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Ron Paul criticizes Boston shutdown during manhunt

WASHINGTON -- Former US representative Ron Paul has a warning for Americans after the Boston Marathon bombings, and it may come as a surprise.

The prominent libertarian says citizens should perhaps be more frightened by the police response to the attack -- which killed three and injured scores more -- than by the explosions themselves.

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In an article called “Liberty Was Also Attacked in Boston,” the former Republican congressman and two-time presidential candidate compares the intense April 19 manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to “scenes from a military coup in a far off banana republic.”

“The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city,” Paul writes. “This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself.”

Paul argues that the Boston case sets a dangerous precedent, recounting scenes of “paramilitary police riding in tanks and pointing automatic weapons at innocent citizens.”

“Once the government decides that its role is to keep us safe, whether economically or physically, they can only do so by taking away our liberties,” Paul writes. “That is what happened in Boston.”

During the manhunt, authorities encouraged residents in the Boston area to stay inside their homes. It created surreal scenes April 19, with eerily quiet streets.

Governor Deval Patrick last week defended the decision to shut down the Boston area.

“I think we did what we should have done and were supposed to do with the always-imperfect information that you have at the time,” Patrick said at a press conference on Friday.

Paul argues that the decision to shut down the area was not effective and did not lead to the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. His comments have been widely covered – from USA Today to the Russian news site RT – and created a buzz on Twitter.

“The suspect was not discovered by the paramilitary troops terrorizing the public,” Paul writes. “He was discovered by a private citizen, who then placed a call to the police. And he was identified not by government surveillance cameras, but by private citizens who willingly shared their photographs with the police.”

“What has been sadly forgotten in all the celebration of the capture of one suspect and the killing of his older brother is that the police state tactics in Boston did absolutely nothing to catch them,” Paul added. “While the media crowed that the apprehension of the suspects was a triumph of the new surveillance state – and, predictably, many talking heads and Members of Congress called for even more government cameras pointed at the rest of us – the fact is none of this caught the suspect. Actually, it very nearly gave the suspect a chance to make a getaway.”

Matt Viser can be reached at maviser@globe.com.
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