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Latest Leak: Tsarnaev Supposedly Confessed Before Arrest

First the New York Times, then the Washington Post, then the Wall Street Journal, and now CBS News. Those ubiquitous “officials with knowledge of the investigation” have spoken again, albeit this time they have given up on print media. CBS is reporting that “sources” have told its senior correspondent John Miller of a confession written by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the side of the boat where he was found on April 19. The confession is said to contain such points as that the bombings were in retaliation for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the civilian deaths were like the Muslim innocents killed in those wars, and that Dzhokhar expected to soon join his brother Tamerlan in paradise.

He only forgot to mention the 19 virgins awaiting him there.

The reader will understand that I do not believe Tsarnaev wrote anything of the sort. Apart from the detail that he could not have known at that point that his brother was dead, the “confession” portrays too stereotypical an idea of the Islamic extremist. And if there ever were a trial as opposed to a plea bargain (or a shiv in the belly from a fellow prisoner), prosecutors would have to prove: that the statement was written on the boat before the bullet holes that the police siege caused in it; that it was in Tsarnaev’s handwriting; and that it was written with a pen that was in his possession when he was arrested, among other points I’m sure the defense would think of. Most likely the claim will be used as ammunition in plea negotiations.

The real question is: why release this “information” now? I can’t claim to know the answer, but I imagine it is one or both of two possibilities. The first is that the government simply needs to get the case back on wall-to-wall cable after recent tabloid TV scandals that do not particularly increase Islamophobia have shunted it aside. The other is that the government is worried that disbelief in the official story is in danger of reaching the mainstream media. It is one thing for the nobody that yours truly constitutes to express skepticism in a series of MyFDL posts and for like-minded commenters to grace their threads. It is quite another when the important investigative journalist Russ Baker highlights many of the same inconsistencies that the series has, as he did in a hard-hitting article two days ago, while promising to investigate further.

All I can say is, stay tuned.

(h/t Provelt and yellowsnapdragon for the important links. “Sources” have also spoken to NBC News, which acknowledges the priority of CBS; h/t oldgold)

Update 7:20 PM Eastern. This story has not had much of an impact, at least not so far. The New York Times was moved to cite its own “sources” on the alleged boat note, but nothing from the Washington Post yet. It is in the crawl on tonight’s RT programming, but not at AJE. CNN has of course covered it, but not obtrusively, while tonight’s PBS Newshour declines to mention it even in the “other news” segment that always follows the first story.

It may be that, as Russ Baker says in the cited article, “most of the national and international media have left Boston—and essentially moved on from the Marathon bombing story.” And of course most people already believe the Tsarnaevs did the bombing; why should they care about one more piece of evidence?

Which is to say, the government is not getting much bang for its buck. Its supporters had better hope it can come up with the evidence it claims to have.

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E. F. Beall

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