I thought, a few years ago, when I wrote the posts that resulted in Revolution on the Ground, that the feds would come looking for me. After all, I argued that we had to find a way to put the feds out of a job, and people do not like to have their job security threatened. No evidence of a phone tap, no black cars with tinted windows sitting outside my house. This neglect is a disappointment. If the feds aren’t reading The Jeffersonian, what are they reading?

Even more dismaying would be that they read it, but consider it tame stuff. Of course, it is tame stuff, when you compare it to websites that advocate violence. Consistently, The Jeffersonian backs civil resistance, but rejects violence because it does not work. It might look attractive in the short term, but over the longer haul, violence will not achieve the outcomes democratic reformers seek.

Still, I think The Jeffersonian deserves an occasional visit from the feds. No one has confiscated my computer or carried boxes of files out my front door. No one with an official looking identification card has done anything at all! What’s the matter with the surveillance state, if it does not even check in on a suspect website from time to time?

I’m kidding. The feds have larger fish to fry, like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. When you have honest to goodness, outlaw heroes on the loose, you have to catch them and bring them to justice! You can’t spend your time on poor bloggers who practically plead for your attention. Who’s going to promote you for doing that? If you want a positive annual review, go for the people who are dangerous. If you can’t do that, conduct sting operations to nab unfortunate people who appear dangerous because you inveigled them to participate in some plot you cooked up for them.

These thoughts come to mind as I think about the Boston Marathon bombing of April 2013, alongside the story Judyth Vary Baker tells in her memoir, Me and Lee. I recommend the memoir: it is packed with interesting material. Right now, though, I want to focus on some parallels between Lee Oswald and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

    • One lived, worked, and married in the Soviet Union, the other spent time in Chechnya.
    • Both young and in a vulnerable position.
    • Both suspected of being radicalized: communist, islamist.
    • Both charged with killing a police officer.
    • Both set up in advance.
    • Both killed so they could not talk.
    • Background story for both highly sketchy and selective.
    • One worked for the CIA and the FBI, the other may have been recruited to work for the FBI.

That is a long list. Do you know which one stood out for me, shortly after the bombing a year ago? The middle one, about the murder of a police officer. Dallas police charged Oswald with the murder of J. D. Tippit, a member of the Dallas police force, with no supporting evidence. It was amazing how people latched onto the story at the time, in the traumatic aftermath of the president’s murder. Who actually killed Tippit, and why the Dallas police wanted to lay the murder on Oswald, are still mysteries.

One guess is that the Dallas police hoped, by telling their officers about Tippit’s murder, Oswald would be shot for revenge in the theater where the police arrested him. The evidence against Oswald as the president’s assassin was flimsy enough. Police had to have some reason to charge him with a second murder, where they had no evidence at all to support the accusation. If the police appeared to be playing fast and loose with the evidence in the Tippit case, why would they not do the same thing with the Kennedy murder? They had to have some reason that seemed good at the time, to add the second murder to Oswald’s rap sheet.

Equally mysterious is the murder of Sean Collier, MIT security officer, early in the morning of April 19, 2013. The sequence of events that led to Sean Collier’s and Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s deaths in the middle of the night were murky on April 19, and they remained murky ever since. Do not look to the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for clarification. The prosecution has no interest in uncovering details of the events that occurred that night: it knows it will obtain a conviction, no matter what happens in the courtroom. It will not reveal the truth, unless the judge forces it to do so.

I’d like to discuss the eight points above, but I cannot do that in this post. Each of these parallels offers insights into the Kennedy murder and the Boston Marathon bombing. For now, let me finish by pointing to why parallels like these might exist.

When we analyze organizational behavior, you have to remember, always remember, that organizations operate according to routines. They cannot function in any other way. To state the point even more strongly, organizations operate most effectively when they have templates for their behavior. They can use templates to interpret their environments, and to guide them when they undertake complex activities that require planning to succeed. When you combine well understood templates with well established routines, and organization can accomplish quite a lot with a minimum of friction.

If you would like an example of a template, think of the plans for Operation Northwoods in relation to 9/11. Another example of a template, which quickly shades into standard operating routines, is to conduct a drill or an exercise in connection with an operation that has to be kept secret. Any organization that must coordinate the activities of many people at once, will rely on these templates to set a structure for the various activities. When you look for evidence of these templates across projects, or across crimes, you gain a lot of understanding into what actually occurs.

Much as the feds want to keep their activities secret, they cannot hide the routines that become visible as the activities unfold. When you start to see patterns, that is, ways of operating held in common among multiple projects, you know you have keys to the secret kingdom. Government agencies cannot keep these keys from observers who know what to look for, so they face this choice: end the criminal activities, or conduct all activities in a way that maximizes distraction and misdirection. Interestingly, efforts to maximize distraction and misdirection also become part of the standard toolbox of procedures. You can see these efforts again and again, in almost everything government agencies do now.

Here is a concluding observation. Government agencies could not operate in secret as successfully as they do, were it not for compliant media. If the media that cover government agencies went at their jobs with vigor, with the aim of uncovering government crimes, they would know what to look for. They do not expose criminal behavior, nor do they acknowledge their unwillingness to do so. They may think they do their jobs just as well as they possibly can, despite people all around who call them the lamestream media. If they managed to become less lamestream, they might see more readily the criminal behavior that lies right in front of them.

Related book

The New Censorship, by Joel Simon

Sample template for coordinated government action

Marathons – A Tale of Two Cities and the Running of a Planned Mass Casualty Event, presentation by Richard Serino