I heard someone today say, “We know that he did it. We’ve seen the video. We don’t need a trial.”

I should preface what I’m about to say by noting that I’m not a conspiracy theorist… at least when it comes to last week’s bombing in Boston. I suspect it’s probably the case, given what I’ve read thus far, that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev carried out the attack that cost three individuals, one of whom was just eight years old, their lives, and wounded over 100 others. Between the surveillance footage that shows men who appear to be the brothers leaving backpacks at the bomb site, and the statements of the man whose car they hijacked a few days later, who claims that they confessed everything to him, I don’t imagine it’s likely that we’ve got the wrong guys. And, if I’d harbored any lingering doubts, I suspect they would have evaporated a few nights ago when, after throwing bombs at the Boston police officers pursuing them, Tamerlan charged the officers wearing a suicide vest. With all of that said, though, I find it absolutely amazing that, over this weekend, I’ve heard so many state that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was taken into custody after the death of his brother, isn’t deserving of even the most basic rights afforded us by the constitution. From arguing that he shouldn’t be read his Miranda rights, to saying that he should be spirited away to Gitmo without a trial, like an enemy combatant, I’ve heard it all this weekend. I’ve even heard people suggest the he should be summarily executed.

As terrible as last week’s Boston bombing was, this is what’s been keeping me up… this realization that people don’t seem to care about the rights that our ancestors fought so hard to secure, not just for those who were likely innocent, but for all people. Maybe it’s the fear that comes as a byproduct of terrorism. Maybe we’re so terrified that we just don’t care. Or maybe this is what happens in a society that’s come to accept that, with increasing frequency, we send weaponized Predator drones into other countries, to wipe out whole families on our behalf. Or, maybe it’s a function of today’s technology. Maybe, if we’d had cellphone video of Timothy McVeigh walking away from the truck he’d loaded with explosives, we would have been demanding his head on a platter as well. Regardless of why it’s happening, my sense is that we’re not going to move beyond it anytime soon. In fact, I suspect we’re going to start seeing more of it… God help us all.

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  1. Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    I completely agree. It scares me that the only ones who stand to benefit from all of this are advocates of a militarized police state.

  2. anonymous
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    We torture and we imprison without trial. That’s who we are. That’s in our DNA.

    From Bill Moyers:

    A new report from an independent task force finds that the Bush administration committed torture. The decision to do so, made by top officials and the president himself, was unprecedented. “[T]here is no evidence there had ever before been the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after Sept. 11, directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody,” writes the U.S. Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment.

    The task force, an eleven-person team led by former Congressman Asa Hutchinson, a Republican and an undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security during the Bush administration, and former Democratic Congressman James R. Jones, sought to piece together “an accurate and authoritative account of how the United States treated people its forces held in custody as the nation mobilized to deal with a global terrorist theat.” The New York Times called the report “the most ambitious independent attempt to date to assess the detention and interrogation programs.”

    In the years since 2001, journalists, lawyers and activists have been unable to get the Central Intelligence Agency, Justice Department and Bush administration to state unequivocally that the interrogation tactics used on detainees constituted torture. The Obama administration chose not to commission an official study of interrogation and detention tactics, saying it was unproductive to “look backwards.” But it is “indisputable,” the report’s authors conclude, that torture occurred at Guantánamo, the C.I.A.’s so-called black sites and other war-zone detention centers.

    One of the most fascinating chapters of the task force’s report is a profile of retired Navy Captain Albert Shimkus, now a faculty member at the U.S. Naval War College. For a while in the early 2000s, Shimkus was one of the faces of Guantánamo as officials sought to give the press more access to the prison. Captain Shimkus oversaw the hospital for the prisoners there, and took great pride in showing that prisoners received top-notch treatment. “They were, he enthusiastically asserted, receiving care equivalent to that given to America’s own fighting men and women,” the report’s authors write. But a few years later, Shimkus came to believe that his commanders had hidden the truth. Today he is deeply embarrassed about the role he unwittingly played in covering up the torture inflicted on Guantánamo’s prisoners.


  3. Jesse
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Mark, it’s all part of the American movie cliche trifecta; a horror movie, where a character breaks off from the group to die… And everyone is saying “oh my god, don’t do that!”. The rom-com where there is the inescapable fight before the discovery of true love, which everyone (including the actors) already knows exists… And then of course, the Drama where we seem to lose all semblance of what makes us Americans right before someone makes a speech we pull it together and decide to have judicial processes.

  4. Bob
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    I basically agree but when did you, or any of us, last blog about the outrage of people being held at Gitmo? This guy should get Miranda and a fair trial but clearly he is more guilty of terrorism than most of the people in lockup at Gitmo sincce 911.

  5. Edward
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Yes. If you don’t blog about Gitmo and drones every day, you don’t deserve an opinion on this.

  6. Brainless
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Sorry Mark, you can’t flip half a coin. The erosions of our humanity you cite have come with the great power of KNOWING beyond doubt we got the right guys. This is new and humanity needs some time to adjust to this amazing new superpower. I’ll take that over the bad old past where superpowers were contained within physical borders. I’d trust Reddit before I’d trust the assholes who keep killing everybody with drones.

    Also, one must acknowledge that a lot of what you’re hearing and sensing here is that folks neither understand nor trust our courts. It is a foreign country in our midst.

  7. Robert Davis
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:18 am | Permalink


    This is photo shop 101. Nothing is real accept the floor.

  8. josh
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Some individuals are beautiful, but people are a vile and stupid lot all guilty of countless crimes.

  9. double anonymous
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Jesus, people frighten me. We are a country governed by laws. Jury by trial is not just a right that we afford to those whom we think are likely innocent. War criminals and serial killers get trials. It doesn’t matter if we have your DNA at the murder scene. That’s what makes this country great. Or, at least it’s what made our country great. Lynch mobs, I’m sure, ofter got the right man. Sometimes, though, I’m sure they didn’t. The phrase “slippery slope” is overused these days, but that’s exactly what this is. Once we start saying that some people are undeserving of their rights, where does it stop. This is insanity.

  10. double anonymous
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    And what the hell was that, Robert Davis? Did you just prove that Mark added text to the bottom right corner of that photo, and that the bombing suspects didn’t in fact step over a large red sign? Thanks for straightening that out for us.

  11. Robert Davis
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    No, the individuals are photo shopped. You can clearly see, also with Mark’s insertion of his text. They are the same type of simple photo shop.
    Real Research can show you this was all staged, no one died, no was was injured. Same families over and over putting on these Fake Hoax’s.

  12. Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I think he left out a comma:

    “Nothing is real, accept the floor.”

    or a period:

    “Nothing is real. Accept the floor.”

  13. Robert Davis
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Pete, you remind me of one of my Professors at EMU when I was in school.
    Teddy Helfey, a History Prof and quite a piece of work.
    We had to write a 10 plus page paper on a certain topic and he picked Eleanor Roosevelt for me. Any grammatical error was docked off a whole grade. If you missed a comma, you got a B, if you misspelled a word, you got a C, and so one. 3/4 of the class failed these huge papers on simple human error and had nothing to do with the content, or facts.
    No spell check back in those days and no computers.
    Just old Teddy Hefley and old crusty History Prof with floods up to the middle of his shins and his pants so high his male parts were split. Mis matched ties, and a Barney Fife Tweet Jacket.
    This was a guy shaping us students. LOL.
    Not to mention, his history he was teaching was/is now ALL debatable. Just my 2 cents.

  14. Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    No, I recognize that it was a typo.

    Some typos are more interesting than others, though.

  15. Robert Davis
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I was being sarcastic; I know you’re not crusty old Teddy Helfey.
    He passed away several years ago and I believe; a park is in his name at the east end of Normal Park neighborhood, Hefley Park?

  16. Robert Davis
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Anyway, the world is a much better place; than what has been and is being shoved down our throats on a daily basis.
    Good luck to all.

  17. Posted April 22, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    The park is named for Edith Hefley, a peace activist and early member of the Ypsi Food Co-op. It’s known as the Edith Hefley Peace Park and it contains a peace pole. I believe in values that lead to peace in the world, including rights for those accused of a crime as guaranteed in the constitution. At 19 years old, who knows the extent to which this young man was influenced by his brother. From the descriptions given by those who knew him best, it certainly seems like behavior that was seriously out of character. What happened to the presumption of innocence.

  18. Tommy
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    One certain outcome of this incident is that the gun control debate is over. With terrorist in our midst and perpetrating this violence within our borders, there will never be action to place further restrictions on the 2nd Amendment. Sad reality, but true.

  19. Mr. X
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    The background check law failed in the Senate the day after the Boston bombing, Tommy.

  20. Flap
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Not to mention the fact that the greater Boston area was placed extrajudicially under martial law, and everyone acquiesced.

    Not to mention the fact that the United States bombs, kills, and tortures thousands of times more innocent human beings than Tamerlan and his little brother, while Amazon thrives, and we pretend that defeating Republicans is all that must be done.

  21. Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Was Bostong REALLY placed under martial law?

    Were people arrested for leaving their homes, or were they merely asked to stay home?

    Just curious.

  22. Tommy
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Mr. X – yes I’m aware of that. Should have said any action to restrict the 2nd Amendment will be forever doomed to failure.

  23. Flap
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Peter, I value your dogged contributions to this blog, but you’re no Jack Kennedy.

    I believe the language used was “Mandatory Lockdown.”

    I also believe that several thousand armed personnel were deployed in greater Boston, and their weapons, beyond garden-variety SWAT and paramiltary gear, included tanks, armed helicopters with heat-seeking technology, as well as surveillance drones, with tactical leadership coordinated by the DOJ, CIA, FBI, DHS, ATF, and the United States Armed Forces.

    Granted, there was fear that a second bomb might be detonated. But an entire metropolitan region under “mandatory lockdown,” with a few thousand soldiers and quasi-soldiers hunting a single teenager, reinforces my belief that the War On Terror® is good for big business.

  24. Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I merely asked a question.

    Were people arrested for leaving their homes?

  25. Jean Henry
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    no. they weren’t. it was all very civil. Most people complied. If people didn’t they were asked to. Photographers were out. People were interviewed. People even moved as necessary. It really stretches things to equate a public safety lockdown within which people comply willingly to martial law within which the state suppresses protest action or rebellion by locking down its civilians under direct threat. I take the slippery slope erosion of our civil liberties very seriously, but calling what happened martial law is sophistry. And frankly unfair to those who have had to suffer under real state oppression. The people of Boston do not seem to have feared their security forces at all; they seemed quite grateful to them actually. I am not saying our civil liberties are not under threat; I’m just saying there are degrees to these things. And alarmist, fear mongering, false equivalencies are a hallmark of all stripes of dogma-driven misinformation in this age… or any. I call bullshit.

  26. Posted April 22, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Jean Henry, I am in agreement in this case.

    The military ramp up of local police forces, particularly when one considers that crime is down everywhere, however, is somewhat disturbing to me.

  27. Robert Davis
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Lisele, thanks for Clarifying the park. Obviously Teddy isn’t Edith.

    Thank you.

  28. Robert Davis
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Lisele, not that it really matters. I did have first hand experience with this Prof Teddy Helfey and he was know to be a terrible grader and a Prof to stay away from. I have a Masters from EMU in History and have had just about all the Profs from the History Dept and Political Science Dept. He was at the bottom. He was probably different out of the classroom. But, it’s all moot now. Good luck to us all.

  29. anonymous
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    No offense, but how could it be possible that a person who holds a Masters degree in History from EMU is putting things on the internet about Kenny Loggins and John Candy having been involved in the events that recently transpired in Sandy Hook? I think a little skepticism is healthy. What you suffer from, though, is not. You need to seek help. I don’t say that to be cruel. I honestly hope you seek and receive help.

  30. Meta
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    At least he isn’t going to be charged as an enemy combatant. We have that to be thankful for.


  31. Robert Davis
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Ugggggg, do some research. John Candy and Kenny Loggins are characters played by actors; those names are owned by the Hollywood Industry. Who knows, who the real birth individuals really are? Scientific Genetic Ear Biometrics has identfied these people as these individuals in these BS events. You need to unshackle yourself from the Hollywood time and logic; that is driven into our minds through the media on a daily basis.
    Good luck and see ya later.

  32. site admin
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Pete and Jean,

    There was a post about the militarization of local police forces here on the site a few weeks ago, which contained links to an ACLU initiative to uncover facts. It’s interesting reading.


  33. Bob
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Is there an actual “military ramp up of local police forces?” Where are you getting that? I seem to remember hearing just a few weeks ago that incarceration is actually on decline for the first time in decades. Are states and counties suddenly flooded with money to rehire cops and fire fighters?

  34. Posted April 22, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s been we’ll established, yes. Even CATO is concerned


  35. Posted April 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink


  36. Posted April 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Really, all you need to do is search for “militarization of police” and you’ll find just about everything you need.

  37. Bob
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Umm, that first link is from 2006. The second one just seems to indicate that the ACLU is concerned about the issue. I’m not in favor of this, if it’s true. I have been an ACLU member and am thankful that they are vigilant, but this is a little thin.

  38. Posted April 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a link to a more recent article on police in schools, and increasing criminalization of discipline problems:

  39. Posted April 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    If it helps, here’s an article from 2011. Despite the fact that it’s on the HuffPo, it’s quite good.

    The trend in militarization of police departments around the country goes back to 1994, and really got ramped up post 9/11.

    It might not be fast enough for you, but it is happening.


    The pictures of the Boston police this past week were quite telling. They are better equipped than some state (country) governments .

  40. Dan
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink


    Why should we be thankful that he isn’t being held as an enemy combatant?

    just curious.

  41. Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Because he’s an American citizen, that’s why.

  42. Dan
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    American citizens can’t be enemy combatants?

  43. Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Who gets to decide who is and is not an enemy combatant? You? The President? Congress?

    We have laws and a court system.

  44. Dan
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    apparently, Peter Larson gets to decide it.

  45. Posted April 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    I really don’t think you get it, and that’s ok. You don’t have to.

    The 6th Amendment to the US Constitution states:

    “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

    I’m sorry that I believe that everyone is entitled to a fair trial. The “enemy combatant” category is a perversion of our democracy. That’s just my opinion, which is pretty worthless since I hold no position of power. You are welcome to think that I’m an asshole. which you already do.

  46. Dan
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Permalink


  47. Posted April 23, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Yeah, wouldn’t have expected much else.

  48. Elliott
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Why is the right to buy guns so integral to the idea of America, but not the right to a trial by jury?

  49. EOS
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 4:56 am | Permalink

    He’s already confessed and admitted that he was motivated by Islamic jihadist intentions. If he pleads guilty, then there will be no need for a trial, just sentencing. Whether he is sentenced to die or merely life imprisonment, there’s plenty of time for him to sell the movie and book rights and fund future terrorist acts. That they were able to completely shut down a major metropolitan area for most of a day means we lost this battle and there is, without a doubt, more battles to come. The militarization of our police and the willingness of Americans to sacrifice our personal freedoms are further indications that the terrorists are winning.

  50. Jean Henry
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    I should have clarified my “bullshit.” It was called on the idea that Boston was under martial law for that time. Not on the militarization of our police. The call to shelter in place is one used in disasters. When those disasters are weather related, one can in fact be arrested and fined for leaving one’s house– and many have been. It’s still not martial law. The difference in Boston was really how we feel about seeing our police acting as a military (and looking like one) on our own ground. It’s scary– but it’s still not martial law and the truth is the police behaved well as far as we know. And it appears the suspect is being treated well (There will be a trial, EOS, even if he pleads guilty, as this is a capital crime.) and no lawyer I’ve spoken to has felt this was a violation of Miranda. Neither have I heard that he was abused. I am not saying that a militarized police force is not a problem or that Eric Holder hasn’t been eroding civil liberties in a way that is frightening (and surprising given Obama’s constitutional Law background) , I just don;t think Boston makes your point. And i think some subtlety in these discussions– like Did the lock down actually produce results?– the suspect was found by a citizen after it was over. Did gov’t surveillance produce results or did a multitude of freely available images? Was Reddit a help or a hindrance?– would be more useful. In particular I see a problem when a police force, however geared, actually behaves well but is still subject to this kind of rhetoric. We should applaud the police and the military (and the courts!) when they do what they are supposed to do. I am not sure why we humans so like to be politically inflamed. I think it is like modern day Grimm’s fairy tales– there is something cathartic about spinning narratives about our worst fears– especially when those fears align with our political beliefs about good and evil. Nothing too terrible happened in Boston after the bombings. That’s a relief and deserves some acknowledgement. The police, in particular, deserve some credit.

  51. 734
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    “Whether he is sentenced to die or merely life imprisonment, there’s plenty of time for him to sell the movie and book rights and fund future terrorist acts.”

    Not true. Perpetrators cannot benefit financially from their crimes. If revenues come as a result of book and film deals, it will be distributed to the victims.

  52. Meta
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    For the first time since before 9/11 — more respondents were unwilling (45 percent) than willing (43 percent) to sacrifice personal freedoms to reduce the threat of terrorism.

    From the FiveThirtyEight blog:

    Public opinion surveys conducted since the bombings last week at the Boston Marathon indicate that most Americans — while convinced future attacks are quite likely — don’t feel personally threatened by terrorism, and an increasing share of the public is skeptical about sacrificing personal freedoms for security.

    Concern about another terrorist episode in the United States has increased after the events in Boston, which led to the deaths of four people and wounded more than 260. But there has not been the upsurge in concern over such an attack that there was in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City. The post-Boston polls have also shown that Americans’ personal sense of threat — as opposed to the generalized threat that the country faces — remains low.

    Just after the 9/11 attacks, a Washington Post poll found that the threat of another major terror attack was something that worried nearly 9 in 10 Americans either “a great deal” or “somewhat.”

    Read more:

  53. double anonymous
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    And then there’s this.

    “You’re Eight Times More Likely to be Killed by a Police Officer than a Terrorist”


  54. Jean Henry
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Well, I guess it was wishful thinking on my part to believe the police were well behaved. The story of the pursuit of the brothers is changing. They had one pistol between them. Dzhokhar was unarmed. None of this is getting much media play. http://www.salon.com/2013/04/25/the_changing_facts_in_the_boston_investigation/

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