Early reports on the Boston Marathon bombing have presented two theories as to who might be responsible for what White House officials have labeled an act of terrorism: home-grown right-wing radicals or Islamic terrorists.
No individual or group has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the attack. The Pakistani Taliban, a group that has previous made threats against the U.S., denied responsibility, according to the Associated Press. While law enforcement officials questioned an injured Saudi national immediately following the event, reports indicate that he appears to be unconnected.
Although President Barack Obama, in his initial public address, declined to use the word “terrorism” in regard to the attack and the Department of Homeland Security has not issued a terror alert, White House officials have made it clear that the attack is being treated as an act of terrorism.
Reports linking the bombing to right-wing radicals are based on the attacks timing: Tax Day and Patriot’s Day. Infamous domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh executed the Oklahoma City bombing on Patriot’s Day, April 19, 1995. Yesterday also marked the 65th anniversary of Israeli independence.
On MSNBC, David Axelrod, senior political advisor to President Barack Obama, defended the president’s decision to avoid using the word “terrorism” in his initial public statement regarding the terrorist attack. Axelrod also raised the possibility that the attack could be the product of right-wing anti-tax frustrations by suggesting the incident may be related to tax day:
“You use those words and it means something very specific in people’s mind. And I’m sure what was going through the president’s mind is — we really don’t know who did this — it was tax day. Was it someone who was pro–you know, you just don’t know. And so I think his attitude is, let’s not put any inference into this, let’s just make clear that we’re going to get the people responsible.”
CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen suggested “right-wing” groups might be culpable in the attack:
Said Bergen, “If it was more conventional explosives, which are much harder to get a hold of now, that might be some other kind of right-wing extremists… But we’ve also seen other extremist groups, right-wing groups, for instance, trying to attack the Martin Luther King parade in Oregon in 2010.”
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof took to Twitter to charge that Senate Republicans are culpable in the attack for rejecting a Democratic nominee for Director of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau. Kristof wrote, “Explosion is a reminder that ATF needs a director. Shame on Senate Republicans for blocking apptment.” He has since attempted to walk back his comment.
Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said the response of public employees was an argument in favor of big government. Frank told a CNN host that “no tax cut would have helped” Boston deal with the attack:
Said Frank, “I’m glad you raised that, because it gives me a chance to make a point I’ve felt strongly about,” said Frank. “In this terrible situation, let’s be very grateful that we had a well-funded, functioning government. It is very fashionable in America, and has been for some time to criticize government, belittle public employees, talk about their pensions, talk about what people think … of [their] health care. Here we saw government in two ways perform very well. … I never was as a member of Congress one of the cheerleaders for less government, lower taxes. No tax cut would have helped us deal with this or will help us recover. This is very expensive.”
On FOX News, “The O’Reilly Factor” host Bill O’Reilly criticized Obama for labeling the attack a “tragedy.” But O’Reilly also wondered aloud during his opening monologue whether it is a “coincidence” that the attack coincides with other domestic terror incidents:
“[P]resident Obama has addressed the nation and promised justice,” O’Reilly said. “But he made one mistake. The president called the attack ‘a tragedy.’ It was not. It was a vile act of violence designed to kill innocent people, including children. I was just in Boston yesterday, and this makes me sick. So far no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Perhaps it’s a coincidence but this week marks the anniversary of attacks in Oklahoma City, Columbine, Colorado, and Virginia Tech, also the Waco assault in 1993.”