Ron Paul: The Real Terror in Boston Wasn't the Bombing But the "Taste of Martial Law"

Categories: Media, Politics

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You didn't seriously expect Ron Paul to disappear into a quiet, uneventful retirement, did you? If you did, you probably weren't watching as over a couple of decades in Congress and a pair of long-shot presidential runs, Paul became the outspoken face of unapologetic libertarianism, and you probably didn't listen to his blistering final speech on the House floor.

And so, a month after announcing his rather unorthodox home school curriculum and two weeks after unveiling his new think tank, Paul has taken on the Boston bombings.

In a column penned for the website run by libertarian Lew Rockwell, Paul blasts the government's response to the attacks as a frightening "taste of martial law."

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.

What has been sadly forgotten in all the celebration of the capture of one suspect and the killing of his older brother is that the police state tactics in Boston did absolutely nothing to catch them. While the media crowed that the apprehension of the suspects was a triumph of the new surveillance state - and, predictably, many talking heads and Members of Congress called for even more government cameras pointed at the rest of us - the fact is none of this caught the suspect. Actually, it very nearly gave the suspect a chance to make a getaway.

The "shelter in place" command imposed by the governor of Massachusetts was lifted before the suspect was caught. Only after this police state move was ended did the owner of the boat go outside to check on his property, and in so doing discover the suspect.

No, 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.

Paul takes two lessons from the Boston bombing. One is that the government will seize any available excuse to erode civil liberties. The other is that private citizens, acting of their own free will, were the ones who made it possible to solve the crime. One gets the impression that police could have simply kicked back and waited while camera-wielding citizens and boat owners pieced together the clues.

And Paul makes a third argument: the Boston bombings weren't all that bad. The death of three people, he writes, is "tragic. But what of the fact that over 40 persons are killed in the United States each day, and sometimes ten persons can be killed in one city on any given weekend? These cities are not locked down by paramilitary police riding in tanks and pointing automatic weapons at innocent citizens."

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46 comments
CornyDoggy
CornyDoggy

I kinda gotta agree with ol' Ron on this one

rzimmerman1
rzimmerman1

I'm not a gun-toting crazy person, but it bothered me to see Bostonians ordered to stay indoors, while heavily-armed SWAT teams in body armor went door-to-door searching entire neighborhoods without search warrants.

I was also disturbed to hear a local DFW television broadcaster saying that residents should stay away from the SMU campus unless they have business involving the dedication of the Bush Presidential Library. He went on to say that if you find yourself in that area, you must be sure to follow any instructions from law enforcement and security personnel because "they are authorized to use deadly force".

Really? Deadly force in what instance? I don't like living in a police state. When it gets to the point that our public officials are this fearful of the public, perhaps they should just stay in their bunkers...

DMZ3
DMZ3

Paul does make a good point about Boston in that it was hugely symbolic and seemed really threatening, but on the grander scale wasn't that threatening.

But it's also interesting that Paul isn't against massive, omnipresent surveillance. He celebrates that private citizens have the tools to record and monitor everything around them and then share that information with the authorities. But he's wary of the government doing it. Frankly, I would be too. But I think this is a thornier question than how he makes it out, and there's a whole other question of how much this government over-reaction is itself being fueled by citizens who DEMAND the government pull out all the stops. More than that, the over-reaction to terrorism is arguably caused in part by the presence of so many (private) cameras everywhere that can record it when it happens.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Ron Paul hit the nail on the head.  These guys killed fewer people than are killed on an average weekend in Chicago.  There was no need to bring the krayzee and martial law down on Boston.  The video coming out was more than creepy, it is evidence that those local, state, and federal cops have zero respect for our Constitution.

Frankly, the whole curfew deal was guaranteed to NOT find the last of the Bomb Brothers.  If they move out & about, they can be seen.  If EVERYONE is holed up, they will not be seen and it won't seem odd if their acquaintances don't see them.

observist
observist topcommenter

I think the "shelter in place" was complete overkill and sent a message to any would-be terrorist that any small-scale amateurish bombing can shut down a whole city.  "Land a fly on the Americans' nose, and they'll punch themselves in the face trying to kill it."  

Nonetheless, I don't see it as part of any long-term descent into tyranny that the paranoid libertarians do. 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

As gruesome and atrocious as this act of terrorism was, it is nothing compared to the daily toll of thefts and burglaries that are committed every day and never cleared.

In my lifetime, I have been burglarized multiple times and never have any of  the cases been solved or suspects questioned.  This is of far greater risk than a nutcase setting off a bomb.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Don't forget that they were headed to Times Square with the intention of killing and maiming thousands.

d-may
d-may

While I can see how a person might think that this was a "military-style occupation of an American city" (it probably sure looked that way to outsiders) that's not what it was. 

The police new this guy was on the loose and assumed that, like his brother, he would wish to go down in a blaze of glory in a hollywood style shootout. Again, that's what happened to his brother the night before. It wasn't a "military-style occupation", and they released everyone and reinstated full rights and privileges the moment the guy was captured. 

Remember when Reagan was shot and VP Bush was temporarily out of reach, and Secretary of State Alexander Haig famously announced that he was in charge? Yeah, it looked a HECK of a lot like a millitary coup d'état. 

It wasn't. We can wax philosophically about which did more damage to Boston in the long term (the bombing that killed 3 people or shutting down the city completely for a day), but absolutely WASN'T a "military-style occupation of an American city". 

Simmer down now. Put your guns away. 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

I'll have to admit that while watching some of the coverage of this event, I was disturbed at the sight of armed and armored bands of troopers herding people out of their own homes during the door-to-door searches.

It would be a creepy feeling to have that happen.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@observist I agree.  Libertarians are nuts.  But we need their extreme point of view to keep an eye on any possible creeping tyranny.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Rand Paul is a nut but he is right. Boston police say "shelter in place" but it sure looks like a curfew.

The penultimate barrage of gunfire just before the suspect's capture did not appear to be acts of a professionally trained force, especially considering he was need to learn the extent of the crime and its perpetrators.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@dallas.l.may These days, we have the knee-jerk reaction that everything is a slippery slope.  Same thing with gun background checks.  If you have background checks, next they'll ban guns.  Let's stop and think rationally about these security measures.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@dallas.l.may actually no, like Paul said, they lifted the restrictions, THEN the guy was found.  Not saying I agree with Paul but some of his facts are correct

observist
observist topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk Imagine if it were foreign occupying troops rousting you out of your home, and you have a glimpse into the life of an Iraqi or Afghan for the past 10 years.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @observist Actually, citizens who identify as libertarian are neither extreme nor nuts.  They (and other 'third party' or independent voters) might be the only sane citizens we have.  Republicans and Democrats have been running the country decades and decades.  People keep voting for them and wondering why things don't change.  Here's the core principle of libertarianism: sovereignty of the citizen.  What is so bad about that?  We want you to be able to marry who you want, smoke what you want, say what you want, etc.  We want the government to defend the shores and deliver the mail (basically).  Paul does not speak for Libertarians, or the Libertarian party, he speaks for a fringe group of republican lunatics who latched onto the libertarian label as a last ditch effort to save the republican party from itself.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@observist @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

crime is crime

the following are Dallas's violent and property crime statistics per 1,000 population:

All Violent Crimes:  6.82 (Texas 4.08, National median: 3.9)

Murder: 0.11

Rape: 0.35

Robbery: 3.33

Assault: 3.03


All Property Crimes: 51.52 (Texas 34.72, National median: 29.1)

Burglary: 15.36

Theft: 29.61

Motor Vehicle Theft: 6.55


Dallas is safer than about 6% of all other areas in the United States based on offense rates.

Move along folks, no impact from crime here.


kduble
kduble

@primi_timpano He's right about the curfew. However, most of the rest of what he says in his post is factually incorrect.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz I'm sure you'll agree with me that it is wrong to treat every Muslim as a terrorist or as a suspect, just because some terrorists claim to be Muslim.

How do you reconcile that with treating every law abiding owner of firearms as a suspect (background check for purchasing) just because some criminals use firearms to commit crimes?

kduble
kduble

@ScottsMerkin @dallas.l.may Some of his facts are correct and some incorrect. It's clear in retrospect that declaring the curfew delayed the suspect's capture, but this is Monday morning quarterbacking.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@observist @TheCredibleHulk Hmmm, a lot of those Iraqi and Afghans who were 'rousted out of their homes' by us evil American occupying troops were quite helpful and gracious, perhaps glad that somebody had come and pushed out their former leaders who were killing them indiscriminately, sometimes merely because they came from a certain clan or village, or maybe because they had the gall to teach a girl to read.

There was a lot more going on in Iraq and Afghanistan than our dear doltish media drones would have you believe.  Even the embedded reporters, for the most part, ignored acts of humility and kindness by US Servicemen, instead chasing after any scandal in the hopes of breaking the next Abu Ghuraib story.  Why, you ask?  Because that is what the jackass public back home in America wanted to see.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ItsNotMe @RTGolden1 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @observist 

Uh-huh. As we've all loudly decried the government trying to take away our 2nd amendment rights, in the meantime they have quietly gutted the rest of the constitution in the name of Homeland Security.

So, keep your guns if you like, but there's not a whole lot of "rights" left to protect.

ItsNotMe
ItsNotMe

@RTGolden1 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @observist I think Paul makes a good point here, but he doesn't quite connect the dots. We have collectively been handing over our liberty to the Feds for decades. How is the response to this incident and other terror attacks any different from the entire farce we call the "War on Drugs?" In response to the "threats" posed by certain plants and chemicals that can be used as intoxicants, we've militarized our law enforcement systems to the point that many community PD's have armored transport vehicles, tanks, and routinely carry military-style weaponry. Does any of that make sense? 

9/11 sparked a doubling-down of the trend toward federal, state, and local police units equipping up to fight wars, rather than crime. Find a picture of a New York City cop from around 1980. I remember because I lived there at the time. They looked like bus drivers with a 6-shot- .38 special, a nightstick, and cuffs hanging off their belts. They weren't wearing "tactical gear" every day.  Now, many urban police officers look like they are prepped for the apocalypse.

We didn't have to respond to drug use in the way we did. WE didn't have to respond to 9/11 the way we did. I think Paul is right to suggest that perhaps we ought to rethink the responses we make to these and other similar events because we've chosen some very poor responses over the past few decades.

observist
observist topcommenter

You mean false advertising like "fair and balanced" and ideology pretending to be science like "creation science"?

observist
observist topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz@observist Yes, Republicans are getting more and more extreme, while Democrats are adopting policies proposed by Republicans ~10 years ago. (Cap & Trade, individual mandate, etc.)  The whole spectrum has shifted right, so the Democrats are closer to the center and the Republicans are veering off into wackoland.

Here's a recent poll showing 44% of Republicans agree with the statement "In the next few years, an armed revolution might be necessary in order to protect our liberties.”

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2013/05/armed-rebellion-poll.php?ref=fpa

Here's another study showing liberals and conservatives are equally likely to buy energy-saving light bulbs based on cost savings, but if the label "protects the environment" is added to cost savings info on the same product, conservatives become less likely to buy them. 

http://grist.org/climate-energy/why-do-conservatives-like-to-waste-energy/

Self-described conservatives are actually repelled by conservation.


observist
observist topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  If "crime is crime" then we really need to address speeding, and the Dallas North Tollway is the highest crime area in the metroplex.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@observist @RTGolden1 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz "...At the time of the background check, the person is not yet a gun owner and not yet confirmed to be law-abiding, (or more accurately, not yet confirmed not to be a known law-breaker.)..."  So, gun owners, or prospective gun owners, are guilty until proven innocent?  We're ok with that?

observist
observist topcommenter

@RTGolden1@Myrna.Minkoff-KatzThe background check is not discriminatory because it applies to anyone attempting to buy a gun, and only if they volunteer by attempting to buy a gun.  At the time of the background check, the person is not yet a gun owner and not yet confirmed to be law-abiding, (or more accurately, not yet confirmed not to be a known law-breaker.)    That's like saying airline security is discriminatory because it treats all passengers as suspects because some people carry bombs on planes.  It's not discriminatory just for existing, it's discriminatory if it only screens Muslims, or middle-aged white guys, or some other status-based, as opposed to behavior-based criteria.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@observist @everlastingphelps @dallas.l.may 4th without a doubt.  The exception claimed is that they were in hot pursuit, but that stretches the term to ad nauseum.   As for takings, the courts have been very consistent that if you are deprived of the use of your property, then that is a taking for purposes of the 5th and a seizure for purposes of the 4th.  Now, if it was just a few minutes, then that's a de minimus taking and public interest would side against it being worth a reimbursement. (For example, whenever you are in a traffic stop, that is considered a seizure for the duration of the stop.  If it's a few minutes, it's de minimus.  If they keep you on the side of the road for hours, then it is a significant taking.)

The real rub is when we get into the issue of the shelter-in-place and the 20 block perimeter.  The shelter in place was really just a suggestion, and all the evidence points to it being voluntary (I haven't yet heard of someone who went out and got more than pointed words from a LEO about it).  The 20 block perimeter, on the other hand, saw its inhabitants forced into (and out of) their homes at gunpoint by the police, and they were stuck under their provision for an entire day.  Now we ARE into some significant Takings, and I would like to see what the involuntary rental of a small town is actually worth.  (Especially when it is full of middle class white people of the left-of-center persuasion.)

observist
observist topcommenter

@everlastingphelps@dallas.l.may 

4th perhaps (do you know for certain the house searches were without the owners consent?)  but the 5th is an extreme interpretation of a brief police search as an eminent domain seizure.  You might a well say people rescued by firemen from their burning house are having their 5th amendment rights violated.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

I think it would be a good thing if someone whose house was searched that day against their will without a warrant won a civil suit against the police or FBI.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@dallas.l.may Just off the top of my head, 4th (secure in persons and homes) and 5th (taking of their homes by forcing them out)

d-may
d-may

Which Bill of Rights was suspended? 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@RTGolden1 @observist @TheCredibleHulk 

I'm not trying to imply that we're totally the bad-guy in this scenario, but, you've got to admit, A true good-guy is hard to pick out, here. Whether it was the Imperial Guard, Taliban or G.I. Joe, these folks have had to live with unexpected door-knocking for a looong time.

I'm sure there are as many Iraqi / Afghan points of view about those conflicts as there are American ones. But, do you not also suppose that there are a good many Iraqis and Afghans that are terrified by the presence of American soldiers in their cities? Benevolent or not, it has got to be a disturbing experience to see armed troopers double-timing it through the streets of your neighborhood.

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