Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis

Strong in a crisis, but he also spied on antiwar and Occupy left

Ed Davis and other law-enforcement officials have been justly praised for their handling of the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath. Though the voluntary "shelter in place" order may have been excessive, a chaotic, frightening chain of events was handled with competence and courage.

The problem is that, in non-emergency situations, the authorities have a habit of demonstrating a grotesquely misplaced sense of priorities. Such was the case last October, when the ACLU of Massachusetts and the state chapter of the National Lawyers Guild unearthed documents showing that the Boston Police Department had been spying on antiwar and Occupy protesters. Among the BPD's targets: the late Howard Zinn, an elderly Boston University professor and World War II hero. According to a report by Jamaica Plain Gazette editor John Ruch, also targeted was a 2007 antiwar rally featuring activist Cindy Sheehan, then-city councilor Felix Arroyo Sr., and Melida Arredondo, the wife of Carlos Arredondo, who memorably came to the aid of a badly injured spectator, Jeff Bauman, at the marathon bombing.

The police shared that information with the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), the so-called fusion center comprising federal and state authorities that was supposed to be tracking terrorist threats — yet apparently never received information provided by Russian intelligence about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Michael Isikoff of NBC News and Chris Faraone, writing for DigBoston, offer worthwhile analysis.

Let's hope that Davis, who also won a Muzzle in 2010, now realizes he was looking in the wrong places all along — and violating the civil liberties of patriotic Americans.

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  Topics: News Features , Ed Davis, William O'Brien, Maine Department of Transportation,  More more >
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