Ron Paul: The Real Terror in Boston Wasn't the Bombing But the "Taste of Martial Law"
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.
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."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.