The Siege of Watertown — A Sign Of Things To Come?

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Black uniforms.  Automatic weapons.  Armored vehicles. Attack dogs.  Forced entry into scores of homes.  A town under martial law, complete with the  black helicopters. Except this is not a B-movie about some far off dystopia.  This is 2013, Watertown, Massachusetts, USA.  With a press, which is by and large at peace with this manhunt run amok.

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The press acting as cheerleader for the state’s excesses is just as disturbing as a pressure cooker full of explosives, for such a press has historically abetted and enabled far worse.  At least in the B-movie Chuck Norris shows up and saves the day; we got Gov. Deval Patrick droning on solemnly, for dramatic effect.

One of the two self-proclaimed Jihadists who set off the bombs was already dead; the result of a botched attempt at a car jacking which ended in his being run over by his own brother and accomplice.  The other was in hiding — the reason for the manhunt; an effort prolonged by these tactics. Martial law, or its 21st century euphemism, “shelter in place” — a brilliant Orwellianism — turned out to be counterproductive.  An alert and free citizenry is more effective in finding a fugitive than a militarized police force trampling on the Fourth Amendment in the name of public safety.  Once martial law was lifted the suspect was found in short order.

Terrorism is a form of asymmetric warfare.  Our problem is this nation’s response to the terrorism. We as a nation suffered a far greater number of terrorist incidents in the ‘60s and ‘70s from the likes of the Weathermen , FALN and the SLA than we have in the decade after 9/11. In response to that tragedy, this nation has passed the Patriot Act some twelve years ago.  Many papers called the law an attack on our civil liberties at the time.  Today Salon is frantically telling us that the forced entry into scores of homes by police armed to the teeth is in no way illegal.  The NYT and ACLU are silent in this regard. The Fourth Amendment has been abandoned …

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized


The Fourth Amendment was about the very sort of abuse of power that happened in Watertown.  The response to this spasm of police overreach was a collective yawn from the rest of the country.  Finding suspect number 2 did not require breaking in doors. It did not require house-to-house searches.  It did not require “shelter in place.” It required the populace being alerted, thereby noticing something amiss, and tipping off law enforcement.  The police can do their job without resorting to the tactics we observed in Watertown.

Whereas Americans reacted nobly, with courage, helping the injured on the day of the attack at the Boston Marathon, Gov. Deval Patrick’s reaction was fear. The result was the house to house invasion of Watertown complete with armored cars and machine guns. 

WatertownPoliceAll this for one man?

Reason Magazine is calling the response in Watertown the beginning of a new normal. This new normal reminds one of a scene from “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis. The implication is that we are, as a society, being willingly lead towards a police state. Even the ACLU, typically no friend of the police, appears to be complacent:

“Courts look at it differently when there’s a threat of public safety than if the police just want to search,” the ACLU’s Rose pointed out. 

We are becoming numb.  We are numb to the computer and cell phone surveillance, the intrusive searches at the airports, the cameras at stoplights and on street corners. The casual giving away of our privacy to the likes of Google and Facebook only anesthetizes us further.  We are trained by GM and Apple to believe that the tracking of our movements by using our phones and automobiles will make us safer. Having our movements tracked does not alarm us — big brother knows where we are. What is next?  Orwell’s cult of personality is already in vogue in our politics. PC speech codes a.k.a. “thought speak” is rampant on college campuses. The trajectory we are on should be cause for great alarm.


13 thoughts on “The Siege of Watertown — A Sign Of Things To Come?

  1. The pattern is clear by this point: some ‘terrorist’ commits some act of violence affecting a few innocent people, and the government then steps in and commits acts of violence against a great many innocent people.

    I can’t be the only one uncomfortable with these conditioning exercises, the propaganda that accompanies them, and the final object evinced by the train of usurpations steadily eliminating any remaining liberties we once had.

  2. Yes, this is terrific. I hope that it’s widely circulated. We cannot give up our Liberty for a false sense of security.

  3. Yes, the patterns are becoming clear….the Boston Police did their damnest to capture the terrorists and they received flowers at their feet in the form of cheers from the neighborhoods for the outstanding job that they did…………and the drumbeats from the NRA and their neo-jihadist followers are beciming increasingly clear as they consider ‘invading’ washington armed with shoulder-rifles……oh, what a sick nation we are becoming……..

    1. The Boston military police did an absolutely horrible job at it. They terrorized an entire American city as if they were an occupying army that had just conquered it, and it didn’t result in them catching the suspect.

      It was only AFTER the Nazi lockdown had expired that a civilian – no longer confined to his home like a prisoner – found the suspect (took 15 minutes). The militarized response had the opposite effect of the declared intent, it made it take longer to find who they were looking for.

  4. I am still shocked that the entire city of Boston was shut down over this. So many business suffered and millions were inconvenienced, and worse. Surely there had to be a better way to handle the problem.

    1. cant you admit they did a damned good job addressing the problem? the watertown police, 60 strong, didnt know if they were dealing with high powered weapons – they were – and just what the hell should they have been wearing? bathing attire? and yes, helicopters, smoke……..they did an unbelievable job under the circumstances……….and deserve our praise asnd honor……….not some snippet from afar who both have no idea as to how to address the problems and simply want to stick the northeast democrat police with a needle!!!

  5. “invading Washington” another interesting inversion of reality Ken

    We have the reality of @ million people in Boston area being in lockdown and subjected to warrantless house to house searches while you raise the bogeyman of the NRA organizing an armed assault on Washington. No wonder the Dems and Hollywood are so tied at the hip you really can’t differentiate between fantasy and reality.

    Just as staying in a state of war overseas is not sustainable neither is staying in a state of war at home sustainable. Some of us who actually had expertise and knowledge of Terrorism before 9/11 warned that the Department of Homeland Security and the mentality and ECONOMICS that came along with it would prove to be more a threat to our safety and liberty than the Terrorists whom we faced. And we were right, because don’t blame the old 3 letter agencies for Boston, because when the timeline and facts are established DHS will be stamped all over this failure.

  6. Doug, if you had even the slightest idea of what you are talking about pre-911, why didnt you communicate with Bush and Cheney?

  7. Ken,

    1996 Conservative Review article by the guy I worked for on the Hill predicted Islamic terrorists would use airliners as weapons and fly them into DC targets like the Capitol and the WH, etc.,, too bad the guy in the White House was too busy having coffee, cigars and bombing Serbs to read the article, but then again maybe he did, but the copy and notes ended up in Sandy Berger’s socks?

  8. Damned fine addition to the Virtucon. Thank you for one of the best written pieces ever to appear here (and I’m not cutting into the impressive and astonishing Mr. Riley’s accomplishments in the least. )

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