A terrorist attack is like a national Rorschach test. Everybody sees in it what they want — usually something that proves a point they've been making all along.
Even before the Tsarnaev brothers were identified as the perpetrators of the
Once real suspects were identified, pundits and public officials appropriated the bombings to support their worldviews, citing it to support positions on U.S. counter-terrorism policy,
From the right, for example, came a familiar refrain: The attacks in Boston show that the
Professor Yoo must not have noticed the thousands of drone strikes President Obama has ordered against suspected terrorists in
From the far reaches of the left came an equally disconnected complaint: The Boston bombings, Princeton University's Richard Falk suggested, were a form of "resistance" to what he called "the American global domination project." Never mind that neither Tsarnaev brother had any known views on U.S. foreign policy at all.
Several Republicans, led by Sen.
On the other side of that debate, along with the usual liberal suspects, was another Republican, the libertarian Sen.
But Paul had another point he wanted to make: The bombings, he said, bolstered his view that Congress should move slowly on immigration reform. "We should not proceed until we understand the specific failures of our immigration system," he argued (right before he misidentified where the brothers came from). "Why did the current system allow two individuals to immigrate to the United States from the Chechen Republic in Russia, an area known as a hotbed of Islamic extremism, who then committed acts of terrorism?"
But to those who want to move fast on an immigration bill, the bombings were another reason to speed up. "Immigration reform will make us safer," said Sen.
Both points seemed only tangentially connected to the circumstances of the Boston case. But that didn't stop the point-scoring for a moment.
For Graham and others, Boston was all about an "intelligence failure," although it wasn't clear exactly where the failure was. For New York Mayor
What did all these debating points have in common? Insufficient information.
Were the Tsarnaevs acting at the behest of foreign terrorists? Did they deceive the U.S. immigration system? Could their intentions have been detected ahead of time by a more vigilant
We don't know yet. We could always wait to find out. But for anyone with a cause to push, a talking point is a terrible thing to waste.