The unobstructed view of hindsight

In the aftermath of the Orlando massacre, fingers are being pointed and questions asked about why federal law enforcement officials didn’t detain — or at the least keep track of — Omar Mateen after interviewing him not once, not twice, but, now officials acknowledge, three times.

After those interviews, conducted after tips from others about Mateen’s declarations of terrorist connections, FBI agents were convinced that Mateen was little more than a wannabe, boasting of ties that were contradictory and negligible on their face. The interviews were filed away and Mateen continued his job as a security officer and his ability to buy guns and travel overseas was never flagged.

If that sounds familiar to us in Massachusetts, it is. Similar questions were posed about the FBI’s involvement with Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was interviewed by agents after getting a tip about his connections to radicals in Dagestan and Chechnya. Tsarnaev traveled to those countries and returned to Cambridge, with tips from Russian officials that he and his family were becoming radicalized allegedly falling on deaf ears.

But what is the balance between pursuing leads that are paper thin – except in the rearview mirror – and constitutional rights of American citizens such as Mateen as well as those here legally Tsarnaev? How much trust do we put into trained investigators and interrogators who have to make subjective decisions on literally thousands of people that come across their desks on an annual basis, especially in the wake of 9/11?

It’s a battle law enforcement officials fight at all levels. On Monday, the state’s Trial Court released a report absolving judges in the case of Jorge Zambrano who shot and killed Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarantino and was later killed by police officers in a shootout. Zambrano had a lengthy list of criminal offenses going back 18 years and was in the middle of three criminal cases as well as having two probation violations awaiting him.

Critics wondered why Zambrano was released on bail rather than being held. But, as the somewhat-compromised report by District Court Chief Justice Paul Dawley points out, bail as defined by the state and federal constitution is to guarantee someone’s appearance in court, not to be used as a punitive measure. If prosecutors thought Zambrano was a danger, they could have initiated a dangerous hearing, which is their responsibility, not the courts, Dawley concluded.

“In the absence of a prosecutor’s motion for a dangerousness hearing, the judge is constrained by the same requirements and factors as a person setting bail out of court,” Dawley wrote.

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has tapped into the outrage and fear people have of being powerless when they think the government should protect them from these tragedies and, in hindsight, how simple they could have been to prevent. Even Barney Frank says Trump has a “legitimate” point in wanting to put “radical Islamic terrorism” under the microscope. But is it that simple?

Trump renewed his call for a ban on Muslims entering the country and said under a Trump presidency, friends, neighbors, and relatives will be held accountable for the actions of domestic terrorists if they didn’t come forward and help officials before it was too late, rather than after. Maybe we need to take a look at those Japanese internment camps during World War II before we do something like that.

While the fingerpointing is understandable, especially in the wake of tragedies such as Orlando, the Marathon bombings, or Officer Tarantino’s murder, each decision law enforcement officers have made along the way is understandable in the context of that pesky document called the Constitution. It is, to paraphrase Al Gore, an inconvenient truth.




Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton offer sharply different responses to the Orlando nightclub massacre, as Trump, who earlier called for President Obama to resign, lashes out at Clinton and renews his call for a ban on Muslims entering the country, while Clinton calls for unity and a ban on assault weapon sales. (Boston Globe)

G4S, the international security company that employed shooter Omar Mateen, provides security for 90 percent of the nation’s nuclear facilities. (U.S. News & World Report)

In the wake of the Orlando massacre, Attorney General Maura Healey is calling for the reinstatement of the federal ban on assault weapons, which lapsed in 2004. (Associated Press) Many see changing state, not federal, laws as the more promising path to changes in gun regulation. (Boston Globe)  Security is stepped up at airports and train stations. (Eagle-Tribune)

A former Leominster man is in critical condition after being shot in the Orlando massacre. (Lowell Sun)

Thousands gather in Orlando for somber vigil. (Time) Hundreds gather at Boston City Hall to honor the victims of the Orlando attack. (WBUR)


Almost a year after the Baker administration rolled out a new system for tracking payments to day care centers receiving state subsidies, the system is still a mess, and some of that may be due to the sudden departure of key personnel under the administration’s early retirement plan. (Boston Globe)

The House confirms that it has received a subpoena from the US attorney’s office for records related to the ongoing investigation of Sen. Brian Joyce. (Boston Globe)


Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter and several city councilors are accusing each other of playing politics after the City Council voted to reduce the Carpenter’s recommendation for the police overtime budget by 25 percent. (The Enterprise)

Regulations covering strip clubs in Springfield routinely go unenforced. (Masslive)


A new study by two New York law professors says the snub by Republicans of Merrick Garland, of President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, is unprecedented in American history. (New York Times)


Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson calls Donald Trump a “soulless jackass” and an “irresponsible purveyor of filth.” Gov. Charlie Baker doesn’t use exactly that language, but he also chastises Trump. (Masslive) A Washington Post editorial says Trump has sunk to a new low.

The Washington Post is the latest media outlet to be banned by Donald Trump because of coverage he doesn’t like. (New York Times) One commenter on Dan Kennedy’s Media Nation blog points out Trump is picking a fight with former Globe editor Marty Baron, “the guy who busted Cardinal Law.” Or as the headline reads on Charlie Pierce column for Esquire: “Donald Trump Picked the Wrong News Editor to F*ck With.”

The mayor and deputy mayor of Hackensack, New Jersey, jump from the Republican Party to become independents in the wake of comments by Trump. (The Record)


Microsoft scoops up LinkedIn for a cool $26 billion. (Boston Globe)

The head of the state convention center authority says another 1,800 hotel rooms are needed within half a mile of the Boston center to keep it viable and thriving. (Boston Herald)

DraftKings and FanDuel are reportedly in merger talks that would create a fantasy sports behemoth if a deal goes through. (Boston Globe)

Dave Mech of Springfield opens Potco, which he hopes will become a big box store (get it, just like Costco) for medical marijuana. (Masslive)

Barnstable officials will ramp up regular inspections of public restrooms in Hyannis this summer so tourists won’t have to deal with IV drug users shooting up and leaving needles strewn about or homeless people using the facilities to sleep and bathe. (Cape Cod Times)

Charitable giving hit more than $373 billion in 2015, a 4 percent increase over the previous year. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)


Politico spotlights the tension over charter schools within the state Democratic Party, which spilled into dueling comments at the party’s recent state convention from the anti-charter president of the state AFL-CIO, Steve Tolman, and the head of the pro-charter Democrats for Education Reform, Liam Kerr.

A bill to make Quincy College a four-year school has received approval by the House Ways and Means Committee and now goes for a vote before the Legislature. (Patriot Ledger)

The Fall River School Committee has pared the field to three finalists for the school superintendent’s position: Former education secretary and one-time Brockton superintendent Matthew Malone; Framingham Superintendent Stacy Scott; and Charles Grandson, a former deputy superintendent in Poughkeepsie, New York.

The Globe Magazine looks at the decision to revamp the state MCAS test.

State officials plan to work with roughly 25 schools on what data indicate are excessive and discriminatory disciplinary policies. (Telegram & Gazette)


Nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital voted to authorize a one-day strike over safely, compensation, and staffing issues. (Boston Herald)


The MBTA warehouse system is described as a massive management failure, but the workers may be the ones to pay if the operation is privatized. (CommonWealth) The T hired a private company to manage its parking lots, but with money missing the agency is looking for a replacement. (CommonWealth) The T outsources security at its revenue facility. (State House News)


A Salem News editorial says the state’s utilities should just remove unneeded double telephone poles — without financial penalties called for in legislation.


A court review of the handling of Auburn officer’s killer finds proper policies were followed. (Telegram & Gazette)

A former Pepperell police sergeant receives probation after admitting he choked a female detainee and then tried to cover up his actions. (Lowell Sun)


A report from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy indicates news outlets covered Donald Trump more and covered him more favorably than his rivals in the crucial period leading up to the primaries.