Michael Tabman

The Boston Marathon Bombing ~ Where Do We Go From Here?

In Crime and Security on April 16, 2013 at 12:24 pm

We have come a long way since 9/11.  The American psyche was on the mend.  The collective counter-terrorism efforts of the law enforcement, intelligence and military communities grew and matured.  Though some tactics remain questionable, we cannot discount the absence of successful terrorist attacks prior to yesterday’s attack at the Boston Marathon.

The brave and immediate response of on-lookers and first-responders that may have saved lives reflects what we have learned.  There is much to be proud of in the aftermath of such devastation. But the questions remain – who, why and what do we do now?

The “who” will be answered in due time.  I think sooner more than later.  Federal agents alongside state and local officers were down on hands and knees sifting through the debris and shrapnel.  Somewhere within the rubble are minute pieces of evidence that will provide a significant lead.  In the 1993 World Trade Center bombing the search uncovered a vehicle identification number on a small piece of wreckage The FBI traced that number to a rented van reported stolen the day before the attack.  Arrests and convictions followed, as they will in this case.  The FBI and its partners will receive thousands of leads, and each will be run down.  One tidbit of information – forensic evidence to an anonymous tip is all it takes.

Is this the act of domestic terrorists or international terrorists?  At this juncture, we do not know and all possibilities must be explored.  Previous assumptions after similar attacks proved incorrect.  After the Atlanta Olympics Bombing, the investigation focused intensely on the wrong person.  The “fingerprints” of this terrorist attack have signs of both international and domestic terrorism.  While interviewed on television news, when asked, I revealed that I was leaning towards domestic terrorism.  There is just something about the venue, date and timing that gives me that feeling, though I will not be surprised otherwise.  To consider the possibility of domestic terrorism is important.  We all have a vision of the international terrorist.  But, we do not recognize that potential in our neighbors, co-workers or associates.  We cannot imagine people we know doing something so cruel, so violent and so irrational.  Yet, we must remember that we cannot view this from our own perspective.  We do not know what motivates others – circumstances that are real or imagined.  Understanding the “why” helps identify potential suspects.  Leads can be pursued without jumping to conclusions and making baseless accusations.

So, what do we do now?  This investigation will synthesize information coming from multiple sources: the intelligence community, videos, forensic evidence, interviews, police reports of suspicious people and/or vehicles and tips from the public.  Law enforcement knows what they must do and they will do it.

As for the public, hit hard with the reality that we will never be invulnerable to terrorism, what do we do now?  I defer to President’s Obama’s remarks today, paraphrasing: terrorism fails when we refuse to be terrorized.

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