Exhibiting the indignation of a leader who would never consider such a nefarious act on noncombatants, President Obama appeared unaware of the irony when he suggested that “any time bombs are used to target civilians, it is an act of terror.” In pledging that the “American people refuse to be terrorized’ the President raises the disturbing possibility in its insinuation of future vengeance to be wrecked upon the presumed perpetrator(s).
Responsible for three fatalities and injury to an estimated 170 people including the loss of limbs to perhaps dozens of individuals, the FBI has determined that the detonation was caused by two shrapnel studded ”pressure cooker” type bombs previously seen in Afghanistan and Pakistan and were traced to two black duffel bags.
Not to diminish the pain and suffering and fear experienced by the citizens of Boston, the American public deserves to know why the US military-intelligence complex, with unlimited resources at their disposal, was caught by surprise? What has been absent from the early reaction has been any inquiry as to why the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the CIA, the NSA and who knows how many other national security agencies that cost the American taxpayer billions and billions of dollars each year failed in their responsibility to identify, to predict or to otherwise anticipate a possible attack.
According to the Homeland Security Department’s mission, its ‘founding principle and highest priority is to protect the American people from terrorist threats.” Created by a pusillanimous Congress intent on satisfying public panic after 911, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 was adopted by a bi-partisan Congress with a 295 – 132 vote in the House of Representatives and a Senate 90 - 9 vote initiating the largest reorganization of the federal government since the National Security Act of 1947 combining 22 separate agencies into a single entity.
As if the catastrophe at Boston was not enough to question the Department’s effectiveness, the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the DHS 2013 budget identified the Department’s expenditures at “more than a half a trillion dollars” since 911 with another $68.9 billion in funding for 2013 (1.3% over 2012). Clearly, throwing money at a problem does not necessarily bring the desired result.
Also essential to public understanding is that the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the daily intrusive degradations at every airport across the country have been, largely, for naught. The justification that legislative assaults on the Constitution that seriously eroded the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments were necessary to prevent another 911 are now revealed to be as fictitious as any imaginary fairytale.
While the foregoing queries would make for an enlightening Congressional oversight hearing with Janet Napolitano and John Brennan providing public explanations as to why the military-intelligence agencies disastrously botched their assignment - despite an investment of hundreds of billions of public dollars, thousands of employees provided with the latest technological advancements – but don’t count on it.
The ‘Why” of this tragedy may be found in one obvious fact: that violence begets violence and we are a violent society - not just domestically but from decades of a foreign policy that has, in the name of democracy, spread American violence around the planet.