In February, US Representative William Keating, a Democrat from Massachusetts and member of the House Committee on Homeland Security assigned for the investigation of the Boston Bombings, announced a field hearing in Boston “to let victims, local officials, and first responders testify on lessons learned following the Marathon attacks”. Keating argued that not everyone from this group could afford to travel to Washington, so this would be an effective way to learn more.
This issue is over now. A speaker for the Committee has confirmed that the hearings will take place in Washington D.C. instead of Boston. The background for this decision is part of a debate. According to the Boston Globe’s Joan Vennocchi, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh was the driving force behind the decision:
Walsh told US Representative William R. Keating — the Massachusetts Democrat who serves on the committee — he didn’t want any Republicans traveling to “my city” to bash President Obama and the FBI, according to a source familiar with the conversation. US Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, chairs the Homeland Security Committee. Walsh and assorted City Hall emissaries lobbied others, including bombing victims, to get out the word that a Boston hearing is unwelcome.
But on further inquiry, Walsh didn’t stand to this petty-minded partisan politics version and cited a tribute event on April 15th for victims, survivors and first responders, claiming that a hearing would not only “distract” from this event, but also complicate the intense security measures for this year’s Marathon.
So there are three reasons for the surprising postponement, but all of them are weak, none is convincing. And while first responders are still invited to participate in the Washington hearing, the House Committee’s speaker admitted that it’s unclear whether any will attend. So as their contributions were the main reason to hold the hearing in Boston, the relocation equals a cancellation in practical terms and a rude snub for Keating.
It is remarkable that the most plausible reason for the postponement has not been mentioned by any official: that the hearing might interfere with the pending trial against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Given the secretiveness and stonewalling of the FBI, the local police and the prosecution and the numerous dark holes in the official story, an open hearing with uncontrolled and hitherto unknown statements of eyewitnesses might in fact have the potential to affect the trial.
Let’s take the second bomb site as an example. The group of people to be invited could have helped to answer many lingering questions: Where exactly did the second bomb explode? How many people were blown into the Forum restaurant by the blast, and how far? How many people were blown onto the street? What about Martin Richard and Lu Lingzi, where exactly did they expire (the available photos give no clue)? Has anyone cared for them, carried them away, guarded them or hold a vigil?
So in the light of the independent investigation of the Boston Bombings, the postponement makes sense very well. A perverse sense, however, continuing the smothering strategy of authorities.