by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis
(Providence, Rhode Island) – Lots going on in the world of politics this week. Here's a look at some of the more interesting items:
"Missed Opportunities" – It now turns out that Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was on an FBI watch list – not once, as first reported – but twice. And his mother was also added as someone with militant views against the United States. Despite this, Tamerlan was interviewed by the FBI, and then given a pass. Does this sound familiar? Remember back in 2011, two FBI agents – one in Phoenix and one in Minneapolis – each independently received tips about students at local flight schools who, oddly enough, wanted to learn to fly planes but weren't interested in learning take-offs and landings. We all know how that played out on September 11, 2001. Once again, opportunities were missed. Why do these leads continually fall through the cracks?
"The Greatest Nation" – Many Americans probably just took for granted an amazing event that took place Thursday. All five living U.S. Presidents gathered in Texas for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Museum. And in the process, we saw three Democrats – Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and, yes, even Jimmy Carter – say nice things about "Bush 43." They praised him on how he handled certain issues, though all had been critical of other Bush policies over the years. You see in the U.S. an effort to circle the wagons and stand together at times, something we see in particular at times of crisis such as the Boston bombings and 9/11. In many respects what happened Thursday was more of a tribute to the office of the Presidency and our form of government, than it was a tribute to once single person. It's this show of unity, strength and freedom that drives the radical jihadists crazy. It's one of the many reasons why they can't defeat us.
"The Bomber's Widow" – The buzz continues here in Rhode Island over Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, the North Kingston woman who is the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Her lawyers held a brief news conference to maintain her innocence on Thursday. But questions continue to swirl about what she did, and did not know, of her husband's activities and radical Islamic beliefs. For where it stands now, she may have had nothing to do with any of the Boston violence. But here's what federal investigators are looking for: 1) Did she call her husband and brother-in-law after seeing their photos on TV the day before they were killed or captured. If the FBI finds evidence to that effect, she could be charged with aiding and abetting fleeing felons; 2) Did she (and her parents) turn over all computers and phone records that the FBI may want to examine? If not, she could be charged with obstruction of justice. Again, let's be very clear - she enjoys the complete presumption of innocence, but these are the two key areas of investigation.
"Same-Sex Marriage" – Last Wednesday Rhode Island became the tenth state in the nation to approve same-sex marriage (photo above). The State Senate vote was 26 to 12. Some minor differences with the House bill are to be worked out this week, and Governor Chafee will sign it into law this week. No matter where you stand on the marriage issue, many people on both sides of the debate feel it is ultimately a "states' rights" issue for each individual state to decide, without the federal government being involved. Twenty-five other states have enacted bans on same-sex marriage either by law or by constitutional amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court could decide by the end of June whether same-sex marriage is a federal civil rights issue, or a states' rights issue of self-determination. It continues to be an interesting debate.
"Marriage Rights?" – One of the more fascinating aspects of the gay marriage debate is where a lot of the opposition originates. Here in Rhode Island, the clear majority of people who came out to vocally oppose same-sex unions were Hispanic-American or African-American. To them it is a religious issue, not one of civil rights. State Senator Harold Metts, (D-Rhode Island), a prominent African-American lawmaker spoke to me this week. Senator Metts said, "God's word, Matthew 19 is very clear, marriage is supposed to be between one man and one woman. It's in Scripture, so for me, they trivialize the Word of God." Proponents of same-sex marriage claim it is a civil right, yet the two groups who in recent history that have benefited the most from civil rights legislation, are largely opposed to same-gender unions. I'm not saying I agree or disagree, just that the irony is worth noting.
As always let me hear from you. Just click the comments button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.
© 2013 Mark Curtis Media, LLC.