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Tsarnaev Update: Leaks On Hold

The government’s Boston bombing publicity machine consisting of “officials with knowledge of the investigation,” who speak to the media on condition of anonymity, has been silent since Friday. At that time it leaked the claim that compromising material had been found on a computer belonging to the late Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow Katherine Russell, and that revelation, together with the convenient release of a six-year old mugshot of her, generated a modest amount of play in the MSM. That in turn followed the government’s leaking of a claim that the Tsarnaev brothers really wanted to attack an iconic national holiday before events intervened. But nothing since.

One might surmise that the government is aware that a verdict in the Jodi Arias case could come in at any time now, and that when it does it will likely monopolize cable coverage for a time. (In the interim, the discovery of three missing women in Cleveland is taking up the slack.) Perhaps it thinks it best to let that die down before trying to stir the Tsarnaev pot again.

But a few events of interest have nonetheless happened, or not. Lost among all the Islamophobia-generating noise about cemeteries refusing to accept Tamerlan’s body is the point that the latter is now shrouded, literally and figuratively. In spite of an expectation, first, that there would be an independent autopsy, and, second, that at least the body would be photographed, on Sunday Tamerlan’s uncle Ruslan intervened and had the last rites of washing and shrouding administered. Islam allows no further action except burial, so there will be no way to act on a suspicion that the official line that Tamerlan was riddled by gunfire and run over by his brother is false.

(The suspicion just mentioned arises from a report that a naked man arrested on the same night, who was neither bullet-riddled nor run over, was in fact Tamerlan Tsarnaev. A New Yorker article that purports to discredit this report presents no substantive evidence against it along with the piece’s ridicule of “conspiracy theories,” and does not account for the fact that the man being arrested in the video of the event that it mentions does appear to be Tsarnaev.)

Something that has actually happened is that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s friend Robel Phillipos, who is accused of lying to the investigators into the case, has been released on bond pending a show cause hearing on May 17. The government still claims that it “stands by its allegations and can prove the allegations in the complaint,” but in fact its agreement to the release is a reversal of its previous position that Phillipos was a flight risk. That Boston Globe article also says that the probable cause hearing was delayed so that the two sides could “confer about how this matter should proceed,” which seems to suggest that a plea bargain is in the offing.

Finally, a point that may or may not be related is that, although the news was only made known yesterday, last Friday the beleaguered FBI had a success in executing a search warrant in western Minnesota against a felon who is not allowed to have guns. The agents found not only guns, but also “Molotov cocktails and suspected pipe bombs,” thus enabling a spokesman to say that “this was a potential terror plot.” The fibbies have of course been much criticized lately by people who accept the official account of the Boston bombing, especially Congressional Republicans trying to use the case to embarrass the Obama administration, and accuse them of “dropping the ball” by not following up on their interview with the presumed bomber Tamerlan in 2011.

I have argued in detail in previous posts that the official account of the Boston bombing is not credible. However, I am inclined to think that the FBI itself was not part of whoever actually caused the explosions, and was only later drawn into the coverup (so that, for example, it strenuously objected to the court-ordered Mirandization of Dzhokhar, even after it had had plenty of time to interrogate him under the so-called public safety exception, I think because people not under its control were going to enter his hospital room). But only time will tell.

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E. F. Beall

E. F. Beall