Archives For: Marathon Bombing

[Re-posted from earlier today]

We’ve put up a page that contains our entire bloggery in both chronological and reverse chronological order. A reader writes:

I’d like to thank you for your coverage of what was going on in Boston so early on Friday morning – I was glued to my phone on an early-morning coach (bus) in middle-of-nowhere England, trying to contact friends and family in Cambridge (MA) and Watertown via Facebook and desperate searching for reliable news that could load onto my mobile before we left a pocket of precious O2 data coverage. At 7 AM BST (2 AM EDT), though, BBC and NYT aren’t updating, nor is Anderson Cooper tweeting away, and straight-up Google searches take too long given the quality of “reporting” too many media outlets provide. Yet there you were, middle of the night, aggregating news as it was coming in, liveblogging mobile-friendly and reasonably-accurate information to concerned readers around the world. So, to Chas, Chris, and all others who pulled Thursday’s Dish all-nighter: thank you.

You’re welcome. It’s what we do and have always done. One of many new subscribers writes:

I thought I would never pay for a website, but you won me over. I’ll admit that I had never read anything you had written until the day Margaret Thatcher died, but was familiar enough with your work that yours was the perspective that I decided was most worth tracking down. Then Friday morning, 3am, I happened to check in. Your team’s judicious choice of tweets was so good, I didn’t even think about following a live feed until about 5 in the morning. Today, I found I couldn’t hit that “Read On” button without feeling like a mooch. So count me in.

You can join her and others by subscribing here. We’re a small team competing with huge organizations with far more resources. We have no corporate backing or advertizing – which means the only support we have is you if we hope to stay in business. If you’ve used up your ‘read-ons’, please consider taking the leap and subscribing. If all of you with maxed-out read-ons subscribed today, our readership would instantly climb 50 percent – and our future would be far more secure. Subscribe!

The Shutting Down Of Boston, Ctd

Apr 22 2013 @ 8:31pm

Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation Continues Day After Second Suspect Apprehended

Thoreau notes how Tsarnaev was caught:

The authorities announced that people could again go outside, and then a sharp-eyed citizen noticed something. He escaped from the cops the night before, and was caught thanks to a sharp-eyed citizen once the authorities let people go outside and go about their business.

Marc Tracy adds:

There is no way to definitively play out the what-ifs. Authorities might not have coaxed a lockdown, people might have walked around Watertown, and somebody might have gotten hurt. Conversely, authorities might have kept the lockdown longer than they did, and Tsarnaev, who was taken to a hospital for urgent treatment, might have sat in the boat even longer, undiscovered, and bled to death. We don’t know.

The problem with the lockdown, as a matter of principle, isn’t that it could have prevented us from capturing Tsarnaev alive. Rather, the way Tsarnaev was captured alive is further suggestion that life in America is a Constitutionally codified experiment, and that the worst time to suspend experiments is when you don’t have all the answers.

Ross Anderson believes the shut-down was disproportionate:

Read On

By Faith Alone

Apr 22 2013 @ 7:37pm

That’s what the AP is now reporting about the motives of the Boston bombers. I should caution that this doesn’t preclude some kind of interaction by Tamerlan with terrrorist elements when he visited Russia – and the evidence searches continue. But faith – especially fundamentalist, violent strains of Islam – is by itself a sufficient explanation. Many don’t understand this. But, as anyone with familiarity with strong religious faith will tell you, there are few things more powerful.

The Chechen Connection

Apr 22 2013 @ 7:35pm

Charles King downplays its significance:

[T]here is no direct information linking the North Caucasus to the attack in Boston; armed groups in the region, including the Dagestani branch of the so-called Caucasus Emirate — the jihadist network in the North Caucasus headed by Chechen warlord Doku Umarov — issued a formal statement denying any connection to the Tsarnaev brothers. The jihadists claimed instead that the brothers were pawns in an elaborate attempt by Russian security services to turn American opinion against the North Caucasus underground and against Muslims more generally. That might be far-fetched, but it would hardly be the line of argument the Emirate would pursue if it were suddenly using American operatives to expand attacks outside of Russia. The logical thing would have been for the Emirate to claim responsibility.

Instead, he argues that the bombing might have more implications for the ongoing violence in Syria:

Read On

Novelist Rolf Dobelli claims that “news is bad for your health, very bad for your mental faculties, and bad for your emotional state.”  Madeleine Bunting elaborates:

The web may have unleashed infinite possibilities of information and speed, but it still has to be absorbed, assimilated and considered by our clunky old brains if we are to develop any insight or understanding. It’s these last two which are now scarce, and crucially, what both require is concentration. The ability to focus, to persist with complexity and to consider ambiguity or uncertainty: these are the mental abilities we put at risk by flitting from one story to another.

Dreher pleads guilty:

What’s important to keep in mind here is that he is not saying that ignorance is bliss, but rather that the massive consumption of information harms us and our ability to thrive in a number of ways. I went into this article ready to make fun of it, and then saw myself reflected back to me in a way that I recognized, and wasn’t quite prepared for.

The View From Russia

Apr 22 2013 @ 5:39pm

Marc Champion argues that, for “the Chechen nationalist cause, a terrorist attack in the U.S. carried out by Chechens is an unmitigated disaster”:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought for years to portray the Chechen conflict as purely a problem of jihadi terrorism, directly equivalent to al-Qaeda. He has urged the U.S. and Europe to join him in fighting this scourge shoulder-to-shoulder, rather than quibble over human-rights abuses committed by Russian forces in Chechnya. Putin never quite succeeded in selling his simple Chechnya-as-counterterrorist-problem narrative.

Julia Ioffe explains how Putin sees terrorism:

To Putin, the Taliban and the Chechen separatists, the Salafis and Wahabis, Hamas and the Free Syrian Army are all one. It is why he can be friendly both with Bibi Netanyahu and with Bashar al-Assad: He feels their pain, he fights their fight at home. In fact, his presidency was baptized by the fire of domestic terrorism and war against an Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus. His subjects and his capital have been attacked many times, most recently in March 2010, when two young women from Dagestan blew themselves up in the Moscow metro during the morning rush hour.

The Greenwald-Harris Debate

Apr 22 2013 @ 4:31pm

It was about the term Islamophobia – a conflation, in my mind, of legitimate and important secular criticism of Islam with racist, xenophobic bigotry. I think there’s a difference between these two phenomena – and in the wake of the Boston bombings, I can’t think of a better time to re-examine the issue. Here is the email exchange between Sam and Glenn that prompted this long piece of self-defense by Sam. My favorite point from Sam:

[E]ven if Noam Chomsky were right about everything, the Islamic doctrines related to martyrdom, jihad, blasphemy, apostasy, the rights of women and homosexuals, etc. would still present huge problems for the emergence of a global civil society.

How can one seriously deny that? All religions contain elements of this kind of fanaticism. But Islam’s fanatical side – from the Taliban to the Tsarnaevs – is more murderous than most.

Padilla vs Tsarnaev; Bush vs Obama

Apr 22 2013 @ 3:45pm

The first US citizen, Jose Padilla, was captured on US soil, detained without formal charges, accused of plotting a dirty bomb, and then brutally tortured until he was a human wreck. Eventually, the dirty bomb charges were dropped in the legal process. And there was a serious question about whether, after such brutal torture and isolation, he had been psychologically brutalized by his own government to the point of insanity.

Tsarnaev, in contrast, was formally charged this morning, will be tried in a civilian court, go through due process, and face a weight of evidence against him.

This is why we elected Obama. To bring America back. To defend this country without betraying its core principles.

Your Monday Cry

Apr 22 2013 @ 2:59pm

Marine amputees offer love and advice to Marathon amputees:

Terror And America, Ctd

Apr 22 2013 @ 2:21pm

1946 Boston Marathon

Rafia Zakaria, a columnist for Pakistan’s largest English newspaper, tries to explain the disproportionate coverage of the Boston attacks – compared with, say, 65 terrorist deaths in Iraq on the same day or the West, Texas, catastrophe:

Attacks in America are far more indelible in the world’s memory than attacks in any other country. There may be fewer victims and less blood, but American tragedies somehow seem to occur in a more poignant version of reality, in a way that evokes a more sympathetic response. Within minutes American victims are lifted from the nameless to the remembered; their individual tragedies and the ugly unfairness of their ends are presented in a way that cannot but cause the watching world to cry, to consider them intimates, and to stand in their bloody shoes. Death is always unexpected in America and death by a terrorist attack more so than in any other place.

It is this greater poignancy of attacks in America that begs the question of whether the world’s allocations of sympathy are determined not by the magnitude of a tragedy—the numbers dead and injured—but by the contrast between a society’s normal and the cruel aftermath of a terrorist event. It is in America that the difference between the two is the greatest; the American normal is one of a near-perfect security that is unimaginable in many places, especially in countries at war. The very popularity of the Boston Marathon could be considered an expression of just this. America is so secure and free from suffering that people have the luxury of indulging in deliberate suffering in the form of excruciating physical exertion; this suffering in turn produces well-earned exhilaration, a singular sense of physical achievement and mental fortitude.  The act of running a marathon is supposed to be simple, individual—a victory of the will over the body, celebrated by all and untouched by the complicated questions of who in the world can choose to suffer and who only bears suffering.

(Photo: Stylianos ‘Stelios’ Kyriakides, of Greece, runs up Heartbreak Hill in Newton, Mass. during the 1946 Boston Marathon. He won the race. By Charles Dixon/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.)

A Long Way From Kyrgyzstan

Apr 22 2013 @ 1:38pm

Julia Ioffe, who spent her early childhood in Russia, explores the significance of the Tsarnaev brothers’ struggle to assimilate in the US as Chechens:

Read On

When Jihad Meets Columbine

Apr 22 2013 @ 1:19pm

How Olivier Roy understands Western-bred Jihadists:

The main motivation is not religious. Most of the guys, they were normal, they were not especially religious. One of them who went to Tehran became religious. It is not the process of Islamicization, through going to mosque, through studying the Koran. They go for action, they take the al Qaeda thing because if you do that in name of Al Qaeda, you will have a far hotter act than if you do that in the name of something else. They are disconnected in fact from the Muslim community. Many security officials thought the best way to spot these guys was to use the local Muslim communities to control the radical mosques, to engage mainstream imams to ask for help. And most of them comply with that, they want to help but they can’t comply because they guys are not part of these communities. They are loners.

With the Western ones, there may be some strange fusion of loner Internet Jihadism with simple fame-seeking testosterone. But the idea that religious zeal is not behind this seems to me perversely blind.

Roy’s second point, however, is a vital one. This is not about mainstream Islam. It is not about tradition or Muslim communities as we have long known them, especially in America. It is about the fusion of the most extreme and violent versions of Islam (a religion whose founder committed violence), with global Internet culture, and the lost, desperate souls of modernity.

With such an easily available, literally explosive combination, it amazes me, in many ways, that we have not seen more of this before.

Should Tsarnaev Be Read His Rights?

Apr 22 2013 @ 12:20pm

Emily Bazelon worries because he hasn’t been Mirandaized:

[T]he next time you read about an abusive interrogation, or a wrongful conviction that resulted from a false confession, think about why we have Miranda in the first place. It’s to stop law enforcement authorities from committing abuses. Because when they can make their own rules, sometime, somewhere, they inevitably will.

Jason Mazzone counters:

A newsflash: Miranda does not in any way require the police to warn suspects taken into custody that they don’t have to answer questions or that they have a right to have an attorney present. All that Miranda says suspect-number-2is that if the interrogators don’t give the warnings, then (barring an exception), the government won’t be able to introduce into evidence at trial statements the unwarned suspect makes (or the fruits of those statements). Accordingly, there is nothing remotely unusual about the Tsarnaev situation. Millions of criminal suspects are questioned every year by the police (and other law enforcement officials) without ever being advised of their rights under Miranda. Police officers I know tell me they hardly ever Mirandize individuals they arrest because cases in which the arrestee’s statements are relevant to securing a conviction (especially in a world of plea bargaining) are quite unusual.

Sandy Levinson disagrees with Mazzone’s dismissal of Bazelon and considers Tsarnaev’s individual case:

As a practical matter, as Marty Lederman has suggested elsewhere, it is quite unlikely that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is unaware that he has a right to remain silent, either because of his knowledge of American culture or because his alleged terrorism-masters in Chechnya would surely have had the wit to say (something like) “if you’re captured, remember that those wimp Americans will accord you a right to remain silent.” Also, as Marty has suggested, it is almost certainly the fact that a smart defense lawyer would not necessarily advise taking the fifth, precisely because there is so much evidence against him and the smart thing to do would be to strike a deal for, say, life imprisonment in return for singing like a canary (and verifying what he says by tracking down his leads).

As a practical matter, I don’t object. As a symbolic matter, I fear it reeks of post-9/11 panic. I’m just relieved we do not have a Romney administration or this American citizen would be getting prepped for being tortured, just as Jose Padilla was. Orin Kerr is on the same page as Mazzone:

[T]he government is still free to question Tsarnaev outside Miranda as long as the government accepts the uncertainty of whether those statements would be admissible in a criminal case against him.

Read On

Quote For The Day

Apr 22 2013 @ 11:57am

“Yeah, man, I mean, tragedies can happen anywhere in the world,” – how Dzokhar Tsarnaev reacted when discussing the marathon bombings with a classmate after the attack.

Yes, Of Course It Was Jihad

Apr 22 2013 @ 11:30am

There are many nuances to the story of Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev – and there is no doubt that, like all human beings their acts were, as my shrink often unhelpfully puts it, “multi-determined.” And there is a huge amount to learn from the stoner kid who got caught up in his brother’s religious fanaticism. But Glenn Greenwald veers into left-liberal self-parody this morning:

The overarching principle here should be that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is entitled to a presumption of innocence until he is actually proven guilty. As so many cases have proven – from accused (but exonerated) anthrax attacker Stephen Hatfill to accused (but exonerated) Atlanta Olympic bomber Richard Jewell to dozens if not hundreds of Guantanamo detainees accused of being the “worst of the worst” but who were guilty of nothing – people who appear to be guilty based on government accusations and trials-by-media are often completely innocent. Media-presented evidence is no substitute for due process and an adversarial trial.

But beyond that issue, even those assuming the guilt of the Tsarnaev brothers seem to have no basis at all for claiming that this was an act of “terrorism” in a way that would meaningfully distinguish it from Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tuscon and Columbine. All we really know about them in this regard is that they identified as Muslim, and that the older brother allegedly watched extremist YouTube videos and was suspected by the Russian government of religious extremism (by contrast, virtually every person who knew the younger brother has emphatically said that he never evinced political or religious extremism).

Legally, the case for the presumption of innocence is absolutely right. But come on.

Read On