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Part of the Answer to What Happened in Boston

First let’s be clear on what did not happen. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did not carry pressure cooker bombs to the Boston marathon and set them off.

To be sure, that is what the government claims happened, and belief that that is what happened among the US populace has now become a force of nature, to the point where everybody and their brother has a theory of WHY it happened that way. My previous posts on the subject have noted numerous examples (most recently here), and since then the BBC has claimed to have discovered that Tamerlan was a white supremacist in addition to being an Islamist, and the chairman of a university psychology department has concluded from an analysis of the frequency of the pronoun “I” in Dzhokhar’s tweets that he was already prone to violence in October of 2012, seven months before the event.

However, whatever the government’s reasons for saying that that is what happened, the belief on the part of the populace that it did is based on the government’s saying so, not on actual evidence. The evidence contradicts the claim.

That is to say, it has long been noted that the exploded backpack the FBI has asserted was Tamerlan’s has a white patch on it that is not visible on his backpack as shown in surveillance video before the explosion, but is visible on the backpacks worn by Craft International personnel seen in the area. (Anti-“conspiracy-theory” websites have tried to refute this point by noting that one Craft operative is seen in photos still wearing his backpack after the explosion, but there was more than one Craft operative. One FDLer has suggested that perhaps Tamerlan’s backpack had a white patch on the part of it next to his back, so that it is not visible in the pre-explosion video, but that is to posit something without a reason to do so. Occam’s Razor would say that it was a Craft International backpack.)

As to the younger brother, in July Woody Box argued persuasively in a blog post that an explosion originating from the position where the government places Dzhokhar’s abandoned backpack could not explain the spatial pattern of injuries that occurred, and he has now buttressed this conclusion with an analysis of witness statements.

So what did happen? One cannot know the answer in its entirety at this point, but enough information has emerged by now to say this:

The Boston marathon explosions were the result of a drill gone wrong.

That is to say, there was an anti-terrorist drill run concurrently with the marathon, presumably coordinated by the local “Fusion Center” that had been set up by the DHS, and utilizing the Craft International operatives. It may have been set up in the wake of a report by the Center a week earlier that the marathon was vulnerable to a terrorist attack. It was to involve at least one controlled explosion, but someone who had infiltrated the Craft organization substituted powerful explosives instead.

One cannot know at this point if that substitution was made by an actual terrorist of the al-Qaeda persuasion, an operative of a US government agency such as the CIA perpetrating a false flag operation, some disgruntled individual with no particular affiliation, or simply an incompetent employee who filled two backpacks with real explosives by mistake.

However, the fact that there was a drill is confirmed by the long known statement of a track coach and marathon authority, backhandedly by the fact that regional FBI Director Deslauriers pointedly ducked a question about it at the end of his April 18 press conference, and by what has emerged most recently, a Boston Globe tweet issued on the day of the marathon, which says:

BREAKING NEWS: Police will have controlled explosion on 600 block of Boylston Street.

That in fact is the location of the first explosion that happened (671 Boylston according to the indictment of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev).

This disposes of another theory that has been mentioned, which holds that one of the FBI’s sting operations went wrong by means of someone mistakenly substituting real explosives. I actually see no reason to believe that the FBI was even involved until after the explosions.

As to the decision to charge the Tsarnaevs, it may have been pre-ordained, or it may have been a mistake caused by incompetence, into which the FBI retrenched in the subsequent period. I won’t judge the issue at this point.

One loose end is that an anonymous woman who claimed to be Tamerlan’s massage therapist also claimed that he had told her of a drill in which he was to take part, but said the she was too frightened to come forward. I do not consider this report credible, and see no reason to believe that the Tsarnaevs were part of the drill.

That is how the case looks at the moment.

Update: 8/7/13 8:00 AM Eastern My statement above about the Boston Globe tweet is misconstrued. I misread the timeline of the paper’s twitter feed, whereas as some commenters have pointed out (see comments 1, 5, and 7 below) the notice about the controlled explosion actually came after the bombings, and was related to a so-called suspicious package. I thank the commenters and regret the error.

But even with that point removed it still seems to me that a drill gone wrong is a better assumption than an FBI sting gone wrong,

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E. F. Beall

E. F. Beall