The Dish’s Full Boston Bombings Coverage

[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 [tinypass_offer text=”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. [tinypass_offer text=”Subscribe!”]

The Shutting Down Of Boston, Ctd

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:

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.

Meanwhile, Alex Seitz-Wald examines the impact of Boston’s shutdown last Friday on workers:

“Most low wage workers can’t afford to lose a day’s pay, and there’s no doubt this lockdown will adversely impact the city’s working poor,” said Jessica Kutch, a labor activist who co-founded the organizing site, in an email to Salon. “I’d really like to see employers state on the record that their hourly workers will be paid for the time they were scheduled to work today — but I suspect that most employers will place the burden of this shutdown squarely on the backs of people who can least afford it.”

Previous Dish on the Boston shutdown here, here and here.

(Photo: Investigators work around the boat where Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev was found hiding after a massive manhunt, in the backyard of a Franklin Street home, in an aerial view April 20, 2013 in Watertown, Massachusetts. By Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

By Faith Alone

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

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:

There are somewhere “between 600 and 6,000” Chechens from the North Caucasus fighting in Syria, said Kotliar in a recent interview with Russian media, “and from what happened in Boston, perhaps Americans will finally draw the lesson that there are no good terrorists and bad terrorists, no ‘ours’ and ‘yours.’” Keep arming the Syrian rebels, the argument goes, and sooner or later you will have to face the consequences of a Syria overtaken by Islamist radicals.

Larison isn’t buying it:

Considering how strongly opposed Russia already was to Western intervention and to any Western support for the Syrian opposition, I don’t know that their opposition can be “hardened” much more than it is. American public opinion was already heavily against greater U.S. involvement in Syria before the bombings, and the Syria policy debate among politicians and pundits will likely remain more or less unchanged.

When Following The News Is Bad News

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

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

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

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.

Terror And America, Ctd

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.)