Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Boston Bombers are caught, but a troubling legacy remains . . .




April 24 NOTE:  I have a follow on essay that builds on this one.  Read it here

The Boston Marathon bombers have been caught or killed.  That’s the story that has dominated all the news networks since the shootout with police a few nights ago.

While I applaud the efforts of the police, and I’m glad the presumed criminals are off the streets, I am troubled by a few of the things that happened, and I wonder why so few people are talking about some of these issues I observed as the drama unfolded . . .

First – the effective imposition of martial law in Watertown.

For the first time in my memory, the police essentially imposed martial law and closed a city as they searched for a criminal.  While I appreciate that this made their job easier, it cost innocent residents their liberty for the day and millions of collective dollars. If I were a small business owner in Watertown, I’d be pretty upset that the state summarily ordered me to close with no recompense.

“Get off the streets or you will be arrested!”  That’s what the police said to pedestrians in Watertown, according to numerous online sources.  What’s next?  Are we at risk for being shot or arrested in our own towns, simply to facilitate a criminal manhunt?

In the end, the massive manhunt did not catch the criminal. A homeowner found him, as he lay bleeding in a boat behind his house.  The manhunt – with all the thousands of troops and police, and all the millions spent – did not catch the crook.  From the accounts I read, he was seriously injured and probably would have died, had he not been found.

This raises two questions:  Was this level of response justifiable?  And under what circumstances might it happen again?

Most residents of Watertown lost a day's freedom; some lost more.  Many lost wages or self employment revenue. For what greater gain did we make these sacrifices?  Remember, throughout our history, Americans have faced many horrific crimes and disasters, without need for such draconian measures.  

Second – the erosion of defendant’s rights

There’s talk in the media about how the suspect was not read his Miranda rights, or provided an attorney.  An exception to Miranda was noted, to protect the officers from clear and present danger.

While I understand the need to protect from immediate danger, I also see this as a slippery slope.  Police say they don’t need to read him his rights, and the let that soak into the public consciousness.  Next time, the public isn’t so surprised.   One day, perhaps you’ll get arrested, and you won’t have any rights at all.  That’s where this thinking leads, if we are not careful.

Most of our police are decent men and women.  But as my son and I learned – and as I describe in my book, Raising Cubby – there are bad apples in any otherwise good legal system.  We have checks and balances for a good reason, and we discard them at our great peril.

It sounds easy to justify abrogation of Miranda for this guy.  That makes it easier next time.  After a few dozen incidents we may find that right casually thrown away.  That's how it happens.

Third – Treat him as an enemy combatant!

Several senators have already made this request of the FBI.  What are they thinking?  However terrible this person’s crimes; however horrible he may be . . . he is still an American citizen, on American soil.

If I – a native born American citizen – had committed these crimes, would I be an enemy combatant too?   If so, why?  Does setting a bomb off in a crowd somehow differ from climbing atop a roof and shooting people?  Because rooftop shooters have not traditionally been described as either terrorists or enemy combatants here in America.  They have been called murders, and criminals.

They have been caught by the police, and prosecuted in our courts.  The military has not been involved, and their right to a fair trial in our criminal court system was never questioned.

We need to put aside our revulsion toward the person, and consider where this path leads us.   Are we moving toward a society where criminals lose all rights, if their presumed offense is horrible enough?  What purpose is a legal system, if it deserts certain people?  

Fourth – the invasion of privacy, welcomed

Residents of Watertown were subjected to a regimen of house to house searching by armed troops.  As I said in the beginning, this did not uncover the man they were seeking.  What other activity did it uncover?  And will there be consequences for those people in weeks or months to come?  

American citizens have long had a presumption that their home is their castle.   There is a presumption that what is in your home is private, whether it’s legal or not.  If it’s illegal, law enforcement must follow established rules to go after you. 

The thing that surprised me most about this was hearing some residents complain that their homes were not searched.  They were awaiting the opportunity to give up their privacy; to open their homes to armed inspectors.  Come on, people!

Do those long-standing precepts simply go out the window, the next time there’s a similar emergency?


Fifth – the evolution of gladiator culture

In our local grocery store during the manhunt, apropos of nothing, the cashier asked about the manhunt, and then said, “I hope they kill him!”
  
Is that what we’ve come to?  Millions of Americans, tuned in to television, in hopes they’ll get to see the cops catch and kill some lowlife criminal? 

I have as much desire as the next guy to see criminals caught.  And if a crook engages a cop in a gunfight, I agree the cop has the right to shoot back.   I think citizens have the right to defend themselves, too.  But I don’t think any of it is a proper subject for entertainment TV.

Roman Gladiator combat came to an end 1,600 years ago.   Is the hunting of modern criminals and presumed terrorists going to take its place as popular entertainment?  Some say gladiator combat presaged the impending end of the Roman Empire.  Does this presage an impending end to the American Empire?

Like I said in the beginning, I’m a supporter of law and order, and I am glad to see the perpetrators of the Boston bombing off the street.  I want to live in a safe society, but I also want to feel secure in my own liberty, freedom of expression, and freedom of thought. 

These recent events make me feel a little uneasy.  We’re on a slippery slope, and no one is speaking up.


John Elder Robison is the author of three books – Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, and Raising Cubby.  He lives in Western Massachusetts.  The opinions expressed here are his own.

35 comments:

Camille said...

Thank you for speaking out on this. It seems that Americans are willing to give up more and more freedoms in the false idea that doing so will somehow ensure their safety. Giving up freedom is too high a price to pay for safety. Did the police have search warrants for all those homes they searched? If not, could the homeowner refuse to let them in without fear of arrest? Locking hundreds of people in their homes, shutting down an entire city in order to catch one young man seems excessive. The points you have made are very valid and we as citizens need to pay more attention to the price we are paying so that we can pretend that we are safe.

JJR said...

All very good points, John Elder. A lawyer Facebook "friend" and podcaster I used to follow posted some rather bloodthirsty commentary on his page about his being disappointed the 2nd suspect was apprehended alive instead of also being killed. I was quite shocked at this proto-Fascist mindset, especially from someone who has been through law school and ought to know better. There are very good reasons we don't want the power of Judge, Jury, and Executioner rolled into one person.

I also get dirty looks when I challenge the justification of our nation being "at war"; There is no congressional declaration of war, and the side-stepping "Authorization for the use of military force" doesn't cut it, at least in my mind. Just as morally & legally dubious as, say, the Tonkin Gulf Resolution.

Skutsch said...

Well argued. It's sad that I worry you might get grief for posting a reasonable essay like this. Best of luck!

juanita said...

The best reason I could think of for closing down the city was the fear that there might be other bombs & explosive devices planted around the city.

JillElaine/Jamaica said...

I think these are all appropriate and saliant points, especially after what you went through with your son. On the other hand, I think we are fortunate these events happened in a place like Boston. In some other areas of the country, the alleged bombers would likely have been hunted down and killed by citizen vigilantes carrying AR-15s, along with the requisite deaths of innocent bystanders. I am pleased that the second suspect was captured alive. I hope he receives a fair trial.

Jill said...

Thank you for these comments, John. We are losing all our freedoms because very few people say anything these days - or don't they even recognize it? Our rights are going away very quickly. Every time there is some incident, people beg to see their rights stepped on or removed in the supposed name of security. This process has been happening for a long time now, eroding all the freedoms this country was famous for.

I am glad that you have expressed this for those of us who cannot write as well. You have my support.

Patrick Hess said...

This has been gong on for several years now. The erosion of your civil and constitutional rights. It does not matter which party is in power other than which rights they attack. Martial law is imposed regularly these days. Weather situations where the public is told they will be arrested if they go out, Free speech zones where people are corralled if they wish to say something against the President or whatever Celeb is appearing.
We were told long ago, when you surrender freedom for safety you have neither.

BUDGE7 said...

I just read an Old West historical account where lynching and vigilante justice were commonplace. That was 1830, not 2013.

Chuck Cooperman said...

An important case occurred here in Maryland a few years ago, where an innocent party was subjected to a 'no-knock' warrant, he and his mother-in-law were bound and his dogs were killed. As a result, there is now a state law requiring the SWAT teams to document all of their activities.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berwyn_Heights,_Maryland_mayor%27s_residence_drug_raid


Crystal Durham said...

I’m glad you wrote this and I’m glad I read it. I didn’t stop to question what was going on and I think we all need to be shaken awake sometimes. You bring up valid points and it bothers me that I didn’t think of them sooner!

PeaceBang said...

I wish I could applaud you for your thoughtful post, but it isn't thoughtful. It's reactionary and misinformed. I'm a leftie myself, but many of your objections don't hold up. First and foremost, this wasn't a "crook." This was a kid whom we had every reason to suspect was loaded up with explosives. You're going to criticize the people of Watertown for welcoming police into their homes under those circumstances? Insensitive and self-righteous. When Dzokhar's big brother's body was stripped in the morgue, he was found to be all strapped into explosives.
Second, I have heard very few people use gladatorial rhetoric in this case. ALL the coverage I watched from NYC (I am a Bostonian who was stranded in NYC due to Amtrak shut-downs) showed residents saying, "We hope they take him alive." All the social media and internet media coverage reported the same. Don't generalize.
Third, and similarly, there has not been a general outcry to treat him as an enemy combatant. I don't think hand-wringing posts such as this one are productive in times like this. I agree that there are troubling implications of the imposition of martial law but for God's sake, a guy who had just been racing into town lobbing bombs out the window of his Honda escaped on foot into Watertown. You're going to blame the community for shutting everything down and combing the area to try to find him? Bet you don't live in Watertown. Also, although subsequent investigations may prove me wrong, I highly doubt that the officers doing the searching were on the look-out for anything but a bloody fugitive. They're not idiots. They knew that without search warrants any other illegalities they found in the houses would be subject to major lawsuits if arrests were made. I bet those agents saw a thing or two... or smelled a thing or two in the home of residents who relied on cannabis to help them endure the tension.

John Elder Robison said...

Peacebang, with all due respect, your comments are at odds with published media.

The media published an interview with a Beth Israel doctor who worked on the dead bomber. In it, he said there were no explosives on him when he was brought into the ER. So there were certainly none on him later, in the morgue.

There are numerous videos on Youtube showing armed troopers knocking on doors, bringing the occupants onto the porches at gunpoint, searching them, and searching the homes. I don't think that's welcoming by any stretch.

As to the enemy combatant . . . that request came from US Senators and was published in the media, as I reported

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I don't think mine is either reactionary or misinformed, as you suggest

katerinfg said...

Without arguing any other points, I believe that the reason for travel restrictions during weather emergencies is to reduce the chance of a first responder getting injured or killed while trying to rescue someone whose car couldn't handle as much as they thought it could.

Sandy said...

Your comments are more thoughtful than most I've seen. It is scary to see how many people are so anxious to throw any reasonable reflections to the wind and offer up all our liberties from some misplaced sense of "fixing" something. Our system is good. It's not perfect but it's better than most alternatives. I agree with you, we should be more hesitant than to encourage fascist behaviors to become rule, in spite of the panic of some individuals.

Scott Plutchok said...

"While I appreciate that this made their job easier, it cost innocent residents their liberty for the day and millions of collective dollars."

Not a problem, those millions will be recouped via the hundreds of parking tickets issued dawn the next day. It would also seem those citizens could care less about their liberty.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin, 1759

Cal Van Wagner said...

Just a question. Is anyone on this thing actually a living resident of Boston or W-Town who directly experienced the bombing and subsequent search or are we all expressing our "valid" concerns and fears from the safety of our homes outside of the area? Having been in multiple natural disasters and 1 manmade(illegal) disaster I can be very honest and say that your perspective changes drastically during and especially after these events. There is a deep impact and horrible sense of privacy and security that is ripped away from each individual when these events happen and you don't ever really get them back. Explanations of personal feelings are hard to come by. Evil and wrong choices that hurt others are never easy to accept. When they happen to you and those you know and their impact is such a horrid scene nobody escapes less than moderately changed. There is NO VALID explanation or justification for what happened. The best thing anyone on this group can do is to try to understand the events from the inside out. In all honesty that means listening, learning and reading firsthand accounts. Some of you have already. Good for you. This evil and heinous crime against humanity mowed down and obliterated people of all nationalities, religions etc... Yes we should question our governments responses and preparations. But please be careful in your words. If you haven't lived through something like this don't purport to speak about violations of privacy at the hands of the police as if you were a resident. These people are still processing the utter unexplicable horror of what they have just lived through. And right now the only thing they know is that life will never again be the same, they will not feel safe for a long time and all they feel is pain that can't be completely described and won't go away. For those of you who ARE using this event to brandish and sharpen your own political beliefs, shame on you. I'm not pointing anyone out because I don't know any of you personally and therefore shouldn't sit in judgement of you. However, I do encourage all of you to attempt to understand this tragedy from the perspective of those who are and will be living it for some time to come. Believe it or not that is actually more important than police-bashing, political exposition and being scared about rights being taken away. In a perfect Utopia this event wouldn't have happened. But that's point - it isn't perfect and all the lawyers in the world will still be arguing the technicalities of rights long after the world stops turning on it's axis. Just saying having lived through a Flood, earthquakes and a bombing. Your understanding of the precarious thread that holds all of our lives together changes. So much of what you thought was important you realize was nothing. And regardless of your political belief you will have a more clear and simple view of right and wrong, choice and chance & luck (both bad and good). God bless those folks and may they find a peace in their various beliefs and safety in the friends that remain. May they find the strength to forgive(as that and not rage is the ticket to freedom) and a stubborn, relentless drive to stand and go on with life

Lis said...

Good points that needed to be raised, thank you. We need this type of commentary. Whtether every point you make and every fact you state is accurate is irrelevant, the overall message is what interests me. As you say it's a slippery slope when certain rights and practices are overlooked and people just let it go because hey, they were the bombers, they caused horrendous deaths and injuries. Care needs to be taken to uphold correct practices at every point. I dread to think of a mistake being made and someone innocent being harmed because we've gone too far down this slippery slope.

petrossa.me said...

Human Rights are a luxury the world cannot afford anymore in these cases. Poppers paradox clearly applies here. Imo as soon as a party places him/herself by its behavior outside the scope of any declaration of human rights or bill of rights he/she loses the right to have those rights applied to him/her and tough excrement for those who get caught in the crossfire.

You can't win a fight fighting by the Queensberry rules against a bare knuckle fighter.

Suspension of the bill of rights as done in this situation is the least you can do.

John Elder Robison said...

Cal, I live in Western Massachusetts and so did not live through this particular response. My comments are based on watching youtube video, reading commentary, and reading regular media accounts

However, you and others mention other responses to natural disaster as if by way of justification. And you raise a good point. Just as the winter climate has gotten milder here through my lifetime, so has the response of the authorities to the news of an impending storm

Every year it seems - roads are closed to travel for cleanup, or some other such announcement is made. The official response becomes ever more draconian.

The responses I have lived through personally all strike me as excessive, heavy handed, "too much."

The citizenry of 1973 would never have stood for this. The citizenry of 2013 stand by meekly.

Like I said, we a moving down a dangerous slope

Thanks for your thoughts

Gina Duarte said...

Firstly, I'd like to thank Cal Van Wagner for this thoughtful and humane commentary.

You can write whatever you want, Mr. Robison, but for me personally and my family and friends in Boston, many of whom were at the marathon, it's too early to be trying to make sense of the unprecedented, highly complex and catastrophic set of events of last week.

It surprises me that anyone feels confident enough in their opinions of last week's events to commit their thoughts to writing and actually publishing them.

Like PeaceBang, I am a leftist, though I try not to knee-jerk and accept without question every idea attached to being one.

Having said that, I want to say that in principle I agree with some of the things you write about here, yet as I watched the events unfold in the news, I accepted what you refer to as "martial law" (a stretch, but I hear you) as what felt necessarily for law enforcement to do. Unprecedented event (a cold-blooded, armed killer on the run in a major city), they felt warranted another unprecedented event. I believe they thought doing this was the best way to protect people from further harm. Questions of whether this was right or wrong aren't asked when there is a crisis.

I can see where it looked like martial law - the military style vehicles, all the machine guns, the gear...now that I object to: the militarization of civil police forces. How did it get by me that major city police forces own such vehicles? Must have been purchased with homeland security money.

As for your assumption that the nation was bloodthirsty, a few encounters with such an attitude does not make it entirely so. As always, I'm sure as a nation we were very divided on this. There are always the bloodthirsty and those with the gladiator mentality, as you put it. To counter that there also many Americans I'm sure held hope that the young man would be taken alive and given a fair trial.

I think what I object to most is the cynical tone with which you dismiss us as Americans and as a society. The events of the last week show the U.S. in its true colors - the good, the bad and the ugly. I like to believe that most of it is good.

John Elder Robison said...

Gina, I have not "cynically dismissed Americans." Rather, I have called us out for standing by while our rights were abrogated in the name of law enforcement. We tell ourselves its for our own good, and I question the correctness of that rationalization

Strong individual freedoms and freedom of expression and movement are three of America's founding principles.

I believe I raise valid points in this essay. You are absolutely free to welcome the police the next time they want to search your home in pursuit of a criminal. But ask yourself this question:

Our country has thrived and become great over a period of almost 250 years During that time, a man's home has been respected as his castle. With all the challenges we've faced, and all the crimes we've known, it has never been necessary for armed troops to search private homes without the application of due process. Why is it necessary now? Especially as the police didn't find the guy in the end - a private citizen did.

The only exception to this respect of private homes was during the American Civil War.

Do you want to see a return to those days?


Mike T said...

Thank you so much for the post and thoughts. I was discussing the same with my wife last night and this morning. As vile an act as this is, the assessment of your level of civilization is how you treat the worst of the members of society. I would like to think that we would not throw everything (ethics, liberties, civility) out the window in a reactionary fashion such as this.

Brad Stafford said...

REALLY??? What if the authorities didn't do what they did and your family was at the next store they tried to rob, grabbed and held them hostage or they were killed in a high speed chase. then what would you say? Who would you blame then? IF you have nothing to hide you shouldn't have any reason to argue about the steps taken...
Sorry to say BUT This isn't a perfect world... even in America. Sometimes the means is worth the end result.
As for the alleged bombers rights he gave them up after he didn't turn himself in when he became a person of interest and then stole a car... resisted arrest... killed an officer... shot others... touched off more bombs and then hid in a private residence. THESE steps the authorities took are HIS fault...

John Elder Robison said...

Brad, with all due respect, I would prefer to take my chances walking round a city unprotected if the alternative is living under armed occupation.

If a criminal is loose in my city I feel I can make decisions to protect myself. I don't feel a need to put 4,000 troops and police on the street to do my thinking for me.

I understand it was temporary this time, but each time something like this happens, its easier to do next time, until it becomes the norm. At that point liberty is gone and its too late

Erin Miller said...

Not only are they all very good points. I especially like that you are addressing *citizen's* rights alongside *human* rights. All too often people who advocate for citizens rights condone abuse of human rights. The reason why gladiator culture is wrong is that punishment without limits degrades and destroys an offender's(or even a suspect's) person-hood. I wish more people had your perspective on justice. Hats off to you, sir!I can't help but respect someone who has strength under control.

Brad Stafford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad Stafford said...

John,
You might think you don't need those "4000 troops" and can make the right decisions to protect yourself. But I believe that the MIT officer thought the same thing... and again could your wife, child, mother make those decisions...
If the streets were left alone to be another normal day and the suspect got away to attack again, then who's fault would it be?
If he got away now you needs thousands more from all over to stop their regular duties to work on this one.
In my eyes all those citizens all became "deputies of Justice" and did what was asked of them. The system worked as it was a private citizen that found the "suspect". IF it was his normal day and he was at work perhaps it would have been his child that found the suspect and things would have been different and who knows how long the situation would have continued to linger on and how many more innocent people would have been hurt.

John Elder Robison said...

Brad, each of us has to decide what security means to us. Every moment that I am surrounded by police, or living under lockdown, I am not free.

We have seen many terrible crimes in the history of the United States. The only time we saw armed troops forcibly searching house to house - without warrant - was during the Civil War.

It's reasonable to ask if that level of intrusion is necessary now, when it was not necessary before. Seemingly, the public was protected, and justice was served.

Brad Stafford said...

Do you spend a lot of time surrounded by police? If you did they were probably protecting you and your rights... or others. You are free BECAUSE of the police... That protect our rights to be just that... Free to walk the streets... to write blogs to say publicly what we wish. When those rights are in jeopardy or it is unsafe to walk those same streets sometimes you have to go to the extreme. The streets were closed in part as other bombs could have been left along his escape route. It is our culture to hold other people responsible and to sue somebody for something IF all avenues weren't not used to apprehend this guy... somebody would have blamed somebody .I'm willing to bet all the other law breakers they found with illegal/suspicious activity that was witnessed will not be brought up.

Gina Duarte said...

By the way you appear to adhere to the letter of the constitution, I'm assuming you are also against further controls on guns? I'm not being snarky or defensive or even sarcastic. It is a genuine question.

The people I know (they or may not represent what's typical) who consider themselves liberals would agree with you about the "slippery slope" of the precedent that was set in Watertown. What interests me is that those same liberals cry the loudest again more gun control.

Do you really believe we would be more free and a better democracy if we followed the constitution to the letter? That's why there are challenges to the constitutionality or lack there-of of cases that make it up to the Supreme Court. While I'm not an expert on the constitution, it seems to me there are a lot of gray areas. It's not as black and white as you appear to wish it to be.

I'd also like to say that I'm not in total disagreement with you on the points that you raise in your essay. What I am trying to say is that the situation in Boston and Watertown are very complex. I may ultimately agree 100% with you in the longrun but right now all I'm saying is that I'd like the dust to settle before I automatically make up my mind that people are rolling over for law enforcement without regard for the constitution.

I fully agree with you when it comes to the suspect being read his Miranda Rights. But again, I believe you've jumped the gun. There were a lot of opinions (some better articulated than others) on whether this was appropriate or not. The rhetoric and dialogue about it doesn't necessarily mean that it will come to pass. As you know by now, the young man is not being charged as an enemy combatant after all. I don't believe that knee-jerking does democracy any favors; both on the right and left ends of the U.S. political spectrum. The media doesn't help one bit with inaccurate reporting and their incessant interviewing of every warm body they can get to answer questions about every situation that comes along.

Throwing the gauntlet just isn't helpful.

However, I've agreed vehemently with this quote since middle schol:

I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. --Voltaire


John Elder Robison said...

Gina, I am very sensitive to abrogation of liberty and oppressive presence. I've experienced massive law enforcement over-reaction firsthand (described in RAISING CUBBY)

I don't think its totally black in white but I think we are seeing ever more aggressive responses from law enforcement and I want to make the point that there are hidden costs to that in terms of liberty and freedom. We got by for a long long time without the need to lock down a city and search house to house without consent. And as I point out, that didn't get the job done in the end, anyway.

But now you ask about gun regulations. Like most Americans (according to the polls I saw) I favor universal background checks. I don't think the framers of our constitution ever meant to put guns in the hands of crooks, people with domestic violence restraint orders, etc.

Gina Duarte said...

As I said, I'm not an expert on the constitution, so perhaps I'm missing something.

I was under the impression that if one consents to a search, a warrant is not needed. I'm assuming illegal searches go on all the time, for far less significant reasons than a killer at large. What can't happen is that evidence obtained during an illegal search be used in a court of law.

I'm not sure about this but among the barrage of information and misinformation about Boston that I was presented with in the media, there were at least a couple of law experts who stated that under certain circumstances, public safety among them, the police are able to perform searches without a warrant. I'll try to look it up. In any event, if there are those experts who believe what happened in Boston was legal under certain provisions, I'm sure there are others who disagree. For the sake of discussion, I thought I'd throw that in.

Alexander Vollmer said...

This is a discussion and controversy which misses the real point. You discuss the boundaries of personal freedom and who should be able to define its borders. That's an urgent issue and it has to be resolved.

But there is a more basic matter which needed discussion first. What is terrorism. It's mentioned at some point in the above thread. Why is this a case of terrorism and not just a crime. Usually it's called terrorism cause it terrorizes, but that's something emanating from the people, not put into them. It's a feeling a condition based on your own thinking, your own reactions, based on your socialization and upbringing. If you don't feel terrorized it's no terrorism, just a crime. That means treating delinquent as terrorist rather than as criminal is only based on feelings, the plain fact are dead people, severely injured people and damaged properties. There are worse crimes.

I am a German, we had a regime who crawled into the brain and hearts of most people by letting them feel first the terror, than gave them the feeling of safety. But it all was just a horrible crime. What we see in the media about the manhunt in Boston looks identical what we see in the old Wochenschau from the 1930s, uniformed and armed men searching homes without a warrant, declaring someone as a public enemy and a scum without legal rights, declaring martial law and curfew, all with the purpose to give people the feeling of a safe and cozy home. And the prize? Loosing individual rights step by step. No more need for a judge to sign a warrant, you're a policeman, sign it yourself. No more need for a jury to declare someone guilty of a capital crime, by all accounts is sufficient and he's ready to be shoot on sight. That was Germany until it was liberated by foreign troops, including thousands of Americans fighting for those rights, laws and principles which seem to fade away, nowadays.

Keep that in mind, that terrorism is always dependent on the feelings and the point of view, whereas crime is always dependent on the decision of a judge or jury.

And I don't know who will be in the position to rescue the USA if someone gets in charge and take advance of all these instruments like HSA and those weakened rights and change the US into a fascist regime. I am glad that my country and its upright democrats were saved 70 years ago, but that's no guarantee for others to be saved too. And it all starts with watering down basic principles of law and personal rights which are hard-earned beginning with the Greek philosophers, over Locke, Rousseau, the French Revolution, and all the development from the declaration of independence to the Supreme Court decisions like Georgia v. Randolph, Miranda and not to forget In re Gault, cause the actual delinquent is a juvenile.

Gina Duarte said...

Thank you for the stimulating discussion. My opinion on this matter is evolving. It helps to hear all points of view.

Steve S. said...

I agree with most of your comments John, but not on the treatment of the detained suspect. Miranda has a public safety exception which was CLEARLY in play here. These guys had plenty of additional bombs, and it was unknown how many additional people were involved or what additional attacks might be planned. The calls for treating him as an illegal combatant have nothing to do with his prosecution. He is a citizen so that has to be in a civil court. But as a traitor and someone who truly is an illegal combatant, he can legally be treated as a combatant to lengthen the amount of time for interrogation before he is turned over to the civil system. That is why the exception in Miranda exists, and exercising that exception in this case would not violate his rights. As soon as he is read his rights he gets a lawyer and nothing else is learned about further plots. It was VERY STUPID to do as early as we did.

You know, when I read the title I thought this was going to be about the truly troubling legacy. That the third suspect, who was on the terror watch list because the Russian government had warned us about him more than once, was allowed into this country by special government permission, he was connected to the bombing, Moochelle visited him in the hospital, we were lied to numerous times about his status, documents were altered by the administration (the unaltered versions have surfaced) to cover up his terrorist connections even though they were deporting him for those terrorist connections, Janet Napolitano was caught lying about it, and now the coverup, exactly as we have seen in relation to Benghazi, is increasing. THAT is the troubling legacy. And he doesn't even mention it.