It's hard to know what to say about what happened yesterday. Obviously a terrorist attack. Is it domestic or foreign? You automatically assume foreign, but given the event (Patriot's Day, Tax Day), you just can't be sure.
3 dead, including an 8 year old boy, pictured below. 144 injured (although that latter number still varies). Many amputees.
Typically, major praise on the people there who responded immediately, and it was very fortunate that many medical personnel were there anyway to help with exhausted marathon runners.
Also typically, our politicians seem to be bumfuzzled. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who recently took over as the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told a national television audience yesterday that a "person of interest" in the Boston Marathon bombings "is in custody." That was incorrect, and law enforcement officials went out of their way last night to explain there is no one in custody.
Shortly before his appearance, McCaul held a brief press conference on Capitol Hill, telling reporters, "We've been quite fortunate that this type of attack has not happened before in the U.S." This, too, is incorrect. We've seen many bombings on U.S. soil over the last 20 years, including the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the Unabomber in 1994, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the pipe bombs at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, the bomb at an Alabama abortion clinic in 1998, the arson attack at a Syracuse temple in 2000, the 18 pipe bombs planted in mailboxes in five states in 2002, the 2008 bomb planted in front of a military recruiting center in Times Square, the bomb at a San Diego courthouse also in 2008, the fire bombs targeting researchers in 2008 at UC Santa Cruz, and in 2011, there was an attempted bombing of an MLK parade in Spokane.
And that's just the last 20 years. If we go back further, let's not forget the series of anarchist bombings in 1919 and 1920, including the wagon bomb that killed 38 people on Wall Street, which were terribly deadly.
The tragic truth is this type of attack has happened before in the U.S., and it's not helpful for the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee to argue otherwise.
I think Patton Oswald summed the tone for me:
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.)