Editor's Note: This column was originally slated for publication on April 18. We apologize for the delay.
President Obama rightly asked us not to "jump to conclusions" about motives or responsibility for the two bombs that exploded Monday at the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding more than 170.
That request was pre-emptively ignored. Some couldn't wait to project their biases and political agendas on this latest act of terror.
In a tweet Monday, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof blamed Senate Republicans for blocking confirmation of a new ATF director. MSNBC's Chris Matthews said, "Normally, domestic terrorists, people, tend to be on the far right..." Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst, echoed Matthews on "The Lead" with Jake Tapper.
Blogger Sargent_Rock, responding to Wednesday's lead story in The Washington Post on the bombings, wrote, "The evangelical wing of the Republican Party is a mirror reflection of the Islamic right. Irony that neither knows it." This comment mirrors those that suggested "talk radio" contributed to the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
People ought to be held accountable for their actions, whether they misuse a gun or build a pressure cooker bomb that randomly kills innocent people watching a marathon.
Given the times, the first reaction for some people to such incidents is to suspect Islamic terrorism. Authorities say that "a person of interest," a 20-year-old student from Saudi Arabia, has been cleared of any responsibility in the attack.
Politics aside, whoever did it and for whatever reason, numerous questions will and should be asked.
Among those questions: Were the bombs placed in trash cans near the finish line? In the aftermath of 9/11, trash cans were removed from airports as a security precaution. Should the same be done at large gatherings? Should people be told to collect their own trash and dispose of it at home, or in receptacles outside the venue?
Would more cameras in Boston have helped identify those responsible? In London, CCTV security cameras are everywhere. In the United States, we're considering deploying drone aircraft equipped with cameras. Would this lead to a further erosion of our privacy and freedoms, as government could then track movements of citizens engaged in innocent activities?
Robert Liscouski, a former Homeland Security assistant secretary for Infrastructure Protection, told the London Daily Mail that the Obama administration has cut $9 million from the Bush administration's $20 million budget "allocated for preventing the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by terrorists working inside the United States." Did those cuts make Monday's attack easier? Congress should find out.
Authorities in Boston have requested the public's help in sharing videos and photographs of the blast site. Do they have too little information? If so, why? A lot of taxpayer money is being spent on "security." What happened in Boston?
Someone knows the perpetrator(s). Unless this was a perfect crime with all involved pledged to silence, someone has valuable information. And we shouldn't have to offer a reward to get it.
Mimicking what happened after 9/11, an envelope addressed to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has tested positive for Ricin. All mail delivery to the Capitol Building was temporarily suspended as a precaution. For weeks following 9/11, letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to two Democratic senators and several media offices.
Pressure cookers and poisoned letters are relatively simple ways to gain international attention for whatever grievance or cause one might wish to publicize. No level of security can protect everyone from everything all the time, but could more have been done to prevent the Boston attack?
People who know nothing about the investigation, but still blame conservatives for domestic terrorism, should consider the group lionized in the film "The Company You Keep." The left-wing Weather Underground bombed buildings and killed people as a protest against the U.S. government and the Vietnam War.
Terrorists don't discriminate. They kill people of all political stripes. Just as Americans pulled together 12 years ago, pundits would do well to refrain from trying to blame the right wing and pull together with other Americans now. As the president said, "...on days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats -- we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens."
(Readers may e-mail Cal Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.)