Monday, April 22, 2013

Iron fist of the US state comes down hard in Boston

The reaction to the Boston marathon attack reveals a dangerous degeneration at the very heart of the US state, from president Barack Obama downwards. In truth, if you want to know what martial law looks like in the 21st century, what happened in Boston says it all.

Immediately after the explosions, a gross state attack on rights and civil liberties began in the same city where the citizens took up a revolutionary struggle against British colonial rule in the late 18th century in the famous "Tea Party" revolt. 

Heavy armoured vehicles, soldiers, the FBI, local and state police turned the city into an armed fortress in the hunt for just two men. This was a blatant attempt by a nervous state machine to intimidate a whole city.

After some wavering, Obama pronounced the Boston marathon bombings as a “terror attack”. But the truth is, it is still not clear if the Chechen-American brothers involved were actually part of any wider network. The elder brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev was politically motivated, but any connections with al-Qaeda have yet to be shown.

Whatever the case, the reaction by the American state and its agencies demonstrates its abject failure to protect its citizens on almost every front. The reaction to the bombings showed disarray within the security forces combined with massive infringements of the rights of Bostonians. The facts include:

  • The FBI received warnings from Russian intelligence about the brothers and interviewed the family in 2011. Nothing followed. This “security lapse” appears serious enough to fuel rumours that the FBI or the CIA may have been using one of the brothers as a double agent.
  • An “unbelievable over-reaction” in the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, leading to a state of siege being imposed by the Boston police. One million people were ordered to stay home and lock their doors, even after the police knew that Dzhokhar was a 19-year-old on the run. The Boston public transport and Amtrak rail services to New York were closed down.
  • Despite the huge deployment of every SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team and paramilitary vehicle from surrounding New England states descending on Boston, it was a home owner who found the second bomber. “There was no cause and effect relationship between the state show of power and the apprehension of the suspect,” rights campaigner Tom Mullen, writing in the Washington Times has noted.
  • The refusal to read the remaining suspect his legal rights (known in the US as Miranda) on grounds that he represents a “public danger” – even though he is critically ill and handcuffed to his hospital bed is being widely criticised by the American Civil Liberties Union, Slate website and many others rights organisations. As they point out, the “public danger” exception from the right to the fifth amendment (to keep silent) does not remotely apply to this situation.
  • Adding to the crimes and misdemeanours of the state were the actions of some amateur detectives on social media sites like Reddit and 4chan which led to some media accusing perfectly innocent bystanders.
Mullen asks: “How did we get here? 238 years to the day, the inhabitants of the very same city started a war and seceded from their union over a mere infantry brigade attempting to disarm them. Now they cheer those who violate their rights much worse than the British ever did.” 

Well, events in Boston deepen a process under way for some time. The American revolution of 1776 has come full circle. Representative democracy invented by the Founding Fathers has given way to a corporatocracy, where economic and financial power have fused with politics. This realignment is, naturally, enforced by vicious state power at home and abroad. Time to renew the American Revolution.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary

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