Self-Righteous Security Theater

by on February 1, 2007 · 2 comments

Some people seem to think that this was outrageous. Others think it’s funny. Put me in the latter category:

Assistant Attorney General John Grossman called the light boards “bomblike” devices and said that if they had been explosive they could have damaged transportation infrastructure in the city.

Judge Paul K. Leary told Grossman that, according to law, the suspects must intend to create a panic to be charged with placing hoax devices.

It appears the suspects had no such intent, the judge said, but the question should be discussed in a later hearing.

Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens were released on $2,500 bail, said Mike Rich, their attorney. The next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for March 7.

In a news conference, Rich told reporters he had advised his clients not to discuss the incident. Stevens and Berdovsky took the podium and said they were taking questions only about haircuts in the 1970s.

When a reporter accused them of not taking the situation seriously, Stevens responded, “We’re taking it very seriously.” Asked another question about the case, Stevens reiterated they were answering questions only about hair and accused the reporter of not taking him and Berdovsky seriously.

Reporters did not relent and as they continued, Berdovsky disregarded their queries, saying, “That’s not a hair question. I’m sorry.”

How do we know they were designed to look like bombs?

“It had a very sinister appearance,” Coakley told reporters. “It had a battery behind it, and wires.”

Oh my God! Wires! And a battery! My question is: doesn’t the city of Boston have any bomb experts on staff? I mean, it’s not crazy for a layman to see an unidentified electronic device and imagine it could be a bomb. But wouldn’t the first step be to call in a bomb squad to examine the device? And wouldn’t it be obvious to anyone that knew anything about electronics that it’s highly unlikely that a terrorist would put dozens of gratuitous LEDs on the front of a bomb?

Terrorism is a serious problem, and we should take prudent steps to to deal with it. But we also have to remember that terrorists’ goal is to produce terror and get attention. When we’re this panicky, we do the terrorists’ job for them. Yesterday Osama bin Laden succeeded in snarling traffic and producing an avalanche of news coverage without lifting a finger.

Also, how on earth could you possibly think this was a deliberate attempt to create panic?

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