The Second Boston Massacre is winding down, and I think we are at the right point for reflection. Right on schedule, the usual suspects (on the right and the left) are reaching exactly the wrong conclusions.
First, we have the capture. I have absolutely no praise for American law enforcement on this point. They didn’t actively manage anything. Frankly, this isn’t unusual. The police rarely catch a criminal unless they fall into their laps. (Thankfully, most criminals are incredibly stupid and stumble into the cops’ laps all the time.) If a private citizen can’t hand the cops everything they need to solve the case, the case generally goes unsolved. That is exactly what happened here.
There are already calls for more government cameras. We don’t need them. It wasn’t a government camera that captured the scene. It was a private store’s camera. There were plenty of private cameras recording the scene. It was a televised event, so there were broadcast quality cameras recording the scene. (Incidentally, this is likely to be the case with all major terrorist events. If you want your bombing to have impact, news cameras have to capture it.)
So, when the private citizens give the government all the evidence they need — and in fact, in the case of Reddit, even identify the bombers for the FBI, so all the FBI has to do is identify them — then the manhunt starts. The authorities respond to their first contact (the MIT cop) and their second contact (the running gun battle where they, uh, let them get away) by putting an entire major metropolis on “lockdown.”
Now, let’s talk about that word. Lockdown. Where does it come from? Prisons. It’s a prison word. You put prisoners on “lockdown”, not free citizens. It’s how you end prisoner escapes and riots. It’s not how you treat a free city. In all fairness to the authorities, it was officially a shelter in place for most of Boston. They did send citizens to their home in the immediate area the suspects were believed to be in, and I can abide that. And you know what? I’m OK with the overall “shelter in place”. They can ask you to stay home. They can ask to look around your place. (The accounts that I heard were that if you said, “no, get a warrant” they said OK and left. That’s also proper.) But this media emphasis on “lockdown” — and make no mistake, the compliant media is as much, if not more, to blame for the shenanigans surround this incident — is out of line. We aren’t prisoners. We don’t get put on “lockdown”. If you have any concern for preventing indoctrination of your children, you won’t send them to schools that have “lockdowns” of the tiny prisoners as part of their plan.
What did this “lockdown” get them? Nothing. Jack shit. It was a complete waste of time and money — likely billions of dollars in lost productivity and sales. What did happen? As soon as they lifted the shelter in place, a private citizen walked his own property, realized that something was out of place, and found the suspect. He called the cops, they came, did some collective pants wetting, set up a few dozen perimeters, called in a helicopter, sent in a robot, and then shot hundreds of rounds at the citizen’s privately owned boat. To hit the suspect one more time. When he was already wounded. And had already been face to face with the private citizen, apparently already too wounded to attack him. Here’s the footage of the arrest:
The last thing that irks me is all the media talk about the suspect being an “enemy combatant.” This is bullshit. He’s not an enemy combatant.
First, he’s not the enemy. He’s an American citizen entirely within American jurisdiction. They didn’t find him in a foreign country. He’s not a foreign national. He’s an American citizen. They lost their chance to call him the enemy when he was naturalized on September 11, 2012. (No shit.) We don’t have “sorta citizens.” There’s no probationary period. When he took the oath, he’s in. He gets everything but the right to be president (which requires natural born citizenship.) If he was so dangerous, then we never should have allowed him the oath.
Second, he’s not a combatant. He wasn’t in a war zone. He was in Boston and Cambridge. The US Army didn’t pick him up. Posse Comitatus meant that the Army couldn’t go get him — because he wasn’t a combatant. This wasn’t a general insurrection. This was a couple of mouth-breathers who barely got some pressure cookers to explode. He’s not an enemy, he’s not a combatant, and we are not going to treat him as an enemy combatant. He’s a criminal. A terrorist also, but we have charges for that. Let’s put them to work.
Calling him an enemy combatant — legally, not the morons in the compliant media — starts us down a slippery slope that will end up making a lot of people like me “enemy combatant” when they never would have otherwise. The constitution addresses this — it’s the prohibition on Bills of Attainder. Congress cannot just “declare” Americans to be criminals and hold them. Neither can the Executive. That is the Judicial branch’s sole prerogative, and they are required to do so through due process and trials. No other way. If this clown is an “enemy combatant” then how far down does the bar slip? Does that mean that the Newtown shooter would have also been an enemy combatant? He killed more people. It was as much “combat” as this was. Who is next? How about Bradley Manning? He was certainly a combatant, as an active duty member of the armed forces. Let’s just “declare” him an enemy combatant and do away with all this messy “rights” business.
There’s a big reason that the media morons (I’m looking at you, Mark Davis) are caught up in this enemy combatant business. It’s the issue with Miranda rights currently being tossed around. The suspect hasn’t been read his Miranda rights or allowed to see an attorney. I’m fine with that — just don’t claim it is related to the enemy combatant doctrine. If he isn’t Mirandized, then we have a due process method to deal with that. It’s the exclusionary rule. Whatever he says before he is allowed an attorney is inadmissible. The end. It’s a strategic call for the prosecution. If they have enough evidence to convict him without a confession (and this is almost certainly true) then there is no reason to Mirandize him. Finish the questioning you need to do to determine if there is a wider conspiracy (and there likely is) and then hand him over to the lawyers. There is no reason to dirty this up with enemy combatant bullshit to do that. Just follow the damned rules.
Is that really so hard? Why is it that “follow the damned rules” seems to be the one thing no one in government can manage anymore?