Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said Monday that the response of law enforcement officials to the Boston Marathon bombings should frighten Americans more than the attack itself.
In an op-ed titled "Liberty Was Also Attacked in Boston" for libertarian writer Lew Rockwell's website, Paul likened the massive manhunt for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to "scenes from a military coup in a far off banana republic."
Forced lockdown of a city. Militarized police riding tanks in the streets. Door-to-door armed searches without warrant. Families thrown out of their homes at gunpoint to be searched without probable cause. Businesses forced to close. Transport shut down.
These were not the scenes from a military coup in a far off banana republic, but rather the scenes just over a week ago in Boston as the United States got a taste of martial law. The ostensible reason for the military-style takeover of parts of Boston was that the accused perpetrator of a horrific crime was on the loose. The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city. This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself.
The bombings left three people dead and more than 200 injured. Paul said the deaths were tragic, but pointed out that more than 40 people are killed in the United States every day, sometimes as many as 10 in one city, and yet those cities are not locked down or given the same "paramilitary police" treatment as Boston.
Residents of Watertown, Mass., were told to stay indoors for much of April 19, after Dzhokhar and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev led authorities on a dramatic car chase replete with explosives and gunfire. Tamerlan was killed early Friday, but Dzhokhar managed to escape, prompting the authorities' request that residents stay indoors and largely shutting down the city. Officials did not lift the request until Friday night, after completing a 20-street sweep of the neighborhood where the encounter took place. Dzhokhar was later found in Watertown, severely injured and hiding out in a backyard boat.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and state police have since defended their decision to shut down Boston and some area municipalities during the manhunt.
"I think we did what we should have done and were supposed to do with the always-imperfect information that you have at the time," Patrick told reporters at a press conference Friday.
But Paul said the reaction was a violation of civil liberties, not to mention unsuccessful, since Dzhokhar was discovered by a resident after the stay indoors request had been lifted.
"This is unprecedented and is very dangerous," he said. "We must educate ourselves and others about our precious civil liberties to ensure that we never accept demands that we give up our Constitution so that the government can pretend to protect us."