President Obama Offers Cautious Response to Boston Bomb Blasts

In the face of twin bomb blasts in Boston, a restrained President Obama betrayed no emotion, and did not dwell on the details

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Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

President Barack Obama leaves the podium after speaking at the White House on April 15, 2013, following the explosions at the Boston Marathon

In the face of twin bomb blasts in Boston, a restrained President Obama betrayed no emotion, and did not dwell on the details.

“The events in Boston,” he said, without describing the twin bomb blasts that ripped through crowds of spectators at the end of the city’s annual marathon Monday. “People have been wounded,” he said, without mentioning the two deaths already confirmed. He declined to use the word terrorism even though his aides quickly offered this statement to the press: “Any event with multiple explosive devices — as this appears to be — is clearly an act of terror.”

Instead Obama went before the cameras in the White House briefing room to perform a duty he had long known could be expected of him. For five years, the possibility of an explosion on U.S. soil killing innocent Americans has always shadowed the President. At least twice before it nearly took place: in a botched 2009 attempt to blow up an airplane with an underwear-sewn explosive over Detroit and an attempt in 2010 to set off a car bomb in a Nissan Pathfinder parked near New York City’s Times Square.

But now that the moment came, Obama simply carried out his primary responsibility: claiming control of the situation and promising to restore a sense of order and safety to a shaken nation. “We will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this,” he said. “Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.

All across the federal government, the response had the same feel of efficient formality. The White House released a photo of the President talking on a phone with the director of the FBI. House Speaker John Boehner released a photo of himself speaking with the President by phone. The flags on the Capitol were lowered to half-mast. The U.S. Navy deployed an explosives-denotation team to help Boston police clear the city streets of suspect bags. The various other federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department, promised their substantial resources to investigating and solving the crime. The FBI took the lead of the criminal investigation.

Left unanswered were the questions that will inevitably be asked in the coming days: Were the increased antiterrorism measures taken over the past decade sufficient? Did the massive federal infrastructure seeking to identify such threats before they were acted upon let clues slip by them?

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security had attempted to formalize and rationalize the federal support to local law-enforcement trying to protect major sporting events and political gatherings. In 2005, the department published a Prioritized List of Special Events, grading each gathering on a scale of one to four with a certain level of recommended federal assistance. As of Monday night, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security had not responded to questions about how the Boston Marathon had been rated or whether that rating had been changed in recent years.

In the wake of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, FBI Director Robert Mueller had made clear that the marathon was a major federal priority. “More resources also means a much stronger presence at special events,” he said in a 2002 speech in California. “We were out in force, for example, at this week’s Boston Marathon.”

There will likely be no simple answers in the coming weeks. “You could have prevented something like this from happening today, but you would have completely destroyed the race,” said Edward Connors, the president of the Institute for Law and Justice, who authored a 2007 federal study on proper guidelines for planning and managing security for major special events. “For these kind of events the expectation is set that you have tremendous public access.”

Ironically, President Obama had begun his day planning to praise the athleticism of his country, with a public photo opportunity with members of the University of Alabama football team, winners of the 2013 Bowl Championship Series. Instead, he ended the day praising sport in a very different context. “It’s a day that draws the world to Boston’s streets in a spirit of friendly competition,” Obama said about the marathon. “Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people. I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other and move forward as one proud city. And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.“

PHOTOS: Marathon Carnage: Explosions in Boston

PHOTOS: Tragedy in Boston: One Photographer’s Eyewitness Account

39 comments
Ilovelamp
Ilovelamp

As someone from Boston, I don't really understand why people are making this incident about politics.  Honestly, whether Obama comes here or not doesn't matter to me or most people in Boston.  There are some people who it might inspire or give them some sense of reassurance.  I think it's generally the job of the president to show up to places in times of crisis.  It just what presidents and political leaders in general do.

Regardless of whatever Obama says, we just want the people/person responsible caught before they can harm anyone else.  Bostonians take pride in our city.  We aren't about to let this tragedy ruin our daily lives or stop an event that has been going on for over a century.  I hope on the political end of things our city won't become like NYC did after 9/11.  We don't need that.  We can't prevent extremists or violence.  All we can do is hope they find the person that did this.  I  

mkurbo
mkurbo

~~~

I can't believe this b*ttplug Obama is flying into Boston. First, its the last thing law enforcement types need is a drain on their forces for his security or a distraction, and second, why does this narcissistic child have to always stick his face into the middle of everything ?


..everyone knows he offers nothing but empty rhetoric and brings nothing to the table but an empty chair.

~~~

ColinP.Müller
ColinP.Müller

What a load of nonsense.  Obama's urging caution, huh?  I bet if we found out that this was a group of white gun-owners, he would've been talking all sorts of sh*t and using it as further pretext for strict gun laws.   Now, that it looks like Islamofascist terrorism, he's acting like a wimp.  Figures...

valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

OBAMA'S SPEECH SOUNDED LIKE HE DID NOT GIVE A BARAKING FRACK OVER THE INCIDENT.......BLAND.....I DO NOT CARE ATTITU RDE.......HE AND AND MEN PROBABLY DID IT TO BLAME THE NRA, REPUBLICANS, NETC.

READ "THE LAST MAN" BY VICE FLYNN, A SPY NOVEL......WHERE THE MEDIA IS LEADING YOU IS WHERE NOT TO GO AND SEE......THE REAL CULPRITS ARE GOING .....THE OTHER WAY.

valentine, comedian

ToniPini
ToniPini

I bet if white house was bombed they would have the culprit/s in a split second...Why should they be different than us?

They say live a normal life, ha...Lambs?????

ToniPini
ToniPini

Americans are not safe under Obamas watch!Saaaaaaaaad!

ToniPini
ToniPini

Americans are not safe under Obamas watch!

Saaaaaaaaad!

kolagunta
kolagunta

Obama has to radically change his policy in the Afpak area and middle east. He is dumping money and arms into the Afpak area to fight terror. Unfortunately the aid is used to beef up the terror machine. The terror machine has been successfully exported into all vulnerable parts of the world. US and the other peace loving nations are forced to spend a good percentage of the taxpayer's money towards security. Almost 30% of the working population of the world is engaged in securing the balance.. This percentage is rising with every month and in 5 years could reach a staggering figure of 50%, a sheer waste of resources. 

Obama is wasting his time and energy in dealing with Iran and N.Korea. I think they should be left alone, but ostracized. Let them build their arsenal, which is not adding to the quality of life of their people. Instead these countries are running the risk of annihilation in th event of a retaliatory attack. Their rulers are aware of this. 

After ignoring these states the US should impose sanctions on Pakistan which is the epicenter of terror. Once US stops its indirect funding of terror the terror machine will break down, leaving the world happier.  

azmalhome
azmalhome

i think USA own did this bomb blast to finding a new clue for playing a new game. because USA is number one rich country in the world. they have highest spy agent.  http://azmalhome.wordpress.com/

j45ashton
j45ashton

You know...every day now I observe & question the motives, integrity and quality of jounalists.  I know people at Time magazine & I know that on occasion, headlines originally specified my writers have been changed in order to stir up more attention.  Look at the headline for this article.  "Obama Offers Cautious Response".  What does the word "Cautious" imply?  Timid?  Undecided?  Some form of weakness?  So the word 'cautious' becomes a trigger for readers to react.  How if the headline read "Obama Offers Measured Response".  "Measured" sounds mature, presidential, less emotional.  I don't know what headline Scherer and Miller intended because as I said, I know editors can change headlines.  But Time deserves some shame in not choosing words more carefully in order to live up to journalistic standards of objectivity & truth.  Am completely fed up with the Rupert Murdoch world & all followers who seek to pull in an audience via some form of demogogary (big or small) instead of doing a purely high quality job of reporting. 

j45ashton
j45ashton

Obama was the one who took a huge risk giving the go-ahead to get bin Laden.  Obama is the one who has authorized the CIA drone strikes.  Whether you agree with his policy or not, the facts show that actions Obama has taken have been targeted & deadly.  I can see no criticism from the right there.  And as for striking out according to someone's background/religion, what in the world does that mean?  Really.  Law enforement will take its course.  We'll find out the facts in time, and just as Obama has said, those reponsible will feel the full weight of justices.  It's sad & sick, but there's no way of completely anticipating & stopping lone bombers & suicide bombers.  Israel has been tryiong for decades and still has no answer.

BrianJLG
BrianJLG

When the person or people are found, we need to know their ethnicity and their religion, whether Muslim or Christian, Arab or white.  We need to stop pretending that these are lone wolves. Clearly, there are people from more than one religion hell-bent on destroying us, whether from within or without.  We will hear about the religion if the person turns out to be Muslim, but if the person was raised in a Christian family, people will turn a blind eye and ignore it. Well, not me...something has to stop NOW.

Hermione
Hermione

There is such a concept as 'homegrown terrorists', the exact wording is up to individual interpretation.

But I think this is a problem with our justice system in general, and not just with the President. ANY bombing against innocent Americans, without provocation, should be considered an act of terrorism, whether the perpetrators are Americans or otherwise.

sosdivertt
sosdivertt

@TIME @TIMEPolitics Why don't you report it right! Obama is afraid to call it a terror attack the same as Ft.Hood is work place violence!

mtnzookeeper
mtnzookeeper

We have had bombings before, UNi Bomber, Mcvie, Rudolph…..will continue to happen because this is a free country, love the knee-jerk Lets Blame the President reaction…..who quietly and efficiently took care of Bin Ladin

JustRoger
JustRoger

@catherine_mayer horrific Boston bombs bring memories of IRA bombs in British cities, but at least we knew who was behind them.

rndubey01
rndubey01

@TIME @TIMEPolitics mr.president may watch KAN at 9 on cnnIBN7 in that peepsirbasai will debate on secular bhainsia & kans topia

bluecollarbytes
bluecollarbytes

We've had terrorist attacks in and outside the U.S. since Obama took office. But to date, Obama has refused to acknowledge them as such. He'll let us know if this 'criminal act' rises to the level of terrorism by terrorists, perhaps even by Muslims. 

RussellJensen
RussellJensen

Obama did good so far. Calm, cool, collected. Let's get the facts, let's get this figured out, and then let's figure out how we're going to move forward. Let's get the full story before we level a single finger. And then, when we know the truth, we drop a very, VERY large hammer.

dr_dig_4u
dr_dig_4u

@TIME @TIMEPolitics rip for those who died in this incidance. now usa should understand which country is a factory of this terrorist..

C_Ryback
C_Ryback

@j45ashton Yeah. Like someone who is (1) way over his head for a staple-gun user and (2) got very lucky. Saw a lot of guys like him, get fired in Corporate America.

2014, hurry up, the USA needs another 2010 Congressional house-cleaning.

glennra3
glennra3

@morgancountian @TIME @TIMEPolitics 

How does that word make things better for you?

The president has chosen to approach this tragedy calmly and efficiently.  There is no point in inflaming emotions before anything is known.


BrianJLG
BrianJLG

@morgancountian @TIME @TIMEPolitics Because if the person was raised in a Christian household, he will not call it terrorism, even though it is. Don't forget, his mother was one of them. He's protective of that religion.

jsfox
jsfox

@morgancountian @TIME @TIMEPolitics choices, you had choices. You could type something and look intelligent you or you could type something and look foolish. Sadly not only did you choose the latter, but you chose to scream it.

BrianJLG
BrianJLG

@JustRoger @catherine_mayer Yes, they were Christians that set off the IRA bombs.  However, in the USA, we have too many"politically correct" bleeding heart liberals and cannot point to religion - especially not the Chrsitian religion.   Remember, we weren't supposed to mention McVeigh's religion, and it will be the same thing if this bomber turns out to be Christian.  If he's Muslim, we'll find out at some point, but not Christian....

j.cadman.smith
j.cadman.smith

@BrianJLG @TIME @TIMEPolitics  Who are you talking about?  Obama?  His mother was one of them?  Are you talking about Obama's mother?  That she was a terrorist?  Is that what you are saying?  You are not making any sense. 

MrObvious
MrObvious

@BrianJLG @TIME @TIMEPolitics 

Now lets say it's domestic terrorism, like the Oklahoma bombing. Done by a so called Christian.

How will you respond then?

Do you think our resolve to find whomever did it will change?