Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Few Thoughts on Boston Now That the Dust Has Settled

It's been a rather emotionally charged roller coaster ride over the past week as the country has been forced to deal with the first terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11.  Although many questions still remain, here's what we know so far:

  • Last week on Monday, April 15, 2013, at approximately 2:49pm (Eastern), 2 bombs placed about 100 yards apart exploded (the 2nd exploded about 10 seconds after the 1st) near the finish line of the 117th annual Boston Marathon. 
  • The 2 blasts injured over 260 people and killed 3: (1) Krystle Campbell, a 29 year-old restaurant manager; (2) Lu Lingzi, a 23 year-old Chinese grad student who was studying statistics at Boston University; and (3) Martin Richard, an 8 year-old boy.
  • Also on Monday, April 15, President Obama labeled the event an act of terror an ordered federal law enforcement (primarily the FBI) to assist the Massachusetts and Boston law enforcement.  Later that day, law enforcement officials called on the citizens of Boston to submit all photos and video taken near the scene.
  • The New York Post and CNN incorrectly reported that a Saudi national was arrested for the bombings.
  • The FBI confirmed that the weapons used in the blasts were 6-liter pressure cookers placed in black backpacks which were filled with ball bearings and nails as shrapnel.
  • After pouring over thousands of images and hours of video, on Thursday, April 18, the FBI released images of two brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a soon-to-be U.S. citizen and a naturalized U.S. citizen, respectively (both originally from Chechnya), taken by surveillance video at 2:38pm as the two were walking toward the blasts wearing black backpacks.  
    • Video also shows the 26 year-old Tamerlan walking towards the site of the first blast at 2:42pm and shows 19 year-old Dzhokar walking towards the site of the second blast at 2:45pm where he waits and looks at his cell phone and takes off his backpack.
    • At approximately 2:49pm, 19 year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev finished a cell phone call and then, moments later, the first blast occurred.
    • At approximately 2:50pm (1 minute after the blasts) a marathon participant who had finished the race coincidentally took a picture at the scene showing 19 year-old suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walking away from the blasts without his backpack.
  • Thursday, April 18, at approximately 11pm, a security guard at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was shot and killed.  Police believe the Tsarnaev brothers are responsible and respond to the call.
  • Friday, April 19, between midnight and 1am, the Tsarnaev brothers hijacked a black Mercedes SUV and led police on a chase through Boston.  They let the owner of the Mercedes go at a nearby Shell gas station. 
  • During the chase, the brothers opened fire on police officers and threw explosives out of the car.
  • Shortly thereafter, police cornered the two brothers and exchanged fire.  Witnesses report seeing the two brothers shoot at and throw explosives at the officers during the exchange. 
  • At the end of the exchange, the police managed to tackle 26 year-old Tamerlan; 19 year-old Dzhokhar got back into the Mercedes and drove through the police officers.  He abandoned the Mercedes about 5 blocks away.  Tamerlan was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital at 1:35am.
  • At approximately 8:50pm, Friday, April 19, Dzhokar is captured while hiding out inside of a boat in a residential backyard; the boat's owner called 911 after discovering blood stains on his boat and a person who he correctly believed to be Dzhokar hiding inside.
  • Sunday, April 21, Dzhokar was interrogated by specially trained FBI agents who invoked the "public safety" exception to the Miranda rule in order to question Dzhokar about any other possible imminent threats that may have been afoot.  Discovering none, Dzhokar was then read his Miranda rights and questioned by federal prosecutors about a number of things in the presence of 3 federal public defenders and federal magistrate judge Marianne Bowler.
  • During the post-Miranda line of questioning, Dzhokar confirmed that neither he or his brother are affiliated with al Qaeda or any other organized terrorist groups.
  • A TRANSCRIPT of the initial proceeding which took place in Dzhokar's hospital room is available HERE.
My initial thoughts are varied, but perhaps the thing that stands out in my mind the most about this entire situation is that the evidence tends to suggest that these two brothers detonated these bombs on Monday April 15 in Boston and then were found four days later on Thursday night, April 18, still in Boston.  This is wild to me because every local, state and federal law enforcement agency in the country was looking for these two guys in Boston and so out of allllllllll the millions of places where these two guys could have gone, where do they go?  They stay in Boston!  Brilliant!  You had absolutely NO escape plan whatsoever, huh?  You guys didn't think this one through too well, did ya?  Not that I'm complaining that you got caught, of course.

From the very beginning of this tragedy, I was telling my fellow blogger FED UP that I did not believe that this was the work of al Qaeda.  It just didn't have their style to it.  It felt amateurish.  Short sighted.  Unprofessional.  Pressure cookers in backpacks?  Really?  And the Boston Marathon event struck me as something that al Qaeda members probably wouldn't know too much about.  Moreover, al Qaeda never once stepped forward to claim this event as one of their own.  And we all know how al Qaeda loves to brag about their work.  As fate would have it, my gut feeling turned out to be correct; these two idiots -- clearly not the brightest crayons in the box -- were caught within miles of the bomb sight 4 days later.  It took over a decade before we finally caught up with Osama bin Laden, and when we did he was on the other side of the planet.  These two Fraggle Rock-lookin' fools were still hanging out in the same town where they just blew up 260 people.  As if this was somehow not going to come back to them.

Another issue that I found amusing was the Right's instant desire to militarize this guy's trial.  Relax.  First of all, he's a U.S. citizen and U.S. citizens cannot be tried in military tribunals.  That is the law.  Secondly, our federal courts (or "civilian courts" as some on the Right like to refer to them) have a far more superior track record at convicting terrorists than do military tribunals (we've covered this HERE). So even if we could try Dzhokar Tsarnaev in a military tribunal, we would be foolish to do so.

Finally, I also found it amusing that the Left was up in arms about the whole "safety exception" to the Miranda rule.  This rule is nothing new.  It's been around for decades.  We've written about it HERE if you care to study up on it, but the long and short of the situation is that the feds did this one by the book.  The safety exception was used to ask safety-related questions ONLY and once it was determined that no imminent threats to our public safety existed, Tsarnaev was read his Miranda rights by a federal judge.  And he still chose to talk even after being read his rights.  So everybody can calm down.

Anyway, those are a few of my thoughts.  More to come as we learn more about this case.

Now that we've collected a few more pieces to this puzzle, what are your thoughts?
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