PLEDGE NOW
Balancing Security, Risk: What The Boston Marathon Bombings Teach Us

How much risk are we willing to run? How much security do we want to have?

National Guardsmen block off major roads in Boston a day after the explosions. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

National Guardsmen block off a major road in Boston the day after the explosions. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“Soft targets” barely begins to capture how utterly vulnerable people were when the bombs went off Monday in Boston. Moms and dads out with the kids on a pretty day. Happy students on a lark. Marathoners in their short shorts, exhausted at the end of 26 miles.

And then, the blasts. And carnage.

Now comes the inevitable question: Do we have to button all this down? Harden the security of joyously open and free public days? Crank surveillance to the max? Or is that all wrong?

Up next On Point: the free society and the surveillance society in the wake of the Boston bombings.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Neil Richards, professor of law at Washington University Law and author of the paper “The Dangers Of Surveillance” published in the Harvard Law Review (@neilmrichards)

Carrie Cordero, director of national security studies and adjunct professor of law and Georgetown University Law Center

Ellis Henican, columnist at Newsday and political analyst on the Fox News Channel (@henican)

From Tom’s Reading List

Politico: Boston Bombings Test Post-9/11 Confidence — “The Boston Marathon bombing left Americans feeling more vulnerable to terrorism than they’ve felt since the Sept. 11 attacks. And it’s left politicians preparing for Americans to ask again what government can and should do to prevent acts of terrorism.”

Salon: The Boston Bombing Privacy Lesson — “You’d better hope you didn’t recently Google how to make a homemade bomb or what the exact route of the Boston Marathon is, or save an oddly titled file in Dropbox or even just like the wrong video on Facebook, because someone, even now, is probably poring over that information. Events like the Boston Marathon bombings are what the surveillance state lives for.”

Slate: How American Responds To Disaster — “When sudden massive violence ruptures our normal sense of safety–especially at a festive moment like Monday’s Boston Marathon–the world feels grimmer and grayer for a while. There’s the initial burst of fear and alarm, and then the residual pinch of tightened security, followed by the questions about which trade-offs of free movement and convenience are worth making.”

National Journal: Who’s Playing Politics With The Boston Bombing? — “Stop. Just stop. For the love of all that is still sane and civil about American politics, please don’t make the Boston Marathon bombing a talking point. The vast majority of Democrats and Republicans are so far heeding President Obama’s call for a period of bipartisanship. ‘We are Americans united in concern for our fellow citizens,’ he said Monday evening. But there are outliers. The question is whether others will follow, and how soon.”

Tweets From During The Show

Earlier Coverage

WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, offers complete local coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings.

April 16, 2013: Aftermath and investigation the day after the bombings

April 15, 2013: Rolling coverage the day of the bombings

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Feb 10, 2016
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waves to the crowd before speaking during a primary night watch party at Concord High School, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The winners and losers in New Hampshire, and the path ahead in the presidential primary race.

Feb 10, 2016
In this Feb. 1, 2016 photo, a technician from the British biotec company Oxitec, inspects the pupae of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a vector for transmitting the Zika virus, in Campinas, Brazil. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Taking on the Zika virus, from tackling the disease itself, to killing the mosquitoes that carry it to the challenge of birth control.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 9, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at a Rotary Club luncheon in Manchester, N.H., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

From New Hampshire, a deep dive, from Trump to Sanders, on how the candidates would approach the U.S. economy.

 
Feb 9, 2016
Host Tom Ashbrook and producer Sarah Platt speak to supporters of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) outside the candidate's Manchester, N.H. campaign headquarters on Monday, February 8, 2016. (Katherine Brewer / WBUR)

We’re live in New Hampshire for the first in the nation primary day, with all the latest on how the big vote is shaping up.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Notes From New Hampshire, #9: Remedy Or Replica?
Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016

Jack Beatty offers one last note from New Hampshire, and looks beyond to the primary races yet to come in both parties.

More »
Comment
 
Tom Ashbrook’s Note From New Hampshire
Tuesday, Feb 9, 2016

Fresh off the New Hampshire Presidential Primary results, host Tom Ashbrook reflects on his trip to New Hampshire, and on what comes next in the race to the White House.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #6: Bernie v. Hillary — The Electability Debate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Bill and Betty are not real New Hampshire voters. But their arguments about the Democratic race for President most certainly are.

More »
Comment