Running footage of Boston FBI division chief Richard Deslauriers making his famous call for assistance in identifying the Boston Marathon suspects, a video sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security extols the controversial Boston "lockdown.'
During the lockdown most public functions of the city of Boston, such as mass transit, were shut down and residents asked, some say ordered, to stay indoors. The policy was issued as law enforcement took the chase for the Boston suspects into high gear.
On April 19, the day of the manhunt for Dzhokhar, AP wrote in "Cops: Boston must stay in place amid terror hunt":
WATERTOWN, Mass. (AP) — All residents of Boston were ordered to stay in their homes Friday morning as the search for the surviving suspect in the marathon bombings continued after a long night of violence that left another suspect dead.
It was revealed later that the Boston FBI had already extensively investigated the suspects, and knew who they were. One suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was on two terrorist watch lists, had been the subject of numerous contacts between the Boston FBI's Counter-Terrorism Unit and Russian intelligence, and had been interviewed, along with family members, in 2011 by that unit.
Civil libertarians have denounced the lockdown, as it was referred by ABC News and other media outlets, as a practice run for martial law. The DHS video, which is a professionally-produced collage of news reports, is set to dramatic music, and climaxes with a tearful woman pleading: "There's bad guys out there. Now we need to wait for the good guys."
Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe wrote in an op-ed:
"When surveillance photos of Tamerlan Tsarnaev surfaced, why didn’t the FBI agent recognize him from the interview? The photos were released to the public for identification, leading to an intensive manhunt. In the course of it, MIT police officer Sean Collier was killed during an encounter with the Tsarnaev brothers..."
The pressure cooker bombs used in the crime were immediately recognized by analysts as signature weapons of Chechen radicals, used as recently as 2011 in an attack on the Moscow airport.
The mother of the suspects alleged in an interview with Russia Today that the FBI had maintained regular contact with her sons since the 2011 interview, and that they had been "set up."
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is charged in a federal grand jury indictment with the killing of officer Collier, although it has been revealed that, according to Cambridge police scanner activity, another gunman was in the area at the time of the shooting.
After opening with scenes of carnage from the Boston Marathon bombing and then segueing to the subsequent manhunt, a news reporter in the video collage is heard to say:
"As day breaks all of Boston is shut down, mass transit is at a stand-still, the city's universities and schools closed, officials tell all residents to stay in their homes."
Special Agent Deslauriers is shown in an April 19 press conference, four days after the bombing, saying:
"Today we are enlisting the public's help to identify the two suspects. After a very detailed analysis of photo, video, and other evidence, we are releasing photos of the two suspects."
On April 23 the Boston Globe broke the story that Russian intelligence had contacted the Boston FBI about Tamerlan multiple times since March 2011. After initially denying the report, the FBI soon acknowledged, in a press release, that it had interviewed Tamerlan "and family members" in 2011, and had followed up numerous Russian intelligence reports.
The FBI has been called to task for tipping off the suspects and causing them to flee, even though authorities knew where they lived and might have captured them by surprise. The rampage initiated by the brothers after the release of their photos and the call to the public for help may have cost MIT officer Sean Collier his life. The older brother, Tamerlan, had maintained a residence at 190 Norfolk Street in Cambridge for many years. The younger brother lived at UMass Dartmouth.
"Emergency Operations Center" in CA Revealed
A news report in the video also reveals the existence of an "emergency operations center" in Dublin, CA, which is a command and control center for such events. Standing in the empty control center with images of the Boston suspects flashing on a wall-sized screen, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security, is seen saying:
"We take for granted our safety, but issues like this remind us that at any given time, a terrorist who wants to do evil and hurt a mass amount of people can and will do that."
The comments section for the video at the official DHS "Urban Shield" channel has been shut down.
The video is posted at UrbanShield.org. Urban Shield is an annual exercise hosted by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, under a DHS grant. The video notes that Boston law enforcement personnel had trained in Urban Shield 2007. According to Law and Order, the Magazine for Police Management, "Urban Shield is a training exercise involving local, national and international first responder agencies" in the event of a wide variety of natural or man-made disasters.
The report does not make clear if the Dublin center was used to coordinate the Boston operation.
The lockdown was described officially as a "shelter in place" request by the Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick. However, media portrayal of the request blurred the distinction between a request and an order, leading many people to believe that they were being ordered to stay indoors. Civil libertarians decried the tactic as a move toward martial law, which could be abused in the event of democratic protest. Such an order, they said, could be triggered even by a low-level threat such as "man-with-a-gun."
Robert Taylor of PolicyMic.com wrote:
"For those of us ceaselessly advocating for a free society and limits to government power, the sight of an entire city placed under martial law was incredibly disturbing and a scene — like Waco and Ruby Ridge before — that will be hard to forget. Businesses and schools were closed while public transit was padlocked. Paramilitary police patrolled residential neighborhoods in tanks, each of them armed with those "assault weapons" people keep complaining about. Military-style helicopters equipped with thermal imaging devices flew the skies. In full battle gear, they ordered people out of their homes, snipers perched and aimed from rooftops and their homes were searched.
No warrants. No constitutional authority. With little warning, the city was turned into a Constitution-free ghost town."
The FBI still has not explained why it feigned ignorance over the identities of the two suspects, nor taken other simple steps to end the hunt for the surviving brother, Dzhokhar, such as deploying highly reliable law enforcement tools such as bloodhounds, who could have easily followed the hot trail left by Dzhokhar as he fled on foot, likely bleeding.
Possibility of FBI Entrapment Raised
Many of the odd circumstances and unanswered question surrounding the Marathon bombing have led notable observers to remind the public of the FBI's documented record of using entrapment schemes as a means of taking credit for foiling plots, and possibly advancing unspoken agendas. Fox News reporter Ben Swann has asked openly if the Boston bombing might follow the pattern of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, now acknowledged by mainstream media sources to have been an FBI entrapment plot which resulted in casualties. The New York Times and CBS News have reported that fake explosives were somehow replaced by real ones in a plot hatched by the FBI to lead a group of Muslim men to acts of violence.
Russ Baker, an award-winning journalist who has written for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, The Nation, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and other publications, has published a piece at his website WhoWhatWhy.com by Prof. Peter Dale Scott, entertaining the notion that the older brother Tamerlan was working in some covert capacity with the FBI, perhaps unknowingly. It is undisputed that gunfire was exchanged at some point between police and the Tsarnaev brothers. Beyond that, says Scott, many questions remain.