Two days ago, Alfredo Lopez posted an article on the web site This Can't Be Happening with the title, The Marathon Bombings, Privacy, and the question "Why?" It is the best article I have seen addressing the civil liberties implications of the shutdown of Boston and vicinity during the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers.
I will summarize the article and publish a few excerpts here. I encourage everyone to follow the link and read the whole thing. (Continued below the orange squiggle.)
Lopez opens with:
One thing is clear amidst the shower of confusion and contradiction that bathes the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing: the legal and technological structure of a police state is in place and can be quickly activated. As if on cue, while the hunt for the bombers was ongoing, the House of Representatives obligingly enhanced that police state capability by passing the draconian Cyber Intelligence and Protection Act (CIPA). If approved by the Senate and signed by the President, it will greatly expand the government's intrusion into all our lives.After noting the imagery we have been shown of military style police occupying Watertown and searching residents and houses at gunpoint, Lopez addresses the implications of what we have seen:
It wasn't a good week for freedom.
As my colleague Dave Lindorff points out, what lingers is that government officials set a precedent by closing a major American city. Boston, as a living center and municipality, was de-activated and this was accompanied by what can only be described as a military mobilization.Lopez links this "why?" to our foreign policy:
People cooperated with this seige probably partly out of a sense of duty and partly out of fear. But the people who declared the lock-down didn't know that would be the response and, based on how they acted, they didn't care. We can all question whether this show of force was actually necessary or even effective -- my answer is "no" to both (and it's instructive that the fleeing suspect was located by a citizen only after the lock-down was lifted) -- but it might be more important to pose our own "why?".
Yeah, there's always a "reason" but the reason never really tells us "why". That unanswerable "why" on our lips and in our minds unifies us with the world. It's the very same "why" people ask when a drone plane destroys their homes or when soldiers with guns like the ones carried on Boston's streets come into their houses, scream at them in a language they don't understand, violate their culture and then, in some cases, take them away or kill them on the spot....Maybe what we need is a world-wide movement asking the question "why?" Maybe one is already forming. Maybe that's why our government responded as it did last week.Lopez then goes on to show how this embryonic police state has been accompanied by a systematic erosion of our right to privacy. He concludes:
The lesson of Boston and last week is that, in the Obama Age, you have no privacy left....But a movement that opposes government oppression would do well to make privacy one of its prongs. They are gathering our information, true enough, but we can still challenge them on how they use it. We can fight them on introducing it into cases. We can oppose their attempts to get large communities to "rat" on demonstrations or politically active individuals. We can expose their jaded definition of privacy and force the debate to focus on its real purpose and theirs.It is time a lot of us started to ask "Why?" We were given a country by our forefathers that included a bill of rights that has been an inspiration to the world. Last week in Boston, we saw that bill of rights violated to a grotesque degree. This is what "Homeland Security" has wrought. If we want to live in a free, democratic society, it is time to start asking a lot of questions.
We can ask them the question: Why? And organize around their answer.