Boston Marathon Bombing

The Boston Bombings and the Security Bureaucracy

"Power delegated...is seldom reclaimed."

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Patrick Cockburn on the Boston bombings' bureaucratic aftermath:

"…and other acts of destruction by Edward Jay Epstein"—wait, is this a confession?

An outcome of the bombings will be an enhanced sense of public insecurity, and support for those who claim to be doing something about it. Before the Boston attack there were signs of restiveness in the US at the excessive size of the post-9/11 security bureaucracy at a time of budget cuts. The FBI, put in charge of investigating domestic terrorism by President Bush, has 103 joint terrorism task forces, supposedly linking local and state police to federal terrorism investigators. As a result of 9/11, the US has the services of the National Counterterrorism Centre, which analyses and collates intelligence information for the Office of the Director National Intelligence. This, in turn, is supposed to coordinate and oversee the work of America's 17 intelligence agencies. Then there is the sterling work of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which unites the 22 federal departments and agencies that employ 240,000 people.

The creation of a bureaucratic Leviathan like this is more likely to impede than assist the gathering and analysis of intelligence. Too many people do not know what they are doing and there are too many layers of responsibility. Such vast organisations are on an endless quest to justify and expand their own influence and protect themselves from rivals. Power delegated to them because of a single crime is seldom reclaimed.

Drawing on Edward Jay Epstein's book The Annals of Unsolved Crime, Cockburn points out that events much smaller than 9/11 or the Boston bombings can serve this power-enhancing purpose. Epstein argues, for example, that the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby allowed J. Edgar Hoover "to expand the FBI, which he had headed since its creation [*], into a national police agency," even though it's far from clear that the man eventually executed for that crime was actually guilty of it.

"The worst damage stemming from the Boston bombing," Cockburn concludes, "will be if the security behemoths created or enlarged after 9/11, whose effectiveness is in doubt, were rejuvenated and expanded." I wouldn't use the word worst, but the man's got a point.

Elsewhere in Reason: Garrett Quinn on civil liberties and the Tsarnaev manhunt.

Elsewhere not in Reason: A righteous rant at Popehat.

* Reader "Seamus" correctly points out that J. Edgar Hoover was not the first head of the Bureau of Investigation: It was founded in 1908, and Hoover did not take over until 1924. Hoover was head when the agency changed its name to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but that happened after the Lindbergh kidnapping so I doubt that is what Epstein had in mind.

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  1. Anyone who, at this point, does not fear the Federal Government more than teenagers with cooking pots needs a serious psychological examination.

    1. They weren’t just cooking pots, they were high-capacity assault pressure cookers.

      We need background checks and registration of these dangerous devices. And reasonable limits on capacity and pressure-rating.

      1. Quite right! And we also need more regulations on those nefarious “Cooking shows” where culinary enthusiasts troll looking to buy used cookware on the grey market.

        1. The issue is that the National Cookware Association has congress in their back pocket. The membership thinks they run the NCA, but everyone knows it’s the cookware manufacturers.

          1. Another problem is that some cookware manufacturers are refusing to sell cooking utensils to local governments that only want to implement reasonable culinary reforms. It’s ridiculous! They won’t do business with local governments that are trying to protect us!

            1. Nobody needs 10 ladles.

              1. We’re not talking about taking away safe cast-iron open pots used for cooking legitimate meals. But no one needs to cook a pork butt in under an hour.

        2. We MUST close the cooking show loophole!

          1. Argh! You beat me to it.

            1. You didn’t build that pressure cooker!

  2. Well, since the giant, bloated, so-called security apparatus failed so miserably in Boston, clearly we must expand it even more. Just like old-time doctors knew that if bleeding a patient made things worse, they simply hadn’t bled the patient enough.

    1. They think they succeeded. That is the worst part.

      1. Jesus Christ, if they really think that what happened in Boston is a success, things are actually more fucked up than even I thought they were. Seriously, the FBI had a tip from Russia on the older brother, he went to Russia/Chechen area for six months, posted all kinds of radical shit for the world to see, and they totally failed to anticipate that he might actually do something bad. Then they let a wounded teenager completely shut down a major American city for an entire day. To any rational person, that all shrieks ‘incompetence’.

        1. Trust me. They think they did a great job. It is absolutely appalling.

          1. Wow. Just…wow.

          2. They didn’t shoot or kill any innocent bystanders, did they?

            Success!

            1. That is the funny part. After the manhunt in LA, there is a reasonable argument for clearing the streets to protect people from poorly trained and trigger happy cops. Had they not cleared the streets, there was a decent chance a cop would have shot someone.

              1. That’s why I was keeping my kids indoors. The cops’ incredibly undisciplined and ill-aimed fire.

                Putting an SUV in gear and letting it run unguided at the people you are trying to apprehend!?! Are you serious?

                1. Putting an SUV in gear and letting it run unguided at the people you are trying to apprehend!?!

                  WTF? Is this something they actually did?

                  1. Yep.

                    It completely missed the brothers and crashed into a car parked in the driveway accross the street from the brothers’ fighting position.

                    It doesn’t make much difference; the cops put a bunch of rounds into that innocent renter’s care as well; I doubt the collision damage is 10% of the cost of repairing the car from everything the cops did to it.

                    I also am impressed that they shot up the second stories of a bunch of homes.

                    1. *facepalm*

                      Keystone cops would be a complement. I was wondering how it was that a 19 year old kid managed to evade them on foot for the better part of a whole day. This explains everything.

              2. Had they not cleared the streets, there was a decent chance a cop would have shot someone.

                …who looked absolutely nothing like Dzhokar Tsarnaev. They probably would have shot a blond haired elderly woman in a vehicle that looked nothing like the one the Tsarnaevs stole.

                “This is why we asked everyone to stay inside. Procedures were followed, bullets were discharged, training will be updated.”

              3. Had they not cleared the streets, there was a decent chance a cop would have shot someone

                Which is why I likely would have stayed inside even though I don’t think they have the authority to make me. I wouldn’t want to get shot by a bunch of jumpy cops.

            2. I have to admit that law enforcement in Boston did perform much better than it did in California.

              In fact, this is a measure of success.

        2. I think they succeeded beyond their most optimistic expectations.

          Think about it: an atrocious, though rather small, bombing enabled them to initiate a police state without any reported resistance.

          The cowering Bostonians love it. The media loves it, and the vast majority of Americans appear to love it.

          And, I’m sure, Iraq and Afghanistan vets now in employed in civilian law enforcement were happy to apply the skills and experience that they acquired “over there” at home.

          It makes me proud to be an American.

          1. We are so massively fucked.

            Avenge me, boys! AVENGE MEEEEeeee!

    2. That’s how government works. If they fail, they get rewarded with a bigger budget and more power. They have every incentive to fail.

      1. “We just need another $100 million to stand up another couple of data centers, and then we’ll be able to ensure that this never happens again.” /bureaucrat

        1. Esxchange that ‘m’ for a ‘b’ in the amount and you’re probably closer to reality.

          1. They’re going to need half that budget to replace all the ammo they shot at the bombers.

  3. Don’t you think you’re being just a little bit paranoid, Jesse? Are you trying to drum up another conspiracy theory?

    1. Just because he’s paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get him, dude.

  4. OT: interesting how there are no ground stops or delays at JFK so far today. Did our lords and masters realize the FAA fearmongering didn’t work? Or did they think we wouldn’t notice that their little stunt only lasted one day?

    1. There are millions of dollars at stake for planes leaving on time. The FAA has the power to ground any plane they like But they can’t just do it for no reason.

      1. You didn’t see yesterday where JFK, LGA and other large airports were under ground delay programs, etc., because of “ATC furloughs”? At one point, JFK was holding arrivals at their origins for an hour+

        If this were a real thing, there would still be ground delays and ground stops today, but there are not. It was just a scare tactic for the sequestration.

        1. I bet the airlines revolted over that. You know how much money it costs to idle a commercial airliner? Thousands of dollars an hour. They did it one day to get the message out and then went back to normal. Pathetic.

          1. There’s not even one single plane I can see on the JFK tracker that is even in a holding zone. Yesterday there were a shit-ton of planes in the zones around JFK. Pathetic, indeed.

        2. God forbid we save money by eliminating truly worthless bureaucracies and programs! We have to cut things that the public will miss!

        3. Not having been at an airport recently, I was not sure what to make of it. I have not been to an airport since they began the official TSA rapes.

          But this is part of the typical “Washington Memorial” pattern.

          1. To be fair, the Washington Monument is closed because of the earthquake, not sequestration. It is enrobed in scaffolding as we speak.

            1. No, I was referring to “Washington Memorial Syndrome”, which is what the federal thugs do when there is even a hint of budget cuts. Instead of cutting out the fat they cut where it hurts the public the most. On a local level think cops and fire departments.

              1. Ah yes. Even in the place I work, there are several programs that are not needed. And we got word last week that the White House wants us to build a web site for some new bullshit foreign exchange program. But, hey! Let’s scare everyone and make ATCs land 1/2 the number of flights than they normally do!

            2. I think he was referring to the political tactic, not the monument itself.

              1. Not to self: refresh page before replying.

                1. *note.

                  I had a dream last night that they implemented an edit button. It was glorious.

                  1. I had a dream last night that I was having sex with a mermaid. She shit a bunch of eggs all over the bed, then I jacked off on them.

                    1. Did you then store them in your abdominal pouch, like a seahorse?

                      Never mind, I don’t want to know.

                    2. No, I woke up right after ejaculating on the clutch of eggs. My wife was smothering me with a pillow.

                    3. “Well, it turns out I loved her, but I wasn’t in love with her.”

                    4. That wasn’t a dream, jerkface. And now I can’t get the smell out of the sheets.

                    5. Holt shit I have got to get me some of that diabeetus.

    2. And most of the delays were weather related in Colorado so I’d say once again it was the media hyping for the government.

    3. Oh, I’ll just leave this here.

      The world is ending, you just don’t realize it yet. 20 minute delays, due to furloughs AND weather. Because, we’ve never seen 20 minute delays due to weather before.

  5. Fear.

    Fear and surprise.

    Fear, surprise and RUTHLESS efficiency inefficiency.

    Fear, surprise, RUTHLESS efficiency inefficiency and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope Federal Power Uber Alles.

  6. But there are people out there right now working themselves into a tizzy over “security arrangements” for local events in towns with populations in the hundreds. And they want Janet Napolitano to come wrap them in her Total Security State blanket.

    Fucking soccer moms, I hate ’em.

  7. They think they succeeded.

    Didn’t you see those people on the sidewalks? THEY WERE CHEERING.

    1. I know. But they believe what they see on TV. I can understand they were happy to see these dirtbags dead or in custody. But it would be nice if someone would be a little angry the FBI didn’t find the said dirtbags before they killed and maimed a bunch of people.

      Isn’t the reason why have this apparatus supposed to be because one attack is one too many?

      1. It would have been nice if they were also just a little upset that they were locked down in their homes for an entire day and subjected to unconstitutional searches because they were terrified of a wounded teenager being hunted by thousands of cops and heavily-armed and armored agents. Who by the way failed to find said teenager until the lockdown ended and a citizen saw something amiss and notified them.

        1. That too. The whole thing was an embarrassment. They let the guy escape and then couldn’t find him despite appalling and extreme tactics.

          1. And the public not only rolled over and accepted it, they actually cheered them afterwards. Fucking pathetic.

            1. This is how liberty dies…

      2. FBI didn’t find the said dirtbags before they killed and maimed a bunch of people

        And do what? Charge them with pre-crime?

        I don’t want to live in a country that locks people up for what they might do.

        1. I think he’s talking about the shit they did after the bombing, such as killing that MIT cop, wounding that other cop, and carjacking that dude.

        2. There is such a thing as conspiracy sarcasmic. You are supposed to catch these people while they are planning to do the bombings not after. That is the whole justification for having all of this. After the bombing, the cops will catch them. You don’t need much high end NSA intel to do that.

          1. The only people they catch in the planning phase are the ones who were duped by an FBI agent provocateur.

            1. The only people they catch in the planning phase are the ones who were duped by an FBI agent provocateur.

              Because that’s easy. Keeping tabs on the older brother after being tipped off by the Russians is too much like actual work.

        3. And do what? Charge them with pre-crime?

          This.

          Buying pressure cookers is not against the law… yet. Buying nails and ball bearings is not a gainst the law either… yet. Buying and/ or possessing re-loading powder is not against the law… yet. Visiting “extremist” websites is not against the law… yet. Taking a trip to your home country is not illegal even if your home country is known for sponsering terrorism… yet.

          I could go on, but I think folks should get the point. As far as I know these guys hadn’t broken laws. Except maybe the older brother for smacking around his wife a couple of years ago, but that had nothing to do with the marathon attack.

      3. Isn’t the reason why have this apparatus supposed to be because one attack is one too many?

        That’s the problem John. Even if you stop some percentage of these crimes from ever happening, it is simply impossible to stop them all. So after the next one happens, the answer is, of course, it could have been prevented if we only had more resources. And then the next one happens and you hear the same bullshit all over again.

        Wash.
        Rinse.
        Repeat.

        It’s a self licking ice cream cone.

    2. That was just cringe-inducing to watch. I mean, talk about ‘douche-chills’.

    3. Didn’t you see those people on the sidewalks? THEY WERE CHEERING.

      I don’t know about anyone else, but I got goose steps, I mean BUMPS, GOOSE BUMPS, just watching it.

      #GODWINNED, BITCHES!

      1. You know who else cheered jackbooted para-militaries?

        1. The Galactic Senate?

        2. Che Guevara?

          1. George Herbert Walker Bush in disassociating himself from the NRA.

  8. interesting how there are no ground stops or delays at JFK so far today. Did our lords and masters realize the FAA fearmongering didn’t work? Or did they think we wouldn’t notice that their little stunt only lasted one day?

    The idiots at Bloomberg have been beating that gong all morning.

    “OMG they’ve shut down the FAA! We’re all gonna die be stuck on a runway for hours!”

    1. You should give them the link and ask why there don’t seem to be any problems today. Presumably the furloughs were only starting yesterday, and were supposed to last for a while.

      The only explanation is that FAA HQ ordered the ATCs to land far fewer flights per hour than they would normally handle.

    2. There’s a simple solution:

      privatize the air traffic control.

      1. Yep. I think Canananada has at least part of its ATC system privatized.

      2. Amen brother.

  9. They managed to shut down Boaton for a day, but did they have the authority? The ” Public Safety Municipal Lockdown Act of 2013 ” will ensure that in any future emergencies you will be forced to stay indoors.

    1. Along with the “we can forcibly search your home even though there is no reason to believe the fugitive is in there” Act. Of course they will call it the patriotic public safety act or some such bullshit.

      1. They can’t. The problem is that what are your remedies? You could sue but what would be your damages? Had they stumbled onto some pot or something in one of those houses the evidence would have never been admissible because the search was so clearly illegal. But so what? That doesn’t make it any better.

        This is one of those times where we get the Republic we deserve. If people are unwilling to object to this and make politicians pay dearly for acting like this, this is what they get.

        1. If people are unwilling to object to this and make politicians pay dearly for acting like this, this is what they get.

          Object? They fucking cheered them for it. We really are doomed.

          1. Yeah we really are. It is just sad.

        2. This is one of those times where we get the Republic we deserve.

          In a “democracy” nearly all losses of liberty occur because of fear.

          This is what you get when you are a pussy and/or encourage those around you to be pussies.

    2. Just add it as an amendment to the Tulpa Secure Storage Act.

  10. http://www.washingtontimes.com…..medium=RSS

    W Bush’s approval ratings now equal to Obama. Somewhere shreek is having some sort of a meltdown. No wonder he is not around today. This might have actually gotten him to lose one of his weekly involuntary commitment hearings.

    1. Obama inherited those bad approval ratings from Bush, you damn christfag. It will take a long time to fix.

    2. He and Tony have committed suicide by erotic asphyxiation while double dutch ruddering each other.

      1. Shriek is apoplectic over the thought that any person would consider Tony his intellectual equivalent.

  11. Shreeek is frenziedly beating off on the front lawn of the GWB Library.

    1. Shreek is too unprincipled to actually engage in any kind of protest. He’s at home beating off to a live stream of the GWB Library opening.

  12. we got word last week that the White House wants us to build a web site for some new bullshit foreign exchange program.

    PR is the single most important function of government. You should know that.

    1. Wait, the Prez is marketing for MORE foreign students that might be crazed bombers? What a snotnoggin.

  13. PSA: Newegg has a ton of FAR shit today

    http://www.newegg.com/Net-to-Zero/PromotionStore/

    If, like me, you (a) have ShopRunner and (b) just love having a dozen $10 prepaid cards* lying around, you’re in luck!

    Note that I recommend against using a FAR PSU. Not that I’m not getting it anyway.

    Protip: redeem them for Amazon GCs and apply them to your account.

  14. An outcome of the bombings will be an enhanced sense of public insecurity, and support for those who claim to be doing something about it.

    That boat sailed a long time ago, much before the Boston bombing.

    The creation of a bureaucratic Leviathan like this is more likely to impede than assist the gathering and analysis of intelligence.

    But why would this matter to the politician? The increase in the size of each of these departments is purely for effect; to dazzle the unintelligent, the naive and the fool. The sucker craves greatness and the crank is there, none too slow, to cater.

  15. That Popehat article is awesome. Read it.

    1. Mmmm…donuts…

  16. What? Someone deleted my PSA? Or maybe the spam filter kicked it out and I didn’t pay attention?

    Anway, Newegg has a bunch of FAR items today, and I don’t work for Newegg and didn’t post an affiliate link.

    1. What’s a FAR item?

      1. Free after rebate

  17. OT: this is serious. Some evil person or persons has shut down “The Order of the Stick” webcomic (www.giantitp.com). I’ve heard it was a”DDoS” or something? What’s that? and why isn’t the FBI solving this problem? Or, at least, the Boston Police?

    1. Distributed Denial of Service. Hammer the web server with requests until it goes kaput, or at least enough that legitimate requests just can’t get through.

    2. Distributed Denial of Service

      It’s a crude attack analogous to a few hundred to a few thousand (depending on the size of the site) opening a page and clicking refresh every second.

      4channers are infamous for using a software package called “Low Orbit Ion Cannon” to do this, though more professional “hits” typically use botnets.

      1. Couldn’t it be that the website has become so suddenly popular that everyone is trying to get onto it at the same time?

        1. Well that is possible…

        2. Occasionally comics get mentioned on io9 or something similar and go down under the load of it going from 3 people reading it to several thousand, it would depend on the host though.

        3. What does it matter? Burlew still isn’t going to update the strip anytime soon.

          But you’re right, I noticed it too when I tried loading it to satisfy my OOTS fix.

        4. Couldn’t it be that the website has become so suddenly popular that everyone is trying to get onto it at the same time?

          That’s called the Slashdot effect.

  18. Epstein is wrong when he claims that J. Edgar Hoover “had headed [the FBI] since its creation.” The FBI was created in 1908, when Hoover was 13 years old. Its first head was Stanley Finch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Finch). Hoover didn’t become its head until 1924.

    1. You’re right, of course. Hoover was the head of the agency when it changed its name to the FBI, but that didn’t happen until after the Lindbergh kidnapping so I don’t think that’s what Epstein had in mind. I’ll correct the post.

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