Friday, July 19, 2013

Juror B37 and the Acquittal of George Zimmerman

As the bitter disappointment and initial anger subside after an all-female jury’s verdict in George Zimmerman’s trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin, provocative questions linger about their Not Guilty judgment.  It is, of course, appropriate to question not only whether the State Attorney’s Office, far more accustomed to convicting young black men rather than defending their rights, put their best effort forward in a case that was always going to be circumstantial but whether the entire judicial process failed to provide justice to the Martin family. 

Early on, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson handed the prosecution a critical blow when she ruled that ‘racial profiling’  could not be mentioned during the trial, limiting the State Attorney to only ‘profiling’ despite Zimmerman’s racially charged statements to the 911 operator.

Given juror B37’s unexpected timing and desire for public exposure with a lengthy public interviews with CNN’s Anderson Cooper as well as the refutation of her statements by four other jurors, it is also proper to consider her role in shaping the ultimate not guilty verdict.  Originally expressing surprise at the national demonstrations of outrage protesting the unfairness of the verdict and public cynicism at the failure of the judicial system, B37 stepped forward to make a multitude of stunning admissions. With considerable public attention focused on her, juror B37 announced a deal with a literary agent contacted on a Sunday afternoon to write a memoir with her attorney-husband about the trial.   Then, just as quickly, announced the next day that she would not be pursuing a literary career, perhaps with the forewarning that some of her juror peers were coming forward to dispute, in general terms, her version of events.   
One of six jurors, there is a reasonable question as to how the prosecution passed on B37 to allow her to be seated when most professional jury  selection consultants would have quickly raised red flags  not just regarding  her enigmatic responses but also displaying a less than open and inquiring mind.   See voir dire video here.  For instance, it could be argued that a distinct political bias existed as B37 repeated three times during voir dire that Sanford experienced ‘rioting’ which never occurred.   In a considerable stretch of credulity, she stated that she never, not once, not to her attorney husband or her two adult daughters (one of whom lives at home) expressed any opinion or discussed any of the events that were occurring in the community at the time and that no family member ever expressed an opinion to her.   Based on B37’s recent CNN interview, her earlier  commitment to both defense attorney Mark O’Mara and assistant state attorney Bernie de la Rionda during voir dire that she had not formed an opinion in the case, had not been influenced or had any predisposition either way is now in serious doubt. 
 If, in fact, B37 was as uninformed as she claimed, where did she get the idea that rioting had occurred? 
 While she  was encouraging the prosecution and defense to believe that she was a totally disinterested  citizen  who would be an unbiased juror and stressed her availability to be sequestered, we now know  that  B37 emerged during her Cooper interviews  speaking authoritatively about the legal implications of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and was considerably more opinionated than she had been during voir dire; thus, now unencumbered by the need for neutrality to parrot virtually every “theory of defense’ element used by Zimmerman’s attorneys.   
We don’t yet know exactly what it was in her statements that prompted four other jurors to publicly distance themselves from B37’s media grab but it has raised questions as to her leadership during  jury deliberations including her new-found assertiveness, a marked departure from her more reserved yet prickly style during voir dire.   Still unknown is which juror served as  “foreman’ but if it was B37, that would account for her assuming a public platform as if spokesperson for the entire jury as well as having  encouraged  her to assume an influential role during deliberation.   
More explicit detail on B37’s assertion that the jury spent ‘hours deliberating over the law’  including her follow up “that’s how we got to the point of everybody being not guilty” is a crucial statement and might  shed light on how and why three jurors originally in favor of a guilty verdict turned around to acquit Zimmerman.   Unless one of the other jurors has an attack of conscience to clear the public record, we may never know  whether B37 was a ringer right out of John Grisham’s  Runaway Jury  or simply a bored housewife desirous of writing a best seller or whether her attorney co-author husband might have influenced her  participation and the final verdict in any way.   
Confused Jury instructions have been cited as leading the jurors to acquit Zimmerman as another of Judge Nelson ‘s rulings from the bench benefitted the defense when she withdrew the ‘first aggressor’ instruction which could have allowed the jury to find Zimmerman the ‘initial aggressor’; thereby denying his claim of self-defense.

Monday, July 1, 2013

NSA Revelations Refute Obama interview

While much of the country’s media was tracking whistleblower Edward Snowden’s whereabouts or questioning Glenn Greenwald’s journalistic credentials, President Obama took the opportunity to support NSA’s massive surveillance programs in a recent interview with Charlie Rose.

Ever cool and personable, even as his approval ratings continued to slide, the president’s enviable ability to remain unruffled in defense of  the government’s highly controversial surveillance policy deflects a deeper understanding of what makes the inner man tick.   As the conversation moved from the shambles of war in the mideast and onto NSA’s role, the President maintained his usual upbeat and optimistic demeanor uttering predictable responses; yet following a one-dimensional script disconnected from the magnitude of the country’s disapproval.  
As the Obama Administration has favored a big stick approach instead of diplomacy in its demands for the return of Snowden, with Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in screed-mode displaying little political finesse.  Kerry hilariously called on other countries to ‘uphold the rule of law’ and predicted that ‘people may die” while the insipid Schumer was threatening Russia with ‘serious consequences’all that came before the revelation that NSA had been collecting data on  many of our European allies since 2010.
Russian President Valdimir Putin brushed off the US snit-fit as “ravings and rubbish” as the President joined  Rose just prior to attending the G8 meeting in Ireland where he was attacked in the Irish Parliament as a ‘war criminal’ and the target of protest demonstrations in Berlin and South Africa. 
President Obama responded to the allegation of Chinese cyber hacking US private and public sectors assuring Charlie that “we had a very blunt conversation about cyber security” suggesting that he administered a stern dressing-down to President Xi Jinping with “this can adversely affect the fundamentals of US/China relationship” at their meeting in early June in California.

What is key here is that the conversation with President Xi was prior to the Snowden disclosure that the US had hacked Tsinghua University, Pacnet, Asia’s largest independent tele communications service and the City of Hong Kong.  One can only imagine President Xi’s chagrin upon belatedly discovering that after having been chastised by Obama, that the US President was fully aware that the US had been doing exactly what China was being accused of.  Here was an opportunity for Charlie to clarify how the foregoing endangers ‘national security’ or  determine whether the real crime is more like intense political embarrassment.

As the interview moved to the 1.7 billion electronic messages intercepted each day, the President skillfully described how innocuous, how matter-of-fact  NSA surveillance was as he offered the “unequivocal ” assurance that  NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls or read your email without a ‘probable cause’ warrant from the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Security Act) Court.  Unfortunately for the President, the entire world now knows that the President’s assertion does not jibe with top secret rules signed by Attorney General Holder in 2009 (and revealed by Edward Snowden) which details the procedure for data collection of US and non-US persons.

Charlie missed the scoop of his life when he failed to ask the President if he supported the omnipotent  ability of General Keith Alexander, NSA Director to intercept all communications of every Member of Congress, every Fortune 500 CEO and members of the Cabinet including The Big Man on Campus himself. 

With earnestness, the President offered repeated assurances that sufficient oversight and safeguards were in place describing the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Security Act) court as ‘transparent’ with ‘independent federal judges overseeing the entire program’ adding that ‘you’ve got Congress overseeing the program.  Not just the intelligence committee, not just the judiciary committee but all of Congress.”   

But that’s not exactly how it works, Mr. President -  only select members of Congress (without staff) are allowed to visit the inner sanctum where uber-classified documents are secreted.   They are prohibited from taking any notes and depart without any copies of documents to review.

Assurances of  legislative oversight are at odds with Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden, among other Members of Congress,  who have been requesting documentation and complaining about NSA’s  stonewall citing “significant inaccuracies” regarding safeguards for American citizens.   Most recently, 26 Senators have written  James Clapper, National Intelligence Director to protest a secret reinterpretation of the Patriot Act (thus creating a new secret law) and its application to NSA data collection described by Sen. Wyden as raising "serious civil liberty concerns and all but removes the public from an informed national security and civil liberty debate.”

The FISA Court was established in 1979 to oversee requests for surveillance warrants with eleven judges appointed by the Chief Justice with one to be on-call 24-7 for emergencies.  The court meets in secret, all proceedings are ex parte and evidence is presented only by the Department of Justice with no opportunity for the hearings or information collected to be public.    Since its formation, the court has denied eleven surveillance warrants out of over 33,000 warrant requests – far from the kind of ‘checks and balance’ that the President has assured.

Mention of the Court prompted Charlie to inquire whether ‘any of those (warrants) have been turned down?”  The President appeared not to hear the question and steered the conversation elsewhere, no doubt confident there would be no follow-up.   Undeterred, Charlie gave it another go when he asked ‘but has the FISA court turned down any requests?”  The President responded amiably, ‘first of all Charlie, the number of requests are surprisingly small’ but failed to elaborate.

With no discussion about how NSA surveillance has impeded the war on terror, the President was asked what’s going to change, was he going to give James Clapper any instructions?  The President announced that the intelligence community is now reviewing whether any unspecified declassifications would be appropriate - raising the question of how such declassification might impact the government’s case against Edward Snowden.

The President told Charlie he would meet with his Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board  which he described as made up of ‘independent citizens, including some fierce civil libertarians’ with the goal of setting up the structure for a “national conversation” on the broader question of surveillance.

Boasting that the NSA is “bigger and better than everybody else and we should take pride in that,”  the reality is that the President’s promises are feeble attempts to dissemble his way out of what may be the most severe, on-going crisis of his Presidency – the one that will taint his legacy into future generations.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

With TPP's Fast Track Authority, Who Needs Congress?

Despite the Obama Administration’s well-known penchant for secrecy, enough information has leaked out of its closed-door negotiations on the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to reveal there is much to oppose about the Mother of all Trade Agreements.  
Rarely mentioned in trade discussions is the inevitable connection between establishing a global corporate-financial apparatus within the military-economic objectives of American foreign policy.  After all, what country would dare reject American demands for ‘trade’ in the face of the most domineering military presence since the Roman Empire.   

According to “The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Authority” by Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach, only five TPP chapters out of 29 are strictly devoted to ‘trade’ with the remainder focused on a broad array of public policy issues.  How would the American public respond if they knew that TPP’s agreed-upon authority will take absolute precedence over all relevant US Federal and state law representing a grave threat to our democratic federal republic.

As the TPP slides under the radar to Congressional approval, one of the more egregious elements of the Agreement is the not-so-innocuous-sounding Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).  Also known as ‘fast track’ authority, the TPA is receiving little attention given TPP’s gargantuan nature with more widespread tentacles than any previous agreement that reaches far beyond  a basic trade agreement. Since the President considers ‘fast track’ essential to assure passage of what would otherwise be highly controversial if the American public were informed, the TPA will apply to not just a seriously-flawed TPP but to all future trade agreements, with a separate Congressional vote on the TPA  expected in June. 
After two years of clandestine discussions with a dozen, mostly Pacific Rim, countries, revelations have identified TPP’s  extraordinary attack on the sovereignty of established US law subject to an international tribunal as the Agreement takes a giant leap to generate a massive economic integration steamrolling toward a fully corporatized global economy.   

Never meant to be a vehicle for economic equality or noble ideals, here are two brief examples of how 600 participating corporations expect to amass unprecedented power to own the world:  the TPP would give companies the right to circumvent the judicial process as it challenges Federal and state regulations and ‘investor states” would allow corporations to sue a host government with a panel of private attorneys to act as judges.   

As proposed, the TPA would eliminate Congress’ Constitutional responsibility as defined in Article I, Section 8  to ‘regulate commerce with foreign nations.”  There is nothing ambiguous about Constitutional intent in 1789 – having just concluded a revolutionary war against an imperial autocrat with trade disputes a central issue, separation of powers and  ‘checks and balance’ were a clear decision by the country’s Founders to prevent a strong Executive from usurping power from the legislative branch – and that included foreign trade.   

What’s at issue is not just the TPA being used by a determined Executive to seize Congressional authority, much as the War Powers Act has been appropriated, but as a guise to push an objectionable trade agreement without the American public understanding how trans-national corporations are destabilizing the democratic principles of self-government.

Keeping in mind the magnitude of the issues encompassed by TPP (many details are still secret), here’s how ‘fast track’ would subvert Constitutional intent,  Congressional protocol and the public’s right to know:   there would be no public hearing, no witness testimony or debate by any Congressional committee, no ‘mark up’ of the TPP,  no amendments and no vote for adoption.  Instead, the TPP would go directly to the House/Senate floor for action within a prescribed timetable during which there would be no floor debate and no amendments with only one up-or-down vote – with the Senate probably not requiring the usual 60 vote majority.   In other words, if and when Congress approves the TPA, it will have willfully acquiesced its own legal authority and its legislative prerogative as well as its proper oversight role on Executive decision-making - as if intent to further destroy its already-dismal credibility.  

Since the Administration has refused to provide a draft for Congressional review,  and  no member of Congress has so far been allowed to attended the hush-hush negotiations, there will be no Congressional input into the TPP content with no assurance that the Agreement will reflect the needs of the American people.  Admittedly it might be delusional to suggest that a mediocre Congress might  have the intellectual wherewithal to make a meaningful contribution or that a comatose Congress might recognize the stunning revelation that the TPA  violates the fundamental rules of American governance.

None of this should come as a surprise.   Since President Richard Nixon initiated the first fast track authority on trade agreements in1974, Congress has voted to diminish its own Constitutionally- mandated role six times, according to Lori Wallach.   Despite labor union opposition, the Democratic establishment in Congress has consistently supported trade agreements when Vice Presidential candidate Al Gore called NAFTA a ‘good deal for the country.’  (See CNN’s classic video of the 1993 Gore-Perot NAFTA debate)

By 2008, after five million American manufacturing jobs had been shipped overseas, Presidential candidate Barack Obama criticized Sen. Hillary Clinton for her support and referred to NAFTA  as  ‘a mistake.’ Obama went on to make repeated promises to renegotiate and enforce labor and environment improvements.   Even as Obama was suggesting that the US leave NAFTA if it could not be renegotiated, the New York Times was reporting that Austen Goolsbee, a senior campaign economic advisor, was quietly assuring the Canadians that the candidate’s words “should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.”  

According to Wallach, candidate Obama promised to “ensure that Congress plays a strong and informed role in international economic policy” and that he would “replace fast track” as a process.

Meanwhile, talks have begun with the EU on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to further eliminate market and regulatory barriers to trade.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Operation Urban Shield: Protecting the Homeland

As if the recent NSA revelations were not reason enough to worry about the Federal government's drift toward an authoritarian state, shortly after the bombing of the Boston Marathon that took three lives and seriously injured scores of others, three black helicopters, accompanied by heavily armed soldiers, were spotted buzzing downtown Chicago.   Independent research confirmed that the exercise was conducted by the Pentagon utilizing a combination of special force troops and local law enforcement, similar to a drill that took place prior to NATO ‘s Chicago conference in 2012 described by City Hall as a ‘routine military training exercise.”

So how ‘routine’ is it for military drills to occur in highly populated, dense metropolitan neighborhoods that includes simulated gunfire and strafing runs, troops rappelling out of helicopters, building breaching for practice amidst assorted flares and smoke bombs?   Although the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits military forces from acting as civilian law enforcement on American soil, similar full-scale military exercises, known as Operation Urban Shield (OUS),  continue to occur in many of the country’s  largest municipal areas including Miami, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston.
While OUS exercises are conducted by ”military personnel, designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments,” its roots can be traced to Presidential Policy Directive #8 of 2011 entitled “National Preparedness.  The Directive provided the framework to create the Urban Security Areas Initiative (USAI) dedicated to  provide “support for high-threat, high-density urban areas to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from threats or acts of terrorism.” As an agency within FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), USAI is funded by the Department of  Homeland Security 
The City of Boston’s Urban Shield drills in May, 2011 and another in November, 2012, present an ideal opportunity  to consider how well the program functioned during that city's recent true-life emergency and whether it is a valuable tool in terrorist situations to justify the dismantling of the nation’s once-sacrosanct civil liberties.  We now know it was the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) that issued the ‘shelter-in-place’ order on April 19 that challenged the fourth amendment with house-to-house searches.   Utilizing a high-tech ‘wireless emergency area’ message system, described as ‘phone sirens”, MEMA sent a media advisory announcing the upcoming search as part of its ensuing tracking operation.  

Despite those earlier drills and a massive 9,000 member dragnet with every technological advantage at its fingertips,  a wounded, unarmed 19 year old amateur-terrorist who had no after-plan or escape route managed to elude the manhunt until he was discovered in a boat by an observant neighbor. 
Not surprisingly, our well-funded intel agencies appear to have been caught flat-footed by not more closely following up on earlier alerts from the Russian government warning about Tamerlan Dzhokhar - although details about the nature of the relationship of those agencies with the older brother are still ambiguous.   While authorities remain tight-lipped about the details of the Thursday night shoot-out that killed Tamerlan, it would be essential to know if Urban Shield recommends a ‘no kill’ order or use of a sophisticated laser stun-gun to subdue a critically-valuable suspect.  If so, we might have considerably more relevant information than we have today. 
Since there was no way for OUS to predict the bombing, the inescapable conclusion is that such full-scale military trainings are of limited use after a ‘situation’ has occurred, therefore, leaving open the question of why military training needs to take place in urban areas and where and when will such training be necessary.   The argument that Urban Shield will prevent a future attack neglects the reality that OUS was not directly responsible for the capture of the suspect.  More to the point, the intel game plan that asserts Operation Urban Shield strategic value has apparently failed to calculate the inherent complexity of conducting a house-to-house search and a massive dragnet within the tight confines of a densely crowded urban neighborhood.
 Despite the advantages of Federal government largesse of unlimited funding and manpower  and an enormous bureaucracy, there remains a fundamental question of whether any amount of money, training or preparation can defend against or anticipate a lone-wolf, homegrown kind of attack – and at what cost to the Bill of Rights.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

More Links to US Intel on the Boston Bombing

Less than two weeks after the bombing of the Boston Marathon, details are still emerging about whether US intell agencies, specifically the FBI, were on the job and whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev slipped through an inefficient web of overlapping and confusing jurisdictions - despite billions of US dollars funding multiple intel organizations and a significant erosion of the country’s once cherished Bill of Rights.

According to the President’s 2013 budget request, $52.6 billion will fund the National Intelligence Program  which will be spread to include intel programs at the CIA, FBI, Pentagon and Departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice.  This is not to say that those agencies will not receive additional funding directly through its own budget process with, for instance, the Department of Homeland Security receiving $68.9 billion in 2013 which will trickle $4 billion down to the FBI for its domestic counterterror efforts.
So which agencies knew what and when did they know it?   Here’s where it gets really thought-provoking:  
·         For starters, with a House Homeland Security Committee hearing pending, the public might be interested to know how a wounded 19 year old with no real resources at his disposal eluded the world’s greatest military arsenal and an estimated force of 9,000 law enforcement officers for almost 24 hours, much of it in broad daylight.   The Associated Press quoted two unnamed officials that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was unarmed when he was apprehended thereby removing the need for armed Swat team house-to-house searches.  

·         Almost immediately, the Senate Intelligence Committee held a closed door  hearing with the FBI after which Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) emerged stating that the FBI confirmed ‘multiple’ contacts with Tamerlan Tsarnaev.    After denying that they knew Tamerlan, the FBI is still standing by its story that it interviewed the older brother only once, prior to his 2012 trip to Russia.  Sen. Burr’s comments lend some credence to what the Zubeidat Tsarnaev, the mother of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, has been saying for days - that the FBI visited her oldest son  on multiple occasions and even visited her.   NBC is now reporting that the FBI also visited Tamerlan and “members of the Tsarnaev ‘family’ in 2012.
·         On April 18th, the FBI released a video of two young men whose identity remained a mystery.  The FBI said they needed the public’s help in identifying the two men in question yet we now know that the FBI knew at least Tamerlan, the older son from interview(s) in March, 2011 and again in November, 2012.   How is it that no one at the FBI, presumably the agents who conducted the interview(s) trained to be more observant than the average citizen, did not recognize Tamerlan? 

·         CBS is now reporting that in September, 2011, the CIA requested the addition of Tamerlan’s name to the TIDE database after being contacted by Russian authorities (who had earlier contacted the FBI) due to his alleged association with Chechen terrorists.  The elder Tsarnaev’s name was added to the classified “Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment” list of “suspected terrorists” which includes approximately half a million Americans.   

·         Despite earlier denials by the FBI that they did not know the Tsarnaev brothers and then later confirming that they had interviewed Tamerlan in 2011 without any follow-up and that they did not catch his trip to Russia in 2012 because his name was misspelled yet Janet Napolitano testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 23rd that the Homeland Security system ‘pinged’ when Tamerlan left for Russia in January, 2012.     The misspelling of Tamerlan’s name may be indicative of competing data bases since presumably once a name is in the system, it is in the system or perhaps the relevant agencies have not integrated their procedures.
Meanwhile, a New York Times editorial of August 22  entitled “How to Handle a Terrorism Case” cited the “superb civilian police work” that led to the capture of Defendant Tsarnaev – but failed to mention one word about the Boston Lockdown or violations of the Fourth Amendment by the house-to-house searches as if they had never occurred.  The editorial goes on to warn of allowing ‘raw emotions associated with a terrorism case to trample on the American system of justice."   
During the FBI’s ‘public safety’ interrogation before Miranda rights were read, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev clearly identified the reason for their attack at the Marathon.  It came as no surprise that their opposition to US foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq and its brutal assaults on Islam would be motivating factors. 
As the corporate media and its indentured politicians continue their simplistic thinking and bombastic rhetoric to divert attention from the root cause of terrorism, Vice President Biden’s recent speech at a memorial service in Boston did little to encourage healing or bring comfort to a traumatized community.  Instead the Vice President chose to inflame the passions of hate, vengeance and misunderstanding as if to throw down the gauntlet when he suggested:
They can never defeat us.  They can never overthrow us   They can never occupy us.   So why,  why, whether its al qaeda central out of the Fatah or two twisted, perverted cowardly, knock-off jihadists here in Boston…  why do they do what they do?   I’ve thought about it a lot because I deal with it a lot and I’ve come to the conclusion …they do it to instill fair…fear.  To have us, in the name of our safety and security, jettison what we value most in the world,  our open society, our system of justice that guarantees freedom, the access of all Americans to opportunity, the free flow of information and people across this country, our transparency.  That’s their target.”
Let’s hope al qaeda and the Taliban were not listening…

Monday, April 22, 2013

Boston Manhunt Challenges Constitutional Principles

It was with great relief when the manhunt and apprehension for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev brought one chapter of the Boston Marathon bombing to a conclusion – even as that manhunt raised important legal, constitutional questions.   Friday was obviously a terrifying experience for the citizens of Boston and especially Watertown –  it was a surreal and disturbing event even for a distant viewer glued to the television as I was that day.

Almost immediately, the overwhelming presence of heavily attired swat teams with assault weapons, armored tanks with machine guns, Blackhawk helicopters circling, and empty neighborhood streets created a frightening futuristic vision of a police state with civilians locked inside.  Not to minimize the injuries and trauma inflicted by the dastardly deed, the simultaneous explosion of a fertilizer plant in Texas killed and injured more people and did considerably more damage but what was happening on the streets of Boston, the cradle of the American Revolution, was the equivalent of martial law with precedent-setting warrantless house to house searches by heavily armed civil law enforcement tactical teams that had morphed into a military presence.
The Fourth Amendment was adopted to protect Americans privacy from ‘unreasonable search and seizures’ from an intrusive government but allows access ‘upon probable cause’.  Obviously in this situation of ‘extraordinary circumstances’, Bostonians cannot be faulted for opening their doors with little hesitation but here’s the conundrum:  did law enforcement believe that a wounded 19 year old was sufficiently dangerous and that a reasonable threat existed to demand entry in what can only be considered a gross violation of the 4th Amendment?
Given the challenge to Constitutional principles, the public interest would benefit from straightforward answers to the following:              
Was Attorney General Holder consulted and was there a house-to-house search game-plan already in place?  Was there any suggestion that a knock on the door might have been sufficient?   Was the possibility that Bostonians had the option to resist armed entry ever considered?  What was the deliberative process and who made the final decision to conduct a house-to-house search? What consideration was given to establishing a dangerous Constitutional precedent?

While many Americans appear blissfully unaware of the Fourth Amendment, if the Bill of Rights is allowed to continue to erode as it has since 911, the fragile state of our democracy as well as the quality of life for all Americans will continue to rapidly diminish  - even as a majority of the public fails to recognize the threat from within.
By late afternoon on Friday, MSNBC’s Alex Witt and Michael Isikoff were reporting that the FBI had interviewed Tamerlan at least once in 2011 and that his application for citizenship had been stalled by Homeland Security based on that interview.   The FBI has since responded that the result of their interview “did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign.”   However  the distraught mother of the Tsarnaev brothers has claimed that the FBI  made repeated visits to Tamerlan.   She told RT News that  “..he was controlled by FBI for 3-5 years.  They knew what my son was doing, they knew what actions, what sites on the internet he was going. They used to come home, come  talk to me…they were telling me that he was really a serious leader and  they are afraid of him.  They told me whatever country, whatever information he is getting, they are controlling him.” 
As the New York Times revealed in 2012,  FBI agents have  been known to pose as terrorists, provide necessary resources to conduct  illegal activities and then ‘entrap’ those people enticed into committing acts of ‘terrorism’.  Hopefully, the ACLU or Center for Constitutional Rights will file a Freedom of Information request for the FBI’s entire file on their contact with Tamerlan Tsarvnaev.
During law enforcement’s press conference immediately after the capture of the younger brother who had eluded a massive dragnet for almost 24 hours, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz announced that the suspect would not be read his Miranda rights and that a ‘public safety exemption’ would be invoked.   While the special exemption dates back to 1984, according to the FBI’s Law Enforcement Bulletin, the Supreme Court interpreted that “the exemption would be triggered …. to protect the police or public from immediate danger.”  The exemption has not been widely used until the Obama Administration secretly expanded its authority in 2011. 
While on one hand, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz was announcing at the Friday night press conference that the ‘public safety’ exemption would be invoked yet on the other offered the assurance that no immediate threat existed stating that "Tonight we feel a tremendous sense of gratitude and relief." "Tonight we can sleep a little bit easier.”
The Sunday morning news show Reliable Sources included a lengthy hashing out of numerous media missteps that occurred on the day of the manhunt  - misstatements that were understandable since the media were precluded by law enforcement from their role of providing the public with immediate, on-the-scene reporting.  During the early part of that day, CNN’s Chris Cuomo announced the unsettling news that the media had been asked to not ‘interfere’ with law enforcement efforts.  
Viewers watched as reporters and photographers were pushed into a ‘safe zone’ out of the ‘line of fire” as the national networks filled time with an array of expert commentators.  Cuomo went on to inform the public that CNN was airing on a five second delay and would only broadcast feeds that ‘police are comfortable with.”  Presumably, Fox and NBC followed suit. The net effect of an almost total media blackout left reporters dependent on law enforcement for vital information, compromising the public’s right to know.   While the word censorship was never uttered, Cuomo explained that “we don’t know what we can’t control.’   Videos that have surfaced of the Thursday morning shootout and the capture of the suspect on Friday evening were taken by neighbors who live in the area. 
Part of the TV coverage on Friday included persistent questioning about why this heartbreaking tragedy had occurred, conjecture on the motive and whether the Tsarnaev brothers were lone wolves or part of a larger conspiracy.  One after another authority speculated about what could have radicalized either brother  - was it al qaeda, could it have been an inability to integrate into American society or perhaps they were just a couple of evil, wicked terrorists who hated America and certainly Tamerlan’s visit last year to Chechnya was proof-positive.  
Perhaps the most credible and informed commentator was Phillip Mudd, former Deputy Director of the CIA’s Office of Counterterrorism Analysis who responded to the Why question that “they believe the US is intervening in places where they shouldn’t be intervening, raping women and killing children.” Mudd  later suggested that the bombing was ‘very basic’ and that these are ‘not the guys I watched for twenty years.”  On Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square on Sunday, Mudd, now a senior research fellow with the Counterterrorism Initiative at the New America Foundation, said that the attack was more reminiscent of Columbine than al Qaeda since the brothers failed to obscure their faces, had no after-action plan and that he saw no evidence to hold Dzhokhar as an ‘enemy combatant.”

By Monday evening, after Defendant Tsarnaev was questioned by the FBI, he was informed of his Miranda right to remain silent, a Public Defender was appointed and it was announced that he will be prosecuted through the civil legal system.