Saturday, April 20, 2013



(Saturday April 20, 2012 Boston, MA)  It took a horrible high profile, mass casualty event, a tense few days of investigation and 24 hours of a real life drama including a car chase, a gun fight, a suspect on the run, a dead MIT Campus Police Officer, and a harrowing night and day of being “sheltered in place” but when it came to an end last night there was much cheering, applauding, back slapping and relief.  The residents of Boston and its sleepier suburbs Cambridge and Watertown poured into the streets shortly after the second suspect alleged to have been responsible for Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings was finally apprehended.  Maybe it was just a collective sigh of relief and spontaneous outburst of pent up nervous energy that had people here shaking hands with Police Officers and members of the Law Enforcement Community (LEC).  Indeed, there was certainly an air of sincere gratitude towards the scores of men and women in the LEC multi-agency task force who had killed one suspect and captured the other within a 24 hour period spanning Thursday to Friday night.  But, cynically, there was a dose of irony in the jubilant scene.  It is sad that it takes sensational events such as those that transpired in the Greater Boston Area this past week for people, regular, every day, law abiding people to demonstrate any thanks, gratitude or appreciation for the men and women of the LEC who protect and serve their communities.

Boston, like other big cities in the northeast has historically been a liberal city.  Urban voters across the country tend to be more left-leaning and vote for Democratic candidates with an almost blind loyalty.  Some of the most liberal members of Congress have come from northeast states such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and many of the mayors of cities from Boston to Philadelphia have been Democratic stalwarts.   Given the liberal nature of the populations of these urban meccas there have been times when the residents of these areas had contentious, if not openly hostile, relationships with their local Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA).  Some of the oldest cities in the northeast which are of course some of our Country’s oldest, experienced dark chapters when Police Departments seemed so alienated from the public they served that the “us” against “them” mentality was endemic.

One not even need to go back to the racial strife in the late 1960’s that engulfed many American cities and in particular cities in the northeast to identify episodic occurrences when the people of certain cities seemed to actually view their Police Departments as occupying forces hell-bent on oppression of specific demographic segments of the population and suppression of some of our most basic constitutionally assured civil rights including the right of assembly and freedom of expression.

As these words are being written the New York City Police Department (NYPD) is litigating a lawsuit brought in federal court regarding the legality of their controversial “Stop and Frisk” program.  Despite New York City being the safest “big city’ in America enjoying crime rates in all major categories at 52 year lows, the suspicion and distrust towards the men and women of NYPD, particularly in the African American and Latino communities runs high. 

Some of the Police Departments in these cities have their own skeletons in their closets in the form of corruption and a wide range of malfeasance but the last few decades have seen dramatic reductions in Police misconduct not only in the biggest city in America with the largest, most professional Police Department, New York City, but in Departments from Jersey City to Baltimore.  Yes, some Police Departments are still plagued by high rates of Police misconduct; Philadelphia and Camden come to mind,  but the majority of Police Departments have spent a great deal of resources, time and effort at better training their rank and file members in everything from diversity training to community policing tactics.  And the dividends are apparent where these efforts were most sincerely embraced.

The men and women compelled to seek a career in policing, be it an urban or suburban Police Department or a rural Sheriff’s agency do not enter the profession looking for attention, public acclaim, or routine pats on the back from their constituents.  Actually, most are relatively humble, decent, hardworking, conscientious, fair minded individuals who readily accept the risks and rewards of their occupation with equal aplomb.  What is difficult for many of them to accept, however, is the degree of disrespect, animus, and contempt they so often encounter even in the most trivial, routine aspects of their day to day working lives.  There are those in society who resent authority no matter circumstances as well as those who feel their personal mission in life is to “catch” Cops doing bad things.  It may be easy for the uninitiated to draw a conclusion after viewing a 32 second clip on YouTube that does not depict the scenario in an accurate light and usually does not include the sequence of events prior to that 32 second clip.  But that is the nature of our hyper-wired, voyeuristic culture.

This is not to rain on anybody’s parade.  The citizens of the Greater Boston area no doubt witnessed scenes they’d never imagined they would see play out in their neighborhoods.  Swarms of heavily armored, Kevlar-plated SWAT Teams, regular local Police Officers and military-type armored vehicles going block by block, if not house by house, in search of the second suspect in last Monday’s bombing.   It was frightening for all involved and it gave those people a brief and highly surreal, dramatic glimpse into the workings of the LEC.  It was hour by hour a vivid demonstration of the risks the men and women of the LEC are willing to take and take every day in much less high profile settings.  Every time Police Officers respond to the call of a “domestic disturbance” they never know what they will encounter as is the case with virtually any call the Police respond to.  No call is ever really “routine”.  Each time a lone Deputy pulls over a car on a dark, lonely stretch of rural blacktop somewhere in America he or she cannot be certain of what they are confronting.  Yet, approach that vehicle they do; yes, with caution, training and experience on their side, but still, a potentially volatile situation.

Members of the Law Enforcement Community across the country are killed in action with disturbing regularity and, aside from their families, friends and colleagues their deaths are marked by few others.  Collectively we are willing to pause and give thoughts when a “celebrity” or professional athlete dies unexpectedly yet few in the communities, civilians, if you will, pause or give much thought when a local Cop or Deputy is killed in action.  Some of the more cynical will say, “Hey, they knew the risks, they chose to do what they did for a living”.  This is certainly true, although the specter of one’s own mortality is a reality to everyone who dons a LEA uniform daily; they perform with valor and will give their lives to protect a stranger.  That is the long and short of it.

We should mourn for the loss of life and for those horrifically injured at the Boston Marathon bombings and we should also take a moment to recognize the unarmed MIT Campus Police Officer, 26 year old Sean Collier who was shot and killed by the bombing suspects while they were on the run as well as Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Police Officer, 33 year old Richard Donohue who remains in critical condition as of this writing.

MIT Campus Police Officer Sean Collier,

You will forever be remembered, respected

and honored for your service and sacrifice.

MBTA Police Officer Richard Donohue still

Prayers and wishes for a rapid and complete recovery.

Thanks to all the fine men and women servicing 
in the various LEA that brought the seize
of Greater Boston to an end without additional 
loss of life.

Job well done.



Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2013 © All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


What happened in Boston stays in Boston

(Wednesday April 17, 2013)  Are we really as fragile as some of the prognosticators, commentators and pundits would have us believe?  Is our “way of life” so tenuously tethered to the wider world that an event such as the bombing in Boston two days ago is supposed to have us collectively “shaken and rattled”?  It would be nice to think not; it would be more accurate actually to expound on our broader attitude of perseverance and inherent resilience than to bow to those who almost gleefully forecast our spiritual and emotional demise as a “people”, as a Nation.

In the tired and typical fashion after an incidence such as that which transpired here on Monday, too many columnists, journalists, and sputtering talking heads sound the death knell of the regularity of our daily lives.  To call it fear mongering is to elevate it; it is more than that.  It appears to be an intentional and cheap rhetorical exaggeration that has no relationship to reality.  It is hype, pure and simple; hype of the most gratuitous sophomoric type.  The preponderance of such opinions in the newspapers and cable infotainment networks since the tragic twin blasts near the finish line of the famed Boston Marathon two days ago, aside from being hyperbolic, is a red herring floated for dubious purposes.  It actually borders on callous exploitation serving no “public” or “greater” good whatsoever.

Such reportage and opining only furthers some of the more disparaging attitudes regarding the character of our Nation and of us as Americans in certain quarters overseas.  Sufficient damage is inflicted on us as the rest of the world witnesses the machinations of our profoundly dysfunctional federal bureaucracy without the media insinuating we are all cowering behind locked doors because two bombs blew up in Boston.  The cowardly sinister crimes perpetrated on Monday are indeed heinous, tragic, and offensive to our commonality as Americans.  We don’t like this kind of shit and it pisses us off.  The world has learned that the hard way especially in places such as Afghanistan (which was a righteous cause) and Iraq (which was an ill-conceived, unnecessary, unprecedented war of choice).  Just as the Japanese learned in the wake of the sneak attack on our Navy at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, we are a “sleeping tiger” that ought not to be provoked into military action.  The Taliban, al-Qaeda, and insurgents in Iraq have also learned that lesson, for what it’s worth.

Be it the product of arrogance or ignorance we, as a Country, have never lived in fear.  We’ve had our moments, our close calls as well as our wake up calls, yet out lives have rarely been significantly altered due to a threat be it foreign or domestic.  It has probably been since World War II that we as a whole have had to pull together and participate in a massive “war effort” and make sacrifices across and through every strata of our society.  Yes, WWII was won by the Nation as a collective with the shared sacrifices and efforts affecting each and every citizen.  Such a “war machine” will never be seen again nor will it every likely be required due to the technological advances and sophistication of modern warfare and the asymmetrical fights that define it.

In the days and weeks following previous terrorist attacks that landed in our laps seemingly “out of the blue” there has always been the same tone to some of the commentary.  Whether it was Oklahoma City 1995 or the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, there were strident voices proclaiming how these events would forever change who we are and how we live.  Clearly after September 11, 2001 we did have to adapt to a “new normal”, in ways that we barely noticed, to security measures that were seen as more inconvenient and onerous.  But it was practical necessity that provided the impetus to enhance what had been almost non-existent security in air travel, access to sensitive landmarks, locations, infrastructure, and government facilities. 

We are a Nation of over 400 million diverse, disparate individuals and the concept of a “national psyche” or “collective conscience” is a fallacy.  But we often act and react with an element of the “herd mentality” and are easily duped, conned, scammed, and mislead by entities as varied as our government to advertisers, the media and the infotainment machines that churn at a frenetic pace 24/7.  We can be as gullible as naïfs, as susceptible to hype and idiocy as third graders full of hyperkinetic energy from overdoses of sugar and caffeine.  We follow trends set by the few and embrace passing fads with the eagerness of an addict chasing the next fix.  But this is superficial behavior; a benign cousin to the oft witnessed mob mentality that can transform a peaceful celebration of a sports victory into a riotous destructive, violent horde. 

We do share certain characteristics that mimic a watered down strain of a national psyche but such occasions that trigger these characteristics are short lived; fleeting knee-jerk moments quickly filed away or forgotten in short order.  If there is one characteristic that is consistently prevalent it is our short term memory, our National illness just a mutation of attention deficit disorder; nothing grabs our attention or focuses our emotions for more than a matter of days.  We are quite adept at pausing to gawk at the spectacle and rapidly move on and back into the familiar confines of our own lives and daily routine.  If we have one weakness that is constantly and insidiously effectively exploited it is just that; we lack the ability for sustained resolve.  We’ve recently witnessed as a salient issue burned hot and fast only to be extinguished by our lack of commitment and focus as well as the complete inability of our federal government to enact meaningful change on any important issue with the sort of high powered, high financed backing of a group like the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Yesterday the efforts made in Congress to address the hot button issue of “gun control” crashed and burned in the pitifully typical Washington DC fashion.  After the hue and cry generated with the murder of 20 first graders and six educators in Newton, Connecticut last December, it appeared, at least momentarily, that this singular heinous crime was simply too outrageous, too fiendishly evil, and that a real window of opportunity had been thrown open for some meaningful legislation to regulate the sale of high capacity ammunition clips and certain “assault-style” weapons.  Despite popular opinion determined by extensive polling since that awful day, Americans overwhelmingly support some of the measures contained in the bill that was roundly defeated by the Senate.  It sure did not take very long for the tragic, heartbreaking images of that horrific day to fade into the nebulous and ever increasing collective repository we casually toss such public emotion-laden memories into.

No, we Americans are like James Bond’s martinis at times of crisis, “shaken, not stirred”.  Our initial reaction to whatever the tragedy du jour happens to be surges, peaks, and ebbs in a single news cycle.  We are a nation of dichotomies and divisions, schisms and misconceptions of every kind.  Some in the media like to use the term when some calamitous event or harrowing narrative hits our TVs that it has “captured the imagination of America” or “piqued our collective conscience” as if these phrases had any legitimacy which they do not.  Yes, we are charitable but quickly ambivalent; we can be caring and sentimental provided it does not disrupt our personal world view and perspective.  We tend to be parochial to a fault, complacency has become virtuous, and we talk a good game as long as someone else will fight the fight for us.  We can be virulently vocal in our declaration of rights and liberties yet passively reticent about those to whom some of our most cherished values are withheld.  If America has a collective anything it is a moderate case of schizophrenia exacerbated by retrograde amnesia.  But, we like it this way. 

Those in the media proclaiming that every public sporting event, large gathering or mass assembly will forevermore be marred by the Boston bombings are simply wrong and spouting a line of bilge with no relationship to reality.  Of course, law enforcement agencies (LEA) across the country will enhance security and be hyper vigilant; at least for a while.  That is the proper response provided it is measured and discretion is employed.  The powers that be will tip-toe along the slender line that bisects practical reality and oppressive over reach.  But we have seen this before.  It was not too long after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Transportation Safety Agency (TSA) implemented stringent rules requiring airline passengers to provide two forms of valid photo identification and limitations to what was and was not legal to carry on board a commercial airplane that the travelling public began whining and crying about the inconvenience the upgraded security measures caused them.  Convenience was to trump priorities for these weary travelers.  That is the American way.

In the hours after Pearl Harbor was lethally attacked by Japan then President Franklin D. Roosevelt took to the airwaves and told the American people that “The only thing to fear is fear itself.”  This became a rallying cry for the generation who fought and won that war and magnanimously helped rebuild those countries we defeated and build a new country here at home.  After the mass fatality attack on 9-11-01 then President George W. Bush encouraged Americans to “go shopping.”  Had the times ever changed!

There will be arrests made in the case of the Boston bombing and, we might all be surprised when we learn who the perpetrators are.  Until that day comes we will make idle small talk with family and friends, discuss our own theories of “who” and “why” with coworkers and neighbors.  But, our lives will go on as they have.  Only those most closely involved and impacted by the fiendish act of terror in Boston will remain fully engaged.

One 28 year veteran analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) commented, “For the bulk of Americans what happened in Boston is just a tempest in their own little teapot.  It (the bombing) wasn’t spectacular or dramatic enough to hold their attention.  That is just the way it is.  I am confident we will find those responsible and the televised images of Monday will quickly recede in most American’s minds.  That’s okay but it is also our weakness.  Our adversaries do not tell time like we do.  If the guilty parties are in fact foreign nationals, associates of a known terrorist group, a ‘sleeper cell’, or just a home grown, anti-government, Right-wing zealot unhappy paying federal taxes, it will not register too much with the public.  It is already business as usual even in Boston.  And that concerns me more than anything.”

There are already makeshift memorials along Boylston Avenue.  There have been and will be more prayer ceremonies and candle light vigils.  No doubt there will be some advocacy ribbon designed in “honor” of the killed and injured at the Marathon explosion.  This we do and we do it sickeningly well.  What is really needed now more than arguably at any other time in the history of our Republic is an active and engaged populace, a determined and persistent electorate, and for Americans, as many as possible, to let the corrupt, vapid, self-serving elected officials we vote into office know that the time has come for them to actually DO something.  It does not matter what they do something about as long as they do something that reflects the majority will.

Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2013 © All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Chaos and carnage at the finish line

(Tuesday April 16, 2013 New York City)  Two explosive devices detonated within 20 seconds of each other near the finish line of The Boston Marathon claiming three lives and injuring scores yesterday afternoon.  Given the high profile of the country’s oldest running marathon the media blanket coverage began before the smoke had cleared.  The images broadcast live showed the chaos and carnage in all its gory reality.  Many of the most grievously injured sustained traumatic amputations of lower limbs apparently due to where the explosive devices had been placed.  Little is known or being revealed by the multi-agency law enforcement task force investigating all aspect of this attack.  By the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) definition, the event has been classified as a “terrorist” incident.  The earliest indications are that the two devices were of a relatively “crude” design and preliminary evidence suggests that the bombs were not “very powerful”. 

Despite the twin bombs apparent simple design and construct, the damage and casualties they caused was severe due to the confined space in which they detonated.  The area on Boylston Street was crowded with marathon runners, their families and friends as well as marathon officials, volunteers along with members of the media, spectators and the normal high density foot traffic of that downtown locale.  The fact that the explosions occurred near the finish line where several tents were staffed by medical personnel there to tend to the physical needs of the runners who completed the 26 mile course was a “tremendous benefit” in that there was a “large number” of doctors,   nurses, and paramedics present who immediately responded to those injured in the blasts.

As is always the case in the minutes and hours following such an unexpected emergency there was confusion as to the presence of other explosive devices that did not detonate.  A mechanical fire at the JFK Library several miles from the finish line was initially reported as a third bomb.  It took several hours for law enforcement officials to clarify the rumors that were running rampant both on the ground and in the media.  By the time President Obama made a brief televised statement from the White House Press Room at 6:10 PM EDT, more accurate information regarding fatalities, casualties, and the nature of the explosions was known.  The President conspicuously avoided deeming the afternoon’s incident as a “terrorist” attack. 

In the familiar and typical fashion in the immediate aftermath of such an event, confusion, fear and panic cut a wide swathe through downtown Boston for many blocks adjacent to the scene of the blasts.  The Mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino and the Commissioner of the Boston Police Department (BPD) appeared quickly at a hastily called press conference to allay some of the fears and concerns of the citizens of Boston as well as the thousands of visitors who filled all the cities hotel rooms for the marathon.  The law enforcement response was equally rapid and all of Boston’s prestigious hospitals were able to accommodate the dozens injured, many in serious or critical condition.  One of the members of a trauma team working the Emergency Room as Massachusetts General Hospital, commonly referred to as Mass General,  who spoke not for attribution commented, “We have admitted over 20 of the people injured and have had a huge volume of people showing up to donate blood.  We actually had to turn most of them away or instruct them to go to other locations to donate.  The Red Cross, I believe, was also inundated by willing donors many of whom had run in the marathon.”

In the wake of the Boston bombing yesterday cities across the country increased security at what are considered “high value targets”.  New York City a, “target rich environment” which has been the scene of previous terrorist attacks and several foiled attempts, immediately activated one of the many Emergency Action Plans (EAP) they have developed over the past decade.  Since the infamous terrorist attack perpetrated here on September 11, 2001, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has taken the lead in the formation of its own “Intelligence and Counter-terrorism Units” which are very highly regarded and have served as a template for many other American Police Departments.  One veteran NYPD Detective assigned to the Intelligence Unit not permitted to speak for attribution did note that, “We (NYPD) have been following the Boston incident closely and have spoken with agents from the FBI and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency (ATF) and we have offered any resources they deem necessary.  Obviously here we have enhanced security at some of our more famous landmarks and have our Atlas, Cobra, and Hercules Units on the streets.  We take the security of our City and our public very, very seriously.  Fortunately, our population has learned some hard lessons about terrorism and they are always on a heightened alert.”

One of the most successful and effective public initiatives implemented by NYPD is the “See something, Say something” campaign that encourages pedestrians and subway riders to inform the Police if they see a suspicious or unattended package or backpack or if they notice what they consider to be “suspicious activity” particularly at the more high value targets.  NYPD spokesman commented that “See something, Say something has really paid off in dividends of safety on several occasions including the attempted bombing in Times Square in December 2009.” 

No group or individual has yet to claim responsibility for yesterday’s bombing that President Obama has just within the past 3 hours designated “an act of terror.”  The list of potential suspects is long and diverse including foreign, state-sponsored elements and known terrorist organizations such as al-Qeada and the many affiliates they have spawned in the years since their deadly September 11, 2001 attack here.  There is always the possibility that the perpetrator(s) are domestic, “home grown” leftist or right-wing extremists.  The domestic element is being given careful scrutiny since yesterday was “tax day” in America and also Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts, an official State holiday.  Dates later this week are also of significance to “right-wing militia groups” since the botched FBI assault on the Branch Dividian compound in Waco, Texas and the bombing of the Alfred R. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995; both of which occurred on April 19th.

What yesterday’s atrocity illustrated is the well-known axiom utilized by the intelligence community that states, “They (the terrorists) only have to be right one time, and we (law enforcement/intelligence community) have to be right 100% of the time.”  It is this common axiom that clearly illustrates the asymmetrical nature posed by the threat of terrorist.  In a society as open as ours the threat of terror, no matter its nature, is a constant.  While there have been important enhancements to security in air travel and many other aspects of our lives, it is virtually impossible to detect and intervene in such a way that every plan, plot or impending attack is thwarted without seriously encroaching on our civil rights.  Even if more stringent measures were enacted by Congress or individual states, there is literally no way to interdict in every instance.  That is why the measures that agencies such as NYPD have taken be they abundant closed circuit monitoring, aggressive intelligence collection and analysis, an enhanced visible presence on the streets or the more secrtetive operations conducted by the Intel and Counter-terrorism Units that have often drawn criticism.  The NYPD goes through great lengths to insure that all their operations are in accordance with all federal and state laws and comport with our Constitutional Rights.  Some may argue the finer points here but the fact remains that New York City has not sustained a successful terrorist attack in over 12 years and that fact is certainly not due to a lack of efforts on the part of those seeking to cause us harm.

As the various law enforcement agencies continue to pursue every viable avenue of inquiry, run down all solid leads, pour over the wealth of video and surveillance camera footage as well as conduct a thorough battery of analytics of the physical evidence, this will remain a highly fluid endeavor.  Already much has been ascertained about the two explosive devices, their composition and placement.  Surgeons have removed shrapnel and other foreign bodies from the wounded that they say is “too uniform” to have been “environmental; in other words, a component of these “pressure cooker” improvised explosive devices (IED) was ball bearings, BBs, and nails; all hallmarks of relatively crude yet effective bombs similar to those often found hidden along roadsides in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Whoever is ultimately identified as the responsible entity for this attack turn out to be, one thing is already quite obvious; they sought to gain maximum worldwide media exposure.  Some of the Boston Marathoners came from 95 countries besides the United States virtually assuring it would garner headlines around the world.   And it most certainly has met that simple objective.  Given the resources being brought to bear on this investigation hopefully, arrests will be forthcoming shortly.



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