Some quickly noticed President Barack Obama failed to say the words "terror" or "terrorism" during his speech regarding the Boston Marathon bomb explosions, which killed three (so far) and injured more than 130 people Monday. A White House Official quickly clarified that the bombings in Massachusetts appeared to be "an act of terror."
TheBlaze spoke with a former official from Bill Clinton's administration who offered his view on why the president and the White House official hedged on jumping straight to calling it a terrorist attack.
Oliver McGee, who was the deputy assistant to the transportation security secretary where he received international and national security training, told TheBlaze in a phone interview Monday evening that based on what we know so far, the event can only be considered "terrorist-like" until more information becomes available.
"I understand why we can't be quick to jump to the word terrorist," McGee said. "There's not enough data and information on that [yet.]"
The civil aerospace mechanical engineer who is currently an American Council on Education Fellow at the University of California-Los Angeles said the tragedy is currently and technically considered a "man-made disaster," like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December and the shooting at the Aurora, Colo., movie theater in July.
Although McGee said the two explosions -- one right after the other -- and other undetonated devices that were found signify a planned, calculated attack, until there is more intelligence gathered it can not officially be deemed terrorism.
According to Princeton, the definition of a terrorist attack is a "surprise attack involving the deliberate use of violence against civilians in the hope of attaining political or religious aims." The FBI states on its website that there is "no single, universally accepted" definition of terrorism, but for its purposes defines it as "the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives."
Still, former U.S. Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Robert Liscouski implied the bombing was of terrorist origins in an emailed statement to TheBlaze about the type of explosive:
"It's too early to tell without forensics but my guess is that this is a homemade explosive - sources say not C4. The exact type is irrelevant - more important is the targeting and intent. We're forcing terrorists to use less sophisticated devices due to our intel and law enforcement efforts."
Additionally, on Monday evening's special edition of the BlazeCast, radio host Joe Pags speculated that there's an aversion by the president to using the term because using it would be admitting terror attacks have occurred on Obama's watch.
At this time, McGee said agencies are evaluating intelligence and sharing information that could help lead to the source of who planned and executed the bombing.
Either way, McGee said this attack provides the opportunity for public safety officials to learn about improving security for large-scale events. He offers caution though if the attack is found to be terrorist related, calling to mind the attacks on the Twin Towers. First, the World Trade Center was bombed at the base, he said, in a effort to topple the buildings. When that didn't work, terrorists came back years later, learning from their prior experience, and this time flying planes into the buildings on 9/11.
"[Today] it was a bomb," McGee said. "Next time, it could be a nuclear or biological weapon."
McGee continued impressing that people have to learn to be better prepared.
"We're in an age where we have to pay attention," he said. "We can't be complacent."
He said we need to continually look around and record information, while still being confident in our public safety. But more importantly, continue moving forward.
"I believe that America has to learn from what it did after 9/11 -- that is keep America moving," McGee said. "That's what man-made disasters or terrorist events want to do. Stop you.
"It would be a tragedy if I turned on the TV to find [future] marathons disrupted because of fear."
The London Marathon scheduled for this Sunday is currently being evaluated in light of recent events, though there have been no known specific or credible threat against the hugely popular British race.
Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry, police commander for the London race, said Monday that "a security plan is in place for the London Marathon. We will be reviewing security arrangements in partnership with [the] London Marathon."
A police spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to go on the record said the security presence may be increased.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
- Act Of Terror
- Politics & Government
- President Barack Obama