I will start out by admitting feeling presumptuous to write about the events in Boston last week, not being from Boston and not having experienced the events myself. Those in the midst of the terror have a far better understanding — and more right to comment on the events than me.
My son in-law’s brother, for instance, would not be presumptuous to write about the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath. He is a native Bostonian. He and his wife and daughter were celebrating Patriot’s Day and the marathon downtown and were forced to walk home after the bombing because public transportation shut down.
A few days later he took a picture of a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team just outside his front door in Watertown, Mass., less than a mile from the boat — and on the same day — where the youngest of the two accused terrorist brothers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, took refuge before he was captured.
But allow me my presumptuousness and allow me to write that with my non-Bostonian mindset and my limited exposure to the events through the media that I think the local, state and federal governments and law enforcement personnel did a great job with the case of the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath.
The proof is in the pudding. Except for the tragic killing of MIT police officer Sean Collier, a crime that appears to have been perpetrated by the Tsarnaev brothers, no one else was killed (although some are still struggling in the hospital and we all hope for their full recovery) after the marathon bombing itself on April 15. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a gun and improvised explosive device battle with police. Less than 24 hours later, Dzhokhar himself was captured.
Government officials decided rightly to shut down public transportation and lock down most of the Boston metro area after the gun battle to protect citizens and allow law enforcement the best chance to capture Dzhokhar. And then when police did not capture him in the cordoned-off areas in which they expected to find him, government officials lifted the lockdown or so-called "shelter in place request" of citizens and allowed businesses to reopen and public transportation to run again.
So again presumptuously, and given the circumstances of the horrendous acts allegedly perpetrated by the Tsarnaev brothers, and notwithstanding the tragedy of those innocent citizens and police officers injured and killed, most everything regarding this tragedy went about as well as one could reasonably expect. Yet I can’t shake this nagging sense that our liberty has been further eroded by this bombing.
Osama Bin Laden was quoted in 2004 saying, "We are continuing this policy of bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. All that we have to do is to send two fighters to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations."
While there has been no report of a Tsarnaev brothers connection to al-Qaeda, their alleged bombing of the Boston Marathon has furthered al-Qaeda’s plan to bankrupt our nation. And the enhanced security that is sure to come from this most recent terrorist attack will continue the hemorrhaging.
We say, "We cannot allow terrorists to change our lives or they have won." Yet a 19-year-old punk shut down the Boston metro area, the 12th largest economy in the world, forcing the majority of residents to "shelter in place," closed one of the nation’s largest public transportation networks, and effectively caused the loss (according to U.S. Department of Commerce figures of Boston’s GDP) of a billion dollars of commerce. Add to that the millions of dollars spent to take these knuckleheads down.
Change our lives? Between massive costs, constant surveillance (yes such surveillance identified the Tsarnaev brothers, but at what ultimate cost?), consistent fear (SWAT teams poised at your front door?), constrictive assaults to our liberty (shelter in place?), and privacy invasions (intrusive airport pat downs and scans), the terrorists have so massively altered our lives and bled us dry since 2001 that we can’t even remember what our better lives were like before then.
In the cradle of our liberty — Boston — lives were changed for some, maybe most in one way or another, irreparably last week. With apologies for my presumptuousness, I must ask then, "Are the terrorists winning?"
Barry Fetzer is a columnist for the Havelock News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.