Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Boston: Further Along The Wrong Path

The aftermath of the Boston bombing is playing out in the manner of a genuine tragedy - the kind where the tragic end is foreseeable, preventable, but is not foreseen, not prevented. In the last decade we have taken many steps along the wrong path, even though its end point is known and feared. Now we have taken a few big ones.


As always, the media gave us a minute by minute account of every false lead, every wrong turn, every politically motivated leak, every racist or ethnic innuendo, every bit of useless guesswork, surmise and supposition put forth by supposed experts in regard to what motivated the Boston bombers. And yet as far as the public is concerned, the story has coalesced very quickly into one predictable conclusion: Muslim extremists.

There are just a couple problems with going down that road. First, there are already cracks in the case that show prior FBI knowledge of the Boston suspects. As reported in the Wall Street Journal:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed suspected marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011 at the request of the Russian government, but didn't find evidence of suspicious activity and closed the case, an FBI official said Friday...

...U.S.  counterterrorism officials have in recent years intensified warnings about the homegrown threat, though the threat has gotten less public attention because most of those plots, with the exception of the 2009 Ft.  Hood shooting in Texas, have been disrupted or botched.
What the article fails to mention is how so many of those "homegrown" plots have been enabled, supplied and even created by the FBI through various undercover "sting" operations. So if you want to say that Muslim extremists were behind the Boston bombing, then it would be naive not to be suspicious about FBI involvement in the incident. Here's some links to help understand this totally screwed up situation:

For a no-holds-barred commentary with extensive documentation on this, I suggest you read and watch James Corbett's well researched and fully referenced recent piece, "The FBI Fosters, Funds and Equips American Terrorists:"


But let's just say for the sake of argument that the perpetrators were indeed Muslim extremists, acting on their own initiative, determined to attack and hurt Americans. If we agree to that, we immediately become trapped in a closed loop in which the only terms of discussion are in the form of extreme jingoism and propaganda. Any attempt at trying to understand to the attackers' motivations as human beings is met with immediate condemnation. (Just ask Tom Brokaw.) And heaven forbid one pursue the perfectly natural desire to compare the suffering of the Boston victims to the victims of violence elsewhere in the world. And don't even think of opening a discussion about the suffering inflicted on innocent Muslim civilians by our own country's military actions. Politicians and media must stay on point: The terrorists (read "Muslims") hate us for our freedoms. They are vile sub-humans who can't be reasoned with. They don't deserve any rights. They should be tortured until they reveal what they know, then they should be killed.

This is shallow, ignorant, heartless and irrational thinking, and should be unacceptable in public discourse. The fact that it actually is mainstream says volumes about how difficult to impossible it is to have a rational exchange of views on this subject. I must admit I am repeatedly astounded at how people who characterize themselves as Christians and/or patriotic Americans will so easily dismiss the values of both their faith and the Constitution when it comes to dealing with Muslims oops, I mean "terrorists."

Jon Stewart has done his usual fine job of thoroughly deconstructing this kind of talk. Honestly, it's like shooting fish in a barrel to ridicule Fox News, because they make such an easy target of themselves. But it is worth doing when such despicable talk goes beyond cable TV and enters the public discourse.


Another reason it is perilous to blame the Boston attack on Muslim extremists is you have to reckon with the long sordid history of the U.S.involvement in strategic alliances with Muslim extremists, including the very Chechens who are now the newest terror boogeyman. As a result, we have to at least consider the possibility that the Chechens are being set up to be convenient fall guys; or that the attack is blowback resulting from the inevitable failure of such alliances. For an excellent analysis, read this article by former FBI agent and famed whistle blower Collen Rowley:

And here's some background from the Guardian, from 2004, entitled "The Chechens' American Friends - The Washington neocons' commitment to the war on terror evaporates in Chechnya, whose cause they have made their own"


If the facts about the Boston perpetrators and their motivations are now understood as complicated and murky, it seems clear that there have been some definite winners as a result of the Boston attacks.

With almost 12 years gone since 9/11, there have been many steps taken down the road of turning our society into one in which citizens have become acclimated to massive increases in surveillance, increasing operation of government in secrecy, a continual state of external warfare, and increasing militarization of internal law enforcement. We have seen a whole new version of the military-industrial-complex arise: the military-corporate-government-intelligence complex, as documented in the Washington Post's series Top Secret America.

Now, thanks to the attacks in Boston, we see that the public is ready to go a few more steps. Here's what was accomplished, all under the pretext of finding one bad guy:
  • Precedent established: locked down an entire big city; achieved universal compliance without it even being mandatory.
  • Precedent established: house to house warrant-less searches by fully armed SWAT teams backed up by military style armored vehicles.  Homes invaded, entire families rousted and ejected from their own homes for hours. The intimidation factor ensured that even if one wanted to complain, one would certainly think better of it.
  • Universal public support for police action, even after the lockdown and neighborhood searches failed to produce a result. Suspect was found after the lockdown/search action was called off, by a citizen who went out to look at his boat. In fact, the massive manhunt had somehow skipped this street, even though it was within their designated search perimeter. Nevertheless, citizens unanimously praised the police, and when the suspect was finally caught, crowds chanted "USA, USA."
  • In light of events, Boston police commissioner Ed Davis called for the city to acquire drones. Little doubt he will get what he wants. Local paper the Boston Herald clarified the inevitability in an editorial entitled "Bring On The Drones:"
"...surveillance drones can be a useful tool for law enforcement, and like it or not they’re coming to a city near you. It is important that their use be restrained, with proper oversight to prevent abuse. But in an emergency situation, there may be no more useful tool."
  • New York mayor Bloomberg took the opportunity in a press conference to tell New Yorkers: 
“But we live in a complex world where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”
Anyone with a differing view is given one sentence of coverage, and marginalized as a "civil liberties advocate" or someone with "privacy concerns."

The mainstream media did their part to make sure everyone got the message. For example, the day after the attack, Tom Brokaw helpfully explained that "beginning tomorrow morning, early, there are going to be much tougher security considerations, all across the country, however exhausted we may be by them. We're going to have to learn to live with them, get along, and go forward and not let them bring us to our knees."

And a CBS reporter, gushing with admiration for the cop caught on camera delivering milk to a stranded family, expressed remarkable understanding, saying, "as a mom, I know what that can be like, you know, you're in lockdown, the kids are miserable, you don't have any milk..." Sure, anyone can relate to that...

The only public figure that I know of that has been willing to speak out critically about this is Ron Paul, who published a very provocative essay on the subject. Is he just trying to make headlines, or is he perhaps sincerely trying to get people to consider the question, "who benefits?"

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