Civil Libertarians Appalled by Tsarnaev Manhunt, Boston Residents Thrilled

While Boston residents celebrate the capture of suspected marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, civil libertarians question police tactics.

Woman looks on as armored police vehicles rolls down streetPhoto by Dan Nystedt, NystedtPhotography.comWATERTOWN, Mass.—Boston-based civil liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate told Reason.com he is very troubled by the measures taken by law enforcement officials during the manhunt for alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. His views contrasted greatly with what this reporter came across during dozens of man-on-the-street interviews conducted across the greater Boston area last week, where residents voiced overwhelming support for the actions of local, state, and federal officials.

“It was only after people were allowed out of their houses did somebody spot the guy, proving that an alert citizenry is more capable of ensuring safety than an army of militarized police,” said Silverglate, who described Gov. Deval Patrick’s advisory to “shelter in place” as “outrageous and counterproductive” and likened it to something out of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World.

“The whole shelter in place was symbolically very bad; it gave the people the notion that we were under some kind of military attack,” said Silverglate, who said Boston was more closed down last week than London was during the German bombings in World War II.

As for the huge outpouring of public support for law enforcement in the wake of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s capture, Silverglate called it “very dangerous” and bordering on “adoration.”

“There’s a difference between appreciation and adoration, this has moved into adoration. We have learned that there is a vast militarized law enforcement establishment at the state, federal, and local levels. I actually feel like I am in an occupied country and I don’t know how many other people share my view on that. We have seen the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and it is very scary,” said Silverglate.

The police do have the authority to enter homes without warrants in emergency situations, he added, but the house-to-house searches by militarized police with heavily-armored vehicles only added to the siege mentality of the situation while threatening to set a dangerous new precedent in such investigations. “Every time there is some enlargement of the military industrial national security state it becomes the new normal and I would say we’re in a new normal and this is a very disturbing new normal,” he said.

The executive director of the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union, Carol Rose, was more reserved in her comments about last week’s events, noting that the command to “shelter in place” was not an order but advisory. “It wouldn’t be constitutional for the government to issue that kind of an order absent other kinds of circumstances,” said Rose.

Rose said her office has received reports from people in Watertown and elsewhere that their rights were violated during Friday’s manhunt. They are currently verifying these claims. “We need to get more facts to find out what happened so we can get a better handle on what exactly went down in Watertown and, for that matter, Cambridge,” said Rose, adding this is something that ACLU cares deeply about.

“This is not the time to give up our constitutional rights and civil liberties. This is the time that they become most important. It is in times of crisis and fear that they are most tested,” said Rose.

During the course of my reporting, I was unable to locate a single Watertown resident that admitted to being uncomfortable with the government asking them to “shelter in place” while 9,000 armored police descended on the Greater Boston area in search of a single suspect. In my estimation, the support for law enforcement appeared to be nearly universal, with phrases like “110% support” and “they did a great job” thrown around by virtually everyone I interviewed before, during, and after the manhunt. As one woman told me, “If it were ever to happen again, I'd hope they take the same precautions.”

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • WomSom||

    Sometiomes you jsut have to roll with the punches dude.

    www.Dodge-CISPA.tk

  • johnny82||

    Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job Ive had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this - 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringin home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, Mojo50.com

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Well, it's over with now. Too bad Anderson Cooper or Chris Hayes didn't bring these concerns up on television when it was actually, you know, occurring.

  • H. ReardEn||

    Garrett - was your residence under advisory lockdown? Were you out and about and talking to the police? How do the police feel about what they were doing? How did they enforce this advisory and how did they deal with those that decided to disregard the advisory?

  • Garrett Quinn||

    Hey Henry,

    I left my home the on Thursday night to follow the police chase/shootout all the way to Watertown and spent the next day in a parking lot in Watertown with the rest of the media. Our mobility was severely curtailed due to the shelter in place advisory.

    My home in Cambridge was under "lockdown" and my wife remained there throughout the day.

    As far as I can tell so far it appears that people who disregarded the advisory were treated as suspects, questioned, and released relatively quickly by law enforcement. I am sure we will find out more as the days go on but I am not willing to speculate on much more than what we know for sure right now.

  • zerohour||

    If you think Patrick`s story is impressive..., five weaks-ago my son in law earnt $8989 workin 40 hours a month from their apartment and the're neighbor's mom`s neighbour done this for 3 months and made more than $8989 parttime on there pc. apply the guidelines on this site wow65.com
    (Go to site and open "Home" for details)

  • mb||

    As someone that lives in Boston, I think comparing it to the bombings is extreme. Of course London was more normal, that lasted years, this I am sure was only expected to last hours as it did. I can also see the people could spot the person and help catch him, but I can also see it being much easier for the guy to escape in the morning rush hour traffic. As for the "lock down", I went to work before I knew about it, passing several police along the way, came home doing passing just as many, no one bothered me - it was really more of an advisory. I also am disgusted at the adoration

  • AlgerHiss||

    Watching footage of this was truly chilling.

    Land of the free and home of the brave? What a laugh line that is.

    In a British story, their version was "Land of the sheep, home of the slave".

  • David Housholder||

    http://wp.me/p2KckS-Bw < More audio reflections on the event. Love your phrase: Home of the sheep...... Will steal it. May not give you credit ;-)

  • ||

    You know what happened the last time someone's rights were violated in Boston...

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Gordilocks||

    The sheeple love the sheepdogs, and love the Farmer even more; regardless of his Blue or Red overalls.

  • Fluffy||

    OF COURSE most of the people you spoke to were delighted with the lockdown.

    For most of them - particularly for state and local government employees - this was a bonus day off. With exciting news programming on TV to boot.

    They were like kids cheering for a snow day.

    Every state employee in Boston got paid for the day. They were instructed to mark their time cards with 7.5 leave hours, approved by the Governor. Why shouldn't they be delighted?

    The problem is if (probably actually "when") this becomes the new norm.

  • db||

    Good points. It's like they got to live an episode of 24, C.O.P.S., and CSI all in one while they got a free vacation.

  • I Dug It||

    Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I wonder if people would be so appreciative if the lockdown had happened on a Saturday instead of a Friday.

  • ||

    Yeah, I asked last week how long the lockdown could go on. I was expecting enthusiasm for it to collapse over the weekend.

  • forestgombosi39||

    Violet. if you, thought Terry`s stori is exceptional... on friday I bought Infiniti since I been earnin $8443 this-last/4 weeks and-over, $10,000 last-month. it's realy the most-comfortable work Ive ever had. I actually started 9-months ago and straight away got me over $84... p/h. I went to this web-site wow65.com
    (Go to site and open "Home" for details)

  • Geoff Nathan||

    I've already seen articles on CNN saying it is the new norm. Sigh...

  • Brubaker||

    "Every state employee in Boston got paid for the day. They were instructed to mark their time cards with 7.5 leave hours, approved by the Governor."

    In other words, they were forced to use 7.5 hours of their accrued leave to "shelter in place" rather than saving that leave-time for a vacation or some other use of their own choosing.

    Don't be so quick to criticize that which you clearly do not understand.

  • db||

    Personally, I'm not surprised. Of the fair number of Boston area residents I've met, nearly all are completely unquestioning of authority and totally credulous of the State's ability to solve anything through legislation, regulation, and force.

  • BW||

    My neighbor is from Boston and he's about as statist as they come. He stated on Twitter that this is how a "civil" society operates, getting out of the way and letting the police do their job.

  • JSebastian||

    What kind of a civil society wages ceaseless war on people so far away , that they represent no danger or threat to the society? And then , it turns out that the government of this society actually brings the threat right to the midst of the people it claims it is protecting by waging ceaseless war.

    If it weren't so insane, it would be amusing for its irony.

  • Rich||

    “This is not the time to give up our constitutional rights and civil liberties."

    The next "incident", however, *will* be the time. 8-(

  • CatoTheElder||

    “This is not the time to give up our constitutional rights and civil liberties."

    What a quaint notion! It really is touching to hear the ACLU speak of "constitutional rights" and "civil liberties" in the new normal.

    In fact, the Constitution is a dead letter. The government and its agents recognize "civil liberties" only when they find it convenient.

    The evidence is before you, and the question is: Did the cops and military forces behave in the manner of a constitutional republic, or a police state?

    I think the answer is obvious. It's also apparent that a majority the American people love their new police state.

  • Deputy Van Halen||

    When are you starting the revolution then? We're evidently living in a police state running rough shod over our god-given rights and all you seem to be doing is whining about it in the comments section of some obscure blog.

    Of course, the answer is that you really don't believe the things you are saying.

  • Jefferson's Ghost||

    what a f*cking reach

  • ||

    If you're not willing to go bomb a marathon full of innocent people for your cause, you're a pussy who secretly endorses everything you oppose.

  • Blogimi Dei||

    "some obscure blog"

    you must be new around here.

  • dinkster||

    The trouble with "refreshing the tree of liberty" right now is no single bureaucratic deserves to be shot, imprisoned, or killed. The incremental mentality is the problem. One IRS agent that audits you, plus one EPA agent that declares your property a wetland, plus one DMV agent that with holds your license because of a computer error is still repressive, but none are deserving of righteous violence. This isn't the same as the revolution. Of course, I do realize your original comment is beyond irrational...

  • ||

    I was unable to locate a single Watertown resident that admitted to being uncomfortable with the government asking them to “shelter in place” while 9,000 armored police descended on the Greater Boston area in search of a single suspect.

    We are a nation of pussies. I wouldn't dare say we've reached peak pussification, thoough.... Boston, probably.

  • ||

    These terrorists had to wait by the crowded finish line of the Boston Fucking Marathon at a peak finishing time to do as much damage as they did.

    Why do people think the lockdown was necessary? Were there numerous other events that would crowd 5,000 participants and half a million spectators into one small area? It sickened me to see people cheer this shit on.

    These cops are actually being compared to the first responders on 9/11. Its sickening!

  • db||

    I was unable to locate a single Watertown resident that admitted to being uncomfortable with the government asking them to “shelter in place” while 9,000 armored police descended on the Greater Boston area in search of a single suspect.

    To be fair, these people just witnessed a "shock and awe" campaign by a heavily armed and militarized police force that just happens to be on the lookout for dissenters, outcasts, and terrorists. Some might judge it best to tow the lion in such a case when asked by a stranger.

  • LR||

    "Tow the lion"? I think you mean "toe the line," dude.

  • RightofCenter||

    I think "toe the lion" has potential for greatness, possibly awesomeness, don't you? We need to figure out how to tie it to "jumping the shark."

  • RightofCenter||

    Oops..."tow the lion," of course. Have I just towed it?

  • Senor Sam||

    Tow the lion... I love that. I imagine you'd need to tow the lion by the tail.
    Possible etymological origins of the correct phrase (cause that shit's interesting): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toe_the_line

  • Mensan||

    LR| 4.23.13 @ 9:53AM |#

    "Tow the lion"? I think you mean "toe the line," dude.


    You must be new here.

  • Slumbrew||

    Ausländer!

  • Blogimi Dei||

    I had a "tow" "toe" the line problem once...

    ...once.

  • gaoxiaen||

    It's "tow the lion" here, guy.

  • Lord Peter Wimsey||

    Unless there are some egregious acts of police abuse (roughly treating bystanders, etc.) I'm inclined to agree with the first post: sometime you gotta roll with the punches.

    Unless your are a vegan when it comes to government (no government, ever, for any reason) you've probably told someone that government should have its powers limited to protecting us from force or fraud. That's what the constitution says (or said); everything else IS force or fraud.

    Would I like to live in country where communities, neighborhoods, or cities could opt out of government protection and hire their own private security? Yes!!!! But until then I'm going to worry more about the other shit government and police do.

    And Miranda? A good idea, but it is just something the SCOTUS pulled out of its ass, like upholding torture, eminent domain, and asset forfeiture. Only lefties kiss that collection of asses.

  • dinkster||

    Well the tally of number of dogs that were shot during the lock down hasn't come to light yet.

  • brodyc||

    I'm inclined to agree. They didn't "lockdown" the whole city. It was optional, and they had a very good idea of where the suspect was. It wasn't exactly a traditional manhunt, but it accomplished it's purpose and justice is being served.

  • brodyc||

    Also, there were plenty of people out of their homes and working. There were tons of reports of restaurants and coffee shops working around the clock to provide food and drink for the officers.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    What a bunch of obsequious boot-lickers. If this was 235 years ago, they'd be applauding the British soldiers for marching on Concord.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Remember, historians estimate about 1/3 of the Colonial population were Loyalists, and another third were neutral.

    We've always been in the minority.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    No more than 3% was ever out in the field fighting at one time.

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    Good point HM.

  • JSebastian||

    It only takes a few committed people to topple an authoritarian regime through effective sabotage, assassination and other asymmetrical warfare tactics. Thank god we're prepared.

  • ||

    As for the huge outpouring of public support for law enforcement in the wake of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s capture, Silverglate called it “very dangerous” and bordering on “adoration.”

    Everyone in Boston loves Big Brother.

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    These "tough guys" in Boston and NYC. Fucking pussies.

  • wwhorton||

    Yeah, what is it with those two nowadays? Used to be all toughguys and punk rock, and now they're like a bunch of vegetarian Socialist milquetoasts.

    Sad, really.

  • Loki||

    ...the command to “shelter in place” was not an order but advisory.

    And I'm sure if any Watertown residents had left their homes and been spotted on the street by one of the boys in blue black or camo, they would have calmly and politely asked them to please return to their homes, right?

    ...Right???

  • Agile Cyborg||

    This police situation presents an array of philosophical and political ramifications that will be discussed and debated for years.

    Many angles on the manhunt greatly disturb me.

    Sadly, millions witnessed the changing grounds of unprecedented American collective submissiveness under totalitarian measures and most of these viewers or participants were indifferent or cheered.

    Would these thugs have roughed up or killed a civilian (because that's what we are these days) in the event he/she didn't dig being treated like a common criminal? Yup. Total compliance or risk serious injury or death.

    I'm going to state what few, if any, will. The THOUSANDS of militarized police were not going after killers because they gave a single shit about public safety. They state boys were dissed and became violently pissed because two little shits fucked them over in broad daylight. And, if there's one thing you don't do is you don't fuck over the top dog on the playground without consequences.

    The law enforcement community has become vastly multi-layered and militarized and the obedient civilian cheers?! When you remove the justification bullshit us humans like to throw on every uncomfortable situation so we can enjoy our beer and ballgames I'm seeing a dark side to modern America and its called unchecked and stone-faced totalitarianism.

  • Ron||

    The morning after the MIT officer was shot I heard on a radio program a Policeman state that they now had the orders to shoot on site. All I could think of was the Christopher Dorner situation where the cops did shot at innocent people under that justification. So you better do as your told or you will be shot and people now know this and I think that was part of the full force exercise to show the people that even if you have a gun it doesn't matter because you ain't nothing if you ain't a cop.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Exactly. Thousands of emotionally-charged armed men unleashed in a community exponentially ratchets up citizens being harmed by the state. Luckily, this massive police action happened in one of the more government-grovelling parts of the country. Apparently being obedient to the authorities under any circumstance is second-nature to Bostonians.

  • gaoxiaen||

    "Shoot on site". Is that another "tow the lion" thing?

  • CGeary44||

    When people ask me, I always describe myself as "libertarian-ish." Mr. Silvergate's thoughts, and in particular the comments in response to the article, remind me why I won't be dropping the "ish" anytime soon. Paranoia, anger and disgust--"pussies"? Really?--for anyone who doesn't hate the police are not positions I, nor most Americans, are likely to ever embrace. Was the law enforcement response unprecedented? Definitely. Could it have been an affront to people's liberty, or would it be if it DOES become the new normal? Yup. Let's keep in mind, though, that there were two guys running around with bombs and guns and a willingness--no, a demonstrated desire--to use them to kills as many unarmed civilians as they could. In those circumstances, and since the cops DIDN'T apparently harass anyone who chose not to honor the voluntary request, and because it WAS only one day, I'm willing to give the government the benefit of the doubt on this one. So, now that I'm a pussy, I've gotta run, as there are a few things I've always wanted to try...

  • EternalOptimist||

    Good point. I think, from a philisophical as well as practical perspective, it's a valid debate as to whether this sets a precedent for even more such behavior by government officials in even less critical situations. The point, for some, is that if you accept it once, you're allowing it always going forward.

  • ||

    "Let's keep in mind, though, that there were two guys running around with bombs and guns and a willingness--no, a demonstrated desire--to use them to kills as many unarmed civilians as they could."

    It wasn't as though there was an upcoming major event where half a million people were planning on attending. The worst damage was over and the response was completely unnecessary. I think you're correct that a benefit of the doubt can be given since its untreaded waters, but I think this will always be the measuring stick to determine if a militarized police response in the future is "justified." Time will have to tell and I hope you're right.

    ...pussy. ;-P

  • CGeary44||

    Fair enough, but let's face it. If you're goal was to kill and maim dozens or even hundreds of people, you would have plenty of juicy targets in Boston, marathon or no. They definitely had at least one more of the pressure cooker bombs, two of which had already sent nearly 200 to the hospital or worse, plus several other (smaller, it sounds like) IEDs. Look, I'm not saying the law enforcement response doesn't raise some red flags, and merit keeping an eye on as we carry on in this brave new world, but it seems to me that this situation could have ended much, much worse than it did, and it's always so easy to criticize after no one else died.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    "to use them to kills as many unarmed civilians"

    Had the civilians NOT behaved as unabashed submissives would they have suffered at the hands of SWAT? Yup. The new normal you seem so lackadaisical about created an environment that could have produced similar results as the lone terrorist- injury and death due to lack of basic compliance.

  • Jefferson's Ghost||

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LrbsUVSVl8

    abuse or not, it was at the very least ridiculous overkill. And a symptom of what has been happening since 9-11. Extremely disturbing to me.

  • wwhorton||

    Yeah, that's "Boston Strong" alright.

  • JSebastian||

    Bullshit. People's civil liberties were violated right and left. Police and who knows what kind of other govt stormtroopers closing streets, pointing weapons at people. Did you hear about the guy who was thrown to the ground in front of a gathering of his neighbors, stripped, and thrown into a paddy wagon?

  • brodyc||

    Sorry, but anything that starts with "Did you hear about the guy..." has to be taken with a mountain of salt.

  • BeBraveUSA||

    Was the law enforcement response unprecedented? Definitely.

    Were Ruby Ridge and Waco not precedents? This happens all too often in a (so called) free society.

  • BFawlty||

    "to use them to kills as many unarmed civilians"

    I think unarmed is the key word there.

  • ||

    LOL at shutting down an entire city and locking people in their houses because of a nineteen year old kid likely injured and with his face plastered everywhere, dear god what has this country come to? And these people ate it up! oh sure officer come on in! let these people have firearms so they can have some of their dignity back instead of waiting on mother government to come save them.

  • David Housholder||

    Compare this to how we handled Lee Harvey Oswald a generation or two ago: http://wp.me/p2KckS-Bw

  • GrizzlyAdam||

    People were "being rescued at the point of gun!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ1-ZUN3Li0

  • Ron||

    In their zeal to search door to door did they find him in a house no they did not thus making it unwarranted. If more of these people were armed then they would have the same response I'd give the police "if he were here, he'd be dead". I know the idea is, and the left promotes this, is that people can not protect themselves. Well many can't since they are no longer allowed to in many cities.

  • ||

    A billion memes on social media about how tough bostonians are and "don't fuck with boston" and everyone hides til the cops get em, unreal.

  • JSebastian||

    Its a charade. Makes you wonder. Did you hear that quote from that woman who told the reporter she'd never heard gunfire except in the movies? WTF? How do you grow up in America and never fire a weapon? I don't get it.

  • TheDudeAbides||

    I think the most disturbing thing that happened in Watertown was seeing how far they could push the ambiguity of the "exigent circumstance" exception to the 4th amendment. If it's being used as blanket justification for warrantless searches of an entire city, it's being misused.

    How long until they decide this "exigent circumstance" exception applies to the whole country because there's other murderers on the loose or because people are creating a new synthetic drug that's rapidly gaining popularity? This is a dangerous precedent.

    Couldn't they have just asked people to take a look around their own property, if they felt comfortable, and report anything unusual? And/or they could set up a hotline for people who don't feel safe on their own property and request a search?

    Ultimately, the lockdown and house-to-house searching was utterly ineffective at finding the suspect. It took the lockdown being lifted and a citizen stepping outside to notice him.

  • Jefferson's Ghost||

    Exactly. There was no reasonable exigent circumstance to do a warrantless military/swat search of an entire neighborhood.

  • BeBraveUSA||

    Couldn't they have just asked people to take a look around their own property, if they felt comfortable, and report anything unusual? And/or they could set up a hotline for people who don't feel safe on their own property and request a search?

    That does not make for good TV ratings or sufficient payback. Now we get to spend million$ on the trial of the century!

  • ||

    I really hope this doesn't happen in my city. I'm not looking forward to getting a rifle stock swiftly thrust into my stomach after telling them "No officer, this is my property and I do not consent to your warrant-less, unconstitutional search of it."

  • qwapzy||

    Cattle always march so obediently to the slaughterhouse. America is eating itself, and since there's no hope of the sheeple waking, it ends with genocide. Watch for the police to expand their empire to industries beyond narcotics, for what is civil asset forfeiture besides unregulated de facto legalization under police control? If anyone's intention were to reduce drug use, there would be no police presence lobbying against every decriminalization measure. People's endless faith in authority with its militaristic growth disorder ultimately powers their transition to more overt mafiosi, note that the zeta cartel was originally a branch of the US-trained mexican security forces. Eventually LAPD, CPB, all those assholes, are just the northern branches of los zetas, SWAT team death squads punish initially vocal objectors, then become random whenever general obedience is questioned. Seriously, get the hell out of that barbaric, miserable slaveland. It's much better outside. The Miserable Police State of America won't be brought under control, outgrow your fantasies of revolution and flee!

  • JSebastian||

    Revolution is hardly a fantasy, there is a substantial and significant amount of contingency planning and training already accomplished. Mutual aid and militia folks have already pledged to start taking out government agents (bad cops, sheriffs, feds, etc) if that were to go down. There is actually a target list for every single county in the country, not just personnel but facilities and infrastructure.

  • JSebastian||

    I am sensing a good deal of fear and resentment on this thread. And an attitude of defeatism, of hopelessness. So I want to offer an encouraging perspective to those who are disheartened. The police were scared and frightened, because they were up against a nebulous enemy. They didn't know how many adversaries there might be. Or where they might encounter them. There is a heightened awareness of police vulnerability, since Dorner. The cops realized they were sitting ducks, and make easy targets. The cops in Boston were terrified because they know that any moment when they are on patrol, someone can run up to them while they're in their car and take them out, like that MIT cop that died- he never had a chance - he didn't even know he was under attack. And that other one that got shot up - all he was trying to do was keep the suspect vehicle in sight and look what it got him. And thats against just two guys, neither with any small arms training - amateurs. If this was a real sleeper cell instead of two loners, the outcome could have been much different. Why else did they call every single agency with armed agents to assist? And of course, that was an overkill reaction, they didn't need to do any of that. It was all security theater at that point. The helicopter with the FLIR (which they made a BFD of - its not a big deal). In a real situation helos that aren't armed or armored have literally zero ability to operate in contested space.

  • JSebastian||

    Face it - the cops are nowhere near as prevalent or prepared as they would need to be to seriously oppress the people of this country, or to deal with a well organized terror group. And in a revolution scenario... most of them would be dead in a few days in a real civil hostilities situation. That's if they engaged at all. They probably would not engage. Do you understand that the ratio of cops to armed civilians is about 1 to 500 in this country? Throw in every single armed govt agent and the ratio climbs to maybe 2 or 3 to 500. Much of "the government" would get crushed early in a real revolution.

    Look at the empirical evidence of the full US military capability: It took trillions of dollars and eight years to subdue the inhabitants just of Baghdad - 150,000 troops in the city alone, and at the end there were still daily bombings. There are 68,000 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and the Taliban still operate pretty much with impunity. More US casualties in Afghanistan than in Iraq, in half the time.

    So the idea that the government can actually be effective in suppressing the US population, as heavily armed and trained as it is, is almost certainly a fiction. It is still a viable and credible threat, because the government appears to consistently over-estimate its own abilities and under-estimate the opposition, so there is no guarantee that they won't do something stupid and oppressive, and spark a major conflict.

  • Citytrekker||

    I think a little order is required for freedom to flourish. The shock and awe was created by the bombers and not by the FBI and police. Overall this worked. If it lasted longer....it didn't...they called of the advisory. The problem with the viewpoint is that what happened worked and what is imagined is not reality and probably would have had worse results. and its logical to almost guarantee that at least one more innocent person would have died when he tried to get away in another car jacking without the advisory.

  • TheDudeAbides||

    In what way did it "work"? The suspect was only discovered when a citizen noticed him after the "lockdown" had been lifted.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    "I think a little order is required for freedom to flourish."

    If you consider a 'little order...for freedom to flourish' thousands of cops from several different bureaucracies swarming a community I am forced to question your ability to appreciate what freedom is exactly.

  • aliciasable||

    like Don implied I am dazzled that any one can get paid $7368 in a few weeks on the internet. have you seen this link http://www.app70.com

  • brandon79||

    Honestly though, what else were they supposed to do? It's not like it was all Anne Frank or anything. Police were asking residents if they could search their homes and, to my knowledge, everyone complied with no complaints. Nothing illegal about that and no warrant required. I would've gladly opened my home to make sure the authorities caught any asshole that decides they want to pull off some dumb shit. Also the part of the article that claims it was ONLY the alert citizens that led to the capture, I disagree. It was a combination of everyone complying and participating that led to his capture. The kid wouldn't have been hiding in the boat in the first place if the streets weren't crawling with authorities. If anything, the events that led to this kids capture were not only shocking, but pleasing. I was very surprised we actually caught him. It shows us law abiding citizens that our justice system is working(albeit have other unrelated issues), and it also shows any would be assholes out there that are thinking they can do something like this and get away with it, that they can't.

  • TheDudeAbides||

    Are you incapable of noticing a break-in and/or checking your own home for an intruder? It seems like they didn't trust the public at all and treated everyone as if they were potentially harboring a criminal.

    If the searches were truly consensual, then asking "Are you harboring a criminal?" would have had exactly the same effect as the searches (because they could have just declined). I'm not questioning their motives, but their actions definitely seem like an over-reach.

    Also, I'm sure the guy was trying to hide from citizens as well, because they know what he looks like and could call the police. A general location from a citizen sighting would be infinitely more useful than spending hours searching house after house with no real reason to suspect he would be in any of them.

  • BeBraveUSA||

    I would've gladly opened my home to make sure the authorities caught any asshole that decides they want to pull off some dumb shit.

    Not I. I know what is and is not in my home. I don't need the cops opening the closets for future reference.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    "...what else were they supposed to do?"

    Wait for a citizen to report a sighting without home-invading an entire community with thousands of armed belligerents and excessive amounts of military-grade assets.

    "Police were asking residents if they could search their homes..."

    People were asked by goon squads armed with automatic weapons backed with military-grade assets. What do you think they'll do? NOT comply? CHOICE was not an option. Quit pretending it was.

    " Also the part of the article that claims it was ONLY the alert citizens that led to the capture, I disagree... The kid wouldn't have been hiding in the boat in the first place if the streets weren't crawling with authorities."

    This is worthless conjecture and you know it, shill. The police were useful only at the end. The jackboots couldn't even properly perform the expensive job of protecting the public in the first place so they went Gestapo on a community as a result of their failures.

    "It shows us law abiding citizens that our justice system is working"

    It shows us that the system of law enforcement is excessively multi-layered and chock full of military-grade ability to dominate far beyond the needs of community policing.

    "...assholes out there that are thinking they can do something like this and get away with it, that they can't."

    Assholes that are intent on killing large numbers of people have little fear of what happens to themselves after achieving their murderous vector. Grow up.

  • ||

    Boston is filled with liberal pansies who become paralyzed in fear from non-existent dangers (see the Aqua Teen Hunger Force incident) so complete martial law from a nearly non-existent danger isn't surprising.

  • Blogimi Dei||

    My Name Is!
    Shake-Zulla
    The Mic Rulla
    The Old Schoola
    You wanna trip?
    I'll bring it to ya!

  • Harvard||

    Anyone that wasn't chilled to the bone watching hundreds/thousands? of black clad, blackk rifle toting brownshirts roaming the streets of Boston, replete with visible chubbies, desparate to shoot someone, deserves what comes next.

    Never, ever, ever, talk to a cop, for any reason, ever.

  • TheDudeAbides||

    "I do not consent to a search", "Am I being detained?", and "Am I free to go?" are a few things you may want to say to a LEO, when appropriate.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Inappropriate when there is a major exigent emergency and every single person in your community has a cop dick deep in their starfish. I guess judging by a few squirrel brains in this thread rolling with the punches is a sure thang. Why question or demand rights when a bullet or a fist will be the answer?

  • TheDudeAbides||

    The "exigent circumstance" exception should only be used when they're relatively sure they know where something is. They had no directional information.

    I'd love to see the ambiguity removed and limit the applicable area to a relatively small radius and/or require directional knowledge.

    You demand your rights so you can seek legal recourse when you feel they've been violated. Anyone who felt it was an inappropriate use of the exception and consented regardless really has no leg to stand on.

  • David Housholder||

    http://wp.me/p2KckS-Bw < Short audio essay on this very topic. Martial Law taken out for a test drive. Results? The customers loved it!

  • gaoxiaen||

    They were happy because they could stay home and watch Tv.

  • hannah42||

    like Janice explained I'm amazed that any one able to make $8881 in 4 weeks on the internet. have you read this site link http://www.wow92.com

  • AlgerHiss||

    The infamous episode of Charles Whitman’s rampage: Ended by a couple of guys with nothing more than a shotgun and a 38 caliber revolver.

    Also, many non-LEOs involved.

    It seems like testicles were quite larger back then.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    It just depends on where the testicles are located and to whom they swing from.

  • erikemiller@me.com||

    Wasn't Department of Homeland Security supposed to prevent this from ever happening in the first place? Grabbing innocent airline passenger's crotches didn't prevent this? Hell's Bells what a surprise! Guess we need them on subways, marinas, & bus stations also. Until another terrorist attack when we will need even more. Maybe even another cabinet level department.

  • wwhorton||

    http://jimbovard.com/blog/2013.....ut-window/

    Welcome to the "new normal". I'll take my chances with the 19-year-old, thanks very much.

  • ||

    Mr. Quinn, I really appreciated your piece, in large part because I have read almost no reporting on this issue, and I read three newspapers a day: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. I have so many questions: What "orders" were issued and by whom? What was the breadth of these "orders"? Why was such a large area "locked down" when law enforcement believed the suspect was hiding in Watertown and concentrated its search there? What were or would have been the consequences if citizens left their homes? Yet no one in the mainstream media seems to be asking these questions; I only read these questions in "The Beacon" and "Reason.com". As for the reaction of the residents, it is completely understandable, but people are always willing to give up liberty in exchange for security. I know law enforcers have a tough job, but I think that they can do their jobs without impinging on the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments. I hope more people start asking more questions and, more importantly, that these questions are answered.

  • Matt_S||

    I was watching the door to door searches with some of my family. The television news portrayed it like the saviors have arrived. But I asked my family, "what would the police do if someone says 'no'?" And we didn't know. That worried me.

  • Matt_S||

    To clarify, we were watching on TV, not there in person.

  • tlappert||

    It looks to me like the local, state and federal police are something over in Nazi Germany. I cannot believe the people of Boston are comfortable with this.

  • plusafdotcom||

    So everyone in Boston should pay the price for Silverglate's claustrophobia?

    I think not.

    OK, he got his fifteen minutes, folks... let's all move on.

  • plusafdotcom||

    One more thing... so, a city that's just had two bombs go off in a public place would be BETTER OFF or SAFER by having a lot of its citizens wandering around looking for an unknown bomber with unknown weaponry on him or her, possibly planting more bombs as they went?

    Critical Thinking is dead.

  • ||

    They were left at the mercy of the guy by being told to cower in fear.

    Do you really think they had to shut down an entire city for a kid that was more than likely wounded and that everyone in the city would recognize instantly? what would people do if he had managed to get in someone's house and take them hostage?

    For a city that was supposedly so tough they hid away like scared children. They should be EMPOWERED to protect themselves and enough people should be carrying so that they could have left their houses. But the gun laws are tough and this is what happens. An entire city waiting for help.

  • wwhorton||

    Well, let me answer your question with a question, chief: if you had a pistol, a house, and a family, and there was a guy wandering around suspected of bombing and shooting and so forth, would you a.)stay home with your roscoe and protect your family, or b.)wander around like Dirty Harry, leaving your family unprotected and complicating shit for the actual police?

    If your answer is "b", then, no, you should not own a gun. A padded helmet, maybe, but not a gun.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement