Roger L. Simon

The Boston Terror War on Twitter (UPDATED - AND HOW!)

I had to tell PJ editors Aaron Hanscom and Ed Driscoll to Deep Six my article on Boston and Benghazi that was supposed to appear on PJM this morning.  Events had superseded them.

Boy, had they superseded. But were it not for Twitter, I may have never known.  I would have just gone to sleep over a book to find myself a fool in the morning (not the first time).

But the Tweets started to come in fast and furious (to coin a phrase) around 10PM Pacific.  The merde had hit the proverbial fan in Boston – specifically from MIT, where a campus cop was shot multiple times and killed, and Watertown, MA,  which, after a carjacking, had turned into a free-fire zone resembling Fallujah at the height of the Iraq War.

Soon enough I was simultaneously on Twitter, Boston Police, Fire and EMS Scanner (the actual police line, available via the Internet — cool), Fox and CNN, trying to piece together what was going on.  One of two suspects, I learned, was apprehended — was this Suspect 1 or Suspect 2 from the FBI pictures, no one could say — another was on the loose.

As I write this, it’s hard to tell what’s going on. But I feel like I’m in the middle of a multi-media movie, balancing multiple inputs, an extraordinary modern phenomenon.

Most interesting is Twitter.  It is at moments like this that it shines.  Suddenly the noise disappears, the endless trivia about people’s latest purchases at Whole Foods or what episode of Madmen was not to be missed, and the hive mind at its best took over, reports of what was happening in Boston arriving with more speed and quite possibly more verisimilitude than what came via the plodding news networks.

Still, something I saw on CNN caught me up short.  It was the best picture yet of Suspect 2, the one in the white baseball hat.  In this photo that appeared on Facebook a short while ago but was authenticated, Suspect 2, whoever he is, looks startlingly young, almost preternaturally young for all this carnage.

Whether he is homegrown, Islamic or a combination, more than anything he puts me in mind of Leopold and Loeb – the two Nietzschean University of Chicago law students who murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks just for the hell of it. (Of course more may be involved here.  It’s beginning to smell a lot like London and Madrid.)

At this moment, Suspect 2 is apparently under arrest. I think — not sure.  More to come.

UPDATE: I went to bed at about 3AM Pacific besotted with Twitter and woke up an exhausted four hours later not so in love.  Much of what I had thought accurate was wrong, most specifically the ID of the killers.  Twitter had me convinced Suspect 2 was Sunil Tripathi, the supposed Brown University student, who disappeared a month ago. A photo of this jejune fellow in a Che T-shirt was the subject of many tweets.  Suspect 1 was supposedly Mike Mulugeta, provenance unknown.

Anyway, I awoke to find everything upside down.  It’s Chechens now.  What I learned from this is that Twiiter, like any exciting online drug, is to be taken with a HUGE grain of salt in the midst of the action.  It turned out, I’m ashamed to admit, the CNN and Fox, who were being more circumspect, were in the end more accurate…. Not as much fun though.

This doesn’t mean Twitter is bad, but Caveat Tweetor.