Ron Paul isn't a fan of the "surveillance state."T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images
Criticizing the Boston Police Department, which has been hailed for capturing Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, isn't exactly a PC move. Here, however, is former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) on libertarian Lew Rockwell's site:
These were not the scenes from a military coup in a far off banana republic, but rather the scenes just over a week ago in Boston as the United States got a taste of martial law. The ostensible reason for the military-style takeover of parts of Boston was that the accused perpetrator of a horrific crime was on the loose. The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city. This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself. [LewRockwell.com]
He goes on to criticize our modern "surveillance state," and argues that "we have been conditioned to believe that the job of the government is to keep us safe, but in reality the job of the government is to protect our liberties."
While Paul appears to be alone in equating the reaction to the bombings with the bombings themselves, plenty of commentators from across the political spectrum have voiced objections to how law enforcement shut down the city of Boston. Comedian Bill Maher warned of a creeping "police state" on his show a few days ago, according to Politico.
And others have said the government is prone to overreaction any time terrorism is involved. "Whenever the word 'terrorist' is mentioned in this country, reason tends to go out the window, and many other things go with it, too, such as intellectual consistency, a respect for civil liberties, and a sense of proportion," wrote John Cassidy a couple of weeks ago at The New Yorker.
Ross Douthat at The New York Times argues that such reactions could set a worrisome precedent if terrorist attacks become more common:
Because the Marathon bombing was such an unusual event, the city of Boston could muster a sweeping, almost crazy-seeming response without worrying that it would find itself having to do exactly the same thing six months later. But if such attacks started happening more frequently, as they obviously very well could, then last Friday’s precedent would put public officials across the country in an extremely uncomfortable bind: Repeatedly reproducing the lockdown might seem like a non-starter, yet not matching what Boston did would open you up to all kinds of scapegoating if, say, an on-the-loose bomber struck again. [The New York Times]
Last week, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) defended the city's response, telling The Boston Globe, "I think we did what we should have done and were supposed to do with the always-imperfect information that you have at the time."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- California's epic drought
- How to be the star of a cocktail party where you don't know anyone
Subscribe to the Week