“Approximately 30 seconds before the first explosion, he lifted his phone to his ear as if he was speaking on his cell phone, and kept it there for approximately 18 seconds. A few seconds after he finished the call, the large crowd of people around were seen reacting to the first explosion. Virtually every head turned to the east (towards the finish line) and stayed in that direction in apparent bewilderment and alarm. Bomber Two, virtually alone among the individuals in front of the restaurant, appeared calm. He glanced to the east and then calmly but rapidly began moving to the west, away from the direction of the finish line. He walked away without his knapsack, having left it on the ground where he had been standing. Approximately 10 seconds later, an explosion occurs in the location where Bomber Two had placed his knapsack.”
So reads paragraph 14 of FBI Special Agent Daniel R. Genck’s affidavit in support of the government’s two-count criminal complaint against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of two Chechnyan brothers responsible for bombing the Boston Marathon, and the only one still alive to face charges. The White House announced Monday that Tsarnaev will be tried in civilian court on two counts: use of a weapon of mass destruction, and malicious destruction of property resulting in death. A few observations are in order.
First, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tsarnaev cannot be tried in a military commission. Under the Military Commissions Act, Tsarnaev can be detained, designated an enemy combatant, and then face charges in an Article III court based on information gleaned from that detainment. The same administration that claims the authority to kill Americans via drone strike treats Tsarnaev, a demonstrated terrorist, as nothing more than a common criminal.
Second, reading the full text of the government’s complaint, it’s apparent why Tsarnaev should be detained in Gitmo as an enemy combatant. The complaint speaks of the impact of the marathon bombing on interstate commerce, but this explanation misses the mark: it’s about terrorism. The administration’s response ensures we will know less about Tsarnaev when the terrorist lawyers-up.
To get to the bottom of what happened here, and determine why the Boston Police, FBI, CIA, DHS, NSA and DIA failed to stop this, the government will have to explore areas far beyond the competency and security clearance of a 12-person lay jury. This is especially the case if it is discovered that the Brothers Tsarnaev had international assistance. Already a radical imam in Australia has been identified as a source of inspiration for older brother Tamerlan.
Third, this attack suggests that the ongoing tension between “profiling” and political correctness must be recalibrated with a new openness to limited and targeted surveillance. It is inexplicable that our federal government does not or cannot, as the NYPD terrorist squad does, make a concerted effort to closely follow young, Islamic males who gravitate towards radicalism.
Beyond the brother bombers, it’s not as if the terrorist profile is unknown. The deadliest terrorist attacks on United States assets and personnel over the past two decades have been the work of radicalized Muslim men between the ages of 18 and 40. The same is true of the 7/7 terrorists who attacked London. And United Flight 175, which was flown into the World Trade Center’s South Tower on 9/11 by five radicalized Muslim males, originated at Boston’s Logan Airport. Fear of profiling must find accommodation with a proactive watchfulness of a specific population targeting our nation.
Fourth, we must recognize that the wars overseas may have reduced the ability or willingness of Al Qaeda and the Taliban to launch attacks against Americans in America. Indeed, the Taliban disclaimed responsibility for the marathon bombings. The result may be more lone actors or coordinated attacks at home. The solution cannot just be domestic drone strikes, but better border and immigration enforcement, targeted surveillance, and increased emphasis on community intelligence gathering.
Fifth, and most critically, America may invite more attacks if Leftist media outlets and academic institutions continue to disparage America as “Islamophobic” and provide talking points and motivation for terrorists. Surviving bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators that his older brother believed Islam was under attack, and it was his duty to fight back. In time we may learn the basis of this mistaken belief, but the Left’s continual smearing of American identity, coupled with its anti-assimilation focus on group identity and victimhood, poses grave threats for the integration of the next Tsarnaev brothers.
It is said America learned the lessons of 9/11 and responded accordingly. Whether America will learn the lessons of 4/15/13 and begin to combat home-grown Islamic terror remains to be seen.