Saturday, April 20, 2013

If only we fought wars the way we fought the Boston Marathon suspects

The Boston Police, state police, feds and whoever else was involved approached their task in the spirit of how we sorted out millions of Germans, Japanese, and Italians in World War II. Too bad we can only do this now when hunting down a 19-year-old kid.

Some people are already second-guessing the law enforcement tactics. They say it was an over-reaction to put a whole city in lockdown, that it made us look vulnerable. Well, we are vulnerable. The reality is that Al Qaeda and their brother organizations at war for Allah can easily recruit dimwits to do their dirty work, and that work involves killing and maiming civilians in the ordinary course of their lives.

I don't see what alternative the cops had. A presumed killer was at large, there was no way to know what weapons and explosives he carried or whether he was part of a cell with a safe house. The law forces behaved as if there was only one acceptable end, capturing or killing the suspect, period. They seem to have acted with discipline and good sense. Did it set a dangerous precedent for civil repression by police kitted out like battlefield soldiers? Maybe. But this time they were doing a legitimate job while making every effort to keep the public out of harm's way.

The irony is that it is now our domestic police who in many cases look and act like armies; our armed forces in places like Afghanistan and Iraq shoot if they must but otherwise are supposed to be Girl Scouts and Peace Corps volunteers, winning through good behavior plus building schools and water treatment plants. No wonder so many of the locals express their respects through IEDs, contemptuous of people who don't know how to fight.  Our deluded soldiers, sent by the neocons to the middle east, expected pretty girls to be handing them flowers like during the liberation of France. Instead they found themselves looking around for their missing limbs.

You can't make war genteel. You can only avoid it -- usually the best policy -- or win it.


YIH said...

In the previous post:
My prediction: if he has a gun left, he'll aim it very carefully ... at himself. Even if he's as stupid as the day is long. You pretty much nailed that one. With one exception, because he's as stupid as the day is long, he didn't aim it very carefully - that's why he survived, and isn't talking.
The whole manhunt was very creepy, it was 'a dry run' for Martial Law complete with suspension of Constitutional rights. Like that pesky and outdated 4th Amendment. Swat teams bursting into people's homes, no warrant, no consent (and 'hot pursuit' means they had him in sight before entry).
This is the late Sam Francis' ''anarcho-tyranny'' in action. Yes, what the hell were they doing here in the first place, but those who hate the idea of national borders also think it's quite OK to make the region of the world they are nominally a part of is part of a worldwide battlefield.
Not unlike Sen.(and yes, I'm glad he stayed that way) McCain who wants the US involved in war on every corner of the globe while supporting invasion even against those Arizonans who elected him.

Rick Darby said...


I have to say -- well, I think I have said -- that in this particular situation the quasi-martial law clampdown was regrettable but justifiable. The cops couldn't be sure what they were up against. Did what's-his-name -- I never can remember it and it's too much bother to look it up -- Suspect no. 2 have more explosives? Did he have some way of communicating with a sleeper cell that they might have rolled up as well if they could do an intercept? Would he have killed a few more citizens out of crazed fear or in advance retribution because he figured he was a goner?

While the state of play is unclear and volatile, the people in charge have to take all precautions they can, and if that means turning Watertown into an occupied zone and instituting a curfew, what else can they do to play it safe?

All that said, it is distressing to see how much of our police forces have been turned into attack machines. It's a long way from the cop walking a beat twirling his nightstick.

Ghost of VW said...

And the fact that State Security didn't find the guy doesn't bother you? He was found 1) 3 hours after the lockdown had been lifted 2) outside the SS perimeter 3) by a private citizen walking outside to have a smoke.

If someone had refused to have their home searched and been shot dead, would that be collateral damage in your mind?

I haven't checked in here for a while, but I don't remember you being a statist. What gives?

Rick Darby said...

Ghost of VW,

I hardly think anything I've written on this subject makes me a "statist."

As long as Chechendumber was still on the loose, he represented a serious danger. It would have helped a lot if the police knew his whereabouts, what armaments he carried, whether he had any connection to a terrorist cell, and what his state of mind was. But they did not know those things.

The real issue as far as I'm concerned is why Chechendumb & Chechendumber were in the United States at all. Our immigration policy seems to be that anyone from anywhere (except South African white refugees) can show up, be waved through, and for practical purposes stay as long as they like. We don't worry about mad bombers because that would be "discrimination."

If someone had refused to have their home searched and been shot dead, would that be collateral damage in your mind?

There are a million "what ifs." It didn't happen.

F.J. Dagg said...

I'm with Ghost of VW. We sowed the wind by allowing the suspension of the 4th Amendment at airports. Now we begin to reap the whirlwind of martial law, which is the best description of what happened in Boston, Birthplace of Liberty, oh, the irony. If a lone, wounded 19-yr-old on the run justifies the arbitrary suspension of any part of the Bill of Rights, then what will "justify" its complete abrogation? Not, much, I'm pretty sure.

As to your points on immigration, I concur entirely, but the whole question becomes irrelevant if the "authorities" can suspend the Bill of Rights at their whim. All of us, natives and immigrants alike, become equals as inmates in a prison nation, an existence, not a life.

Rick Darby said...


I understand what you're saying, and I too am concerned about threats to civil liberties using terrorism as an excuse. The degrading tactics of the TSA are a flagrant example.

But as long as our immigration welcome wagon for anyone and everyone except English-speaking white people continues, and we officially pretend that every case of Sudden Jihad Syndrome is just workplace violence or "mental illness," we will continue to have events like the Boston Marathon bombing -- and next time it could easily be something worse.

It appears that at least half of Americans would rather put up with clever jihadi tricks than "discriminate" against people from ethnic groups most likely to kill and mangle the rest of us. We have to stop this stuff at the best choke point, namely the borders and airports. Otherwise denial of reality and violations of liberty are the only tools left in the box.

Ghost of VW said...

The real issue as far as I'm concerned is why Chechendumb & Chechendumber were in the United States at all.

Fair enough, Rick, and I agree completely. But it's obvious that the feds are using immigration and paramilitary police forces as a one-two punch against anyone who values the Bill of Rights. The authorities know very well what Muslims tend to do after they immigrate. Advocating the travesty that happened in Boston in response plays right into their hands.

But they did not know those things.

So rights are to be violated any time the police lack solid intelligence. Maybe they should have forced the city of Los Angeles to "shelter in place, or else" since the LAPD had no idea where Dorner was or what weapons he had.

There are a million "what ifs." It didn't happen.

But it might next time, and there will be a next time, soon. Has this ever happened in American history? No. It sets an extremely dangerous precedent, and every time the federal government seeks to "tighten security" at the expense of rights, it cites precedent. Martial law will be standard procedure from this point forward. Once the ball of tyranny is moved forward, it's almost impossible to roll it back.

Cops pointed their weapons at citizens and demanded that they surrender their homes for inspection, Rick. You point your weapon at a cop and you're going away for felony assault. This was a grotesque violation of the Fourth Amendment, Posse Comitatus, and god-knows how many other laws.

I'll repeat what I said before: the police did not catch the surviving bomber. If the true purpose of martial law was to find him, it failed miserably. If the next bomber immediately flees to a safe house and lays low for two weeks, will the Stasi perimeter be expanded? How long would martial law have to last in that case?

P.S. Speaking of tactics, it was painfully obvious that the police were not expecting serious resistance. There are many pictures and videos of police marching down the street in close formation and bunched up around their vehicles. Open-turreted vehicles were parked in the open when the bomber "could have been anywhere." Police were standing around in plain view, even on roof tops, rather than seeking cover. This was a show of force meant to cow the population, nothing more.

Rick Darby said...

Ghost of VW,

Well said. I did not know that police had pointed weapons at home occupants followed by a search they couldn't refuse. And it is correct that the police didn't catch Chechendumber, a civilian accidentally found him.

You clearly discovered more details than I had learned or thought about. Maybe I didn't want to know too much. If so, then I allowed myself to be conned.

A one-two punch it may be. If so, immigration restriction -- good for the country in all kinds of ways -- seems to me a more practical goal for those of us who value civil liberties than trying to reform police tactics after the fact of a terrorist act.