put about befor the MIT incident that it was all over…

tz April 20, 2013 6:25 PM

MA is a gun-control state. In Texas the results woudl likely be very different if the citizens weren’t locked down (nor would they likely let themselves be).

You did not analyze how much of the lockdown was “security theater”.

“Emergencies” are just another exception. Other than the time-frame, how is this different from the TSA?

Now you have an easy way to do economic terrorism. Just create whatever situation where shutting down large urban areas is “justified”.

Lets shut down NYC including the stock exchange.




Maybe the whole USA. Or the internet.

How is a threat of “Shut down my city or I’ll (insert dastardly deed)”, and “Do X and the police will shut down the city” that much different in effect?

There is now a big FREEZE button which terrorists now can press.

William Smythe April 20, 2013 7:02 PM

Friendly reminder to tz

We did shut down the country for 911. We didn’t let planes fly.

On another note.

Isn’t it a weird coincidence that during 2 different terrorist attacks ( 911, and Boston on monday) that the DC governemt was sent a toxic powered in the mail ( anthrax in 911 and ricin now.); of course it would be less weird if crazies were sending poisons to them all of the time, I don’t know the stats on that.

Petréa Mitchell April 20, 2013 7:21 PM

The second guy was found because the guy whose boat he was hiding in went outside. Think how much more quickly he might have been found if the police hadn’t told everyone to stay inside…

Petréa Mitchell April 20, 2013 7:22 PM

D’oh, I should’ve clicked through to more of the other links first. Well, it’s there for anyone else who skipped them. 🙂

Bodi Thung April 20, 2013 7:43 PM

The “lockdown” was voluntary but pretty much totally observed. I would have stayed inside too, with a thousand armed and trigger happy cops on the street. I remember the Dorner manhunt where they shot several completely innocent people who in no way resembled the wanted man – two women in a different colored and different brand of vehicle for example. Going outside would be suicidal.

keith April 20, 2013 9:15 PM

At this point, the only thing I really take issue with is shutting down the city itself and the MBTA (outside of Watertown). They didn’t seem to need to do this and it did cost a lot of money. Perhaps they had intelligence that there were bombs elsewhere which may come to light in the future. There was a very odd issue in the Kendal Square Area which is still not explained at all.

The lockdown was voluntary. If you listen to the police scanner they had an incident of a person roaming the streets within their search area in a black hoodie taking pictures. I have to give them very high marks for not accidentally killing that person.

I do think the shelter in place made a ton of sense for Watertown. I also think it is wrong to assume it had no effect on the captured suspect. Not having people moving around the neighborhood probably made it much harder for the suspect to move about or carjack another vehicle and slip away.

They almost certainly did not search the boat before the owner found the blood. The boat was outside of their search area by a block.

This is also a rather unusual circumstance. People mention comparing it to the DC sniper and not shutting down DC. Unless I’m mistaken there was never a time when the police were sure the suspect was in a small area but didn’t have them in custody. The sniper was killing a person and then slipping away into an impossible to search area.

I’m curious what the rules were about searching houses. listening to the scanner I think they only entered houses with permission or doors left open (and ones they were invited in for strange noises etc). They certainly talked about open basement doors which were searched. They also talked about a ladder which was moved between sweeps. They physically climbed the ladder and checked the accessible windows to be sure they were secure, but that was all.

It is worth noting that the media was all over the police for stopping the shelter in place before they found the suspect.

I’m curious what the difference between bad people realizing they can shutdown a city for a while vs. bad people realizing that they will be hunted tirelessly. Which has a larger impact?

I’ve been trying to figure out how this event differs from a shooting (or even a mass shooting). I think part of it is the perceived reasoning. I think the feeling of the bombers is that they are purely trying to destroy our way of life. They are trying to make large gatherings unsafe. They aren’t targeting a person that wronged them, they might not just stop after one bombing (given the supplies the suspects had it seems they weren’t done). I’m not really entirely sure.

dr2chase April 20, 2013 9:23 PM

I notice, above, lots of people who are quick to form opinions based on mistaken assumptions or factoids that they were too eager to believe. People should learn to be a little more comfortable having an opinion that is resolutely uncertain.

As others have noted, the lockdown was voluntary and finite. I listened to the scanner on and off during the 24-hour search; they were professional and methodical, and I was very impressed.

I think it’s really funny that people think that there are no guns in Massachusetts because we have gun control. Gun control is rather different from no guns, and I was told by a local that the town I live in is actually “rather well-armed”.

Something I have NOT seen mentioned is that school is out this last week, at least in Watertown and our (adjacent) town. That’s apparently new information to many of you — does it change your opinion about the lockdown?

Harry April 20, 2013 9:32 PM

The lockdown wasn’t in response to the bombing and it wasn’t in response to the alleged perpetrators’ religion. It was in response to an armed robbery, an armed carjacking and robbery, one policeman down and killed, a shootout with police conducted with guns and explosives. “Armed and very dangerous” barely begins to cover it. Works even for myself the very pro-civil liberties person.

Also – the lockdown was, technically, voluntary.

Figureitout April 20, 2013 10:11 PM

the lockdown was voluntary
–Right b/c when a swat team just “asks” to search your home or stay inside and only open the door for “someone in a uniform that can’t be imitated”, you really get the sense you have a choice.

Figureitout April 20, 2013 10:16 PM

@Bruce S.
–I thought you would find it, well interesting; that when Brian Williams (pretty mainstream media) on NBC was showing the suspected house using Microsoft satellites and camera-cars, that he said something to the effect, “Just goes to show, we really don’t have any privacy anymore, folks.” And, “Sorry to these folks as we’re showing their house to the world”.

evilI April 20, 2013 10:27 PM

Now if they could only apply the same rigour to seeking out the perpetrators of the Texan fertilizer plant incident … oh yeah, that’ud be the Feds and the Texan government. Send in the swat teams and arrest somebody!

evilI April 20, 2013 10:32 PM

Isnt “lockdown” (which sounds abit stupid) modern day American for “State instituted curfew”? Bit like “going forward” instead of “in the future”. The media circulated it verbatim…..

Jeff Del Papa April 20, 2013 10:34 PM

I am also a Boston local. Lived about a mile from “ground zero” for 20 years, now within 3 miles of it. Susan’s office is a few hundred yards of the place.

One thing I didn’t see mentioned: they found a few devices that had been planted that same night. One was in a highrise apartment building in Boston proper, a second in Cambridge. Its pretty clear they were preparing to skip town, they robbed a store, robbed and carjacked an unlucky person, and placed some of their devices to create further confusion after they had a chance to get away.

Unfortunately for them the car they grabbed had GPS tracking, and they left the owner alive to pass on that information to the police. After they cornered them and the older brother exited the vehicle, threw a bomb at the officers, then detonated the suicide device he was wearing (possibly by means of a deadman switch). His brother then escaped in the vehicle, running over his brother’s body to do so.

Does say that he was unlikely to show much concern for anyone that might approach him, and that he was most likely still armed and in possession of explosives. Personally I am surprised that they managed to capture him without any further loss of life, including his.

My take on the shutdown, was that it was as much advice as anything else. Unfortunately there is a segment of the population that has a too strong urge to rubberneck, and unless told explicitly to stay away might have provided him with further targets to car jack, and/or a crowd to blend into.

AT April 20, 2013 11:16 PM

The shutdown was quite clearly voluntary, and this was stated in press briefings.

Without solid intel on the scope and support structure of those involved, it was a prudent and time-limited decision to keep people off the streets and out of the way of those who were risking their lives to protect the civilian population.

That said, the right way to handle the concerns is to have a full and public inquiry some six months hence.

Nick P April 21, 2013 12:00 AM

Other commenters and articles have said plenty about why lockdown was a bad idea. The Popehat article made me notice something, though. It was when the writer said that

“Four victims brutally killed” goes by other names in other cities.

In Detroit, for example, they call it “Tuesday”.”

I’m often in and around one of Detroit’s competitors for most violent city in the United States. Plenty of good people and happenings in the city but the various media would make you think otherwise. If Detroit or that city pulled a Boston, city life would come to a grinding halt several times a month. Like in Boston, this would probably cause more loss of economic and social opportunity than the crooks are costing.

Our city’s people deal with the threat of random, violence every day. Robbery, rape, gang murder… these things happen plenty. Are we just desensitized to the common horrors? Possibly. Bomb throwing getaways could cause an overreaction in theory. Yet, our common response to risk is to avoid bad spots, maintain situational awareness, optionally pack heat, tell the cops about stuff beyond our control, and otherwise don’t care AT ALL. The last part is the most important response, imho.

We do what we can in prevention and stuff. Otherwise we just keep on living. And plenty of us are quite happy in our hellhole as we focus on enjoying the good that outweighs the bad, even if news covers plenty of horror in a given day. You could say most of us refuse to be terrorized.

Note: I guess it also helps to be a somewhat terrifying city. I had no idea what some people thought of us until a close friend was with some buddies at a club in Atlanta. Thugs decided to mug the “tourists” and outnumbered them. They stopped when one of our friends started shouting profanely about where we were from and what would happen to the attackers. The Atlanta thugs replied “Oh man, yall straight then. We ain’t got prob with yall mayne. Our bad.” They just left. Surreal.

TomTrottier April 21, 2013 3:30 AM

There’s a lot of good arguments here for both sides. I hope there’s a public inquiry for all the locals to watch and participate in in order to determine the best criteria for a lockdown or other measures when you have someone threatening the public with bombs.
Did it work to protect the public or catch the guy?
Was it worth the cost to transit users, hourly workers, and corporations? (BTW, bikes are perfectly good transportation)
Will it encourage more bombings (more effect) or discourage bombings (easier to get caught)?
As for overkill, how would you like to be dressed and what vehicle would you like to use to catch someone hurling bombs and shooting?

Clive Robinson April 21, 2013 4:31 AM

@ Nick P,

With regards caring or not in your local -v- boston, it might be based on a simple socio economic problem called “food on the table”.

As a rough rule of thumb the poorer you are the less you have, and down to a certain point the more honest you are likely to be. Also the less likely you are to suffer from what has been described in the past as the “WMC angst” of “the chattering classes”. Likewise the poorer you are the less likely you are to have the spare reserves to “put food on the table” when you are not working. So their option in such a lock down is stay at home and starve -v- take a small risk of being killed on the way to work and eat for another day.

Another way of looking at it is being the equivalent of the “worried well” who take a disproportionate amount of a General Practitioners time. Those who are poor don’t see doctors becauce the have to work often they litteraly work themselves to death because not only can they not aford a doctor or medicines they hour or two of not working to see a doctor will cause them to fall further behind in their “red queen race” to survive.

Put simply wealth alters your personal risk perception. The more spare resources you have the more you have to both worry on and worry about.

r_baz April 21, 2013 4:39 AM

The fact that a common citizen quickly found the suspect after the lockdown was lifted is NOT evidence that the lockdown was a mistake.

The gentleman who made the discovery was VERY LUCKY. Nine times out of ten he takes a bullet in the face or worse.

Clive Robinson April 21, 2013 5:44 AM

@ William Smythe

Isn’t it a weird coincidence that during 2 different terrorist attacks ( 911, and Boston on monday) that the DC governemt was sent a toxic powered in the mail ( anthrax in 911 and ricin now.); of course it would be less weird if crazies were sending poisons to them all of the time, I don’t know the stats on that

Whilst each day is a new day that you will only see once, some days have additional special meaning either because of a specific date or a re-occuring specific meaning. It was pointed out shortly after the Boston bombings when news people were looking to attribute a cause to the event that the day it was held on had meaning to a group of US Citizens who object to paying federal taxes etc.

So in both 9/11 and Boston’s case the date in question had additional meaning over other days in the US.

As for ricin it’s self it belongs in a group of chemicals that in times past Grandma and Grandpa would have warned you about and how to deal with.

That is ricin like so many other plant poisons are found in very common food stuffs and you need to process the plant in some way prior to consumption.

Ricin comes from the castor been which is actually a seed and by compressing it you end up with a usefull oil and a product called mash. Aparently each seed contains enough ricin to kill atleast one full grown person by ingestion and several by inhilation and many by injection (Google Georgie Markov and the umbreller assasination for more details). In cold pressing the ricin stays mainly in the mash which would then go on to become fertilizer and the oil would be heated to make it safe as a food stuff. In hot pressing both the oil and the mash lose most of the ricin and with little further processing are safe for animal feed. Grandpa being a farmer would know this and would tell you when you would be a young and curious kid under foot.

It’s simillar but with a twist with many true beans. The most notable being the Red Kidney bean often called a pea in creol dishes such as “rice n peas”. Grandma would have told you to only ever use the dried beans that you had soaked for a full day and changed the water twice and that you then need to boil the beans for a good ten minutes before putting tgem in any other dish to cook. What has been seen is an uprising in poisoning with these beans since electric slow cookers became fashionable. The twist is if you heat the beans to around 80C it actually makes the beans considerably more toxic so don’t make chilli-con-carn or other mexican or creol dishes using them in a slow cooker unless you realy realy know they have been prepared properly.

Then there is “green potato poison”, grandma would have told you to either cut of all the green or to throw them into the compost, likewise with the the eyes. But way to many food and nutrition experts have told us all the goodness in a potato is “just under the skin” and thus to scrub not peel potatoes and in the health mantra the green potato poison message got lost and people suffered. But it was not just Grandma in the kitchen it was also Grandpa in the garden, he would have told you to always “bank” or “heap” the rows of plants, many people belive this is because it makes the plant produce more tubas which it does in some species, but don’t know it’s to keep the light away and stop them turning green. Likewise the advice about storing potatoes in “a dark, dry, cool place” they think is just to stop them growing it’s also to stop you poisoning yourself.

And there are lots of other garden food stuffs that have similar problems such as rhubarb and tabbaco and tomatoes. Then there are the Look alike problems” with wild food foraging that is becoming popular, the horseradish plant is very very similar to another which will kill you most unpleasently if you mistakenly use it to make fresh horseradish sauce…

Much of Grandma and Grandpa’s advice has been lost due to the Sixties and later ‘plastic pack’ lifestyles now more than fifty years later we are learning to our cost that word of mouth advice needs to be writen down lest we have to re-learn it by poisoning ourselves.

Oh and all the plants I’ve mentioned have been found mentioned in “terrorist training plans”, thankfully most of the plant poisons are dificult to weaponise which is why post WWI the major powers started looking at the likes of sarin (look up the japanese “death cult” that despite vast wealth and good technical and scientific help failed to make either biological or chemical weapons work as effective weapons).

AlexT April 21, 2013 5:50 AM

Just wondering – what are the legal ramifications ? I understand that this was a “voluntary” lock-down, not martial law. Assuming one would not comply what would be the consequences (except for the risk of being shot on sight, I’m really surprised that there was no unfortunate accidental shooting…) ?

EchoTango April 21, 2013 7:49 AM

Boys and their toys, the police were overly equipped with sexy toys, high tech weapons and a mindset that high tech is the only way to go. All of which was worthless in the pursuit and ultimately failed.

What would have worked and is very low tech is having a Blood Hound follow an actual blood trail from point A to point B where the suspect was captured. But there is no Blood Hound Lobbyists so millions of dollars were wasted on expensive toys.

cbpelto April 21, 2013 8:02 AM

TO: All
RE: The Keyston Cops Updated & Revised

Watching what happened last week in Waterton, I’m reminded of the famous satire on police in the early part of the 20th Century: The Keystone Cops. [NOTE: Check them out on YouTube.]

Racing about, hanging on to their overcrowded versions of the modern MRAP as they chased about.

Being ineffective.

And yet the final capture is effected by the private citizen.



[The Truth will out…..]

AlanS April 21, 2013 8:02 AM

Several questions appear to be emerging that the authorities will have to answer:
1. Given that the suspect didn’t move very far, was wounded and bleeding, why weren’t they able to find him during the lock-down?
2. The Boston Globe is reporting this morning that the Russians communicated concerns about the older brother to US authorities in 2011 and the older brother and his family were interviewed by the FBI in 2011. So why weren’t they knocking on his door immediately after the explosions? Why did they need public help to identify him from the photographs?

FBI was warned of alleged bomber’s radical shift

cbpelto April 21, 2013 8:19 AM

TO: All
RE: Heh

I’ve never watched it before, but TODAY, after thinking on what happened during the massive, ineffective Boston bomber manhunt, I’m going to watch….

….The Siege


[The Truth will out…..]

moo April 21, 2013 8:59 AM

Some of the recent posts in this thread might belong in the great bit-bucket.

@Alan: So far, the story seems to be that he slipped out of their initial perimeter by about one block (perhaps before it was fully set up).

A lot of people have been saying “he wasn’t found until the shelter-in-place order was rescinded, therefore it was unsuccessful”, but they neglect the point that it apparently kept him pinned down all day in one place, perhaps slowly bleeding to death. If he hadn’t been weakened, maybe he would have killed that homeowner who went to check on his boat.

About the FBI tip, an amazing number of people are now essentially asking “why do we not live in a total police state”, where mere suspicion by a foreign intelligence service can get you permanently placed on a list of “bad people” who aren’t dangerous enough to arrest or disappear, but should immediately be persecuted after an attack.

There’s two likely possibilities: Either Tamerlan wasn’t really radicalized yet in 2011 (maybe the FBI interviews actually pushed him over the edge) or else he was and he successfully deceived the interviewers by pretending to be a good ole normal American which he’d had 4-5 years practice at.

So the FBI, finding no reason to suspect him of being a Terrist apparently did not scribble his name down on the “list of bad people to watch at all times”. Just like many many other innocent people they interview each year.

We demand omniscience from our security services, but some threats (particularly the ‘lone wolf’) kind are almost impossible to detect in advance, while hindsight is 20/20.

bandit April 21, 2013 9:51 AM

Not only noting that it was a citizen, after the lockdown was over that noticed the suspect, but also that the police requested that Dunken Doughnuts remain open to feed the cops.

I went into a Dunkin Donuts in Dorchester Friday afternoon and it was me, the employees and the homeless. There was no way on God’s green earth that anyone was in any danger there except for some local thugs.

quixote April 21, 2013 9:52 AM

I’m together with those who aren’t sure about the principled merits of the case, but there are three practical considerations I keep thinking about.

1) Armchair quarterbacking is very easy. So far, no obviously idiotic decisions jump out that should never have been taken even in the heat of the moment. (Such as, for instance, in the Dorner Los Angeles manhunt, shooting at two women in a completely different car than the one they were looking for.)

2) Telling people to stay off the streets “for safety.” Well, what else are they going to say? “Stay inside so you’re not cluttering up the line of fire because you’re so busy taking pictures with your phone”? Boston has a low proportion of idiots on the US national scale, but they still have plenty. (I grew up there, so that includes me.)

3) Since the police were looking for a person, why weren’t they using police dogs? A dog would have found a bleeding person from a mile away. So why no dogs? Just curious.

cbpelto April 21, 2013 9:58 AM

TO: moo
RE: The FBI vis-a-vis Tmerlan

So the Russians tell US he’s a potential threat.

The FBI questions him. And found the threat ‘not credible’.

Interesting that this parallels the behavior of the FBI vis-a-vis the warnings about the 9/11 ‘pilots’. They were warned something odd was going on by their own agents and again, found the threat ‘not credible’.

There’s a pattern of behavior here. Especially in light of how the FBI ‘scurbbed’ the concept of ‘Islamic Terrorism’ from their protocols under the Obama administration.

I wonder, as Agent-In-Charge Sandusky in National Treasure asks of an agent who thought the threat of stealing the Declaration of Independence was ‘not credible’. Sandusky asks the agent….

And what do you think about it now?

The horse out of the barn and THEN they decide to shut the door.

We’re not talking about ‘police state’ here. Nor are we talking about the FBI being ‘omniscient’. We’re talking about laazy or worse bureacrats not doing their job.

Who needs these incompetents?


P.S. About that bit-bucket. You talking about using movies to provide graphic examples of what is going on around US? Based on the write-up of The Siege (1999), it looks like it’s almost prophetic about what happened in Boston last week.

cbpelto April 21, 2013 9:59 AM

P.P.S. And let’s not forget how ‘prophetic’ the Keystone Cops business is as well….from a century before.

dr2chase April 21, 2013 10:10 AM

@AlexT – the consequence of going out varied depending on where you were. Two miles away, the police said not to be surprised if you are stopped, but in fact that did not happen. Get close to the search area in Watertown and fit a profile, and you could find yourself searched by a robot at gunpoint.

cbpelto April 21, 2013 10:27 AM

TO: dr2chase, et al
RE: Yeah?

Get close to the search area in Watertown and fit the profile, and you could find yourself searched bya robot at gunpoint. — dr2chase

So, please explain to all of US how ‘effective’ the LEO search was when the perp was found OUTSIDE OF THE AREA THEY THOUGHT HE WAS IN.


[The Truth will out….this last week in Boston was a bad combination of the Keystone Cops and The Siege…..]

Roux April 21, 2013 10:41 AM

FWIW The police would love to have a lock-down or curfew every day. It makes their job easier.

Bruce C. April 21, 2013 10:50 AM

I think the real question can only be answered if they actually arrested someone for violating the lockdown. If the lockdown was like “mandatory” evacuations in hurricanes, it’s just a safety alert: if you are out during the lockdown and get injured or something else happens, first responders will probably have other priorities. The lockdown helps keep citizens safe by keeping them out of potential lines of fire, and it helps the authorities in their effort by reducing the resources required to maintain routine civil order. Calling for the lockdown is not an overreaction under the circumstances. Arresting someone for violating it would be an overreaction if the violation didn’t actually impair police operations. The trouble is, most civilians won’t have a clue as to what actions of theirs might impair the operation, so the lockdown is stated as mandatory even if there isn’t a real penalty for just being outdoors.

Salach April 21, 2013 10:52 AM

Clive is correct in his cautious words. The real question in my opinion is “what would YOU do if you were in charge and had to take this decision in real life and not in hindsight?”. Let me guess that quite a few people would take the same decision.
Another issue: there is a practical lock-down in such cases anyhow, since there may be road blocks and in a city this means many hours on the roads for the drivers. I prefer to spend those hours at home…

Johnston April 21, 2013 10:58 AM

@Bodi Thung
Your comments about “trigger happy” cops don’t apply to the Boston manhunt.

Really, I wonder where people are getting their “news.”

Your point about rumors and misinformation is spot-on. I followed this case very closely, listening to the police scanner and pouring through photos and video. Most of what I read in online commentary is demonstrably false.

Johnston April 21, 2013 11:03 AM

Gotta love the nutters who think this was an inside job. They were so scared that “their guys” were going to be busted, since the attack happened on federal Tax Day, in Boston, the home of progressive politics. And they clung to it so strongly that once they discovered it was perpetrated by Chechen muslims, they still couldn’t let go of the “inside job” idea. The cognitive dissonance must be crushing.

PacRim Jim April 21, 2013 2:21 PM

This whole American freedom thing seems foreign to Northeastern Americans in general and Bostonians in particular.
One can’t but wonder why.

dr2chase April 21, 2013 2:58 PM

So, please explain to all of US how ‘effective’ the LEO search was when the perp was found OUTSIDE OF THE AREA THEY THOUGHT HE WAS IN.

If they had made the search area bigger, they would have had to extend the lockdown (of that area, certainly). If you had listened to the radio, you would know that the lockdown was lifted before the search was complete, though it was nearly done by the end.

It’s a bunch of cost/risk tradeoffs, with guesses about how wounded he was, how fast he could move, how clever he was, and how well he knew that particular area; you can’t search infinitely fast, you can’t keep people from moving around indefinitely, etc. A larger search area would have required a longer lockdown; do you think that’s a good idea?

AlanS April 21, 2013 4:00 PM

moo wrote: “About the FBI tip, an amazing number of people are now essentially asking “why do we not live in a total police state”, where mere suspicion by a foreign intelligence service can get you permanently placed on a list of “bad people” who aren’t dangerous enough to arrest or disappear, but should immediately be persecuted after an attack.”

Well, we already know that lots of people get added to existing “bad people lists” with little or no justification and have a hard time finding out why and getting off. So what’s your point?

See for example:

cbpelto April 21, 2013 6:22 PM

TO: dr2chase
RE: Excuses

If they had made the search area bigger — dr2chase

Just how much experience have you had with trying to capture someone?

I did 27 years in the infantry. The last part preparing State Area Commands (STARCs), i.e., state adjutants general and their staffs, in dealing with national emergencies.

The biggest ‘take away’ I had was that if you let the people do what they know is RIGHT, you get a better performance.

RE: Trade-Offs, Anyone?

Please explain to all of US how after the Keystone Cops failed, a single citizen suceeded.


[The Truth will out….the bureaucrats are ‘bozos’…..]

cbpelto April 21, 2013 6:27 PM

TO: Salach
RE: The Proper Decision

Clive is correct in his cautious words. The real question in my opinion is “what would YOU do if you were in charge and had to take this decision in real life and not in hindsight?”. Let me guess that quite a few people would take the same decision. — Salach


Look at the ‘ineffectiveness’ of the Keystone Cops approach.

If they’d let the people free to do what they know best for themselves and their families and property….let alone their neighbors….

….we’d have a better and faster result.

We know our neighbors by face….if you live in a REAL ‘community’.

You people isolated by yourselves in large metro communities know NOTHING!


[Look upon it as evolution in action…..]

cbpelto April 21, 2013 6:30 PM

TO: All
RE: Reality Check….

….from several centuries ago….

A martial nobility and stubborn commons, possessed of arms, tenacious of property, and collected into constitutional assemblies form the only balance capable of preserving a free constitution against the enterprise of an aspiring prince. — Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


P.S. Works well against Islamic or other terrorists as well…..

moo April 21, 2013 6:36 PM

My point? The FBI didn’t find anything when they interviewed him, that’s my point. You (and various others) seem to think they should have ADDED HIM TO A LIST OF “TERRISTS” ANYWAY, even though they found nothing suspicious. Thats a terrible idea. Not only is it completely fascist and undemocratic (guilt-by-association, guilty because FSB says so) its also not practical. They probably interview hundreds of people a year, should they permanently record them all on the “bad people” list too? It takes resources to watch the bad people you know. To follow them around, to periodically assess all of the collected data about them and decide if they are getting up to something dangerous. I’d rather those resources are spent on the targets that can be definitively linked to something bad, rather than spreading them across everybody whose background is checked by the FBI.

Much is being made of the report that the FBI checked him out at the suggestion of a foreign government. Does anybody know how many people are scrutinized each year for similar reasons? It could be hundreds, even thousands. For all we know, FSB provided the info about this guy in a bundle of 20+ suspected bad guys, and maybe Tamerlan looked pretty clean compared to the other guys.

We don’t know the context, we don’t know what info exactly the FBI received, why they ended up not recognizing him as a credible threat. Perhaps back then, there was actually nothing for them to find? His views may not have turned dangerously radical until last year. Everybody wants to blame the FBI now, for not magically identifying this guy as a villain over 2 years ago, before he had committed this heinous crime. Well his little brother’s college friends didn’t know HE was a villain 4 days ago! He went to a dorm party 2 days after the bombing, and no one was the wiser. He posted on social media about how relaxed he was.

Maybe it will turn out that there was an actual preventable intelligence failure here. But I doubt it–I think these guys kept their shit to themselves and there’s not much, if anything, that could have been done to detect them before they carried out their attack.

cbpelto April 21, 2013 6:55 PM

TO: moo
RE: Your ‘Point’

So you don’t care for the 3 dead and hundred+ maimed…..

Interesting ‘point’.


[The Truth will out…..and you’re not going to like it….]

David Kra April 21, 2013 6:59 PM

The brothers inflicted death, mayhem, permanent pain and suffering. However, the post-bombing course of events would fail the “Movie Plot Terrorism Contest” unless the working title was something like “Die Hard Dumb and Dumber:”

  • No make up,
  • no big sun glasses on one,
  • no getaway plan,
  • no cash,
  • no ride to JFK,
  • no tickets to one country with separate tickets to a terrorist friendly country,
  • no get away effort until after photos are posted
  • no exultation calls, posts, or letters claiming a victorious jihad battle by the brave over the exhausted midpack and their friends

What studio would buy such a script?

cbpelto April 21, 2013 7:02 PM

P.S. moo….do you work for the federal government? In any direct or indirect manner?

cbpelto April 21, 2013 7:04 PM

TO: David Kra
RE: Hmmmm

What studio would buy such a script? — David Kra

Perhaps ‘moo’ or some federal agency.


[The Truth will out….in due time….]

cbpelto April 21, 2013 7:08 PM

TO: moo
RE: Faliure

Maybe it will turn out that there was an actual preventable intelligence failure here. But I doubt it–I think these guys kept their shit to themselves and there’s not much, if anything, that could have been done to detect them before they carried out their attack. — moo

Please explain away how an FBI agent alerted the ‘bureaucracy’ to the threat of 9/11 and the FBI blew them off as ‘not credible’.


[The Truth will out… and you and the FBI are NOT going ot like it…..]

Godel April 21, 2013 7:24 PM

Interesting angle from Ars Technica:

“On the science side, two Boston medical researchers called for a special autopsy test to look for the presence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a boxing-related brain disease. Some wonder if the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, could have been affected by the disorder due to his history as an amateur boxer. According to this theory, damage from the sport could have led him towards erratic behavior and violence.

But according to the Boston Globe, those same researchers were extremely cautious. Even if medical examiners did find the presence of CTE, it would not be proof positive of a causal link to violent and extremist behavior.”

cbpelto April 21, 2013 7:31 PM

TO: Godel

Let’s apply Occam’s Rzor here.


P.S. Or should we ban all forms of physical contact sports?

The NFL will be VERY ‘upset”. Let alone any REAL evidence that their players are wannabe ‘terrorists’…..

Dirk Praet April 21, 2013 7:39 PM

@ tz

In Texas the results woudl likely be very different if the citizens weren’t locked down

I know it’s a bit of a cheap shot, but why would any terrorist head for Texas in the knowledge that any plot they’d come up with would be totally dwarfed by the havoc the good folks of the Lone Star State can wreak upon themselves.

Petréa Mitchell April 21, 2013 8:11 PM


One of the more notable features of CTE is that it damages impulse control. It also seems to increase the number of angry and violent impulses, but results in them being expressed in a less-planned way. So I would say it’s going to be hard to blame CTE here.

(If you want a high-profile crime that’s likely to eventually be explained by CTE, check out the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.)

Gweihir April 21, 2013 8:38 PM

Fascinating discussion. It shows why the US government’s strategy is working so well: They indeed have lot of otherwise rational people totally irrational by fear as soon as certain specters are conjured. And apparently almost nobody looks a the history of totalitarianism. What happens is just one more step towards it, likely with the best intentions on the side enacting it. The US administration is already well advanced on its way that it can neutralize citizens it does not like. With each such completely blown out of proportion incident they advance a bit further. Any counter-activity is reliably nullified, even if it takes some time sometimes. Noting done actually increases the security of any citizens. (Although there are enough irrational sheep that seem to believe this outrageous lie.) It does however increase the security of those in power and makes it easier at each step to finally be able to control the population totally. And once that has happened, nobody needs to be circumspect anymore about removing the few remaining freedoms.

Now, I am not saying that this is an evil mastermind plot. It is more of a general tendency and a longer process. The Germans did not plan to put Hitler into power. It was a gradual process of more and more accepting the ideas he stood for, a police already prepared to enforce his idea and in the end the population effectively voting him into power because he promised jobs and to cast out the enemies of the great nation Germany. (Simplified of course, but yes, Hitler was brought into power by democratic process.) The problem is, the more you create the conditions for something like this happening, the more likely it becomes that eventually the person capable of taking advantage will come along. And the cost for everybody when that happens will be extreme. And that is where most of the things done to “protect” the US populations really fail the test of proportionality.

moo April 21, 2013 10:59 PM


Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., argued on CNN Sunday that Tsarnaev, who was born in Kyrgyzstan and is a naturalized U.S. citizen, should be held as an enemy combatant for interrogation purposes. That would allow authorities to take their time gleaning information from him. But Graham says that Tsarnaev is not eligible to be tried by a military commission because he was not caught on a foreign battlefield.

“Most Americans want to find out what he knew, who he associated with, does he know about terrorist organizations within or without the country that are trying to hurt us?” Graham said. “Does he know about a future attack?”

And so it begins.. I hope this time, sensible Americans will push back strongly and not let these fearmongering politicos chip away any farther at their civil liberties.

(Of course most Americans–and a lot of people in other nations–want to know those things. But this guy is a U.S. citizen who was captured on U.S. soil. Shipping him off to Gitmo is not the way to get the information you need, just stick with your tried-and-true justice system, or you will one day regret it.)

~C4Chaos April 22, 2013 12:52 AM

i think this opinion piece brings up a lot of good points.

“Yesterday a major US city – perhaps as many as 1 million people – was put under martial law. Business and universities were closed. Public transit and Amtrak were padlocked. Paramilitary cops from multiple states rolled down Boston’s residential neighborhoods in humvees with manned machine gun turrets on top. In full battle gear, these guys – they looked like soldiers – called people out of their homes. They then searched the homes. Boston became a ghost town and a police state for a day. And Bostonians cheered them for it. Some even called for a parade to honor the men who treated them like prisoners in their own homes.

This grand show of force, which even the FBI admits is unprecedented, was carried out for the purpose of catching a suspected terrorist – a 19-year-old honor student – who stands accused of deploying pressure cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon. These bombs reportedly killed 3 people and injured 170.

Think about that. Boston was turned into a giant prison for a day to catch a teenager with pressure cooker bombs.”


Lonny Eachus April 22, 2013 1:05 AM

This is my take: it’s a lot like Congress and war.

We should not be at war — at all, anywhere — because Congress hasn’t declared war since before Korea. We all know what their reasons are: they are too cowardly to risk re-election by making the declaration. But the result for America is actually worse, not better.

Similarly, “lockdown” is B.S. That is to say, if there was ANYTHING about it that was not voluntary… and there are reports that there was actually little about it that was really voluntary.

Yet nobody declared Martial Law. So where’s the legality here?

The police and local government, and Congress too, need to stop doing half-measures. Either change the law, or do it according to existing law. All this semi-or-not-even-legal stuff being pulled by government is driving America into a hole. We’re supposed to have Rule of Law, not Rule of Authority.

~C4Chaos April 22, 2013 1:20 AM


i’m quite surprised that you didn’t object to the massive police dragnet and the city-wide lockdown. i find your reaction to the martial-law-like lock-down in Boston to be in contradiction to what you wrote in your excellent Atlantic article.

“How well this attack succeeds depends much less on what happened in Boston than by our reactions in the coming weeks and months. Terrorism isn’t primarily a crime against people or property. It’s a crime against our minds, using the deaths of innocents and destruction of property as accomplices. When we react from fear, when we change our laws and policies to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed, even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we’re indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail, even if their attacks succeed. 

Don’t glorify the terrorists and their actions by calling this part of a “war on terror.” Wars involve two legitimate sides. There’s only one legitimate side here; those on the other are criminals. They should be found, arrested, and punished. But we need to be vigilant not to weaken the very freedoms and liberties that make this country great, meanwhile, just because we’re scared. ”


isn’t the unprecedented display of police and paramilitary force in full battlegear on the streets city of Boston to catch a lone 19-year old suspect an overreaction and in of itself playing into the terrorized mindset?

Moderator April 22, 2013 1:53 AM

Cbpelto, you’re getting increasingly rude, and you’re not paying good attention to what other people are saying. With fourteen comments on one post in one day, you’re also sucking a lot of the oxygen out of the room. Please cool down and start talking with people instead of at them.

Chris Kozlowski April 22, 2013 2:08 AM

I just want to say that seeing a three-way discussion play out between three of my favorite blogs (Light Blue Touchpaper, Schneier, and Popehat) is enough to make me have a little nerdgasm.

Thanks guys! =)

milgram April 22, 2013 9:17 AM

London police might not have locked down the city after the July 7th bombings, but they did manage to murder an innocent man, Jean Charles de Menezes, on his way to work as part of that manhunt. Then they lied about the dead man, covered up the facts and finally the commissioner in charge of the operation got promoted.
Boston seems to have come out ahead on that score.

Philly April 22, 2013 9:25 AM

I thought that the man-hunt was because of the shooting of the police officer/subsequent explosive firefight, not really because they were just looking for a terror suspect.

In Philly whenever a police officer is shot, it triggers a massive manhunt with helicopters, tons of police officers, SWAT teams, etc. I once counted over 40 police cars congregated on a single bridge, plus there were boats and helicopters. And that’s when the guy had already thrown away his gun and was just on the run, and the police officer was only shot and not killed. Honestly I can’t think of any precedent for what happened in Boston; literally throwing bombs at police officers and engaging them in a GTA-like shootout/rampage. To say that all of this was “just” to find a terror suspect is really ignoring most of the key facts of the case.

On the other hand, there are surely many instances where the response clearly went too far (like that photo of the guy in the humvee pointing a rifle at a resident). But those sort of things should be reported and handled on a case-by-case basis, ideally, with the responsible officers punished in some way.

Mainly, I just hope it doesn’t set a precedent for lesser incidents; that would be bad.

Dirk Praet April 22, 2013 9:50 AM

@ Gweihir

And apparently almost nobody looks a the history of totalitarianism …

Your analysis is spot on. For better or for worse, and whatever the rationale or mechanisms behind it, the fact of the matter is that a majority of Americans today are prepared to trade off liberties for (perceived) security. I’m not sure if that is entirely what Ben Franklin had in mind and it only stresses the importance of having proper history education at school. With which I mean international, and not American only. After all, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

phred14 April 22, 2013 10:56 AM

Late getting here…

This looked really good – another insider/Bostonian take on it. It’s easy to sit outside and criticize, but it’s more interesting to see that, AFAICT Bostonians considered the response to be measured and reasonable.

Some other armchair thoughts…

1 – The means used to identify the bombers could be considered “surveillance state” tactics. Nor is it clear that there was enough information otherwise.

2 – Not only was it surveillance, it was crowd-sourcing of the identification job. There was the specific statement that image recognition didn’t work, and both bombers were in the database.

3 – At least one bomber had resumed normal life for a few days, at least until the crowdsourcing of the surveillance tapes kicked in. That suggests that he was planning on getting away with it, and enough explosives were eventually found that suggested future use.

4 – One brother “fit the profile”, the other didn’t.

Look at this whole thing in retrospect, and think about next time.

JJ April 22, 2013 12:37 PM

What I find strange (though not surprising) is how what happened in West, Texas, was much worse and should have been preventable, yet it’s not getting anywhere near the attention that the marathon is. Much worse also happens in other countries every day. It seems that here in the US very few are able to keep things in perspective (and very few refuse to be terrorized).

I sure wish more people read Bruce’s works.

moo April 22, 2013 12:41 PM


Thanks for posting that link.

About your point 3 — To me, that is one of the most chilling things about the whole attack/aftermath. They have the two suspects on video placing the bombs. If I understand it right, the younger suspect walked calmly away from the site where he had placed the 2nd bomb, and didn’t react the way the rest of the crowd did, when the first bomb detonated. Two days later he was tweeting about how relaxed he was, and attending a dorm party. After maiming dozens of people and killing several of them. What kind of f***ing person can do such a thing. I am enraged to have to share a planet with them. When the psychologists get their chance to interview this guy, I wonder what their conclusion will be… judging just from the news reports (always a bad idea) he comes across as a complete psychopath.

AlanS April 22, 2013 12:58 PM

Moo write: “The FBI didn’t find anything when they interviewed him, that’s my point. You (and various others) seem to think they should have ADDED HIM TO A LIST OF “TERRISTS” ANYWAY, even though they found nothing suspicious. Thats a terrible idea. Not only is it completely fascist and undemocratic (guilt-by-association, guilty because FSB says so) its also not practical.”

My point is that regular people got added to the no-fly list for next to no reasonable reason as far as anyone can figure out, so why not someone flagged by a foreign intelligence service? I am merely pointing out what appears to be a contradiction. As it happens there may be no contradiction. According to Petréa’s post above he was under surveillance, but apparently their system isn’t very resilient in the face of typos.

I think the bigger question is the degree to which the processes in place assures sufficient sensitivity and specificity and a reasonable trade-off between the two.

Curt H April 22, 2013 5:47 PM

I think everyone has a strong connection with the victims of this horrible attack. I also believe most will give the police the utmost understanding of how difficult this situation must have been from a law enforcement perspective. However I see a major trend developing in this country that is very alarming. It seems that from 9/11 on ,there has been some type of attack, terrorist or lone wolf active shooter ect.. Then the response from higher government comes into play with extreme encroachment on the constitution. The federal and local government now have the ability to , make warrentless searches, seizures, use drones domestically,have the right to grope you at airports, detain an individual deemed enemy of the state indefinitely without trial, and add into the mix the increased militarization of our police is very alarming to me. What if these tactics are misused? Does this matter to anyone else? Are we truly willing to allow our government more and more constitutional leeway ? Could standard police tactics have worked in this type of apprehension? Yes they were able to catch the bomber very quickly without further loss of life. But sometime in the future after emotions have decreased we need to have a serious discussion about how our constitution will survive in this age of terrorism.
“Any society that will give up a little liberty to gain a little security will gain neither and lose both” Ben Franklin

moo April 22, 2013 6:20 PM

Here is the DOJ’s press release about the charges that have now been laid.

The criminal complaint was originally sealed, but it has apparently now been unsealed. (Its not clear to me whether this was an ordinary procedural occurrence, or whether it means the U.S. District Court rebuffed an attempt by the government to keep it sealed.)

moo April 22, 2013 6:56 PM


If the info in this article turns out to be accurate, it sounds like the older brother was added to some database(s) after the FBI checked him out in 2011. They added him to the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS), a system that U.S. customs does consult.

The spelling mistake that resulted in the FBI being unaware of his multi-month trip, apparently occurred on the airline side.

What seems weird to me: if his correct name was in TECS, wouldn’t it be noticed when he showed his passport to reenter the country at the end of the trip? Wild speculation: Perhaps customs only sees info in there, about people whose travel plans have been specifically flagged by another agency (e.g. the FBI).

P.S. sorry for 3rd post in a row

dr2chase April 22, 2013 7:45 PM

@JJ – re: West, TX. You’re not the only person to notice this, and I’m hoping that pretty soon people here will notice that we’ve got both the starch and the resources to help not only our own wounded and grieving, but also the people hurt and displaced in West. I’ve mentioned this in a forum where some number of locals might see it, I keep hoping it will take hold (yes, I’ve already sent money myself).

David April 22, 2013 8:57 PM

Police State, USA.

Watch the video of them storming the house on YouTube. Anyone who defends it is sad excuse for an American.

Nobody April 23, 2013 7:15 AM

The FBI dropped the ball:

Looks like they called the older bomber up Sunday night accusing him of the bombing. Russia authorities had warned them he was visiting an extremist mosque.

My concern is that the FBI may have fallen into the trap of surveilling innocent civilians based on politics, instead of surveilling real potential threats.

There is a lot of hand waving by the feds about needing to surveil a lot of people, but when it comes to obvious threats they are not doing their job.

If you are at a burger joint and the guy isn’t bringing out your burger in thirty minutes it is probably because he is back there smoking pot, watching a game — or something else he shouldn’t be doing.

Same thing here is my guess.

kentuckienne April 23, 2013 8:52 AM

As someone who lives half a mile from the suspects’ home in Cambridge — this talk of a “lockdown” is nonsense. Once they shut down the public transit systems around 5:30 a.m. — a precaution with which I thoroughly agree, based on the gun-and-bombs fight that had occurred early that morning — most businesses prudently closed. With no public transit and no work for the day, my husband and I simply stayed home. We had a hard time wrestling ourselves away from the TV, anyway. We didn’t feel confined by the police, but by circumstances — namely the bomb-throwing lunatic still on the run somewhere in the city. It felt best for us to stay out of the authorities’ way while they hunted him down. Not only that, but I think adherence to the “shelter in place” advisory was limited outside of Cambridge and Watertown. Friends in other neighborhoods have confirmed that they were out and about that day, with no jackbooted thugs ordering them back into their homes.

AlexT April 23, 2013 9:12 AM

Quite frankly I was somewhat scared (if not surprised) by the amount of military hardware and readiness of the police forces. There was very little to differentiate them from full military. Honestly I don’t think any other “democratic” western country could have pulled that one within these time constraints and with such docile public. Try that in Paris, London, Berlin or Rome ! Just my opinion…

bitmonki April 23, 2013 10:07 AM

Former Marine here, 7 years active duty.

I’ve watched the 6 minute video of the search at one house, and another of local news coverage — within the cordon, there was nothing voluntary whatsover, it was strictly martial law. People were, if necessary, forcibly evacuated from their homes at gunpoint, searched for weapons — even females! although the suspect is male — amidst overwhelming military force, pure and simple.

They were shouted at, intimidated, and manhandled if they didn’t automatically do the ‘right’ thing.

They were not allowed to take anything with them, and they were not allowed to return until the sweep was complete — SOP for this type of operation. According to local news, for some that meant 14-16 hours standing around waiting for the all clear. I’ll bet many didn’t have their wallets, purses, etc. with them — the folks in the 6 minute video didn’t, by all appearances.

Those search teams were fully military combat assault teams, probably specializing in urban combat, and in my view, in excessive numbers. I half expected to see mortar and heavy machine gun teams at some point.

They were executing classic counter-insurgency cordon-and-clear sweep, albeit very inefficiently. Very big on “go in hard and fast”, less so on minimizing inconvenience to residents. One can be professional, and efficient and still polite. After all, one is forcibly entering their private property.

One of the early commenters on this page, bless their heart, appeared to think that the combat assault teams were offering to search a house if it made people feel safer or some such — but that seems nonsensical to me.

If I lived there with, say, a wife and kids, do you think I wouldn’t have searched my place top-to-bottom at least once that day? Or that I wouldn’t call authorities if I found something/somebody?

Or that my family and I stayed in the house all day, even though we were too afraid to search it? WTF?

But to see my family manhandled and treated the way those folks in the video were would piss me right off, never mind the unconstitutional search of my home.

They could’ve, you know, operated in smaller, slightly less intimidating teams, knocked on doors and do what police do: trust their instincts.

It would have gone way faster and intimidated/pissed off way fewer citizens — you know, the people they are supposed to WORK FOR.

Freek April 23, 2013 12:29 PM

I’m sure this is a bit off-topic, and at least politically incorrect, but this cartoon in Dutch newspaper pretty much captured the USA state of mind:

  • Caption: Fokke and Sukke are members of the National Bomb Association
  • Fokke: The only thing that helps against a criminal with a bomb…
  • Sukke: …is a cop with a bomb.

(with apologies for making fun of tragic events, and the lack of nuance in a one-liner cartoon)

moo April 23, 2013 1:19 PM

That article is quoting the suspects’ mother, who is obviously a bit emotionally involved here. Lets wait for the facts from some actual trustworthy source first.

So on Monday there was a terrorist attack in Boston. Several days later, there is a manhunt for the terrorist in Boston and you’re surprised at the availability of combat troops with military-grade equipment to carry out the search? 3 hours after the bombings, the President directed his goverment to make its full resources available for investigation and response of the attack–to provide any and every kind of support that might be needed.

I wasn’t surprised at all by the speed and size of the mobilization for the manhunt. What did surprise me was how professional and level-headed the law enforcement efforts were, given how rare/unusual/serious the situation was. Many people have joked about what LAPD’s response would have been like, for example. In Boston, no civilians got shot in a dark alley by a panicky cop. No egregious civil rights violations have been publicised (other than searching peoples’ homes at gunpoint, I suppose..) They went after the bad guys and no innocent citizens really got caught in the crossfire. There are hundreds of ways the whole thing could have turned out worse than it did.

dr2chase April 23, 2013 3:19 PM

@bitmonki – problem is, the only evidence we have thus far of police-state style searching is that video (maybe you’ve heard from elsewhere — I haven’t). I live nearby, I travel (car and bicycle) through that part of Watertown often enough, one of the places searched makes the best falafel around. I’ve not heard one complaint locally that the police were rough and heavy-handed. I went looking at some twitter feeds from people who lived in the searched area, no complaints there, either. I’ll keep looking, too.

In contrast, it was EASY to find people grumbling about the lockdown (aka “shelter in place”), which contradicts the assumption that we’re all a bunch of compliant jackbooted-thug-loving liberals.

z April 23, 2013 4:03 PM

Since the question posed involves one of legality/lawfulness we should probably ask this question: Is it legal/lawful for the government (living in a constitutional republic) to determine WHEN and WHERE a citizen can exercise they’re inalienable (and constitutionally protected) rights? If the government can relieve one of these rights one can only ask ‘where’ this authority comes from–Does the government (under the Constitution of the United States) have the authority to relieve any individual of their inalienable rights without due process–or because they’ve defined some situation where they feel you don’t have these rights? If you answer yes to this question then I would ask where (in the Constitution) is this stated. I don’t recall ‘proportion’ of any situation being mentioned as a reason to relieve people of their rights—Regardless of the situation. The simple truth is, the government has no lawful authority to relieve anyone of their rights–even if there is a lone gunman (or otherwise) running around harming others–Just because there are people out there that CAN harm/kill you doesn’t mean the government now has the authority to ‘make us safe’ by stating they now have the authority to search people’s homes (without a warrant, etc..). If this is true, then it can take away your rights whenever it chooses—and rights that can be taken away (by government) aren’t rights at all.

dr2chase April 23, 2013 4:22 PM

Other datapoints on the search, from comments at a Mother Jones article:

“I was about a quarter mile beyond the search perimeter but talking to people who were searched, the police asked for permission to search a house before going in and there were some people who refused without a warrant. The police then backed off. I have heard of no incidents where the police forced their way in.”

“The searches were requests. Friends in the search area reported polite young men who petted the cat.”

So something clearly happened somewhere, because there is that video, but something clearly went right in a lot of other places. It-would-be-nice to have a civil, INFORMED, discussion about where the civil-rights vs police-efficiency knob was set. Because, yes, I agree, a bunch of guys in flak jackets with big guns at your door is kinda intimidating, but on the other hand they are working from the assumption that if found, their suspect will take a pot shot at them, just like he did several times before he escaped, and there’s every reason to believe that if they don’t catch him he is willing to continue to kill people.

cbpelto April 23, 2013 7:59 PM

TO: Moderator, i.e., Schneier
RE: ‘Rude’? Moi?

Comes from being an Airborne, Ranger, Infantry, Mustang.

People don’t like the truth? That’s not MY problem. It’s theirs.


[The Truth will out….political correctness does not solve mortal problems…..]

Au Dios, compadre….and enjoy your eternity…..

bitmonki April 23, 2013 8:19 PM

@dr2chase: Thanks for the feedback and further info!

I am very much of two minds about the event, and (as you suggest?) getting meaningful amounts of reliable and useful data seems to be a little difficult at present.

This article highlights the issue:

The discrepancies might in part be explained by the fact that there appear to be two distinct teams: one in green uniforms, and the black uniformed ones in the video.

IINM, SWAT teams usually wear black, and have different missions, training and style than ‘ordinary’ police.

If this is correct, it appears that the ‘ordinary’ police were in fact polite and efficient. 🙂

And the SWAT were closer to what the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan regularly do to clear neighborhoods of ‘insurgents’.

BTW, the local news coverage I referred to earlier:

bitmonki April 23, 2013 8:41 PM

Also re: the ‘SWAT video’.

A couple of times during the video, the cameraperson pans left to what looks, to my eye, to be a local detective or supervisor of some sort.

I’ve been wondering why he allowed the filming, although it is possible he was unaware of it, I suppose. (Well, filming is ‘protected’ activity, but in other videos people were aimed at by riflemen and told to stand clear of the windows.)

But it also seems to me that he is bemused, as if waiting to see where the fascinating behavior he is observing for the first time will go, and at least a little skeptical.

bitmonki April 23, 2013 9:15 PM

I would like to amend above:

“If this is correct, it appears that the ‘ordinary’ police were in fact polite and efficient. :)”


“If this is correct, it appears that the ‘ordinary’ police were in fact polite, efficient and non-intrusive. :)”

(sorry for the ‘flood’ of posts)

A April 24, 2013 9:42 AM

The “lock down” was voluntary. I am glad we as citizens were able to feel a part of the response and capture. And, no one was injured. There was also an unrelated pipe bomb, for which someone was arrested, according to the mayor.

dr2chase April 24, 2013 4:14 PM

@bitmonki – I agree that it is quite hard to figure out exactly what went on. We know it wasn’t full-on police state, we know it wasn’t 100% Officer Friendly. But there’s a big space in between, and I’ve also got to assume some variation in the competence/mood of the police (and that was a lot of police interacting with the public for a lot of hours, all the while looking for someone they expected to take a pot shot at them).

Listening to the police scanner provided a lot of context missing from those videos — I would not be nearly so inclined to give the police the benefit of a doubt had I not listened in. They had to worry about unsecured doors (i.e., “house X has an open basement door” — so they want to search that house, a lot). They had a woman just outside the search area text that she was being held hostage by a man with a gun — and you go, “oh shit…” and then someone says “frequent psych calls from that address”. But they still have to check it out.

Here’s the reddit version of the same, not sure how redacted it is given the need to remove names/addresses/phones (all of this mentioned over the air)
It continues in at least three more threads.

There’s one other aspect to this, which is that this was such an over-the-top insane event — I’d like to think we should have a review, determine if some of the police exceeded their authority, see if we need to revise rules/processes, so we’ll do it better the next time this happens — but when will something like this happen again? Not soon, I sure hope.

Nobody April 25, 2013 6:57 AM

“That article is quoting the suspects’ mother, who is obviously a bit emotionally involved here. Lets wait for the facts from some actual trustworthy source first.”

That was one quote on one minor part of the story.

Now everyone knows for sure the FBI dropped the ball, again. They have a track record of doing this.

More news came out this morning that the CIA had the older brother on a watch list for 18 months.

My point is simple: the FBI has a track record for abusing the “national security” cause. So do similar agencies of their kind.

The list of suspects and surveillance powers they have seems to be much larger and very different then the suspects they should be looking at.

These failures are repeated and serious.

The common strain with political or religious terrorists going back to the 19th century is they communicate with known extremist cells. They may be solitary at times, but they will meet with the group. They are cult creatures and require their cult societies.

Like all the other attacks missed, the suspect was on a radar for associating with known extremists who advocate terrorists.

Most of these have an additional note of “in a foreign country”. A few do not, such as the homegrown rightists and leftists.

So, if they are not watching that small pool of suspects… what are they doing with all of this anti-terrorist funding and powers?

Are they doing like they did before Hoover died? That is too much power to trust to men.

Problem goes further: even if they were on top of all foreigners reported by intel agencies of being trained by terrorist groups (which they are not, despite the 9/11 drop of the ball)… they would miss the truly nation state backed terrorists.

And that is what they should really be worried about. Those guys are not partially trained with cobbled together resources. They are well trained and have extensive resources.

So, people might as well ease off on the fear over terrorism. It isn’t even helping them catch anyone.

Anon April 25, 2013 8:36 PM


Regarding the topic of torture, you can’t possibly know that torture doesn’t work. What little information is in the public domain indicates that enhanced interrogation techniques were critical to finding bin laden.

Nobody April 26, 2013 9:54 AM

@cbpelto Chuck

I agree with your assessment the FBI dropped the ball on this… and they have done this repeatedly.

But, they have also gotten away with it. And people are unaware of “another way” to deal with this.

You posted that early in the news stories releases, but more information has been coming out nearly everyday.

Thankfully, there are departments and agencies overseeing these matters so the truth will, finally, “will out”. And a better way will be implemented.

AlexT April 29, 2013 8:35 AM

@moo: as far as police is involved I stand by my assertion. IMHO this was a military operation carried out under the disguise of police. And it was clearly well trained / coordinated which has some interesting implications for the future of law enforcement in the USA. Regardless of one’s opinion about the how proportionate this was it clearly demonstrate that martial law could be implemented nation wide very easily and that troops are ready for it…

Julien Couvreur April 30, 2013 12:53 AM

On the general issue of what response is appropriate, one should consider incentives.
What are the consequences and to whom, in cases where the response is either too little, too much or the wrong kind?
The system of monopolistic police services provides with little assurances of this kind, so it is difficult to think that a reasonable and economically efficient trade-off would come about.

Nobody May 2, 2013 6:45 AM


Very good point.

One thing I am concerned about is even on failures, they are not getting repercussions for that.

They enforce a system of law, but in these situations, they may not have one their own self.

One good example (of many) in the US system is the 1920s reds roundup which Hoover directed. Hoover was able to sidestep blame on this simply by lying about his involvement.

It was secret (not to history), so he could get away with it long enough to continue his job.

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