The most horrifying and compelling sight most of have seen on our TV screens was the giant tumbleweed of smoke, dust and debris rolling menacingly towards a fleeing mass of terrified people after the collapse of one of the World Trade Towers September 11th, 2001. Monday, April 15, 2013 at about 4 PM I received a call from my wife asking if I was near a TV and urging me to turn it on. The request was spoken in a resigned register. I could tell something really nasty had happened and it had nothing to do with family or she would have told me immediately. My first reaction as I switched to CNN was an assassination attempt; as the picture came up I saw smoke rising in the air and people either running or not moving in an eerie microcosm of 9/11. There had been two explosions at about 2:50 PM Eastern Time in the vicinity of the finish of the iconic Boston Marathon.
I reverted to my years as an anchor/newsman and started watching and taking notes. The early moments of a major extemporaneous news events (that can extend to hours) are mixes of information and rumors pouring in from multiple witness and hearsay accounts. The initial numbers of dead and injured were pegged at zero and eight. Those numbers didn’t last long as hospitals continued to receive victims in substantial numbers. Shortly thereafter a death toll was announced at 2, Fox News was saying 3.
The first CNN witness that I heard said he heard and felt a explosion that seemed like it was fired from a huge cannon with a second lesser explosion to follow. I thought the early expert guesstimates were quite responsible. No blame was assessed and all statements were disclaimed as being early and that “we don’t know the exact details as yet.” Just from the earliest information it seemed to me that the explosion was not aimed at the city of Boston, itself, but timed to go off during a world-renowned sporting event. The Boston Marathon attracts international press and is usually witnessed live by roughly a half-million spectators. Plus there’s a mammoth field of over 23,000 runners. Also playing into the massive crowd was the state holiday of Patriot’s Day.
There were apparently no threats delivered in advance and nobody taking subsequent “credit.” AP reported 2 more devices were found at the Marathon and were being dismantled. There was no follow-up. Doesn’t mean the story was wrong. Maybe local law enforcement wanted to keep it on the down low. As it developed some hours later, that was probably the case as it became official that an unexploded bomb was found at a hotel and another at an undisclosed location.
Another witness was interviewed and like all who went before him described the first explosion as “huge.”
By this time several experts opined that the bombs were somewhat on the small side and amateurish. Their opinions were based on the size of the explosions, made louder than their power would indicate because of building amplification. The white smoke also tipped the experts as to the possible ingredients, perhaps a form of Hydrogen Peroxide.
The president was being kept current by Deputy NSA adviser for Homeland Security, Lisa Monaco. He had already spoken with the Massachusetts Governor and the Boston Mayor.
Jane Harman, a former California Democratic Congresswoman and currently head of the Woodrow Wilson Institute was once a member of the House Intelligence Committee and provided some learned insight. She was one of the few people interviewed who ventured a guess as to the bad guy or guys. She suggested that Al Qaeda could be involved. One of the interesting ironies of this attack, officially termed as a terrorist attack, hits you when you hear CNN’s John King describing the attack as being a “well planned and organized event.” Interesting in light of the facts we just learned about the relative simplicity of the bombs themselves. Speaking of reporter King, some stories can get very personal. King’s son attends college in Boston and he told of being initially unsuccessful in trying to get in touch with him because of the great number of calls to friends and relatives. I’ve heard of no harm coming to his son, so things must be OK.
A running narrative was that a third bomb had hit the JFK Presidential Library. That turned out to be either a fire or some kind of incendiary device (which can actually be a bomb) that apparently had no relation to the terror attack.
Another witness talked of the explosion’s aftermath of huge plumes of smoke, dust and glass. The witness also talked of seeing amputees. Only one amputation has been verified though a later figures stood at 10 and could still be increasing. At this point people were being told to go home and if they’re visiting, to go back to their hotels and stay there.
At 6:10, the President addressed the nation expressing his regrets and talking about federal resources being funneled into Boston to meet any contingency. He’s at once firm and calming. “We will find out who did this.” He expressed full confidence in Boston and its citizens. At the conclusion of his remarks he said, “I just want to reiterate. We will found out who did this and hold these individuals responsible.”
The latest I heard before submitting this piece was that the feds were going to keep very tight track of who boards outbound foreign flights, most particularily at Boston’s Logan Airport. That would strongly suggest that organized foreign terrorists are suspected in the attack. I don’t have enough information to hazard a guess at this point. From what I know, the perpetrator or perpetrators could run the gamut of extremists individuals and organizations from leftist anarchists and ‘loners’ to right-wing white power types to Al Qaeda, troubled teens and everybody in between.
I’ll certainly have a full analysis when more specifics become available. Sure didn’t take long to push the gun and immigration questions into the background did it?
My best and prayers to those who may have loved ones and/or friends caught up in this horrific incident. It might be a little late in the game, but if you have any idea of who might have carried off this evil deed, call 1 800 494-TIPS and if somehow you’ve just read about this incident and may have a loved one in the area, call the relative line at (617) 635-4500
Latest developments: a “person of interest in custody.” Ball bearings involved in explosions. A mysterious truck. Many amputations. At this point 3 dead and that may not be the final toll; a total of 144 injured.
Sombody in custody and a mysterious dark-skinned male with a backpack, hoodie and “foreign accent” who was trying to get into a restricted area were the hot leads for a time. They seems to be fading as the hunt continues.
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