About the latest obscenity

The term “breaking news” isn’t supposed to apply to weekly newspapers. Until it does.

Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing strikes me as similar to the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta during the Olympic Games.

I remember seeing that live. I was watching the Olympics (far too late at night) because my wife was in Atlanta as a volunteer. (She spoke Spanish and, in one instance, Portuguese. All I can do in Spanish is order beer.) She walked through Centennial Olympic Park to and from the Omni for indoor volleyball. In the pre-cellphone days, I woke up everyone in the house she was staying in, 90 minutes from Atlanta, to make sure she was all right.

And, of course, any time you hear about mass casualties, 9/11 comes to mind.

Facebook Friend Steve Spingola passed on some insight about how police are investigating the bombing:

Could they find fingerprints? It is possible; however, when constructing the devices the perpetrators probably used latex gloves. Moreover, had they not worn gloves (doubtful), fingerprints are simply perspiration deposited on a surface. The heat and the blast itself might have altered touched surfaces.

A better investigative tool is DNA. The only sure fire way to destroy DNA evidence is fire, which, it appears, likely occurred during the blast. Forensic investigators might be able to find on some DNA remnants, though, because only microscopic particles are needed to test.

I believe the key here is public and private security video. These bags were strategically placed. The event was probably swept by bomb sniffing dogs prior to the start of the marathon. This leads me to believe the devices were placed after the police had cleared the area. Unfortunately, video can be defeated when a person’s face is concealed by a hoodie and sunglasses. Technology, which might be online now, that is a part of the FBI’s $1.2 billion Next Generation Identification system, does make use of 3D partial facial recognition construction. This is done using biometrics (measurements of noses, ears, eyes, and faces) with data obtained from our new driver’s licenses and existing booking photos. If you’re interested in learning more about high-tech detection, checkout Wisconsin privacy researcher Miles Kinard’s e-magazine expose, “American Stasi: Fusion Centers and Domestic Spying” (you can find it at Amazon.com).

As you may or may not know, I am a person who believes the billions of dollars the government has spent on surveillance initiatives has done little to actually prevent terrorist attacks. High-tech initiatives failed to detect the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, and the Times Square bomber. A vendor actually tipped-off the NYPD about the SUV in Times Square. The underwear bomber was on the no-fly list, but his name was off by one letter and the software failed to flag him.

Surveillance may or may not assist law enforcement after the fact, but, I believe, it does little to deter suspects who might be willing to die to carry out a plot. The best methods to suppress terrorism are similar to the best practices to suppress criminal activity–proactive, boots to the ground police work and after the fact investigation, coupled with tough penalties to deter those contemplating future attacks.

Tim Nerenz adds on Facebook:

One of the most disturbing things to me about the Boston Marathon bombing will be that many people will actually be happy about who did it. They will celebrate because it will fit their biased political narrative and advance their own power-trip agenda. It doesn’t make any difference to me if the freak was a jihadist, white separatist, PETA, anti-abortion, occupier, communist, mental patient, or just some bored worthless slug. The evil ideology that unites all of these acts of sensational mass violence is the idea that the ends (you pick ’em) justify the means. Nothing ever justifies the intentional taking of innocent lives – nothing.”

(I got to witness the result of the “intentional taking of human lives” yesterday. And as people in West, Texas, probably knew before yesterday, the unintentional taking of human lives is as tragic to those affected.)

The point seems banal in the wake of suffering,  but it requires repeating: If you live your life in constant fear over what might happen, you lose. (Note I did not use the cliché “The terrorists have won.”) I maintain, as Spingola may agree,  that we have sacrificed too much to try to prevent another 9/11-style attack, when preventing terrorism is a moving target. Monday didn’t involve airplanes; it involved pressure cookers and shrapnel. And many of our elected officials appear perfectly happy in shredding our constitutional rights to prevent (or so they think) the next school shooting.

As powerful as elected officials think they are, they can only punish, not prevent, evil.

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