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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.

It wasn't a good week for freedom.

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:
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.

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?".

Lopez links this "why?" to our foreign policy:
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.

We can ask them the question: Why? And organize around their answer.

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.

Why?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hi there. (13+ / 0-)

    This Bostonian would kindly like you folks to stop using our tragedy last week as grist for your paranoia.

    Non futuis apud Boston

    by kenlac on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:19:38 AM PDT

    •  But.... But.... (5+ / 0-)

      Your rights were violated!  To a "grotesque degree!"

      It says right there!  Here look:

      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.  
      GROTESQUE!

      Too Folk For You. - Schmidting in the Punch Bowl - verb - Committing an unexpected and underhanded political act intended to "spoil the party."

      by TooFolkGR on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:22:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know. It just freakin' drives me nuts (8+ / 0-)

        when the police try to keep me safe from guys armed with bombs the wrong way.

        I knew this was going to be the way this was going to go around here. I'm only surprised it took this long before the "police state" wankers started in on it. I guess at least they understand the concept of "too soon."

        What we had was a whole bunch of bomb threats lingering around, crazy-ass brothers killing people, and a crime scene that was blocks long. Boston wanted these guys caught. So we did the sensible thing that was asked of us.

        And then we turned out and thanked the cops. That's gotta rankle people who live in a world of abstract universe of civil liberty theory instead of the real world.

        Pointed? Harsh? Yes. I've got no patience for this crap anymore. The boat they hauled fucker #2 out of was a scant two miles from my house. I will verbally cut down anyone who tells me and the rest of the world what I ought to think about that from afar.

        Non futuis apud Boston

        by kenlac on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:29:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It Didn't Take This Long (5+ / 0-)

          Police State Wanker Numero Uno posted a diary very similar to this one (with pictures and everything) before the suspects were apprehended.

          There's reality and there's fantasy.  I appreciate that the people of Boston had to experience the former, and the armchair jerkoffs who want to lecture you about how you're sheeple baa-ing away your civil liberties experience the latter.

          Too Folk For You. - Schmidting in the Punch Bowl - verb - Committing an unexpected and underhanded political act intended to "spoil the party."

          by TooFolkGR on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:33:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  WAKE UP SHEEPLE! (4+ / 0-)

            Non futuis apud Boston

            by kenlac on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:35:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  And the wankers need to be called out ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            misslegalbeagle

            when they deliberately make false statements to try and enhance the fear they're trying to elicit; e.g., every one of them has claimed that Bostonians were ORDERED to stay in their homes.  People who weren't local may not know that that wasn't the case, that citizens were merely asked to do so ... and many citizens went about their business anyway.

            Also, I'm just not buying the claim that it's now been proven that a police state can materialize as the result of one bad order by one bad person having the power to direct police to do anything.  Boston cops (and those who aided them) did their jobs because it was understood what the goal was: find the bombers.  I can't imagine any police officer would help take over a city at the whim of a power-mad political leader when no identifiable threat existed.  They'd quit or call in sick or something, they wouldn't allow themselves to be part of anything so heinous.

            "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

            by Neuroptimalian on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 02:53:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I for one will never stop questioning the cops (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          out of left field

          You may feel comfortble with the behavior on Friday. I am not.

          They attenpted to shut down an entire metro area, (unless you were working at dunkin dounts, then by all means please go to work) but the kid was hiding in a boat, within the permiter area they secured and they NEVER searched the boat. An entire day of wracked nerves and a city shut down when they kid was laying (we now learn unarmed) in a boat, bleeding, right down the street from the shooting.

          Oh, and for the record I was staying at a hotel room 2000 ft from the shootout. At 3pm Friday I got tired of being in my room so I drove to NH. I left my room and got on the pike and drove away. Do you know how many police where at the Newton toll booth checking cars? ZERO. So had I been carjacked by this kid, who could've walked to my hotel garage I would've driven him right out of town with no one the wiser.

          So we have a city being told to stay indoors, an army of cops not searching the area and no one at a nearby tollbooth looking for someone who could be driving him away.

          Sorry that doesn't warrant a duck parade in my book. Rather than fellating the BPD we should be asking hard questions but it seems everyone would rather shut the questions down.

           

          •  Think about this statement a moment: (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Neuroptimalian, misslegalbeagle
            ...but it seems everyone would rather shut the questions down.
            Perhaps swimming against this tide is not an indication you have special insight into this event that everyone else is too blind to see.

            Non futuis apud Boston

            by kenlac on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:46:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You know that's not true, right? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Neuroptimalian
            within the permiter area they secured
            Boat was outside perimeter. Not by much, but outside.
            •  not so. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              out of left field

              They now admit it was in perimeter area, accoring to the NY Times today.

              “They have a boat with blood on it, and they believe someone’s on the boat,” it said. Police officials initially said the boat was in the backyard of a house just outside the perimeter of the area where investigators had conducted door-to-door searches all day. But Commissioner Davis, of the Boston police, said this week that the boat had been inside the perimeter.

              “It was an area that should have been checked,” he said. “We are not sure how long he was in the boat. There was a pool of blood near where the car was dumped about four or five blocks away from the boat.”

              NY Times

              And here is a map someone made showing the location of the shootout in relation to the boat.

              Watertown Map

          •  It seems to me like your position is (0+ / 0-)

            internally inconsistent.  Were the cops enforcing a gestapo-style police state, searching homes at gunpoint; or were they bumbling around ineffectually, failing to search a relatively obvious hiding place visible from the street?  

            •  Inconsistency: (0+ / 0-)

              misslegalbeagle wrote:

              It seems to me like your position is
              internally inconsistent.  Were the cops enforcing a gestapo-style police state, searching homes at gunpoint; or were they bumbling around ineffectually, failing to search a relatively obvious hiding place visible from the street?  
              There is no inconsistency.  It is perfectly possible for a police force to trample on the rights of citizens by searching homes at gunpoint, while missing an obvious hiding place for the suspect they seek.  Just because you have big guns and wave them around a lot doesn't mean you know what you are doing.
            •  They're not mutually exclusive (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              out of left field

              They can be bumbling Gestapo's.  ^_^

              OK, but seriously, you have this image that the Gestapo is very, very efficient, sort of "in Fascist Italy the trains run on time" kind of efficient.

              Why, though? Does fascism endow a special capability to its adherent that make them super duper extra special efficient?

              So efficient, that it is worth it to embrace fascism so we can be efficient and solve our problems of national debt, education, pollution, etc.?

              But, let's get back to my first statement.

              Yeah, why can't they be bumbling Gestapos? They're so busy knocking on doors that they failed to look under the bushes, in the doghouse, under the tarp, etc.

        •  Dear kenlac, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          misslegalbeagle, kenlac

          Please let your city know that most of us watching from across the nation were highly impressed at the courage and determination that you all showed. You should be very proud of yourselves. Boston was amazing.

          "The Democrats are the lesser evil and that has to count for something. Good and evil aren't binary states. All of us are both good and evil. Being less evil is the trajectory of morality." --SC

          by tb92 on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 12:31:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  You don't own it (3+ / 0-)

      And I say this as someone who spent 23 years as a Bostonian. What happened in Boston has ramifications for the entire country.

      And this Bostonian, if I may still call myself that, agrees that the lockdown was unneccesary and ineffective.

    •  Hi back. (0+ / 0-)

      I appreciate that it's been a trying week for you.  Regardless, the events in Boston raised serious issues that should be addressed:

      - The police and law enforcement generally have been militarized to an unprecendented degree in the decade since the 9/11 attacks.

      - Privacy, that quaint relic of the Bill of Rights section of our constitution, is being eroded to an unprecendented degree as well.

      Are these developments compatible with a free society, where people can speak their minds without fear of Big Brother watching their every move?  We need to talk about this.

  •  How was the Bill of Rights violated? (6+ / 0-)

    By asking people to stay home? How was the right to privacy violated? By asking people if the police could search their home for a dangerous mass murderer?

    Maybe its all the military style helmets and vests that bothers you. I agree the cops have gone way overboard on this type of thing, but I would probably want to be all geared up if I was spending the day tracking down a murderer.

    Shutting the city of Boston down by asking people and business owners to stay home for a day was dramatic. Perhaps it was unnecessary, but it did seem to trap the surviving bomber into hiding out in a backyard boat while consistently losing blood from his wounds. In the end, the cops arrested the suspect with no additional loss of innocent lives.

    Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

    by OIL GUY on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:22:40 AM PDT

    •  Read the article. (0+ / 0-)

      Really.  Follow the link.  It is obvious you have not.  Oh, and look at the youtube video (linked above) of the police searching a house and it's occupants and then ask yourself:

      1.Why were the police conducting their search in that manner?  They were abusing and terrifying the occupants of the house for no reason that I can see.

      2. Would you like that to happen to you?

      •  I Can't Speak for Oil Guy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OIL GUY

        But I did read the first few paragraphs of paranoid ramblings before I recognized them for being exactly that.

        And I've seen that video, because kooks here have been spam posting it in comments for days now.

        It's comical because you don't know any more about that video than anybody else.  You don't know why the police were at that house.  You even say: "for no reason that I can see," but since you weren't there, and you know jack shit about what was going on, there's no reason you SHOULD know the reason.

        Too Folk For You. - Schmidting in the Punch Bowl - verb - Committing an unexpected and underhanded political act intended to "spoil the party."

        by TooFolkGR on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:37:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wow. (0+ / 0-)

          This is quite a pattern we have going here.  Whatever happened to that bit of wisdom, "question authority"?

          You don't know why the police were at that house.  You even say: "for no reason that I can see," but since you weren't there, and you know jack shit about what was going on, there's no reason you SHOULD know the reason.
          1. The area was locked down to search for ONE guy, who was probably wounded.

          2. The police are emptying a whole houseful of people, screaming at them and training their guns on them.

          This shows a complete lack of trust in the population.  The authorities treat the residents as potential enemies, rather than enlisting their help in searching for the suspect.  It's completely "Us vs. them".  Is this a sign of a healthy relationship between the authorities and the people?

          It is the same as the relationship that our troops had with the population in Iraq and in still have in Afghanistan--completely dysfunctional, which is normal for a hostile occupying power.  

      •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
        1.Why were the police conducting their search in that manner?  They were abusing and terrifying the occupants of the house for no reason that I can see.
        I honestly don't see the problem here. This is how you search for people who are likely to fire upon you. Given the cop who was shot the night before, this is a reasonable assumption.
        2. Would you like that to happen to you?
        Happened once- we had to call in a domestic on the downstairs neighbor, who was pretty well known to like both guns and meth. This is pretty much how they entered. It was a hassle at the time, but once we established that we were not likely shooters, the whole vibe lightened up.
    •  Re: How was the Bill of Rights violated? (0+ / 0-)

      OIL GUY wrote:

      By asking people if the police could search their home for a dangerous mass murderer?
      People were not "asked" if their homes could be searched.  They were forced out at gunpoint by squads of heavily armed police.  Watch the video linked in the article.
  •  Nothing personal, but that site you link is loaded (4+ / 0-)

    ... with paranoid, conspiracy theory posts, including this gem posted directly beneath the post you cite.

    Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

    by Bob Johnson on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 12:00:17 PM PDT

    •  LOL (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jan4insight, misslegalbeagle

      And don't forget the paranoid conspiracy theory post located directly within the post the diarist cites.

      Too Folk For You. - Schmidting in the Punch Bowl - verb - Committing an unexpected and underhanded political act intended to "spoil the party."

      by TooFolkGR on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 12:19:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: this gem (0+ / 0-)

      Here's a quote from the article you mention:

          Obviously, images can be photoshopped these days so caution is advised...There’s a rush to judgement in the media and the government to convict the captured Dzhokhar for this horrible crime, and to execute him for it, but “Something’s Rotten in Boston.”

      If it were just a matter of this one young man's fate, that rush to judgement would be bad enough, but his case has been used to justify an extraordinary abridgement of Constitutional freedoms -- both the denial of right to counsel and the de-facto and excessive imposition of martial law over an entire city during his manhunt. That makes these issues particularly important to clarify and explain. It also makes it important for the media to be asking about them, which at least in the case of the corporate media, is not being done.

      There is an extraordinary amount of imagery available of the events around the bombings, and a lot of people have been trying to sort through them, trying to figure out for themselves what happened.  This does not necessarily make them all paranoid conspiracy theorists. David Lindorff, who I have quoted above, strikes me as one of the more careful observers.  

      The reason why we have things like "the presumption of innocence" and Miranda warnings in our justice system is to prevent the kind of rush to judgement that we see around the Boston Marathon bombings, including, unfortunately, by some commenters here:

      1) Catch murderous fuckers.
      2) Nobody else gets blown up
      3) Almost universal gratitude from populace.
      [See upthread]

      "Murderous fuckers"--right.  No need for a trial here.  String em up!

      Further, we should remember that governments lie--all governments, not just the ones we don't like. For examples, see Bush, et al, re Iraq war.

      It is our duty as citizens of a republic to question what we see when events of this kind happen.  We have to MAKE the government be transparent, because they sure aren't going to do that on their own--too many bureaucratic egos are at stake.

      •  That post is loaded with conspiracy theory drivel (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bevenro

        ... that has been making its way around the webs since the bombings.

        "Look! It's a different backpack!"

        "Look! He still has his backpack on when he's supposedly running away!"

        "Look! That private security guy no longer has his backpack!"

        This is all a load of shit and spouting that kind of Internet conspiracy theory garbage here is reason for banishment.

        Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

        by Bob Johnson on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 12:53:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  So what you're trying to tell me is that two (0+ / 0-)

        innocent brothers, in a case of mistaken identity, decided the best way of handling it was to get into an armed conflict with the cops using firearms and explosives, in a stolen SUV.

        I have no idea what planet you people live on anymore.

        We'll have a trial. The odds are utterly overwhelming the surviving fucker will either confess or be found guilty. Only overwhelming delusion or resolute intellectual trolling could result in making a bet otherwise.

        Non futuis apud Boston

        by kenlac on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 04:34:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I have to go for now, (0+ / 0-)

    but I will check in later tonight.  My thanks to those who tried to comment constructively, whether you agreed with me or not.

  •  In general, I have very little trust (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    misslegalbeagle, kenlac

    in law enforcement, and consider them highly over-militarized and with far too much power. But I tuned into the local TV channel late Thursday night, and watched much of the shootout, lock down, and search live. And I have to say, it appeared as if they were doing an amazing job. I saw officers shot at. I saw them searching for bombs. I saw them be very polite to the media and civilians who were in the area. I saw them be extremely careful and protective of the people nearby. I heard interviews with neighbors who had nothing but good things to say about the cops.

    Did they overreact in closing the city? Maybe. But they didn't know what they were facing at the time. There could have been more planted bombs. There could have been accomplices in the area. Crowds could have made it easier for the suspects to escape, or served as hostages. How would we have felt if they didn't close the city, and the bombers took out the visiting circus?

    It's so easy to judge from a distance, but in this case the people who were there believe things were handled properly. Perhaps it would be best to believe them, and save our concerns for situations where we know there really was a problem.

    "The Democrats are the lesser evil and that has to count for something. Good and evil aren't binary states. All of us are both good and evil. Being less evil is the trajectory of morality." --SC

    by tb92 on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 12:42:07 PM PDT

  •  That article is so laughably bad. (0+ / 0-)

    It talks about how the government can take a photo from a crime scene and quickly ID the perps via some huge government database.  If that's the case...why the hell didn't they do that for the marathon bombers??

  •  Imagine the houseowners being brown-skinned... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    out of left field

    and wearing the red and white keffiyeh, and the SWAT team was speaking some kind of Arabic-sounding language.

    Would you scoff and think "Thank goodness I don't live in a police state like that" ?

    Or would you say, "Those people are lucky to have police officers like that" ?

     

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