(Article changed on May 4, 2013 at 12:29)This article was originally published on the Madison Independent Examiner. A video and slideshow are available for viewing there.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
The Day After: Military vehicles line Charles Street on April 16, 2013.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic via Flickr
Since 9/11, Americans have willingly sacrificed constitutional rights, personal freedom, billions of taxpayer dollars and lives in order to feel safer from terrorist acts. The horrific bombing in Boston is an ugly reminder that such sacrifices are not keeping Americans safer. Even though the suspects were found within days after the bombing, the surveillance and police state that Americans have allowed to be created utterly failed on April 15th, 2013. Indeed, over 250 years later, the words of Benjamin Franklin ring true.
Some are questioning the official narrative of the Boston Marathon bombing and the ensuring events in the five days that followed. That is to be expected when the official story seems so improbable in light of all the anti-terrorism measures that have been enacted over the past 12 years. If one believes that story, however, it should become clear that all of the rights that Americans have sacrificed, all of the tax dollars spent, and all of the lives lost in the "war on terror" have done nothing to keep Americans safer from terrorist attacks.
The American people are told that they need Echelon, the CIA, the NSA, the DHS, the TSA, fusion centers, tracking devices, RFID chips, drones, spy satellites, militarized police armed like Marines, and a defense budget that accounts for over 41% of world military spending - more than the next 10 highest spending nations combined.
Americans are told that they need indefinite illegal detention, illegal torture prisons that provide no reliable intelligence that can be acted upon, gun control, pre-crime arrest, a stifling of freedom of speech and expression, a means to bypass Miranda rights, control of every channel of communication, censorship of the media, complete control of the internet, etc. -- all in order to prevent terrorist attacks and keep them safe.
Americans are told they need to make sacrifices in taxes, Social Security, Medicare, health care, education, jobs, infrastructure, and even lost lives in the military in order to keep them safe from "terrorists." As a cowed and misinformed population willingly makes these sacrifices, the constitutional rights of common Americans are being shredded, their freedoms disappear and the nation is spent into bankruptcy as an all-powerful police state is expanded in an Orwellian fashion.
Despite all the sacrifices, two seemingly ordinary young men, ages 26 and 19, possibly acting independently, were able to elude hundreds of police, federal agents, bomb-sniffing dogs, surveillance cameras, internet surveillance and even their own family and friends in order to alledgedly set off two makeshift bombs and that killed three people and wounded over 200, evading capture for almost five days in a city of 650,000 people.
Before the suspects were caught, it took a plea to the public from the F.B.I. to identify them from a grainy department store surveillance camera still shot, a manhunt during which hundreds of rounds of gunfire were unleashed in a crowded city, a virtual martial law lock down of thousands of Americans, and a cost of an estimated $333 million in expenditures and lost income in Boston.
Many details have been reported and later contradicted about the events between April 15th and April 19th, the background of the suspects and the manner in which authorities handled the situation. The full truth may never be known.
One thing certain, however, is that at least one of the suspects was on the F.B.I.'s radar before the bombings. The F.B.I. originally denied first meeting with one of the bombing suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, two years ago, but finally admitted that after CBS published the information. There have been several allegations that the F.B.I. interviewed the elder bomber multiple times.
At the very least, that would mean that the F.B.I. would have run a background check on him and run his name and photos through all the available surveillance databases that federal agencies have created with taxpayer funding. Reuters reports that was done and that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was put on a terrorist watch list. Yet the public was asked for assistance in identifying him, which raises some questions.