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Boston Marathon explosion(s) open thread

[Police descend on apartment complex in Revere as press, obviously tipped off, reports. Then they clam up. A break in the case, or not. --lambert]

So, I've just finished my tax return at H&R Block, and I hear the receptionists talking about an explosion at the Boston Marathon V.I.P stand in Copley Square [adding: though it turns out to be right at the finish line, not a VIP stand, if there even is one.] On the taxi back I heard word that an explosion at the JFK Library had been debunked as connected, and that Logan was open but Boston was a "No Fly" zone. Also, Obama was preparing to speak. I hear of injuries but no deaths [wrong: two] and no arrests.

Yes, the powers that be will see this is an opportunity -- see under Reichstag fire, false flag operations, etc. -- but one can't help but wonder who would consider April 15 a special, special day. [Adding: The New York Post blames some Saudis, and the old guy I was in the line with on the way home -- I made a stop at the mall -- thought it was Muslims. [Adding: However, I was listening to Howie Carr, who is a regional Rush Limbaugh, and Carr was studiously avoiding speculation as to the identity of the bombers. As were the calllers.]] [And adding: My initial thought makes a lot more sense when the explosion is at the VIP stand, than when it's at the finish line.]

Readers, more? Adding... The earliest snippets at the top; the latest at the bottom. I'm not trying to create a narrative, just gleaning facts as they appear.

* * *

The Atlantic has a live blog (with sound that goes on automatically, ugh):

Multiple outlets, law enforcement officials, and President Obama are responding with news that a horrific looking scene made clear on Monday in downtown Boston, even as a frenzied search for more potential explosive devices continued and hospitals rushed to help survivors: The finish line at the Boston Marathon was bombed twice in what is being described as a coordinated "event" with perhaps some 80 or 90 people brutally injured and at least two dead.

* * *

Law enforccement, via crawler: Explosions were near the Marathon Sports store (ABC). Another witness says, however, that the explosion came from a trash barrel. So we don't know yet.

* * *

DiFi calls it terrorism, "It could be foreign, it could be home grown." So again, we don't know.

* * *

No sign of radiologics. Good news!

* * *

OBAMA: 6:12 pm ET: We do not know who did this or why… But make no mistake. We will get to the bottom of this,” says President Obama.

* * *

Casting about for more sources, I thought "I'll see what The Phoenix has to say." But sadly The Phoenix is no more.

* * *

One of the dead an 8-year-old boy.

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"A senior U.S. intelligence official said two other bombs were found near the end of the 26.2-mile course."

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The timing:

They occurred about four hours into the race and two hours after the men's winner crossed the line. By that point, more than 17,000 of the runners had finished the race, but thousands of others were farther back along the course.

The four-hour mark is typically a highly crowded time near the finish line — both because of the slow-but-steady recreational runners likely to be completing the race and because of all the relatives and friends clustered around to cheer them on.

Assuming the timers worked of course. Though even that's speculation; perhaps cell phones were used.

* * *


* * *

Nice map of the area from the Times: First explosion right at the finish line; second one 500 feet back. Authorities are said to be "desperately seeking" a Penske truck (not a Ryder?) but what leaps out at me is that the Green Line Copley Square entrances and exits are right there. If the devices were back-pack sized, that would be one way to bring them in, along with tens of thousands of other backpacks. Pure speculation, of course, and I don't know what the MBTA security arrangements are like. No cell phone coverage in the tunnels, though!

* * *

CNN live blog, on the bombs:

Update, 6:47 p.m. ET] Initial tests indicate that the two bombs were small and possibly crude, with the tests not indicating any high-grade explosive material was used, a federal law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told CNN national security contributor and former homeland security adviser Fran Townsend.

[Update, 7:57 p.m. ET] Doctors are "pulling ball bearings out of people in the emergency room," a terrorism expert briefed on the investigation told CNN's Deborah Feyerick.

Assholes. All weapons suck, but bombs really suck. Crude construction argues home-grown, to me. The Saudis can afford the best! (Counter-argument: "If they think you're technical, go crude. If they think you're crude, go technical" (William Gibson). But I think that's too clever by half.)

* * *

Boston Commons area at 7:45:

As of right now, the Boston MBTA subway system is still closed. A 15 block area in the Back Bay of Boston (where the incident occurred) is closed down. Police in camouflage line the Boston Commons.

* * *


The federal raid on a religious compound near Waco, Texas, 20 years ago this week, and the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, 18 years ago this week, were two other April tragedies.

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Online WSJ live blog:

David Jacobs, editor and publisher of the Boston Courant, was near the intersection of Exeter Street and Boylston when he heard a blast. “My first reaction was ‘oh no, another water main break.’ That had happened there about a week and a half ago,” he said. He said that he saw smoke and debris flying and “smelled quinine in the air.” Boston police quickly arrived to clear the area, he added.

That's weird. Quinine glows in UV light, but WTF?

* * *
Online WSJ:

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon explosions, counterterrorism officials have found what they believe to be five additional, undetonated explosive devices around the Boston area.

Hmm. How'd they find them? UPDATE:

The devices — which are in addition to the two that exploded near the finish line of the marathon — were discovered over the course of a frantic inspection of suspicious packages, many of them abandoned as pedestrians, runners, and others scrambled away from crowded public streets. Each had been rendered inoperative or was in the process of being rendered inoperative, the officials said.

But the officials also sounded a note of caution, saying they are moving quickly and each device they believe is a bomb has not been fully dissected or analyzed.

Yeah. Hmm.

* * *


the 26th mile marker in this year's marathon was actually dedicated to the victims of Newtown,

* * *
Live press conference, 8:50PM FBI takes charge. ATF, state, local, "all Federal resources that can be brought to bear." Criminal investigation, possibly terrorist. Encourage all to have "a heightened state of vigilance."

Ortiz, Swartz's killer: "Thorough, active, and fluid investigation." ("Thorough, active, and fluid" seems to be the catchphrase)

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis:

Three deaths.

No suspect at Brigham & Women's. No comment on persons of interest. [Nevertheless, SWAT teams there.]

First Q: Is it a false flag attack? A: No.

Won't comment on number of explosives, evidence.

No "further: devices found. "We are not at ease."

Will not confirm child killed. List being compiled, available in the morning.

Ends, with "false flag" guy yelling about 'our civil liberties."

* * *

8:31 p.m.: Hospitals are now reporting that at least 134 people have been injured — and ”at least 15 critically,” per the Associated Press.

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This year, Patriots' Day also falls on Tax Day, another important date for right-wing extremists. For all these reasons, [Alex] Jones predicted that while "they might blame it on the Muslims, they're going to blame it on the Tea Party."

From The Department of No! They Would Never Do That! It doesn't make sense to me, since so far as I can tell the right is coddled by everybody in DC on up to Obama, but you never know. After all, most cases against domestic terrorism involve the Feds helpfully supplying the tools for the job, or the uniforms or whatever. And no doubt there is a MIHOP vs. LIHOP discussion to be had for this event as well.

* * *

Out and back at 10:30PM.

Really repellent announcer for ABC's "Terror at the Boston Marathon" -- pronounced in that deep, husky, male voice reserved for horror movies. Media as sick as ever.

* * *

Looks like the authorities knew something was up:

University of Mobile’s Cross Country Coach, who was near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when a series of explosions went off, said he thought it was odd there were bomb sniffing dogs at the start and finish lines.
"They kept making announcements to the participants do not worry, it's just a training exercise," Coach Ali Stevenson told Local 15.

Stevenson said he saw law enforcement spotters on the roofs at the start of the race. He's been in plenty of marathons in Chicago, D.C., Chicago, London and other major metropolitan areas but has never seen that level of security before.
"Evidently, I don't believe they were just having a training exercise," Stevenson said. "I think they must have had some sort of threat or suspicion called in."
Stevenson had just finished the marathon before the explosions. Stevenson said his wife had been sitting in one of the seating sections where an explosion went off, but thankfully she left her seat and was walking to meet up with him.

I would think security would be as tight as it can be for a marathon anyhow, but "[D]o not worry, it's just a training exercise" really does show things were ratcheted up a notch.

* * *

Another eyewitness comments on the smell: "It was hard to pinpoint the exact smell of the explosion, but it just smelled like an explosion, smelled like chemicals." And from the same source: "There was a smell, a smell that something bad had happened. I lived in New York City during 9/11 so I know what an explosion smells like."

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Photographer John Tlumacki (late of The Phoenix IIRC): " I took my shoes off because they were covered in blood from walking on the sidewalk taking pictures."

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Online WSJ:

Eight patients remain in critical condition with some unconscious and “terribly ill,” said a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Many face several critical surgeries in upcoming days, said trauma surgeon Peter Fagenholz. The hospital has already performed several amputations but has reported no fatalities, he said. Many of the injuries are to “lower extremities” and include both tissue, vessel and bone problems, he said.

I saw one photo, which I won't reprint, of a guy shredded from the knees down. Particularly cruel to take away these people's identity as runners.

Scheduled non-emergency procedures have been canceled at the hospital, he said. The hospital is asking for blood donations.

Makes you wonder what would happen for an event one order of magnitude greater (which is still, truth to tell, small in comparison to, say, the Battle of the Somme. Or daily life in Iraq following our intervention, as people on the twitter periodically point out).

* * *

Break in the case? Quick work, if so. Boston Herald:

Boston police and a cadre of federal officials descended on an Ocean Avenue apartment complex in Revere last night.

In addition to two Boston Police K-9 units and a bomb squad unit, a large contingent of federal agents from the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as Homeland Security investigations and state police had assembled at the two buildings.

It was unclear whether the search was connected to the Boston Marathon bombings. Tight-lipped agents said nothing to assembled [but somehow tipped off?] media. Worried building residents said they were left in the dark.

Marcus Worthington, 24, a building resident said no one has told him what was happening.

“I started noticing the cars, the Taurus there and that one about 5,” Worthington said. “We were thankful we decide not to go down. It’s best not to jump to conclusions.”

Worthington’s girlfriend Whitney Drake, 24, was concerned.

“It’s never a good thing to see all of these agencies. It’s more than a local problem,” Drake said. ...

Boston Police Crime Scene Response unit which collects evidence following major crimes arrived and two members of that unit took several brown paper bags, normally used to store evidence taken from the scene, into the building.

I agree with Drake. I guess we'll see how this pans out.

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