‘Terror’ in Boston, by Any Other Name — Obama Today: ‘Terrorism’

Updated at 11:35 am EDT

President Barack Obama acknowledged a federal investigation of terrorism today, the day after the fatal bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

“This was a heinous and cowardly act,” Obama said at a press briefing in the White House before noon. “Given what we now what about what has taken place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism; Anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.

“What we don’t know, however, is who carried out this attack or why,” he said,  and whether it was executed by an international or terrorist organization “or a malevolent individual… But we will find out..”

“We also know this” Obama said, “that the American people refuse to be terrorized.”

“Yesterday, terror was brought to the city of Boston,” Tom Menino, longtime mayor of Boston, said this morning, the morning after a bombing at the finish line of the marathon on the city’s Patriots Day, an attack that claimed three lives and injured more than 150. “This is a tragedy, but Boston is a strong city,” he said. “Boston will overcome.”

The White House is deeply involved in an investigation spearheaded by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said at an FBI briefing in Boston where the mayor, governor and others spoke.

“We did not have to reach out to the president,” Warren, a Democrat, said. “The president reached out to us… The president is actively involved here.”

“We will go to the ends of the Earth” to find those responsible,  Rick Deslauriers, the FBI’s special agent in charge, said at the press briefing.

It’s worth noting, as has been noted in Boston and elsewhere, that the president did not publicly call the Boston bombings an act of terrrorism yesterday, though federal officials were saying so privately.

From the Boston Globe: “In a three-minute address from the White House, Obama urged caution, saying “people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.”

“Significantly, reflecting caution about the unknown motive and perpetrators, the president himself did not call the incident a terrorist attack. However, a White House official speaking after the president’s remarks but only on the condition of anonymity, said that the administration views it that way.”

“Any event with multiple explosive devices – as this appears to be – is clearly an act of terror, and will be approached as an act of terror,” a White House official said. “However, we don’t yet know who carried out this attack, and a thorough investigation will have to determine whether it was planned and carried out by a terrorist group, foreign or domestic.”

The people who lived through this attack were terrorized. The motive, still unknown to the public, will determine how official Washington characterizes it. The scope of the bombing is not as wide as originally feared yesterday.

“It’s important to clarify that two, and only two, explosive devices were found yesterday,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said at the briefing. “Other parcels in the area have been examined. There are no unexploded bombs.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has 30 agents on the scene, according to Gene Marquez, ATF agent in charge. They are scouring the area and people who were there for any video or media evidence. “The scene is going to take several days to process,” Marquez said.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz pledged today to “get to the bottom of who did this and why.”

However this attack in Boston is eventually labeled, the deaths and injuries and stunning nature of an assault on the general public in a celebratory event is a reminder, once again, of what a difference one terrible day can make:

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