Kojo looks back on the local impact of Dick Gregory, the legendary comedian and civil rights activist who adopted Washington as his home town.
A day of city pride turned to tragedy yesterday when two bombs struck near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. In Washington, law enforcement agencies are boosting security around landmarks and Metro. Kojo discusses local and national reactions to yesterday’s events in Boston with Rep. Jim Moran.
- Jim Moran Member, U.S. House of Representatives (D-Va., 8th District)
- Dutch Ruppersberger U.S. House of Representatives, (D-Va, 2nd District)
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Later in the broadcast, Google rolled out its first fiber city, providing ultra high-speed broadband to Kansas City, and they'll be doing the same shortly in Austin, Texas. We'll have a Tech Tuesday conversation about how that is shaking up the industry. But first, the Boston Marathon is usually a day of pride for the city of Boston, drawing elite runners from around the globe. But instead, yesterday was a day of terror and tragedy.
MR. KOJO NNAMDITwo bombs went off near the finish line of the race, killing three and injuring more than 100. There are still more questions than answers, but the effects are being felt around the country, including here in the capital. Joining us to do the -- to discuss this is Jim Moran. He's a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He's a Democrat representing Northern Virginia, including Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County and Falls Church. He joins us by phone. Congressman Moran, thank you for joining us.
REP. JIM MORANIt's always good to be with you, Kojo.
NNAMDIEven under these circumstances, you grew up just outside Boston. Do you still have family in and around the city, Congressman Moran?
MORANOh, sure. And we grew up along the marathon route in Natick, Mass., so...
NNAMDIWhat was your reaction yesterday on hearing about the bombings? I do hope everyone that you know is OK.
MORANYeah, they are. Actually, this is probably the first year that neither I, nor many -- any of my siblings ran. I mean, we've all gotten kind of slower and heavier. But we used to all run it, you know? So it was just -- I guess the reaction is incredulity, shock. You know, the Boston Marathon is Boston's rite of spring.
MORANWe'd all look forward to it. It was just a fun occasion. You know, one of the highlights, at least for the guys, would be running past Wellesley College, and the Wellesley College students would -- they're a little bolder now, actually. They hand out their phone numbers apparently.
MORANWe weren't so lucky back years ago when we'd run through it, but -- and because there'd always be guys, and we'd know who exactly who they were. They'd drive to Natick and then run for a mile past Wellesley College and then have their buddies pick them up and meet up, you know?
NNAMDIHow are those memories now affected by what happened yesterday?
MORANOh, you know, it's not the same. It's not the same world we live in. There are people who don't want other people to have fun. It's as though they resent, you know, kind of the freedom and joy that you could have in an open society. We take it for granted. A lot of countries, you know, don't -- can't even relate to it. And I don't know what's, you know, behind the people who did this. I know we're going to catch them, and they'll be brought to justice.
MORANThey'll be brought to justice in the United States.
NNAMDIYou're on Capitol Hill today. What's been the response among your colleagues in Congress, and what questions do you and other lawmakers want answered at this point?
MORANWell, I mean the first reaction is shock and kind of disgust that people -- there are people out there who would do this kind of thing. I do think that we've matured a bit. Nobody is jumping to conclusions.
MORANPeople are waiting for law enforcement investigators to determine all of the circumstances, to put all the pieces together, to do a complete investigation. You know, that didn't happen in the -- you know, when -- with Timothy McVeigh and other terror situation, I think a lot of folks, you know, they reacted perhaps a little prematurely, even after 9/11.
MORANI think now we're a little inured to the, you know, to these kinds of mass tragedies, but we're also more confident that, you know, law enforcement will do its job. It may be a bit tedious, and it's going to take longer than we would like. But it's got to be -- they've got to be confident when they determine who did it, determine whether they're part of a larger network, whether this was a loner. I mean, it's a horrible way to go about destroying people.
MORANYou build these bombs that are full of nails and pellets and ball bearings, and they're designed to rip through flesh and, you know, destroy human bodies. And I think what we're -- you know, when we think about that 8-year-old boy there, you know, wanting to be there when his father finished the marathon and just, you know, these situations similar to Newtown, you can't really get your mind around it. It's too horrible...
MORAN...to, you know, to think about very long.
NNAMDIBut, Mr. Congressman, you are known to wear your emotions on your sleeve, and that's, frankly, one of the things that people like about you. But when I listened to you this morning, I hear not only the sadness, but you used the word inured. Do you think this is the world that we now live in, a world that we may be getting used to living in? That's why we have all of these cameras every place. That's why we seem to have the expectation, maybe the knowledge that things like this are going to be happening.
MORANYeah. But, you know, we can't -- I think to some extent we -- some of the things we did in reaction to 9/11 deprives us of the very things that define us. You know, we have got to conduct this Boston Marathon again next year. We've got to be resilient. We can't let these people take away that sense of openness and freedom and joy and exuberance that spring is here. I mean, you know, we've got to fight this, and it's not just going after the criminals.
MORANIt's retaining our sense of what's important in life. I don't want to leave to my children and grandchildren a world where we're always looking over our shoulder, where we feel we're under a state of siege. We've got to lead by example, frankly, so that the rest of the world can see that we know what's most important. You know, you can go after, you know, as they did in 9/11, our military might and the Pentagon and, you know, our financial prowess in Wall Street.
MORANBut, you know, what defines us is that we respect each other. We value human life, and we're going to go on. And, you know, these folks that kind of resent, you know, what makes this country great, its freedom and openness is going to persevere. And that's the real reaction that is going to be enduring. We're going to have this Boston Marathon.
MORANIt's going to continue. We're not going to give in to these folks. And, you know, we'll find the perpetrators. We'll prosecute them in federal courts here domestically. They'll, you know, they'll be subjected to our justice system, but we're not going to let them win by closing down these events that are really what America should be all about.
NNAMDICongressman Jim Moran is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He's a Democrat representing Northern Virginia. He grew up in the Boston area and has participated in the Boston Marathon. Congressman Moran, thank you so much for joining us.
MORANThank you, my friend.
NNAMDIWe also heard from President Obama today. He also invoked the use of the word resilient. Here's what he had to say.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMAObviously, our first thoughts this morning are with the victims, their families, and the city of Boston. We know that two explosions gravely wounded dozens of Americans and took the lives of others, including an 8-year-old boy. This was a heinous and cowardly act, and, given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMAAny time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror. What we don't yet know, however, is who carried out this attack or why, whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or was the act of a malevolent individual. That's what we don't yet know. And clearly, we're at the beginning of our investigation.
NNAMDIPresident Obama addressing the issue this morning for the first time, calling it a terrorist attack. Congressman Michael Capuano is in a district that includes parts of Boston. He called into Washington Journal on C-SPAN this morning and shared his thoughts on the number of rumors that have been swirling around after yesterday's explosions.
REP. MICHAEL CAPUANOThe rumors are rampant to all these times, and I actually always find best to just let the law enforcement officials do their job first. They don't need to have rumors and innuendoes. I mean, they're always thrown around by public officials like me. That doesn't help the situation.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMANWhat are you doing, Sir? Today, what will be your agenda?
CAPUANOMy agenda will be to try to stay on top of it as best as possible, to find out whatever I can, so they can pass information to others but also to try to stay out of the way. Today is probably one of the -- the second most. Yesterday was the most important. Today is the second most important day for those law enforcement people to do their investigation. I mean, they have to get this done as quickly as possible where evidence is available. And, God forbid, if anybody is responsible and think about doing this again before they strike again.
NNAMDIThat is the voice of Congressman Michael Capuano whose district include parts of Boston. 800-433-8850 is the number to call. Here is John in Silver Spring, Md. John, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
J0HNHi, Kojo. Thank you very much for taking -- I guess I just wanted to -- first of all, you know, it's a tragic situation that happened in Boston. But what immediately jumps out to me is the loss of innocent life in Boston is the same as what goes on in these drone attacks overseas in Pakistan and in other countries. And I guess I wanted to get your take and your callers or your guests' take on the parallels between the two. If it is wrong in Boston, it seems like it will be wrong everywhere. And I guess I'll take my answer offline. Thanks.
NNAMDIJohn, thank you for your call. I really do not think there's a parallel when there are drone attacks. And, as you know, those are very controversial. And later in the second hour of this broadcast, we'll be talking with an author who has written about drone attacks, and that will be one of the subjects we are talking about. But at least the intent of those attacks is supposedly to strike people who have caused harm to citizens of the United States, and there are innocent people who have also been killed in those attacks.
NNAMDIThe intent in those attacks is not to kill innocent people, even though obviously that is a byproduct that no one wants to happen. And people as a result think they are -- should not be drone attacks at all. In the case of Boston, it is clear that the intent was to harm and kill innocent people which is one of the reasons why the president has referred to it as a terrorist attack.
NNAMDIBut it is, for the time being, what it is and is being investigated. Joining us now is Dutch Ruppersberger. He is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland's 2nd District. He's the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Congressman Ruppersberger, thank you for joining us.
REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGERSure, Kojo. It's good to be here. You have a good program.
NNAMDIYou're the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. What are the next steps we should be looking at here?
RUPPERSBERGERWell, first thing, we have to step aside and let the investigators do their job. The FBI has been briefing Chairman Rogers of our Intelligence Committee and myself on a regular basis. They're doing a forensic investigation, getting any information, any evidence they can to make a determination what type of bomb this was and where it was made, follow through to see what we can do as far as getting evidence to eventually bring whoever did this to justice.
RUPPERSBERGERThe FBI are also looking at cameras to make a determination who was in the crowd within a circumference of where the bombs went off, how was it detonated. These are the things that they're looking at. And it's only been 24 hours. The other issue, if I may, is we in the intelligence committee have always been concerned about what we call the lone wolf. And what that basically is is that an individual usually who's an American citizen or might be here going -- being educated or have a job in the United States and -- that would be under the radar, this person would be under the radar.
RUPPERSBERGERAn example is Anwar al-Awlaki who's no longer with us. He was an American who was coordinating smaller lone wolf attacks in the United States. The shoe bomber was an example, the underwear bomber, and we were lucky in those situations. But we have a very sophisticated intelligence community.
RUPPERSBERGERAnd we usually get information and chatter, and we can usually hear if there's going to be a big attack. But when you're under the radar and there are only a few people who know about this attack who can find an individual who knows how to make bombs or train them how to make bombs and then do what occurred yesterday, that's a concern for us in the intelligence community.
NNAMDIThere was a great deal of speculation, a lot of rumors circulating throughout the evening yesterday, many of them fault -- false. President Obama cautioned against jumping to conclusions before we have the facts. But it seems that that's what a lot of media and people on social media are doing. What do you say to those people?
RUPPERSBERGERWe have an insatiable desire to get something right away. And what we have to say is very serious attack. We were attacked, the United States of America. And the Boston Marathon, not only is that an international event, people coming together to celebrate Patriot Day in Boston. So we have to say let the experts do the job. We will bring the individuals who did this to justice.
RUPPERSBERGERWe're looking at was this a domestic attack, you know, more like the Oklahoma situation. You know, was this an international attack? And, you know, we don't know that yet and we have to follow our leads to make sure. But what we do know, and I think the president -- I didn't hear it -- said, you know, what is a terrorist attack?
RUPPERSBERGERI mean, it's when somebody purposely puts a bomb in two trash cans to kill or hurt Americans during a high-profile event like Boston. And, you know, that's what terrorism is, so whatever it is, we -- Americans were attacked on our soil. They were maimed, and they were killed. And so now we have to get the evidence, and that's what we're doing. Intelligence clearly is the best defense against terrorism.
RUPPERSBERGERBut when people aren't talking about it, and when it's low key, and that's why Anwar al-Awlaki, who was an American citizen, was very dangerous for our country because he was coordinating these attacks with a small group of people. And again, we were lucky in a couple of the attacks that the bombs weren't detonated. But we weren't lucky this time. So we're going to do whatever we can to try to protect Americans. But first, we have to get to that information. We need to step aside. And as things develop, we'll let people know.
NNAMDICongressman Ruppersberger, thank you for joining us.
RUPPERSBERGEROK. Good. Take care.
NNAMDIDutch Ruppersberger is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland's 2nd District. He is the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, Google rolled out its first Fiber City, providing ultra high-speed broadband to Kansas City. They'll be doing the same shortly in Austin, Texas. Tech Tuesday, we'll talk about how that's shaking up the industry. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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