Kevin Drum wrote the so far most useful post about events in Boston:
A quick update on yesterday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon:
- There was not a third bomb at the JFK Library (it was a fire in the building’s mechanical room).
- There are no suspects in custody (the “Saudi national” that dominated the news yesterday is a witness, not a suspect).
- There are not 12 people dead (the New York Post just jumped the gun).
- Police did not find any unexploded devices elsewhere in the city (that’s what Gov. Deval Patrick says, anyway).
- Cell phone service was not shut down by the authorities after the bombs detonated (AP has walked back its original claim, and various people have reported sending texts immediately after the bombing.)
Just thought you’d like to know. For more on what did happen, check out our ongoing explainer here, which is being updated regularly.
It would be nice if every cable news channel reporting on this story had a banner running across the bottom of the screen just repeating these six words: Don’t trust early reporting. Don’t panic.
We don’t yet know who the bomber is – their sex, their race, their religion. But whoever they turn out to be, it will be useful to bear in mind that they are not representative of their group.
What Bruce Schneier said:
Remember after 9/11 when people predicted we’d see these sorts of attacks every few months? That never happened, and it wasn’t because the TSA confiscated knives and snow globes at airports. Give the FBI credit for rolling up terrorist networks and interdicting terrorist funding, but we also exaggerated the threat. We get our ideas about how easy it is to blow things up from television and the movies. It turns out that terrorism is much harder than most people think. It’s hard to find willing terrorists, it’s hard to put a plot together, it’s hard to get materials, and it’s hard to execute a workable plan. As a collective group, terrorists are dumb, and they make dumb mistakes; criminal masterminds are another myth from movies and comic books.
What Ross Douthat said:
But what I hope we don’t see, when the next race or a parade or festival looms up in front of us, are layers of extra stops and searches and checkpoints, wider and wider rings of closed streets, the kind of portable metal detectors that journalists remember unfondly from political conventions, more of the concrete barriers that Washingtonians have become accustomed to around our public buildings … more of everything that organized officialdom does to reassure us, and itself, that soft targets can somehow be eliminated entirely, and that everything anyone can think of is being done to keep the unthinkable at bay.
This kind of security theater is a natural response to terrorism, but it’s a response that since 9/11 we’ve done an absolutely terrible job of reasoning through and then gradually ratcheting back.
Oh, yes – and what Mister Rogers said.