The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Boston is the end result of a broken system

Now that the events in Boston have come to a conclusion, of sorts, let’s look at some why what happened, happened.

First, the most contentious part, and something I can’t prove yet.  The two kids who did the bombing were known to the FBI.  One had been interviewed by the FBI, the mother of one of them was convinced her son was under surveillance. It is likely that that the FBI knew they had explosives though they deny the boy was under surveillance.  It seems likely that the FBI, Police and local prosecutor, Ortiz, made the decision to not bring them in, because they wanted a bigger arrest: they wanted a network, not just two kids.  This is a problem of prosecutorial and police incentives: they wanted the big spectacular arrest, with big sentences, not just possession of explosives.  So they let them stay out, and they lost that bet.  Again, this is systemic, the FBI, prosecutor and police wanted a big bust, not a small one, and they gambled.  Now, if you choose to believe that the FBI’s official story, that they interviewed him once, and never followed up, then they’re incompetent, which is believable, but that seems unlikely.

I trust I don’t need to point out that when people who have no need of explosives in their everyday lives start stockpiling explosives, you should take that serious, and bring them in?

Let’s walk this back, a bit, to the type of society we have, and have had for over a century.  This is a society where it is impossible to restrict access to explosives.  Diesel and chlorine are widely available.  Up until the end of WWII and the great de-ruralization of the West, explosives were easy to get, and fertilizer, stock full of nitrates was also available.  Modern society relies on the use of materials which are easily made into explosives and which cannot, actually, be restricted. Every gas station is a huge potential bomb.

So anyone who really wants to make explosives, can get the materials.  It’s not hard.

In my last article on Boston, I noted that the key to reducing terrorist activities is to make people not want to do them.  That means taking care of them.  In societies with ready access to weapons which can kill large numbers of people, you have to make sure that people have futures, have better things to do.  They must have other purposes they believe in.  This isn’t just about “poverty” it is about purpose and justice.  In an interconnected world this also means you have to take care of everyone—not just westerners (who are increasingly not being taken care of in any case) but Chechens, and Africans and so on.  A society halfway across the world which is not taking care of its people, let alone engaged in repression, torture, systematic rape and mass murder, can blow back in the West.

Now, while it would be trivial for us to see to the basic needs of most people in the world (food and medicine could be provided for amounts of money which we waste every year), giving them purpose and meaning is a lot harder: it can’t be done under our current political, social and economic models.  That’s too big a subject for me to go in to at length here, but what I will say is that it’s not beyond us as a practical matter.  We could do it, if we really wanted to.  We don’t.  I’ve written about this extensively in the past, so my regular readers should know what I mean, those who don’t should read systematically back in my archives.

Let us move to a contentious matter: the shelter in place request, where Boston and the State asked residents to stay inside.  This was not martial law, and it was not a curfew.  People were asked to stay inside and were not forced to.  I know people who went out, none of them were arrested.  Likewise, the house searches were, in fact, voluntary (though if you’d said no I imagine a warrant would have been provided so fast your head would spin).  That isn’t to say that reaching the point where you have to shut a major metropolitan area down isn’t a bad thing.  Let’s examine why the decision was made.

The first part of it was that a suspect was on the loose who had explosives.  He had shown a willingness to use them, had shown he was more than willing (and capable) of fighting it out with the police.  If a bomber is on the loose basic doctrine is to deny the bomber targets.  Large groups of people are targets.

Reason #2 is the basic doctrine of fighting guerillas, which is in effect what he was: isolate, concentrate, annihilate.  In regular, every day Boston, there are crowds he could meld in to.  With almost no one on the streets, it was much easier for him to be seen, at least in principle. In practice, he still just walked past the police cordon.  Let’s cover that.

Reason #3 is something a lot of people don’t want to hear: your police state are incompetent.  They are young and stupid, or they are Iraqi or Afghan veterans (read: burn out cases). They have essentially no fire discipline.  When Dorner, the cop killer, a large African American was on the loose, there was an incident where a civilian who didn’t look anything like him was blown away by a twitchy cop.

The police have become dependent on overwhelming force.  Anyone who was involved in Occupy is familiar with what I mean: they generally went after Occupy with far larger numbers of cops than the protestors had protestors.   When arresting a drunk they use multiple cars.  After the bombing they had large numbers of police just stand around as a matter of “confidence” building and to “deter” the bombers.  They were driving down streets in motorcycle columns, evenly spaced.  If the bombers had been competent, all they were doing was either providing targets (the police) or telling the bombers (who still had more explosives) where not to hit, if they didn’t want to go for cops.

So, you had cops with extremely weak fire discipline and who aren’t particularly competent.  You had a suspect who probably still had bombs.  To keep civilians safe, at that point, meant keeping them off the street.  And by safe, we mean from both police and bombers.

This decision is at the end of a chain of decisions about the composition and training of the police. It is at the end of a societal decision about the incentives for prosecutors and the FBI.  In a society which is fundamentally corrupt and venal, too many of the people in the police and security industry are not people who are in it for the right reasons.  When your job is to beat up protestors (we do remember Occupy, don’t we), when you can’t believe in your own justice system, because everyone KNOWS that absolute crooks were not prosecuted after the financial crisis, and when you have created a police force which is incompetent, you have almost no choices left.

Yes, this means that smart, competent people watching this spectacle, along with the Dorner episode now know how easy it would be to shut down major metropolitan centers.  Ten competent people could shut down the entire Northeastern metropolitan complex from Boston to NYC.    But the other choice, given the type of security-industrial complex you have, would be to risk civilian casualties.  It may come to that: if bombings become routine, rather than shut down, they will simply have to be accepted.

The reaction means there will be more bombings.  Mass shootings are becoming routine and don’t get the same attention they once did.  People who want to go out with a “bang” will have noticed this and understood that this is a better way to go out if they want to go out with maximum attention and impact.

Let us turn our attention to some other aspects.  First, the bombers were minimally competent.  They could have easily done more damage, a lot more damage.  Even with the weak bombs they had there are substances they could have added which would have increased the casualties significantly.  Professionals or creative amateurs could have come up with many things, things which you can buy in the local hardware store, things which can’t be restricted.  A lot more people could have died.

Next, they could easily have escaped, if they’d wanted to.  Immediately after the bombs went off, they could have driven north, staying off the major arteries where the cameras are, and slipped in to Canada through one of the myriad of unmarked border crossings.  Or they could have headed west and quickly been far out of the dragnet, or they could have grabbed a boat and left that way.

Third: surveillance doesn’t stop this stuff.  The suspects were caught on surveillance.  Unless all surveillance is being watched, in real time, by competent people, all it does is give you information afterwards.  And that information doesn’t have be useful.

Once more, these two were not particularly bright.  They wore hats, not hoodies.  They didn’t do anything significant obscure their faces.  They didn’t carry extra clothes, and get out of the cameras, and change.  They were not particularly competent or imaginative operationally.  If you want surveillance to stop people like this, you have to hire one quarter of the population to watch the other three-quarters: you have to create the Stasi and turn the US into Eastern Germany.  But even that probably wouldn’t work, because America is a lot larger than East Germany (people forget how small European nations are compared to continental nations) and because Americans are not Germans.  The current attempt is to use algorithims, to teach computers to look for and “flag” suspicious behaviour and to add that to 24 hour tracking of every single person, identified every moment of the day.  If that’s what you want, go for it, but you’ll find it’s a far worse society than even what you have now.

The tempo of mass killings and bombings IS going to increase.  The generation coming up is much more detached from your society.  They are much less likely to believe in it, to think it’s fair, to believe they can have a good life, or a purposeful life in it.  They are burdened with debt, they know that one slip up can condemn them to a lousy life, they see the good jobs going, going, going and they understand, in their bones, that the society is a corrupt one.  Make no mistake, bankers killed far more people than these boys, and they didn’t go to jail.  The people running the plant in Texas which blew up and the bureaucrats who made the decision not to shut it down, killed more people than these kids did, and they did it for money.  A society which is fundamentally unjust, and which is seen to be fundamentally unjust, is going to have more and more problems like this.  The older generations still sort of believed, or still thought they could make it through.  The new generations coming up, will less and less believe the myths, less and less believe that if they just play by the rules, they’ll be taken care of.  Less and less believe that if they fail, well, the system is basically fair and they had it coming.

This is a matter of margins.  The bell curve has been moved over, just slightly. But when you’re dealing with the margins, a slight move over will increase the number of events massively.  The more it moves over, the more significantly.

Pope Paul VI once said, “If you want peace, work for justice.”  He didn’t primarily mean criminal justice, he meant social justice in all its forms.  A just society, which takes care of its people, has very little of this sort of violence, has competent police, has prosecutors who do their jobs properly, and so on.

A clear eyed understanding of why what happened, happened, is necessary.  If you don’t want this sort of thing to happen again, or at least want to reduce its frequency (and again, this sort of thing is going to become more frequent, and you will lose if you bet against me on this), you need a different sort of society.  Not just in America, not just in the West, not just in the developed world, but in the world entire.  This is something which can be done.  If we want to.  Right now, we don’t.

Text Modified April 22, 2:47 AM EDT to indicate that there are no media reports that the FBI knew they had explosives.


Brief Comments on the Boston Bombing


Speaking with Jay Ackroyd on the Security State Tonight at 9pm EDT


  1. Roman Berry

    The FBI knew they had explosives. The FBI, Police and local prosecutor, Ortiz, made the decision to not bring them in…

    Someone help me out here. I’ve tried to follow the news without obsessing over it and somehow what was stated here has escaped my attention. Anyone point me to a source on this?

  2. Ian Welsh

    Modified the text: I have reason to believe this is true, however it’s not something I can prove at this point.

  3. “the mother of one of them”?

  4. Carol Newquist

    Admittedly, I have not read the piece yet. I’m about to, but I just want to mention that I do not believe the System is broken. I believe this is the result of the System, and it’s our lack of understanding of it that leads us to the conclusion that it must be broken because it’s not working for the majority of us. It never has worked for the majority of us. It was never intended to work for the majority of us, and if it ever did seem that way, it was more perception than actuality. This System has always only benefited the few on top. The remainder may receive a few more crumbs every now and then depending on their time and place in history, but that doesn’t change the basic fact that this System favors only a few, and always will until it kills the Golden Goose.

  5. Carol Newquist

    Something I’m mulling over about the Beantown Bombings. I wonder if this is intended to put a knife in the FBI once and for all, and replace it with the new & improved DHS. They can phase out the FBI and absorb the lion’s share of its former operations into the burgeoning DHS. Something to consider. It surely feels like the FBI’s being set up on this, which isn’t difficult to do when you consider any of these alphabet agencies are guilty of so much it’s just a matter of if, and when, you want to drop the axe.

  6. ” The people running the plant in Texas which blew up and the bureaucrats who made the decision not to shut it down, killed more people than these kids did, and they did it for money. ”

    I wish this plant would get more attention, especially from leftist media. It seems to me the far more important story than an (obviously disturbing) bombing that killed a quarter as many people. Terrorism in America could increase tenfold and we would all still be far, far more likely to be injured or killed due to employer negligence than a terrorist’s plot.

  7. Adding, if enough Americans demanded their government protect them from negligent businesses, it might even start a rollback of the police state.

  8. @Notorious P.A.T.:

    Adding, if enough Americans demanded their government protect them from negligent businesses, it might even start a rollback of the police state.

    In the spirit of this interesting observation, I’d like to add that the “shadow government” has a long history of tolerating extra-legal behavior on a grand scale (international drug-trafficking is a glaring example) for the purposes of funding and enabling extra-legal behavior of their own. Looking away from a massive source of explosive material surely does fold in nicely. This might be a simple case of underfunded federal oversight, of course, but frankly they deserve this kind of speculation, unhinged or no.


  9. Daniel Henry

    “The tempo of mass killings and bombings IS going to increase.  The generation coming up is much more detached from your society.  They are much less likely to believe in it, to think it’s fair, to believe they can have a good life, or a purposeful life in it.  They are burdened with debt, they know that one slip up can condemn them to a lousy life, they see the good jobs going, going, going and they understand, in their bones, that the society is a corrupt one.  Make no mistake, bankers killed far more people than these boys, and they didn’t go to jail.  The people running the plant in Texas which blew up and the bureaucrats who made the decision not to shut it down, killed more people than these kids did, and they did it for money.  A society which is fundamentally unjust, and which is seen to be fundamentally unjust, is going to have more and more problems like this.  The older generations still sort of believed, or still thought they could make it through.  The new generations coming up, will less and less believe the myths, less and less believe that if they just play by the rules, they’ll be taken care of.  Less and less believe that if they fail, well, the system is basically fair and they had it coming.”

    Quite right, he be. We are apathetic for a reason. Apathy turns to anger when food and rent come out of your own pocket.

  10. Carol Newquist

    Thank you, Dave Lindorff, for being one of the few on the so-called “Left” who sees this for what it is. I don’t agree with his characterizations of Cuba, and these two alleged bombers are still suspects in my view until due process has been served, but his observation about the police state action in Boston that sprang from these bombings is spot-on and not enough, or hardly any, on the so-called “Left” are saying anything similar, including you, Ian. That’s fucked up, no matter how you want to rationalize your response. You decry further draconian measures and potential further police state tactics in your first post about the Beantown Bombings, and then you do a not-so-subtle retraction with this next piece. Excuse me, but one of us is not on planet earth, and I’m not quite sure it’s me.

    Let’s start with the martial law. Okay, it wasn’t a declaration, but with police and the Mayor ordering everyone in Boston and its suburbs to stay inside and lock their doors, “answering only to police,” it was virtually the same thing. Cops, FBI, ATF and DEA agents were everywhere, and the streets were being patrolled too by National Guard troops and armored personnel carriers equipped with machine guns — this in pursuit of a single wounded 19-year-old on the run on foot! Talk about overkill. We’re lucky that police in this amped up man-hunt didn’t gun down anyone who might have been unaware of the “stay-inside” order, or who decided he or she needed a beer or an ice-cream and ventured outside. Look what the LAPD did to the Latina mother and daughter newspaper delivery team when they thought the pick-up they were driving was the truck of the rogue cop they were hunting — peppering it from behind without warning with over a hundred shots from pistols and automatic rifles. (As it is, the several cops who responded to the 911 call about a man hiding in a boat nearly blew away the chance to question him about his motive by mindlessly blasting away at him though he was pinned down inside the boat, until a federal agent ordered them to quit firing.)

    And then we have the federal government’s response since Tsarnaev’s capture. The White House and Justice Department have announced that he will not be read his Miranda warning, which tells those who are arrested for a crime that they have the right not to answer questions from police, and the right to an attorney. Miranda warnings, the Supreme Court has long ruled, are an important part of upholding the intent of the Fifth Amendment which protects everyone in this country against being compelled to testify against themselves — one of the main grievances that led the colonists to fight to throw off British rule.

    President Obama, by secret executive order two years ago, gutted that protection, saying that it would be okay to ignore the Miranda warning in the case of suspected terrorists. Will he be subjected to torture to get him to tell police whether he had any confederates beside his dead brother? We don’t know. The government has reserved the right to use coercive measures against alleged “terrorists” (even though experts have warned that statements obtained under torture are notoriously unreliable).

    Note that the gutting of the Miranda rule for terrorists was not a court ruling. Nor was it a change in the Constitution. It was simply a presidential executive order. It and countless others are secret; we only know about that one because it was leaked.

    So, this is how it’s going to go down. The so-called “Leftists” will welcome and usher in the Police State, not the oft-feared Fascists…until those so-called “Leftists” become the Fascists, which isn’t too much of a leap afterall, is it?

  11. @Carol Newquist, I don’t see this necessarily as some kind of “walking back” on Ian’s part. One of the hallmarks of (legitimate) “left” thinking is that there are more crayons in the box than just black and white.

    Keep in mind that the right will take any opportunity to strawman the left. There’s plenty of huffing out there about how “hypocritical liberals” won’t be satisfied until we live in some totalitarian state. It’s ridiculous, and there’s no need to help them with such perjoratives just because we like to consider things with a bit more nuance than to just shout “FEMA camps!”

  12. *pejoratives 🙂

  13. Great post. On “cops with extremely weak fire discipline and who aren’t particularly competent,” I can add a detail: From a beat sweetener on Boston FBI chief DesLauriers, tours of duty are normally very short (under 3 years). I could be reaching, but that reminds of the consequences of short tours of duty in Vietnam: Ticket punching, no institutional memory, hence no craft. We substituted lots and of expensive technology (bombing, bugging the Ho Chi Minh trail), overwhelming firepower, and lying. Lots and lots of lying (see the Pentagon Papers). So, history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes.

  14. Ian Welsh

    The point is this: what went down is the logical conclusion of decisions that American society has made over the last 40 years, and especially in the last 12. It is an explanation of why what happened, happened.

    As for the Miranda bit, I disagree with Obama’s executive order, but didn’t mention it in this piece, at all.

  15. Carol Newquist

    I agree with that, Ian, and that’s why every self-respecting person who has an ounce of Progressivism in them should be appalled when it reveals itself in its full glory like it did in Boston. The paramilitary and the media are the ones who used that word; LOCKDOWN. Consider that term. Its implications. They use it in prisons for prisoners when the inmates get out of line. Yes, they were not everywhere at all times, but if they happened to be on your block at the moment and they told you and your wife and your child to get out of the house and walk away, then perhaps the reaction from those in Boston who are claiming they weren’t in LOCKDOWN would have been different. I’d also be interested to know how many homes worth over $1 million they searched after they told the VIP occupants to evacuate the premises? I’m betting a big, fat, whopping zero. Anyone want to take the counter side of that bet?

  16. The Tragically Flip

    To summarize, elites have forgotten (if they ever really believed) that “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – JFK.

    And a short trip through French 18th and 19th Century history shows that revolutions don’t have to succeed to cause a lot of damage and defeating one doesn’t mean the problems that caused it go away and the peasants just quietly accept their lot from then on.

    The neoliberals think they can build this world that allows them to rule unfettered by force of accumulated wealth bolstered by an ideology that tells them they deserve to rule, and have earned their place by virtue of their success. It’s really not so different from feudalism and Divine Rights of Kings type stuff.

    Feudalism lasted a long time so I don’t pretend they can’t hold on the reins a lot longer than I’d like to hope, but it won’t be smooth sailing.

  17. The Dude

    “…ten competent people could shut down the entire Northeastern metropolitan complex from Boston to NYC.”

    Remember the DC snipers? They terrorized the national capital area for weeks and were only caught when they started playing footsie with the police by sending ransom notes. Ten competent people with sniper rifles and nondescript cars operating simultaneously could paralise the whole country.

  18. Well, not the whole country. If you traveled by executive jet, private helicopter, or armored limo, you were perfectly safe.

  19. The current attempt is to use algorithims, to teach computers to look for and “flag” suspicious behaviour and to add that to 24 hour tracking of every single person, identified every moment of the day. If that’s what you want, go for it, but you’ll find it’s a far worse society than even what you have now.

    It’s not a matter of what we want or not. It’s going to happen. Not immediately, security gear operates on a 10 year cycle. But the currently shipping IP video cameras are running small Linux distributions internally and have the CPU horsepower to do face detection and upload those faces to the cloud, and there are companies working to take advantage of those capabilities. (Disclaimer — I have inside information on one of them). The ultimate goal is tracking you wherever you show up on video camera. The question is not “if” it will happen, or “when” it will happen. The question is *who* will make it happen and reap the big bucks from making it happen. Someone will do it. There’s too much money involved in the National Security State to resist the temptation.

    We are building a dystopian state the like of which Orwell could only barely have imagined, a mix of “Brave New World” and “1984” but with brainwashing techniques that neither author could have imagined in their wildest dreams. The cypherpunks of the early 90’s now seem so ludicrously deluded in their belief that technology could “kill the beast” as they put it, as to be almost laugh-provoking in retrospect…

  20. Ian Welsh

    It’s going to happen, till it isn’t. It’ll happen in some places, and other countries will offer something else.

  21. Ian, I’m talking based on personal knowledge about what’s going to happen *here* in the United States as far as the future of surveillance goes. It’s not going to happen in Europe due to their privacy laws that apply to corporations as well as the government, but here in the US, there basically is no legal protection from corporate surveillance. I talk to the people who are laying down the infrastructure on a daily basis. It’s not government so it flies beneath the radar of civil libertarians, but it is happening. Google and Amazon’s tracking cookies are only the start of how our corporate overlords intend to track our every move so they can more effectively brainwash err “market to” us amongst other things. And given the convergence of government and corporation in America, the difference may as well be non-existent in the end.

  22. It’s all very expensive, in terms of resources and in terms of the sort of specialization only layered, functioning complex society can provide (which of course ultimately comes down to resources anyway.) Society is “eating the seed corn” necessary for maintaining that complex society, ironically using the very technology that relies upon it. It’s just a matter of how much wailing and teeth-gnashing occurs between now and its collapse.

    There will probably be some pockets of sanity, but not here in the U.S., I’m sure.

    Good times. Interesting times.

  23. Shoes4Industry

    An conveniently buried in all the Boston Bombing Media feeding frenzy was the damning Bush/Cheney/Obama/Media Torture Report. Timing is everything…

  24. Everythings Jake

    What the fascist state attempts is a final solution to the problem of class conflict. It obliterates the democratic forms that allow workers some room for an organized defense of their interests.

    … a similar fascist pattern emerged to do its utmost to save corporate business from the troublesome impositions of democracy. Fascism’s savage service to big capital remains almost entirely a hidden history.

    — Michael Parenti

  25. Celsius 233

    Everythings Jake
    April 23, 2013

    – Michael Parenti
    He forever changed my view of America and the Middle East in the late 80’s.

  26. Ian Welsh


    as you know, I’ve been all over the surveillance state, and I agree that it’s going to happen in the US. It’ll happen in England too, and we’ll see about Europe. It’s happening in Canada.

    However there is a huge cost to the surveillance state, not just monetary, but in terms of social stasis, conformity and loss of creativity. And there are crises and catastrophes coming down the line which are, at this point, unavoidable. The demographics on the surveillance state are changing, up until recently, the young were in favor of it. That is now shifting and small majorities of the young are against it. That trend will continue, because as anyone who lived in the USSR or East Germany can tell you, living in a surveillance state sucks.

    Now that won’t matter, what ordinary people, especially the young, think, is irrelevant. But it does meant that when it becomes clear that major changes to society are mandatory, it will be one of the things the up and coming generation demands. There’s going to come a point when a lot of extraneous shit will have to go away, we simply won’t be able to afford it.

    Also, nations which are not surveillance states will out-compete those which are.

  27. Carol Newquist

    The alphabet agencies have had their scummy hands all over the inception and formation of the internet. It is laughable to think that once upon a time, some boasted that the internet would bring us our freedom, finally. NOT!!. It’s yet another form of control, albeit much more sophisticated. Take Facebook, for example, which is not going away, by the way. Whether or not it succeeds as a business model is of ancillary concern and icing on the cake of surveillance. It was always about surveillance first, under the rubric of marketing. Look at the parties that funded Facebook. That’s all you need to know. And now that that horse is out of the barn, Facebook is quickly becoming like the telephone as a form of social communication, meaning if you eschew it for whatever reason, you will be self-ostracizing and a very lonely person indeed, because that’s where all the action is. Build it, and they will come. They did (build it), and they did (come). Who says we aren’t sheep? Or ants?

  28. Celsius 233

    @ Carol Newquist April 23, 2013
    I like your post very much; but I’m not prepared to extrapolate.
    Please keep posting…

  29. dandelion

    Who says we aren’t sheep? Or ants?


    Who says we can’t be clever sheep? Or devious ants? For example: how many here know that you, Carol Newquist, are Morocco Bama?

  30. Celsius 233

    dandelion April 23, 2013

    And just how do you know that? Very disturbing if true…

  31. Carol Newquist

    How does he know it? It’s a long story, and it really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things. Yes, my previous anonymous online screen name was Morocco Bama, and now it is Carol Newquist. Prior to Morocco Bama it was Shrubageddon. So what? I change my screen name every several years because I get bored with the old one, or it becomes irrelevant. What’s disturbing about it? The majority of people who post are of an anonymous nature. Perhaps we’re not as fortunate as Ian to be able to express such controversial opinions without it being held against us IRL. Many people lose their jobs over such matters. I’m surprised Ian’s been able to avoid that considering his envelope pushing.

    If you’re curious at all, though, Celsius, check out Clusterfuck Nation and see what’s been said about me over there by the horde of racists dandelion hangs with and with whom he is in agreement. Oh, and dandelion has more screen names at once than you can add on both hands and feet. He/she is pissed because I’ve rained on its parade at other venues. It now follows me everywhere I go on the net. I don’t mind. I like the company. It’s like having a crazy dog tag along for your stroll. No harm in it, really.

  32. Celsius 233

    ^ No harm in it, really.
    Really. I disagree. It’s dishonest. You and I started as compatriots and ended as bitter enemies for very good reasons; you’re unstable and likely insane.
    Go away. Or I will; I’ll not countenance your presence here in any form.

  33. Carol Newquist

    Interesting. So, it proves that the words don’t matter, but rather who utters the words. Celsius 233, without knowing who I am, and I would claim he will never really fully know who I am, likes my post and asks me to keep posting, but once he can characterize the post, the words no longer hold any meaning for him. Another E. F. Hutton moment.

    You were never my bitter enemy, Celsius 233, nor were you my compatriot. If I was either of those for you, well, that’s your issue. As far as going away. Not on your life, I won’t. Deal with it. Deal with the words. Forget the personalities. Keep your eye on the ball.

    You’re anonymous, Celsius 233. By your logic, you’re dishonest because you are hiding who you really are IRL. Otherwise, you would be posting under your real name. Now, I understand if you’re not comfortable doing that, and I respect that. I would never feign self-righteousness and claim you were being dishonest as you have alleged about me here.

    You could be wise as your age dictates you should be, or you could allow your ego to get the best of you and hold to your prejudice. I’m betting on the ladder, but I will be pleasantly surprised and happy to be wrong if the former manifests.

  34. Celsius 233

    ^ I’ll concede you bring some salient points; but I’ll defer to my better senses and opt out of further discussions.

  35. @ dandelion April 23, 2013

    Spoilsport :-).

    I was wondering when the penny would drop.


  36. Carol Newquist

    Celsius 233, that’s your call.

    Back to the topic. In support of my theory several posts back, the DHS shines where the FBI dulls. The fact that he’s now going to be tried as a civilian with due process could further hang the FBI out to dry. It’s time for the FBI to go, in name only of course.

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that her agency knew of alleged Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s trip to Russia last year even though his name was misspelled on a travel document. A key lawmaker had said that the misspelling caused the FBI to miss the trip.

    Napolitano’s disclosure came as news to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who told the secretary that it contradicted what he’d been told by the FBI.

    “They told me that they had no knowledge of him leaving or coming back so I would like to talk to you more about this case,” Graham told Napolitano as she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on sweeping immigration legislation.

    Napolitano said that even though Tsarnaev’s name was misspelled, redundancies in the system allowed his departure to be captured by U.S. authorities in January 2012. But she said that by the time he came back six months later, an FBI alert on him had expired and so his re-entry was not noted.

  37. Carol Newquist

    I will state for the record my beef with mfi. He stereotypes all “Americans” as one monolithic group and fails to parse that when questioned on it, and he has for all practical purposes pretty much called those same monolithic “Americans” pussies for not doing everything it takes, up to and including violence, to change the course of events. In otherwords, mfi is doing the same thing the Tsarnaev’s handlers did to them. And look where that got the two brothers; patsies, and dead. Well, one of them dead, but the other one, Dzhokhar might as well be, probably wished he was, and more than likely soon will be. I have combated this tactic all over the internet free of charge, and instead of a pat on the back, I’ve been handed derision from all corners. Alleged Jihadist recruiters had infiltrated the comments section at ICH and I went after them. Guess what? I was banned by the freak from the UK named Angel Gabriel who has a stake in that website. Are you Angel Gabriel, dandelion? I’m sorry, Dissingdent? I’m sorry, Martin Hayes? I’m sorry, Martin Knight? There are so many names for this joker, I can’t keep track of them all.

  38. Carol Newquist

    Here’s a quote from someone. I’ll say who if anyone wants to know. It’s relevant to the discussion about surveillance. I find it extremely telling. My goal is to root out the impostors among us and to challenge misdirection and unclear thinking, even my own when it arises.

    Getting information about you and selling it to marketing companies is what facebook and similar is about. You’re not a customer you’re an asset to be squeezed dry and that’s all you are. If you don’t like that fact stop using it or (even more effective) do what I do and don’t sign up for it in the first place.

    Nowhere in that quote does it mention what Facebook is really all about. That would be conspiratorial, wouldn’t it? So, tell me, if Facebook isn’t part of the burgeoning surveillance state, what is? Or is the theory about the burgeoning surveillance state conspiracy, as well? Perhaps the person who wrote the quote would care to explain where they stand on all of this, and why they have no problem being left behind, if indeed they are true to their word.

  39. @ Carol Newquist April 23, 2013

    Wow a new beef. First you complain when I call your fact free babblings the nonsense they are.

    Then you go all <bowdlerisation>simian excrement</bowdlerisation> on us when I point out that your denunciation of Pat Lang was quite one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever read and deserves to be better known as it was a classic of that genre of which the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is one of the better known examples.

    Then you had a meltdown about how you were being watched and followed.

    Have you considered putting all of this to music and uploading it to YouTube?


  40. Carol Newquist

    mfi, where do you stand on Pat Lang? Give us your opinion on the former Director of Human Intelligence? I would also say you don’t have the facts on what transpired with Lang, or do you? I honored Ian’s request to keep it out of the comments section. You’re dishonoring Ian’s request by bringing it back in. Answer the questions, mfi. Stick to the topic.

    You want to know what I think of Pat Lang? He’s a scumbag. He’s a psychopath. He’s a prime example of who and what is in power, and your support of him is very telling, indeed.

    Would that be the youtube you have all your music on, mfi? Funny, you’ll sihn onto youtube but not to Facebook. No thanks, I’m not that vain. Another reason I change names every several years. I don’t care to make a name for myself.

    I can’t believe I’m having a conversation with a bomb defuser? Of all the things one could do in life, you chose bomb defuser? OH MY GOD!! That says it all.

  41. Carol Newquist

    Hey mfi. Bring it over to CFN where we can take the gloves off and really go at each other. What do you say? No need to burden Ian with our little dogfight. Come on, tough guy, bring it on. I see right through you, dude, always have. Let’s go to the ring where this belongs. No holds barred. Anything goes at CFN. You can’t hide behind “Liberal” censorship there, but you could hide behind another screen name, or many screen names.

  42. dandelion

    CFN? CareFusion Corporation? College Football News?

  43. Oh, boy, Ian that’s a nice essay. I particularly your patience in trying to explain these things:

    (a) Events like these are “teaching moments” and not in a good way. They expose the theories of action that law enforcement, intel, and the military have for events like this. More determined bad guys will be reviewing all this information at their leisure.

    (b) The particular capabilities and action plans we have are laughable in the face of the threat of a slightly larger, smarter, concerted guerrilla attack. As an aside, Ian: Here in the SF Bay Area I had a minor freak out because nearly simultaneously with the Boston bombs, a sabateur took out a major electric power substation with a skillfully placed gun shot and (maybe same sabateur, I’m not sure) cut a major fiber optic line disabling telephone service including 911 to a large population. Then, of course, the fertilizer plant blew up. If one assumed in the early hours of these events that that they were related, it sure looked like the beginning of a much larger attack.

    (c) An underlying crisis of legitimacy born of a corrupt society lowers the bar to these kinds of events. An underlying crisis of legitimacy does not necessarily look like an ideological rejection (say of crony capitalism, or austerity). A widespread crisis of legitimacy is when enough people start to see the promise of a civil society in the current order as a myth like the tooth fairy or the flying spaghetti monster.

    All that said I have an alternative explanation to your hypothesis that the FBI knew these two had explosives. My alternative explanation actually fits the rest of your analysis pretty well. It goes like this:

    The older brother got flagged by the ping from Russian intelligence services. The FBI looked into it thoroughly. They found ample evidence of the guy’s interest in radical islam, explosives, fake IDs, and so forth. They did not find anything like purchases of explosives (in this alternative hypothesis).

    Speculation: They flagged the guy in the IT systems. This would mean something like: well, the NSA or whomever might passively collect the list of numbers called by pretty much everyone — but calls to and from numbers linked to this guy got automatically flagged and dumped into a (still only machine processed) list of suspicious activities.

    Here is where my hypothesis really diverges from yours:

    Lots and lots of people are flagged in similar ways because lots and lots of people do things like browse radical web sites, look up how to make bombs on-line, and generally fantasize. Almost none of these people will ever represent a real threat. Think of all the many militia aspirants. Think of all arm-chair intel agents. The telecom and travel data they had for the bomber, in this hypothesis, didn’t rise to a level where it was clearly differentiated from many, many false leads.

    It would have been expensive and risky to surveille the guy closely enough to notice the bomb-making activities. Expensive because instead of a few algorithms automatically keeping an “eye” on his traffic it would require shoe leather. The deployment of shoe leather would not only have been expensive but if it were exposed, and it turned out the subject was innocent, that’d be a big problem for the FBI and other agencies.

    The FBI had suggestive evidence that he might be up to no good but that evidence was indistinguishable from its suggestive evidence about many, many, fully innocent people.

    So I am not so sure that the FBI held back in hopes of getting bigger fish. From other FBI successes we know their modus better than that. When they follow someone like that they try to get a wedge in by becoming a supplier and trying to provoke the subject into an attack that’s under the FBI’s control and that is neutered before it even starts.

    In other words, I’d place the FBI’s incompetence one step back from where you are pointing. (But, like you, I don’t know for sure. It’s a guess.)

  44. Ian Welsh

    Let’s keep the dogfights down. By all means, take them elsewhere.

  45. jcapan


  46. Working Class Nero

    What is the difference between your calls of “taking care of the world”, and Britain’s “White Man’s Burden” or France’s “mission civilisatrice” labels from the days of colonialism? How does a mainly white Western society decide what is best for the needy natives in Africa or Chechnya? What you are really doing here is calling for neo-Colonialism, only this time we’re going to get it right! And what if the hapless natives resist being taken care of? What if they think they don’t need no stinking white men to take care of them? Should we use force to “take care” of recalcitrant savages who don’t understand that the white man knows best?

  47. Compound F

    you refer to (for lack of a better term) sociological aspects of a broken system; not the deeper systemic aspects, to which I would blandly but correctly refer you to, e.g., “the religion of growth,” “peak oil,” “overpopulation,” Stirling’s “Thermidor” thesis, all of which, I am concretely positive, you are well aware in your bones. In other words, the current clusterf*** is more than predictable; it must be this way. It *must* be.

    To any extent such sociological awkwardness or pathology you refer to must not or need not be, how do you reconcile our choices with obligatory behavior associated with such things as I blandly mentioned? To wit, how do you dissociate powerful (and frankly, innate and essentially obligatory) behavior to various incentives and sign stimuli from choice (arbitrary) behavior?

    I understand that this level of criticism perhaps ranges beyond the intent or scope of your post, which was typically excellent and provoking.

  48. Formerly T-Bear

    Boston is NOT the end result of a broken system, what happened in Boston is a SYMPTOM of a broken system as it decays. The foolery that has transpired in just these comments shows the complete disregard for the urgency necessary to address the dire straights threatening continued existence. Instead of a conversation, a spectacle of a cheeto-dusted, thorazine laden, jammies with footies swaddled juvenile, trans-gendered identity idiot who has come in and hijacked the comments. How soon will realization occur that with this creature, as MFI offers – there is no there, there. Best not ever respond to those whose presentation demands attention, starve the beast and the likelihood is they will join the other trolls and numbers of their kind under a bridge somewhere where they can descend upon the unwary passerby as this one did after their gender identity operation.

  49. Celsius 233

    ^ Hear, hear! (two hands clapping)

  50. Ian Welsh

    It is not the White Man’s Burden, which I know more about than most people. My maternal grandfather was Calcutta police chief, my mother grew up in India and spoke fluent Hindi-Urdu till the end of her life. My father was in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in the early 50s, and spent half his working life in Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, Indonesia and so on.

    I have written on development economics in the past, and the bottom line is that the first thing you do is not do most of what western development “experts” tell you (there are some exceptions), but that you do what western countries and Japan and Korea did.

    However, the world system is powerful, and right now we are doing vast amounts of harm to most developing nations (a stupid, PC term, for underdeveloped or undeveloped). It is vastly difficult for them to fix themselves while the world system is as it is. In addition, to develop, most of them will need certain policies from us. It is not an accident that Japan developed first with significant help from Britain (which wanted them as a Russian counterweight) and then Kore and Japan post-war, developed and re-developed under the US umbrella. China’s development was export driven, if the West had been isolationist, they would have had a much harder time, assuming they could do it at all.

    You industrialize through mercantalism, mercantalism requires a specific configuration of policies and will not work if those policies are not possible.

    This is a subject I know rather a lot about. I grew up in the “development” community, I come from a family who were the NCOs and in some cases, officers, running the British Empire, and I have studied the subject.

    The idea that the West (white men) and the developed world (which includes places with non-white men) should do nothing is simply false. They must do the right things, and not do the wrong things.

  51. Carol Newquist

    Here’s a dogfight all of us, regardless of ideology, should be having. I think Bloomberg is an authoritarian Plutocratic prick! Anyone else agree?

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg appears to be moving beyond dictating what people can drink and eat in his city despite judicial rulings finding his policies in violation of the Constitution. Bloomberg joined the Pavlovian response of politicians this week in calling for a reduction in civil liberties in response to the Boston Marathon bombing. Bloomberg warned citizens that the Constitution will “have to change” to allow for greater security to stave off future attacks.

    Bloomberg warned that “The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry. But we live in a complex word where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”

    Okay, Mike, how about we start by putting cameras in every room of all the mansions of the millionaires and mandatory drug tests for you assholes?

    There was no need for the response we saw in Boston. The Feds didn’t need to be involved at all. The president didn’t need to respond. The fact that there was a ridiculously over-the-top response makes me extremely suspicious. The Texas fertilizer plant event, if responded to similarly, could have easily been turned into a terrorist event if they chose to do so. If they own the investigation, and they own the media, they can make anything up at anytime about any event and any persons alleged to have perpetrated said events. And otherwise intelligent people believe this shit because their egos are so huge they can’t fathom the wool being pulled over their eyes.

    Can we the citizens send in an arbitrarily selected emissary to question Dzhokhar about what has transpired, or do we have to rely on a corrupt state and a lackey press to avail us of the facts? As it stands, I don’t believe a thing the press says anymore, and I do not trust a corruptible and corrupted government any longer; one that is a division of global Corporatism and aids said Corporatism in concentrating wealth for the global Plutocracy.

    We don’t want your protection, because it’s not protection, but rather further imprisonment. Boston could have handled this without the feds, the paramilitary and the complicit media. Progressives should be outraged, and instead, because they don’t want to be seen as reactionary right wingers and they must show fealty to all things Obama, they remain mute with the exception of brave and bold few.

  52. Carol Newquist

    Yes they do, don’t they? Nice. I consider that shirt an in-your-face taunt. They enjoy what they’re doing. They look forward to it. They think you’re a joke, and you need to be beaten. Guys like this live in your neighborhoods. Know your neighbors, and if some of these shits are your neighbors, let them know how you feel. No need for violence. There are ways of making scum like this feel unwelcome without resorting to violence.

  53. Carol Newquist

    Beck’s finally coming out with his evidence to back up his accusations. There does appear to be some merit to this. Where’s the “Left” in any of this? Where’s all that tenacious get-to-the-bottom-of-it reporting that we’ve come to expect? Nowhere to be found. Most Left-Leaning blogs appear to be amplifying the propaganda and character assassinations concerning the alleged suspects, rather than remaining objective and impartial and choosing their own paths of inquiry. Is this what blogging has become? Maybe so. If so, so much for the power of the internet to set us free.

    Beck explained: “Subject is an exact match to that no fly order. That means, we have been presented bad information…and it was reviewed, and found to be sufficient. Subject has One (1) prior event…When they opened this when he was at the hospital, they found he’s already in the system!”

    “A 212, 3B is from the Patriot Act…It is the biggest warning we can put on anybody,” he explained for those unfamiliar with the term. “You do not put people’s name on there easily…this is a terrorist designation, and there is a panel of agencies that you have to go and make your case to. It’s not like you’re standing in the hospital room and they say: ‘Make him a 212,3B.’ And if they are, they’re abusing their power….It is so rare that somebody’s name is taken off outside of death, that none of ours sources can tell us that it’s ever happened. It is laughable what Janet Napolitano said yesterday.”

    Certainly, a litany of questions remain.

    Was Alharbi considered “armed and dangerous” before the Boston bombing, or at it? Was it related to something they found at his apartment? Was his prior “event” from the days prior, at the bombing, or was it from an earlier period in his life?

    Moreover, how was he admitted into the country under a “special advisory option?” How many students receive that privilege, particularly without property security clearance?

    In Beck’s estimation, the entire situation at the least amounts to an alarming lack of transparency, and at the worst, an abuse of power and cover-up.

    “This is not about this one guy,” Beck noted, “but by the way — where is this extraordinarily dangerous man? Ask that question, you’re not going to like the answer.”

    “That’s what TheBlaze is releasing today,” he continued. “Once they explain away all of this, if you want to continue to discredit me, you will discredit yourself but more importantly, you will put the citizens of this country at stake.”

  54. Other than the dog thing, about which he’s simply wrong (dogs don’t work like this according to the people who train them), take a look:

    Who’s investigating the FBI investigators?
    Something’s Rotten in Boston
    Mon, 04/22/2013 – 12:18
    by: Dave Lindorff

  55. P.S. And yes, “Carol,” I agree with your statement that “Bloomberg is an authoritarian Plutocratic prick.”

  56. Yes they do, don’t they? Nice. I consider that shirt an in-your-face taunt. They enjoy what they’re doing. They look forward to it. They think you’re a joke, and you need to be beaten. Guys like this live in your neighborhoods. Know your neighbors, and if some of these shits are your neighbors, let them know how you feel. No need for violence. There are ways of making scum like this feel unwelcome without resorting to violence.

    Here’s the story behind that obnoxious T-shirt:

    Denver cops get T-shirts that mock DNC protesters

  57. …and also told KMGH that he hadn’t received any complaints about the shirt.

    What’s to complain about? It’s very informative.

    Now the behavior that the shirt touts – IIRC there were a few complaints lodged.

  58. Petro, good point! 🙂

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