Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced the settlement today with Turner Broadcasting System and Interference, Inc. for last week’s marketing mishegas: they will pay $1 million to reimburse the affected cities and towns for their response and $1 million for goodwill to spend on security, community education, emergency response preparedness, and similar stuff. In a statement TBS and Interference accepted full responsibility for the consequences of the campaign.
The settlement did not dispose of criminal charges against Steven Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, the two knuckleheads Interference hired to place the electronic devices that triggered the scare around the city. Coakley is working to dispose of their pending criminal charges short of trial. As my friend Bob used to say back when we were trying to convince the parole board to release state cons who screwed up their paroles by breaking curfew or urinating in public, “stupidity is not a crime.” They can’t be charged criminally for their foolish behavior, and the charges they do face are likely to be reduced.
I’ll finish this post with two things, a YouTube video (thanks, AP & JK) of Berdovsky and Stevens installing the the devices around Boston and my final thoughts. The devices appear benign in the video. You don’t see dangling wires but the images, all shot at night when the lighted devices’ cartoonish quality is apparent, are not distinct enough to say there were no dangling or suspicious wires on any of the 38 placed around the city. News reports last week said that at least some of the devices did have protruding wires or wires wrapped in duct tape. Even if only a few did–even if only one did–if that one was located under, say, the BU Bridge, then the official response does not look crazy. Some of the devices that set off the alarm were no longer illuminated, or were viewed in daylight and did not appear benign. Ridicule of the official response starts from the premise that the devices were obviously cartoonish, and then concludes that police over-reacted. One needs to analyze the response by asking whether the facts reasonably support a conclusion that the official response was appropriate. Based on my understanding of what officials first learned and saw–one or more electronic devices of ambiguous or unknown character in locations where such unknown devices should raise suspicions–I do not conclude that the response was inappropriate. If the facts are not as I understand them then I would revise my conclusion.