By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY INTO SATURDAY, APRIL 19-20, 2013) — As THE PLANET writes, we have just learned from an ABC News report that suspect #2 in the Boston Marathon bombing, “White Hat,” has been taken alive into custody. They caught him hiding in a boat.
The event culminates an extraordinary week, especially its last two days, in which, for the first time ever, the government ordered a major metropolis, Boston, to be shutdown. As the massive manhunt went on throughout Thursday and Friday, one could not help feeling awestruck at the sheer size of the official response at all levels of government as a literal army of police officers, SWAT teams, commandos, vehicles, helicopters, dogs, and the like held Boston under siege and moved into the Watertown area.
Rundown of Key Moments and Events
Here’s an Associated Press recap of key moments from this extraordinary 24-hour period:
— At 5:10 p.m. Thursday, investigators of the bombings release photographs and video of two suspects. They ask for the public’s help in identifying the men.
— Around 10:20 p.m., shots are fired on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, just outside Boston.
— At 10:30 p.m., an MIT campus police officer who was responding to a disturbance is found shot multiple times in his vehicle, apparently in a confrontation with the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. He is later pronounced dead.
— Shortly afterward, two armed men reportedly carjack a Mercedes SUV in Cambridge. A man who was in the vehicle is held for about a half hour and then released unharmed at a gas station on Memorial Drive in Cambridge.
— Police soon pursue the carjacked vehicle in Watertown, just west of Cambridge.
— Some kind of explosive devices are thrown from the vehicle in an apparent attempt to stop police. The carjackers and police exchange gunfire. A transit police officer is seriously injured. One suspect, later identified as Suspect No. 1 in the marathon bombings, is critically injured and later pronounced dead.
— Authorities launch a manhunt for the other suspect.
— Around 1 a.m. Friday, gunshots and explosions are heard in Watertown. Dozens of police officers and FBI agents converge on a Watertown neighborhood. A helicopter circles overhead.
— Around 4:30 a.m., Massachusetts state and Boston police tell people living in that section of eastern Watertown to stay in their homes. They identify the carjackers as the same men suspected in the marathon bombings. Overnight, police also release a photograph of a man believed to be Suspect No. 2 wearing a gray hoodie-style sweatshirt. The image apparently is from surveillance video taken at a gas station.
— Around 5:50 a.m. authorities urge residents in Watertown, Newton, Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge, Arlington and the Allston-Brighton neighborhoods of Boston to stay indoors. All mass transit is shut down.
— Around 6:35 a.m., The Associated Press reports that the bomb suspects are from a Russian region near Chechnya and lived in the United States for at least a year.
— Around 6:45 a.m., The Associated Press identifies the surviving Boston bomb suspect as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, who has been living in Cambridge.
— Around 8 a.m., Boston’s police commissioner says all of Boston must stay in their homes as the search for the surviving suspect in the bombings continues.
— Around 8:40 a.m., a U.S. law enforcement official and the uncle of the suspects confirm that the name of the slain suspect is Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s older brother.
— Around 10:20 a.m., Connecticut State Police say a car believed to be linked to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been recovered in Boston. They initially call it a Honda CRV, but authorities later say it was a Honda Civic.
— Around 10:35 a.m., the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth says it closed its campus and ordered an evacuation after confirming that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is registered there. The school says it closed the campus “out of an abundance of caution” as the search continued.
— Around 11:30 a.m., Massachusetts State Police explain that the brothers suspected in the bombings were in the Honda when they carjacked the Mercedes SUV. For a while, each drove one of the two vehicles, but then ditched the Honda and reunited in the Mercedes.
— Around 12:35 p.m., state police in Watertown say officers are searching door-to-door but still have not found the bombing suspect.
— Around 6:30 p.m., Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announces that mass transit is resuming and the “stay indoors” order is being lifted even though one suspect remains on the lam. State police say that suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, fled on foot and there is indication he has a vehicle. They believe he is still in the state because of his ties to the area.
Many Questions Remain from this Extraordinary Week
This furious turn of events brought up many questions, including:
* Was the massive police response an overreaction? Authorities thought so, and given the symbolic importance of bringing justice to bear, one could defend the time and expense as the right call. On the other hand, when you boil this down, you had two young suspects on the loose, undoubtedly without an escape plan, making it up as they went along. They didn’t appear to be professional terrorists or militarily trained. Local police departments face worse cases that are jurisdictional. The police are left on their own and well capable of handling the situation.
* Was it necessary to close down an entire city? Who reimburses private businesses for their losses? Who justifies to hundreds of thousands of people the imposition of an iron curtain of lock-down security?
* Was the massive expense of public money necessary? Think of the cost of sending in all that manpower.
* Can Islam fairly be blamed? There has been discussion about the effects of radicalization and, as a a possible cause, the international violent jihadist movement.
* Have we reached a tipping point for freedom in America?
* Who or what will place the proper checks and balances on what will be an inevitable call for increased security over all aspects of our public, private, and personal lives?
* Is terrorism ever justified?
* Is there something about America that is radicalizing much of the rest of the world, especially countries and individuals who are among the “have nots?” In other words, has America brought this upon itself?
* What is it about America that so alienates young men? Marc Ambinder asks this question in The Week.
* Is it possible to provide total security to the general public, safety from the few-and-far-between hate mongers, nut jobs, terrorists, and the rest of that gang of idiots?
* Is there something about the fast pace of present day Western society, with its overabundance of portable technology and overflow of information, “that loosens the moorings that prevent us from acting on our deepest, ugliest thoughts” (Ambinder).
We invite you to give us your thoughts. In doing so, REFRAIN FROM NAME CALLING! Be adults. Let’s show we can have lively, even venomous debate without dipping into the gutter. THE PLANET welcomes your views.
“The naked earth is warm with spring, / And with green grass and bursting trees / Leans to the sun’s gaze glorifying, / And quivers in the sunny breeze; / And life is color and warmth and light, / And a striving evermore for these; / And he is dead who will not fight; / And who dies fighting has increase.” — Rupert Brooke