Open Thread: Boston Bombings

I wanted to write something yesterday about the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon, but I was too angry and depressed over it all to jot down something coherent. I still don’t think I have anything profound or helpful to say, especially since we still know nothing about who did this or why. And as Amanda Marcotte reminds us, we may not find out more for months or years, if ever.

Despite a pretty low level of irresponsible speculation, that not-knowing can’t help but fan the flames of rumors and conspiracy theories. What I was most struck by was how much misinformation was flying around on the news and in social media last night. There were stories that the death toll was in double digits, that the police had arrested a suspect, that they had found other unexploded bombs around the city, that cell phone service had been turned off to prevent the remote detonation of any more bombs, that there had been a controlled detonation at the John F. Kennedy presidential library – all now debunked. The evidence was initially so scanty that I wondered, briefly, if this was even an act of terrorism at all, as opposed to an unintentional tragedy, like a gas-line explosion, that had happened at the worst possible place and time – although it’s clear now that this was a crime and not an accident.

While we wait for the police and the doctors to do their job, the best advice I can offer is this: if you want to donate blood, don’t do it now; the Red Cross has all they need right now. Make an appointment for a month from now, when they’ll need it again.

If you have anything more helpful than that, any words of advice or consolation, I’m sure we could all stand to hear them. Consider this an open thread and speak up if you’re inclined, or if you feel silence is more appropriate, I can hardly blame you.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://www.twitter.com/errantendeavour Errant Endeavour

    I wasn’t going to leave a comment, as I usually have nothing of interest to add to a discussion. But then I saw no one else had said anything, and I think that something really needs to be said. A friend quoted this, on her blog, in relation to this attack, so I thought I could add it here, in the hopes that it in some way helps others.

    “Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.” – Carl Sagan

  • GCT

    …that they had found other unexploded bombs around the city…

    All the reports I’ve seen have claimed that there were 2 other devices found and dismantled by police. Have you seen a different account?

    While we wait for the police and the doctors to do their job, the best advice I can offer is this: if you want to donate blood, don’t do it now; the Red Cross has all they need right now.

    Is that true for those of us who live in the Boston area? I donated yesterday and the Red Cross facility even opened up early in order to get more people in.

  • allein

    GCT – I had seen one report (I think it was a tweet from the Wall Street Journal that was posted on the Think Progress blog, which they were updating as things unfolded; though I could be wrong about the original source) that said there were 5 unexploded devices found, which apparently was not true.

  • GCT

    Yes, there was a lot of confusion about how many unexploded devices were found. A big problem with that was that when people started to evacuate the scene, many of them left their bags and things behind. Police had to treat each left article as potentially suspicious. This led to lots of confusion as to how many devices were found. I thought the number had been confirmed at 2 though, and I haven’t seen an update since that says that number is false.

    I just went back and read what I originally wrote and I can see that I didn’t phrase my question very well. I guess I’m looking to find out if the claim that 2 devices were found has been debunked and there weren’t any additional devices found.

  • allein

    Ah, ok. I’m not sure; I heard 2 also, but I also heard that there weren’t any others. So I don’t know what the official word was.

  • CelticPeace

    The official word was that no other bombs were found.

  • GCT

    That was not the official word Monday evening. Do you have a cite for that? I’d actually like to know the current status.

  • L.Long

    “much misinformation was flying around on the news and in social media last night. ” misinformation is the very definition of news media. Their over sensitization of anything makes most news ‘wrong’.
    Unfortunately IF the people responsible keep quiet the chances of finding them is nearly 0%.
    Killing is usually the easiest crime to get away with, despite what is seen on TV movies. You can prove this yourself, go to any police station and ask to see the file cabinet containing unsolved crimes murder is the biggest.
    And as you say the longer it takes to find anything, the more the fairy tales will grow.

  • GCT

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/15/us/boston-marathon-things-we-know/index.html?iid=article_sidebar

    – No unexploded devices were found, Marquez said.

    OK, so it looks like it has been confirmed that the original report was incorrect.

  • Adam Lee

    My source for that was the Wall Street Journal, which posted on Twitter on Monday night that police were saying that none of the suspicious packages they had discovered were bombs. The Boston Globe said the same thing, quoting a press conference by Gov. Deval Patrick.

    The Red Cross said on Monday that they have enough blood donations available for the bombing victims. I’m not surprised; after 9/11, the line at my college to give blood went way out the door, even though there was even less of a need for it then.

  • BeyondRedemption

    When they catch this animal…. they should chain him to the rear of an 18 wheeler, and drag him till there are only fragments of bone left……

  • GCT

    The Red Cross said on Monday that they have enough blood donations available for the bombing victims.

    That’s interesting, because locally they opened up some centers early and started blood drives…at least at the one I went to in Dedham.

  • GCT

    When they catch this animal…. they should chain him to the rear of an 18 wheeler, and drag him till there are only fragments of bone left……

    I’m glad that they took at least one of the suspects alive. Here’s to hoping that he gets a fair trial and fair punishment…which doesn’t include being dragged. (And, yes, this is from someone who lives in the “Stay in your homes” area just outside of the locked-down area and has friends in the locked-down area and friends who were at the marathon finish line when the explosions went off.)

  • CelticPeace

    GCT – I agree – I hope he gets a fair trial.

    Question – Since you live there. Why does one 19 year old, on foot, wounded (trailing blood according to news reports) -cause the shutdown of an entire large metropolitan area including the train from Boston to New York for an entire day ?

  • GCT

    1) They didn’t know he was wounded.
    2) He had shown himself to be very dangerous and there was a public safety issue to be considered. He and his brother were shooting wildly and throwing explosives.
    3) Because the initial contact happened when it was dark, it was more difficult to pinpoint where he went, so when he went into hiding it was decided to take a methodical approach. People here appreciate that the cops did such an approach because we recognize that assisting the police helped keep us all safer (because we didn’t have the benefit of 20-20 hindsight that we have now).

  • CelticPeace

    GCT – I appreciate your insight as you live there. It was a tragic event, and I understand was very unsettling for those who live there.
    I am just trying to understand the story line. The newspaper accounts say the police tracked him on foot for awhile following a trail of blood (thus they knew he was wounded). Yes they did need to consider him dangerous, and I can understand putting Watertown on lock-down, and going through the neighberhood methodically. I just think shutting down Boston mass transit, the baseball and hockey games, and telling everyone to stay home was over reaction. For example you could easily post police at the sporting event entrances to watch for him. It sends a very bad message to would be terroists that you can easily shut down an entire large metro area with minimal resources. UNLESS they know things they are not telling us that would indicate the plot was much larger. I guess we will never know the real story.

  • GCT

    They didn’t know how injured he was. They just knew there was blood in the car and in a house they searched. I’ve seen no accounts of them tracking him by a trail of blood, especially since if that were the case, they would have tracked him to the boat he was hiding in.

  • CelticPeace

    I agree that the story of how he managed to escape the big shoot out remains murky. I did see one report that said they tracked him for awhile using a trail of blood. Could be a pice of misinformation, like the story about multiple unexploded bombs. Regardless – my bigger point is why shut down the train to New York, cancel the baseball game, etc. These are venues that could be easily secured, especially if the concern is one 19 year old guy that you have a picture of. All the pieces just don’t fit.

  • GCT

    Not so easily secured, because it would have taken people away from the search. Not so easily secured because now you’ve got lots of people going to the event and you’ve put more people in the police’s way – not to mention that Fenway is not that far from Watertown. Not so easily secured because despite having pictures, someone can still slip through a crowd.

    What pieces don’t fit? Are you going conspiracy theory on us? For real?

  • CelticPeace

    GCT – You don’t have to be a conspiracist to know the FBI and CIA lie quite often. It is not a partisan thing. They lied about WMD during the last administration. Fast and Furious, and Benghazi during this administration. Most recently said they did not know anything about the older brother, that was until the mother said they had talked to her son. Then it was – Oh that’s right, Russia did warn us about him, and we did talk to him, but he seemed like a nice guy.
    So YES – I am skeptical about the stories they feed us. If you feel safe and secure – Good for you. I will say nothing else to burst your bubble. Sing Sweet Caroline, have a glass of warm milk, and Sleep Well.
    Note – I like Sam Adams – you guys craft a good brew. And I have always liked the Red Sox vs. the Yankees.
    And the Boston Marathon has always been one of my favorite sporting events, that is one reason I have followed this tragic story so closely.

  • GCT

    They lied about WMD during the last administration.

    Actually, it was the administration that trumped that up.

    So YES – I am skeptical about the stories they feed us. If you feel safe and secure – Good for you. I will say nothing else to burst your bubble. Sing Sweet Caroline, have a glass of warm milk, and Sleep Well.

    Except, we know quite a few facts…but don’t let that stop you from being condescending.

  • CelticPeace

    How this government views FACTS –
    “With all due respect, the fact is we have 4 dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk who decided they’d go kill some Americans. WHAT DIFFERENCE, at this point, does it make ?”

  • GCT

    You’re becoming unhinged.

    So, did the government shut down the streets because they were trying to sweep through houses and take all of our guns away? Maybe they were actually fixing the water stations because the flouridation levels had gone too low and people weren’t being sedated enough to simply accept big brother? Or, maybe it was all in inside job so that they could declare martial law (I wish they would let us out of our houses sometime soon!)

  • CelticPeace

    So I am the one becoming unhinged ? All I did was quote the former Secretary of State with regard to the importance the administration attaches to facts. YOU are the one raising all kinds of conspiracy theories.

    Sticking to facts – now the government has admitted the Russians contacted both the FBI and the CIA, and that Homeland Security was “pinged” when he left the country … but not when he returned. So Homeland Security was concerned enough to put him on a watch list, but then lost track of him. Sounds like what happened when they shipped guns to the Mexican cartels.


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