Ron Paul compared the manhunt for the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon attack to “scenes from a military coup in a far off banana republic”. He says the response to the attack was more frightening than the bombing itself.
The deadly blasts killed three people, injured more than 200 and caused 16 victims to undergo limb amputations. Paul says the Boston Marathon bombing was tragic, but that law enforcement’s response was even more terrifying and unprecedented.
In an op-ed published on the website of libertarian editor Lew Rockwell, Paul describes the police response as a “military-style takeover of parts of Boston” – a procedure that resembled martial law.
“Forced lockdown of a city,” he writes. “Militarized police riding tanks in the streets. Door-to-door armed searches without warrant. Families thrown out of their homes at gunpoint to be searched without probable cause. Businesses forced to close. Transport shut down.”
The former congressman believes that the Boston bombing should have resulted in a police investigation, not a military-style occupation that infringed upon the civil liberties of those living in or near Boston. Residents in Watertown, Mass. – the site where the surviving suspect was found – were told to stay indoors for most of April 19 while authorities pursued Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. After the elder brother was killed and Dzhokhar escaped, residents were ordered to remain inside as the manhunt progressed.
While the media hails the capture of the remaining suspect as an American victory, the police tactics have become largely ignored, Paul says. The libertarian believes that because of the media’s depiction of surveillance methods as a reason for the capture, Congress will be able to justify installing “more government cameras pointed at the rest of us.”
But in the end, the capture was largely due to the help of private citizens who contributed their photographs to the FBI and one man who discovered the injured suspect hiding in a boat. The surveillance videos posted online by the FBI came from private businesses – not the government.
By believing the government’s job is to keep Americans safe rather than to protect their liberties, US citizens are allowing police investigations to proceed as they did in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon attack. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick last week defended the response to the bombings, telling reporters that authorities "did what we should have done and were supposed to do with the always-imperfect information that you have at that time."
But by locking down a city, conducting unwarranted searches, forcing Americans to stay in their homes and hailing surveillance as a reason for the capture, the government is overstepping its boundaries, Paul says.
“This is unprecedented and is very dangerous,” he writes. “We must educate ourselves and others about our precious civil liberties to ensure that we never accept demands that we give up our Constitution so that the government can pretend to protect us.”