With the second anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing approaching, NPR is running a series called “The Road Ahead”. In its daily segments, NPR examines how everyday lives have been affected by the horrific event two years ago. One unfortunate but seemingly inevitable part of that road entails law enforcement’s stepped-up abuse of its citizens. As with all acts of terrorism, law enforcement has not let this crisis go to waste. The dreadful acts of two lone-wolf brothers at the 2013 Boston Marathon have provided the momentum needed for law enforcement to foist ever increasing violations of privacy upon its subjects. It is a pill that will be swallowed by Bostonians, at least initially, without much protest given the nature of the police state’s justification.
This year’s marathon attendees will see some 3,500 police officers and National Guardsmen monitoring their every move. Attendees will also be subject to security checkpoints, searches, and bomb-sniffing dogs. Many of the officers patrolling the marathon will be in plain clothes, an even more devious invasion of privacy. With bag searches being law enforcement’s stated focus, they prove themselves one step behind the next Tsarnaev, who will merely adapt to their plans.
In a recent interview with HBO’s John Oliver, Edward Snowden stated a painful truth about security. The only way to be one hundred percent secure, Snowden said, is to be in jail. Leaving aside the quality of security one experiences in prison, it is a comment worthy of serious contemplation. Each day people face mixed possibilities of risk and reward. The law enforcement community’s way to deal with risk involves no nuance. Its draconian brand of risk reduction comes down firmly on the side of destroying individual liberties.
For Constitution-worshippers it is one more tear in the Fourth Amendment, which purportedly guarantees Americans protection from random and baseless searches by the state. But the Fourth Amendment is regularly watered down with each new dictate of law enforcement. The newest wave involves so-called national security exceptions, which this behavior will no doubt fall under. The Boston Marathon’s black guard won’t be thinking of the Constitution as they search high and low for violators of their newly implemented policies. It is all the more ironic that this new heap of dirt shoveled onto the American Constitution comes on Patriot’s Day. American Revolutionaries are spinning in their graves as they watch today’s Redcoats go to work without even so much as a general warrant. Lysander Spooner said of the Constitution: “it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.” At some point, Constitutional reverence must give way to the realization that the Constitution is endlessly malleable in proportion with the demands of the state.
The Road Ahead for law enforcement is a predictable path. Increased security at the Boston Marathon will soon find its way to other public events, and likely private ones too. As the flagrant abuse is simply accepted by patrons of this year’s Boston Marathon, a legal gloss continues to develop over the state’s policies. The legality for law enforcement’s behavior will not come from any specific law, but from “custom” and “tradition” that will be retroactively approved as another exception to the already tattered Fourth Amendment. Eventually, we will just “all know" that at a public gathering, police may search us for national security purposes. To imagine that police will draw any distinction between a bag containing explosives and a bag containing drugs is ludicrous, making the "national security purposes" justification simply a front.
Massachusetts State Police Colonel Timothy Alban assures spectators that, “[t]his is a celebration. We want you to come out and enjoy this.” No doubt it is a celebration, and nowhere more than in law enforcement quarters, where the police state thugs are rejoicing for their newly minted opportunity.
Chad Nelson is an assistant editor for Antiwar.com. Follow him on Twitter.