The archive is currently offline but you can view most of my tweets covering the MIT shooting, car jacking, and chase here. Scroll down to start at the beginning. Follow @BlogsOfWar for live updates about this case.
Investigators mull releasing photos from Boston Marathon finish line – Investigators are believed to be weighing the advantages of releasing the photos and enlisting the public’s aid in finding possible suspects and doing anything that might jeopardize the investigation. Amateur sleuths around the world have been examining widely circulated photos from the crowd, isolating on people with backpacks, but officials have warned against such speculation.
The Boston Bombing Witch Hunt Bags Another Innocent Kid – On Monday, the New York Post doggedly stuck to its claim that 12 were killed in the Boston Marathon bombings. On Tuesday, CNN (among others) reported that a suspect had been arrested, before walking that all the way back. Today, the Post wrests back the “what the fuck are you doing?” crown by putting two “potential suspects” on the cover of the newspaper. They are most assuredly innocent.
Boston Police Commander: “I need somebody up there to get on social media…” – Shortly after the IEDs detonated in Boston (at 10:38 in the recording above), an unidentified police commander got on the radio and began giving orders. “We’re going to get the victims out, we’re then going to conduct a sweep with EOD assets… we will then get people out of the restaurants and bars. I need somebody up there to get on social media and let people know what we’re doing here–that we’re sweeping the streets to make sure it’s safe first, and then we’ll get them out of the bars once we get it swept.”
Crowdsourcing the Boston Marathon Bomber – The difference with the Reddit and 4chan crowd-sourcing is that the flow of information is not limited to the individual with information and the feds who receive the tip. Speculation is now published widely, for all to see—a dangerous idea, writes The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal. “They are not real cops. They are well-meaning people who have not considered the moral weight of what they’re doing,” he said. “This is vigilantism, and it’s only the illusion that what we do online is not as significant as what we do offline that allows this to go on.”
The Internet Mystery-Solving Machine – a horde of amateur digital-forensic analysts have been poring over every pixel of some of the same raw material as investigators—publicly available high-resolution photos and video of the race, bombing, and aftermath,which has been scattered across the Web and broadcast by news media—hoping to see something that official investigators have not. It’s a human-powered parallel-processing machine, one with overwhelming scale that is constantly churning as it aggregates known information with new data, synthesizing the two to produce highly idiosyncratic analyses. The machine is marked by its intensity, heterogeneous composition, and its odd syntax, in which annotations are made with crude graphics, and arguments are made in the raw language of Internet forums.
Media’s description of search for ‘dark skinned’ Boston Marathon suspect shows ineptitude around race – A reporter’s work is incomplete if the only description they have for a potential suspect – particularly for a crime on the magnitude of the Boston Marathon bombing – is ”dark-skinned.” Time is of the essence. Other U.S. cities and national landmarks have been placed on high alert. If a vigilant public is to help law enforcement put together the pieces of this puzzle, they must have full descriptions, which can include race but must include more.
Obama to visit Boston amid search for suspects seen on video – President Barack Obama was due to visit Boston today to attend a memorial service for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing amid a manhunt for two suspects seen on video taken before two blasts struck near the finish line on Monday.
How Long Does it Take to Catch a Terrorist? – As the country waits for answers about who the terrorist — or terrorists — is, the reality of how long that might take was discussed Tuesday on the PBS NewsHour. Michael Greenberger, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Health and Homeland Security, said he’s optimistic that they’ll find the perpetrator of the Boston marathon bombings eventually, but possibly not until evidence is painstakingly pored through and analyzed. “I have the unfortunate suspicion that this won’t be solved quickly,” he said in a story posted yesterday.
Social media and the Boston bombings: When citizens and journalists cover the same story – There is a reflexive reaction to pit emergent social media behavior against the traditional journalistic practices and norms. This defensive posture is counterproductive for both sides. Rather than pointing out flaws in order to uphold one model over the other, we should appreciate the interplay between them with a sense of symbiotic dependence that ultimately produces a more participatory, accurate and compelling news cycle.
Give It Arrest - A visiual guide to the CLUSTER$&K of misinformation during Wednesday afternoon’s Boston Marathon bombing news coverage.
Beware bogus Boston Marathon charity websites – One fraudster already tried to dupe the public by setting up a Twitter account minutes after the bombing that claimed to be associated with the Boston Marathon organization. The @_BostonMarathon account promised to donate $1 for every retweet. After users called it out as a fake, Twitter quickly shut the account down — but not before it received more than 50,000 retweets.
Internet Comes Up With 8.5 Million Leads On Potential Boston Bombing Suspect (satire) – While still early in the investigation, experts believe the internet is likely to uncover crucial evidence in the coming hours that will likely result in anywhere between 20 to 30 million more leads on potential bombing suspects.
Follow @Blogsofwar for continuous live updates of this story.
Boston bomb probe looking at pressure cooker, backpacks – Boston Marathon bombing investigators on Wednesday entered the third day of their hunt with an emerging picture of the target: a suspect or suspects carrying heavy bags or backpacks made of dark nylon.
The limits of intelligence collection – U.S. intelligence didn’t pick up any threat stream about Boston or the marathon before the event, nor any terrorist “chatter” about the attack afterward. That doesn’t rule out al-Qaeda involvement, but this attack doesn’t resemble anything the core group or its major affiliates have done in the past. Officials can only speculate at this point about perpetrators. But the early evidence looks more like the work of a lone individual or a small group than that of a larger terror network. If it’s part of a broader terror plot, then it represents a new and cruder approach. Terror attacks that fit the same pattern are the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 1996 pipe bombing at the Atlanta Olympics and the 2011 pipe-bomb plot in Spokane, Wash. In each case, the chief attackers were lone wolves.
Boston bomb investigators can’t decide: Foreign or domestic? – All of the talking heads that discuss this incident and incidents like it, if your experience and your expertise is Middle East terrorism, it has the hallmarks of al Qaeda or a Middle East group,” said former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes, in a CNN article. He continued: But “if your experience is domestic groups and bombings that have occurred here, it has the hallmarks of a domestic terrorist like Eric Rudolph in the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics bombings.”
Local terrorism expert on Boston bombings: ‘Likely domestic, possible lone wolf’ – Dr. Greg Moore is the Director of the Center for Intelligence Studies at Notre Dame College. Moore said there is still an enormous amount of information to be viewed but he believes the attack is domestic terrorism.
Boston Bombing: World Reacts with Flood of Tributes – Users of China’s Twitter-like social media service Weibo reportedly praised the U.S. response to the incident. “In the face of the tragedy, we can learn a lot from the American government, media, businesses and citizens’ kind interactions,” wrote one user, according to the International Business Times.
Experts Skeptical Homegrown Terrorists Were Behind Boston Bombings – But one message from domestic terrorism experts is clear: Most of the evidence points against an antigovernment group being responsible for the attack. Several militia groups, who fiercely and sometimes violently fight to keep their Second Amendment rights, have come out against the bombings in Boston.
Boston Marathon blasts: Investigators eye ‘range of suspects and motives’ – “Importantly, the person who did this is someone’s friend, neighbor, co-worker or relative. We are asking anyone who may have heard someone speak about the marathon, or the date of April 15, in any way that indicated that he or she may have targeted this event to call us,” DesLauriers said.
Reddit Scours Photos in Search of Boston Bombing Suspects – The group, called r/FindBostonBombers, has hundreds of Redditors pointing their collective finger at several unknown people it considers suspicious based on their appearances and backpacks. Law enforcement has said the devices were contained in backpacks or large duffel bags, but authorities have provided no physical description of any suspect.
Boston Marathon bombing victims: Promising lives lost – “She was an incredible woman, always full of energy and hard at work, but never too tired to share her love and a smile with everyone,” the post said. “She was an inspiration to all of us. Please keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers.” Even without government confirmation that Ms. Lu was killed in the bomb blast on Monday, Chinese Internet sites filled with mournful messages about a woman in her mid-20s whose ambitions took her from a rust-belt hometown of Shenyang to Beijing and then the United States. Her account on Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging service used by tens of millions of people in China, attracted more than 10,000 messages, mostly of condolence, in the hours after Chinese media reported her death.
China Mourns the Death of a Student in Boston Blast – “You are in heaven now, where there are no bombs,” said one typical message.
Twitter Donates Promoted Trend to ‘One Boston’ – Entertainers, athletes and ordinary citizens aren’t the only ones aiding Boston residents after Monday afternoon’s deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon. Twitter lent a helping hand of its own on Tuesday in the form of a donated promoted trend on the microblogging network.
Alex Jones And His Enablers – As Jones Pushes Conspiracies About The Boston Bombings, A Look At The Politicians, Media Figures, And Outlets Who Validate Him.
Why One Californian Bought a Domain Name to Stave Off Boston Conspiracy Theorists – I saw some pretty unbelievable and disgusting statements being made almost immediately. So, I went back to my desk and quickly bought the domain for BostonMarathonConspiracy dot com and and posted a simple message saying that I purchased it only to make sure the kooks don’t get it.
Why the Conspiracy Theorists Will Have a Tough Time With Boston – The attacks in Boston lack a number of the factors they need to concoct a really compelling conspiracy theory. They’re always on the lookout for a “false flag” attack, a government-run ruse intended to bring public opinion in line. In reality, the last example they can point to of this is the Reichstag Fire; in fiction, it’s usually fun to point to Watchmen. But the Boston bombings are going to present some challenges.
The Saudi Marathon Man – What made them suspect him? He was running—so was everyone. The police reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb—as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one. He asked if anyone was dead—a question people were screaming. And he was from Saudi Arabia, which is around where the logic stops. Was it just the way he looked, or did he, in the chaos, maybe call for God with a name that someone found strange?
Follow @Blogsofwar for continuous live updates of this story.
FBI Assists Boston Police Department Regarding Explosions Along Marathon Route and Elsewhere – The FBI has set-up 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3, for anyone who has information, visual images, and/or details regarding the explosions along the Boston Marathon route and elsewhere. No piece of information or detail is too small.
Downtown Boston Remains a Crime Scene – Downtown streets that normally would be clogged at rush hour were largely deserted Tuesday except for a cold wind and a few runners out for a morning jog. “It’s very surreal,” said Mary Ollinger, 32, who works at Wentworth Institute of Technology. “The streets are empty and the Common is filled with media trucks.”
Boston Marathon Explosions: Revere Apartment Searched – Police and federal agents searched an apartment building on Ocean Avenue in nearby Revere late Monday night in connection with the bombings. Agents searched this complex for 9 hours after the marathon bombing. CBS News Senior Correspondent John Miller reported Tuesday morning the apartment search was related to a man who is reportedly under guard at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Miller reported the man is a Saudi national who is in the United States on a student visa. Police and federal officials exit an apartment complex in Revere with a possible connection to the earlier explosions during the Boston Marathon. Several bags were removed from the scene around 2 a.m. Tuesday, but authorities would not comment on the search.
Boston Marathon bombings: Security experts weigh in on potential culprits, motives – Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says the absence of intelligence might suggest the attacker is not affiliated with a larger terrorist group: “It may lead to the fact that this was not connected to a major jihadist organization. This might very well may have been a domestic terrorist or lone wolf, as you might want to describe it.”
Twitter and news: The canary down the mine – Twitter has often been touted as the “first with news”. From the miniscule to the massive. From Stephen Fry being stuck in a lift, to the Arab Spring rippling across North Africa, it is the instant source of a story, the first gurgle from a tap. The only way to find out what’s really happening, according to some. But I’m beginning to think that so-called truth is losing some of its polish.
Social Media Shapes Boston Bombings Response – Terrorism experts said the proliferation of photos and video on the web through social media might also help authorities identify the perpetrators of the attack. “All the media provides a tremendous asset for the forensic evaluation of the explosion event,” said Roman. “Authorities can start examining the pictures and tapes looking for individuals near the receptacles where the bombs were found and individuals not fitting the profile of the general spectator can be identified.”
Social media to the forefront in Boston – ‘Authorities have recognized that one [of] the first places people go in events like this is to social media, to see what the crowd is saying about what to do next. And today authorities went to Twitter and directed them to traditional media environments where authorities can present a clear calm picture of what to do next.’
Boston’s tweeters offer aid to marathon runners – Gestures as small as offering a drink of orange juice and use of a home bathroom were recounted on Twitter on Monday in an ongoing online recollection of the fellowship that emerged in the wake of Monday’s devastation.
Public Shaming – Minutes after the explosions, internet tough guys and girls were already pointing the blame and ready to kill.
Follow me on @Blogsofwar for continuous live updates of this story.
Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of National Security Affairs at Marine Corps University’s Command and Staff College. Prior to joining the faculty in 2009, she taught at The Georgetown Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University and the School of International Service at American University. Dr. Johnson has spoken on topics related to military ethics across the services in the United States and at service schools abroad. She has published numerous articles and book chapters and is currently writing a book on emerging trends in military ethics. Her most recent work, “The Wizard of Oz Goes to War: Unmanned Systems in Counterinsurgency” is forthcoming in Strawser (ed.) Killing by Remote Control: The Ethics of an Unmanned Military. The announcement of this class is cross-posted on Blogs of War with her permission. If you’re interested in military ethics you will also want to read her recent Blogs of War interview.
Military Ethics Twitter Course
We’re getting ready to start our electives period at the Command and Staff College, where I have the good fortune of teaching 17 Majors, Lieutenant Commanders, and GS-14s about military ethics. The course runs 10 sessions over five weeks, and as I’ve been preparing I had one of those ‘flash of the obvious’ moments:
I love teaching. I love military ethics. I love twitter.
Would it be possible to combine the three? I honestly don’t know, but I figure we might as well take a crack at it.
Here’s what I propose:
1. You can see a readings list at Twitter Military Ethics Course. Very graciously, @khanserai has created a googledocs that has the readings for the first couple of weeks. For the others, you’re smart; you can find them. If you have better ideas for readings, videos, etc., lemme know and I’ll update. Nothing like crowd sourcing learning!
2. I intend to loosely mirror the same pace as my seminar course, which means we’ll cover 2 topics per week. Unlike seminar, we’re not constrained by a two-hour window. We’ll have roughly 3 days to develop our thoughts (in 140 character chunks!).
3. All are welcome. Come and go as you please.
4. I’ll post a brief backgrounder on this blog at the start of each topic to kick things off. Then I’ll tweet specific learning points and questions with the hashtag #METC. All you need to do is follow along and ask me questions or give your thoughts on the questions I ask. Just make sure to use the hashtag #METC so everyone catches it. I’ll do my best to storify conversation threads as we go.
5. Since I’ve never done this before, I expect there will be a pretty sharp learning curve. Apologies in advance for whatever I mess up; please let me know how I can help make it more productive for you! Always remember: you get what you pay for.
6. There will be an honor grad. There will be an honor grad prize. That is all I have decided so far.
Any questions? Hit me up at @johnsonr. Here are the general windows for each topic:
Class 1: Introduction to Professional Military Ethics (January 21-23, 2013)
Class 2: Moral Dilemmas (January 24-26, 2013)
Class 3: Motivating Moral Behavior (January 28-30, 2013)
Class 4: Setting the Command Climate (January 31-February 2, 2013)
Class 5: Moral Development (February 4-6, 2013)
Class 6: Targeted Killings (February 7-9, 2013)
Class 7: Emerging Issues – Unmanned Systems (February 11-13, 2013)
Class 8: The Stoic Warrior (February 14-16, 2013)
Class 9: Responding to the Command Climate (February 18-20, 2013)
Class 10: Ethical Fitness (February 21-23, 2013)
February 25, 2013 GRADUATION!!!