CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 16, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BOSTON BOMBING: WHO DID THIS? WHY? AND HOW? Monday's terror attack on the Boston Marathon killed an 8-year-old boy, a young woman nearly 12 years removed from her high school graduation in a Boston suburb, and one other person and left more than 180 others wounded. As Massachusetts and the rest of America mourned, a top FBI investigator vowed to travel "to the ends of the Earth," if need be, to find those responsible. – Michael Pearson
PRESSURE COOKER: The deadly bombs that turned the Boston Marathon into gruesome devastation were apparently placed inside pressure cookers hidden in backpacks, a federal law enforcement source told CNN. The blasts were likely detonated by timers - not by cell phones, a law enforcement official said. – Josh Levs
NO HARD INFORMATION: “We don't have any hard information yet, but I can assure we will find out who did it and bring them to justice,” Vice President Joe Biden told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Capitol Hill.
NO LONGER A PERSON OF INTEREST: The Saudi male who was questioned about the Boston bombing on Monday night, was a spectator at the race and is no longer a person of interest, a U.S. official tells CNN’s Elise Labott. After being injured by the bomb blasts, he was stopped and authorities questioned him. “He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” the source said. Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, after being briefed by members of the intelligence community, echoed the U.S. official. “My understanding is that he totally cooperated and that he is no longer a person of interest,” he said.
NO FOREIGN CONNECTION: A senior U.S. official tells CNN’s Barbara Starr that “there is no reporting indicating a foreign connection or any reaction from Al Qaeda” to the Boston terrorist attacks. That is based on information circulated through senior levels of the Administration six hours ago, and the U.S. official said it certainly could change as the investigation progresses.
HEROES: “Moments like these, terrible as they are, don't show our weakness; they show our strength.” These words were spoken by Suffolk County, Massachusetts, District Attorney Dan Conley after Monday's terror attack in Boston. A day later, signs of that strength are seen in the stories of people - you might call them heroes - who were near the Boston Marathon finish line when two bombs exploded seconds apart. – Alan Duke
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end sharply higher, one day after year's biggest sell-off. Dow adds 157 points, while was NASDAQ up 1.5% and S&P was up 1.4%.
As the nation continues to grieve for Boston – where three people were killed and 183 were injured in bomb blasts after the Boston Marathon – countless questions continue to remain unanswered: Who did this? What was their motive? How do we stop another attack?
The reality is that soft target bombing attacks, like Boston, have become extremely rare since September 11, 2001. According to analysis by Peter Bergen, CNN’s National Security Analyst, “the only bombing attack carried out by an extremist in the United States during the past 12 years was in 2004 when Dennis Mahon, a white supremacist, sent a homemade bomb to Don Logan, the African-American city diversity director of Scottsdale, Arizona, who was maimed when the package exploded in his arms.”
For two politicians – one Republican and one Democrat – the reason for the decline is government spending on counter terrorism.
“We have to be aggressive and never let our guard down,” Republican Rep. Peter King of New York told CNN on Monday. “When you see so many cuts contemplated to Homeland Security and to local police coming from the federal government, this war against terrorism, this was against us, in many ways is more dangerous than prior to 911.”
Unlike King, Former Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts used the moment to defend government spending and make a case against “less government.”
“In this terrible situation, let’s be very grateful that we have a well-funded, functioning government,” Frank told CNN on Tuesday morning. “It is very fashionable in America, has been for some time, to criticize government, belittle public employees. Here we saw government, in two ways, perform very well.”
He continued: “I never was, as a member of Congress, one of the cheerleaders for less government, lower taxes. No tax cut would have helped us deal with this or will help us recover.”
But Bergen’s analysis doesn’t exactly track with those statements. According to the terrorism expert, the rarity of bomb blasts like Boston stems more from changes in tactics, not just government spending.
“Almost overnight, the Oklahoma City attacks destroyed the scant credibility of the type of right-wing militia groups that (Tim) McVeigh had associated with,” Bergen writes. “The feds also began to pay considerable attention to anyone purchasing large amounts of fertilizer of the kind that was used to construct the Oklahoma City truck bomb.”
He continues: “And following the 9/11 attacks, far more businesses started reporting to law enforcement suspicious purchases of any kind of material that could be used for bomb-making.”
As a result, since 9/11, bomb plots have “simply fizzled out.”
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: CNN Poll: Most see pathway to citizenship
As Congress tries to reach consensus on how to deal with border security and immigration reform, a new national poll indicates that more than eight in 10 Americans support an eventual pathway to citizenship for some undocumented workers. According to a CNN/ORC International survey, 84% of the public backs a program that would allow undocumented workers to stay in the United States and apply for citizenship if they have been in the country for several years, have a job, and pay back taxes.
Gut Check Full Service: Immigration bill: No path to residency without a secure border… The border with Mexico must be secure. This requirement is the cornerstone of an immigration reform bill a bipartisan group of senators are to file on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. There will be no path to legal residency for migrants without it. – Ben Brumfield
Leading Drudge: 'We Need More Cameras'
“So I do think we need more cameras,” said Rep. Peter King of New York in an interview with MSNBC. “We have to stay ahead of the terrorists and I do know in New York, the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, which is based on cameras, the outstanding work that results from that. So yes, I do favor more cameras. They're a great law enforcement method and device. And again, it keeps us ahead of the terrorists, who are constantly trying to kill us.”
Leading HuffPo: Boston Heartbreak
The only two bombs at the Boston Marathon were those detonated at the finish line, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Tuesday at a press conference. Several bags and backpacks had been deemed suspicious in the initial hours after the attack, but no additional bombs were found, the governor said.
Leading Politico: Obama calls Boston attack an 'act of terror'
President Barack Obama on Tuesday called the Boston Marathon explosions an “act of terror” as chilling new details about the twin bombs emerged. “This was a heinous and cowardly act, and given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism,” he said in a televised briefing from the White House. “Anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.” – Katie Glueck and Jessica Meyers
Leading the New York Times: Senators Set to Unveil Immigration Bill
After tough negotiations, a bipartisan group of eight senators plans to introduce a proposal on Tuesday that contains a 13-year pathway to citizenship for those here illegally. – Julia Preston
The political bites of the day
- Obama: Selflessly, compassionately, unafraid -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN A STATEMENT TO THE PRESS BRIEFING ROOM: “The American people refused to be terrorized because what the world saw yesterday in the aftermath of the explosions were stories of heroism and kindness and generosity and love: exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood and those who stayed to tend to the wounded, some tearing off their own clothes to make tourniquets, the first responders who ran into the chaos to save lives, the men and women who are still treating the wounded at some of the best hospitals in the world and the medical students who hurried to help saying when we heard, ‘We all came in,’ the priests who opened their churches and administered to the hurt and the fearful and the good people of Boston who opened their homes to the victims of this attack and those shaken by it. If you want to know who we are – what America is – how we respond to evil – that's it. Selflessly, compassionately, unafraid.”
- ‘We know our heroes’ -
BOSTON MAYOR THOMAS MENINO AT A PRESS CONFERENCE: “Yesterday, terror was brought to the city of Boston. Tragedy was brought to one of our neighborhoods. This is a close knit place, the city of Boston. Here, we know our neighbors. We grieve for them. We grieve for the little boy who we knew from Dorchester. But also today I want to say, we know our heroes. They are the men and women who wear the helmets, who wear the badges, the runners who helped us yesterday during this time of need.”
- Members of Congress grieve with those in Boston -
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCONNELL IN A NEWS CONFERENCE ON CAPITOL HILL: “Let me just say that given the events of yesterday, the procedure today is going to be a little different. I would say our hearts go out to the victims and their families of this outrageous act yesterday. We are all anxious to begin to learn about who may have been the perpetrator but it does remind us that our country continues to be a target for attacks.”
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID IN A NEWS CONFERENCE ON CAPITOL HILL: “Our thoughts are with victims, their families, friends in relation to that terrible event in Boston yesterday. Information continues to emerge very slowly but no matter what we find, it will never be able to truly explain how or why a human being could commit such an unspeakable act against totally innocent people.”
REP. STEPHEN LYNCH OF MASSACHUSETTS IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN AFFILIATE WCVB IN BOSTON: “We had loss of life here. We had some grievous injuries for some of the spectators that were there yesterday. My heart goes out to the families who have lost children, lost loved ones. We just need prayers for them, to help them through this. This is something that is just horrific beyond what you could possibly imagine, you take your kids to watch the end of the marathon, to cheer on some friends and you have this happen.”
REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS, THE REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE CHAIR, AT A NEWS CONFERENCE ON CAPITOL HILL: “It's so important that we, on this day, remember those in Boston who have lost their lives, the families of those who had loved ones that aren't going to come home, the parents of the eight-year-old child who was killed, and many others' lives who have been changed forever. And so today we unite in showing our support, we unite in remembering them, in keeping these families in our thoughts and prayers, but also we reflect on the fact that our resolve is strong, and as a country, we will come together and we will make sure that we take all the steps necessary to make sure that these kind of events do not happen again.”
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