Boston Marathon contractors ID'd: MA National Guard WMD detection unit

Rhode Island commander says her WMD unit and part of Massachusetts unit were blocked from scene by law enforcement Photo: Anonymous

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2013 ― Photographs confirming the identity of the “private contractors” seen in surveillance photos of the Boston Marathon have been identified.

The men wearing backpacks only a few steps away where IEDs exploded at the Marathon and later seen running toward the mayhem were Massachusetts National Guard troops assigned to the 1st Civil Support Team (CST) WMD unit.

Additional personnel photographed on the scene were probably assigned to the New York National Guard’s 24th CST, which had five members assigned to work the event, according to spokesman Eric Durr.

“Some were on duty, some were off duty” at the time of the explosions, Durr explained. “They work in shifts”.

Durr also confirmed that the 24th CST brought two vehicles to the race from Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn. A blue box truck photographed while Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY) visited Fort Hamilton last week to thank the unit for their performance in Boston appears to be identical to a truck photographed at the finish line after the attack.

The Massachusetts National Guard 1st CST was the lead unit assigned to detect any possible chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incident by identifying CBRNE agents/substances like those used in dirty bombs.

SEE RELATED: Confusion for Boston Marathon reponsders

The New York Army National Guard 24th CST and the Rhode Island National Guard 13th CST were there to support the 1st CST, according to Durr.

A phone messaging system for the spokesperson for the 1st CST appeared to not be working.

LTC Lisa Meriwether, Commander of Rhode Island’s 13th CST, told that the two members of her unit were on duty at the time of the explosion “several blocks away” from the finish line.

Rhode Island Commander says “Not an exercise that day”; marathon has history of exercises

A 2008 Boston Globe op-ed called “Marathon as dry-run disaster” and written by Arnold Bogis, a former policy analyst for a Department of Homeland Security grant at the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University, reveals that the Boston Marathon has, in past years, been used for “live” exercises to quietly test public safety technologies and disaster plans.

“Today, in addition to being Tax Day, is Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts and the day on which the Boston Marathon is run. Why is this relevant to homeland security?” Bogis wrote five years ago.

One 2013 Boston Marathon runner, University of Mobile Cross Country Coach Ali Stevenson, told NBC affiliate Local 15 that he has “never seen that level of security before.”

A veteran of other major marathons, he added “Evidently, I don’t believe they were just having a training exercise … I think they must have had some sort of threat or suspicion called in.”

“We reviewed our procedures and coordinated, but did not have an exercise that day”, says LTC Meriwether. “We coordinate and practice with the FBI and other agencies all the time” she said.  Asked if her CST unit had received any intelligence concerning a heightened risk of attack, she said “no, but if they knew about something they probably wouldn’t have told us.”

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Alan Jones

Alan Jones is an investigative journalist covering a wide range of areas.  He has worked in the financial industry and has lived overseas.


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