Regarding the post-bombing police response:
Governor Patrick has signaled future terrorists that when they attack American targets they will likely get twice the bang for their buck. Not only will they kill and maim innocents in the immediate vicinity of the bombs; they’ll have the added satisfaction of seeing millions of free people cowering far from the scene of the crime.
During the ordeal I had mixed feelings, on one hand mimicking the view above, and on the other a deep sympathy with the view of local officials that this is probably what they believed Bostonians expected or even demanded of them. While one view is that we should “refuse to be terrorized” (echoing view of security expert Bruce Schneier), the reality is that there are political costs to a perception of under-reaction. Politically, it is better for millions of people to collectively pay a price than for a small number of politicians to bear the price tag.
This isn’t to say that political calculation was the only or even the prominent factor. As a country, we aren’t impacted by terrorism frequently (compared to Israel, for example), so the post-traumatic reaction is understandably greater.