“Forced lockdown of a city. Militarized police riding tanks in the streets. Door-to-door armed searches without warrant. Families thrown out of their homes at gunpoint to be searched without probable cause. Businesses forced to close. Transport shut down. These were not the scenes from a military coup in a far off banana republic, but rather the scenes just over a week ago in Boston as the United States got a taste of martial law,” wrote Ron Paul, the former congressman from Texas and presidential candidate, in an April 29 column for LewRockwell.com.
“The ostensible reason for the military-style takeover of parts of Boston was that the accused perpetrator of a horrific crime was on the loose. The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city. This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself,” Paul said.
Ron Paul points out that “the suspect was not discovered by the paramilitary troops terrorizing the public. He was discovered by a private citizen, who then placed a call to the police. And he was identified not by government surveillance cameras, but by private citizens who willingly shared their photographs with the police.”
Others, however, see the Boston bombing as an excuse to ratchet up the police-state measures: fewer restrictions on domestic intelligence, more warrantless searches, more surveillance cameras, etc. Richard Falkenrath, Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), in an April 25 interview with Jonathan Masters on the CFR website, claimed the failure of the FBI to apprehend the Tsaraev brothers, the alleged perpetrators, before the attack, is evidence of “system” failure.
“The problem is inherent in our system of government, which does not have a domestic intelligence service,” said Falkenrath, adding that “so long as you want to have a system in which the activities of your domestic law enforcement agencies are tightly circumscribed by law and jurisprudence, you will have these sorts of mistakes and tensions.” He sees the so-called Patriot Act of 2001 as a good start, but would like to further “liberalize” our laws to allow more invasive monitoring of all citizens. He is also a big advocate of vastly expanding the deployment of surveillance cameras.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (CFR), meanwhile, said the country’s interpretation of the Constitution will “have to change” to allow for greater security to stave off future attacks.
Photo of police in Watertown, Mass.: AP Images