A Difficult Week

I have managed to be flu-stricken for the past few days, as Boston, Massachusetts, and our Country endured a heinous act of terror. The despicable actions, and the truly heartbreaking personal losses, unify us in a bond that is unbreakable by terrorists, be they individuals, religious fanatics, or agents of a foreign organization. The press coverage has been thorough, and while certainly not perfect I think it is reflective of society wanting answers in minutes, and not hours.

Some observations:

The public safety response has been terrific in every sense. There will always be second guessing, but I think the coordinated response of local, state, and federal law enforcement has to get an A+. Most of the press will center on the Federal and State figures, and they deserve, in my opinion, top marks. But a special shout out to Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau, who runs a relatively small police department, but came through as a true professional working in a Department undersized by manpower standards, but every bit as big in heart and effort as their federal, state, and Boston partners.

The FBI Agent in Charge in Boston, Richard DesLauriers, brought to me a sense of real confidence that this act of terrorism would be solved. It is a unique ability to instill confidence by demeanor, but DesLauriers certainly strikes me as someone who is a no nonsense professional. Top marks to the FBI for their cooperative methodology in working with Boston Commissioner Ed Davis, and the State Police and Colonel Tim Alben, as well as the Watertown P.D.

The size of the police contingent on patrol in Watertown was very small (four patrolman, one supervisor)on the night of the firefight. It is similar to so many cities in Massachusetts, where police manpower has been cut to adjust to new budgetary realities. It is not just a firefight with terrorists that can show manpower to be short on occasion, but everyday occurrences in cities the size of Watertown.

Being a police officer, regardless of jurisdiction, is still a dangerous profession. Richard Donohue, a Boston Transit Officer, is recovering from major injuries inflicted by gunfire, and Officer Sean Collier died at the hands of a terrorist ambush. Our hearts and prayers go out to their families, whose lives will never be the same.

There should be more correspondents like NBC’s Pete Williams, who gives the story he has, with no nonsense or hyperbole. A throwback correspondent in that he doesn’t bring “flair”, but just good reporting. That is contrasted with the media dead enders, who cannot help but to use a tragedy to put forth a political agenda, and actually try to sow discord at a time when unity should be the goal.

I was struck, as someone who looks through Facebook postings, at the extreme bitterness of some. There is indeed a big political divide in the country, and no tragedy will bridge political differences. But there will be plenty of time to criticize President Obama, or Governor Patrick, or others. I am amazed, and saddened, by political attacks designed to stoke division and hatred, be they from left or right, at a time when our nation is under attack. There will be some difficult questions asked, and they should be asked. But using this tragedy for political purposes strikes me as immature and self indulgent.

There has been much arguing over the “rights” of the captured accused. The arguing goes to show that some are not interested in facts, but rather prefer to use the issue to score some political points. U.S. law allows an “exception” based on public safety/national security, to the “Miranda” rule. Authorities are now utilizing that exception to question the suspect in order to secure information that may be immediately beneficial to the safety of the public, or the national security interests of the United States. The exception is narrowly drawn, and extremely finite in time. This exception will end soon, and the suspect will be tried in a civilian court according to U.S. law. The exception, in my opinion, is narrow enough to afford a potential defendant his constitutional rights, while allowing public safety personnel the ability, within the law, to protect the public. U.S. law does not allow a U.S. citizen to be held as an “enemy combatant”, or tried outside of the civilian court system, so the argument that the Obama Administration ought to proceed along those lines is simply uninformed.

This is a federal case, and unless there is some vital intel that can be traded, it should be a death penalty case. I realize that Massachusetts is a non-death penalty state, and some deference may be given to that. But this case extends beyond Massachusetts, with a sure message that actions of this type will be dealt with surely and swiftly. I have never been a death penalty advocate, but this case certainly is one where that penalty is not only appropriate, but in my opinion, necessary.

Boston is our city, and a community that takes great pride in itself, and in its most important commodity, its people. The bombing was a terrible tragedy, pointed at one of the days that Boston celebrates itself, an attempted knockout blow. But the people of Boston are simply too strong to be stopped, too resolute to lose faith, and they have a collective jaw of iron. Terror struck a horrible blow, but Boston will recover, prosper, and become stronger in the months and years to come.

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