A Pocketful of Mumbles
media and Tsarnaev
“… such is the quality of mind required to reach the top rungs of the Imperium: brutal, witless, dishonest, ignorant, lacking all nuance, all common sense, all human feeling. A mind that mindlessly disgorges murderous tropes and blatant nonsense in order to obscure, frantically, at any cost, the cynical intentions and the monstrous effects of the Imperium’s Domination Machine.”
MEDIA FAIL: Boston Media Finally Drops Pretense of Impartiality Toward Tsarnaev’s Guilt
February 24, 2015 by Lara Turner
Boston’s mainstream media has delivered its verdict on the allegations against marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: he’s so guilty, there’s no need to used the word alleged anymore.
If there were any doubt that Boston’s media had a bias in the case, several of the city’s media pundits and one of its journalism professors have decisively put that question to rest. The panelists on WGBH’s “Beat the Press” were shameless in discarding any pretense of unbiased, neutral reporting.
The use of the word, “alleged” to identify a suspect who has not been convicted is a long-established practice of media ethics. It’s a standard which acknowledges that only properly-held trials can assign guilt. Yet using “alleged” or “accused” for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is unnecessary,” according to the pundits on “Beat the Press.”
“In the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, I wouldn’t have a big problem if somebody simply described him as ‘The Boston Bomber’ because, the evidence is overwhelming to the point (that) there is virtually no other side to this,” said Northeastern journalism Professor Dan Kennedy.
The Boston Globe’s Dante Ramos went one step further, arguing that the use of “alleged” or “allegedly” is just lip service in this case. The words are “the tribute that we pay to the idea of innocent until proven guilty. There’s no way of putting these facts together in a way that he’s not one of the perpetrators.”
But, given the high number of sealed motions, the dubious hospital bed confession, the restrictions placed on the defendant and his attorneys that have left him incommunicado, is Tsarnaev’s guilt a foregone conclusion?
The fact is that the public and the press don’t know the whole story–and still may not even after the trial. Tsarnaev’s attorneys have made a strong argument to move the trial from Boston. All along, they’ve argued that seating an impartial jury will be in impossible in the city, primarily because many prospective jurors have been bombarded by press coverage that accepts the official narrative that Tsarnaev is guilty. A campaign of law enforcement leaks has only made it worse.
Yet, those leaks are only half the problem if the media willingly abdicates its responsibility to be fair-minded and impartial. The abdication in Boston’s press corps, it seems, has been total.
The panel of media pundits
Emily Rooney is the daughter of noted CBS 60 Minutes correspondent and humorist Andy Rooney. She has an identical twin sister, Martha, who is Chief of the Public Services Division at the United States National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. Her brother Brian Rooney is a correspondent for ABC News.
Rooney was director of political coverage and special events at Fox Network in New York from 1994 to 1997.[refs 5] Before that, she was executive producer of World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, ABC’s nightly news program.[refs 6] She also worked at WCVB-TV in Boston from 1979 to 1993, where she served as news director for three years and as assistant news director before that.[refs 1]
Professor Kennedy teaches news reporting, media law and other journalism courses, with an emphasis on blogging, multimedia and social networks.
His book The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age (University of Massachusetts, 2013) explores the burgeoning world of online local and regional journalism….
Kennedy received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and his master’s degree in American history from Boston University. From 1979-’88, he was a reporter and editor for the Daily Times Chronicle in Woburn, Mass.
Dante Ramos, The Boston Globe (now owned by a former commodities broker who paid less for the ex-New York Times vehicle than he paid for the second baseman on his ball club)
Adam Reilly (WGBH News) http://wgbhnews.org/people/adam-reilly
Some of the very interesting comments, and some past history that must be considered or investigated:
“Perhaps the most well-documented criminal act in recent memory….”
“the plain facts scream…”
“we have image after image showing the Tsarnaev brothers at the scene”
In PDF format: Certain Arrogance
“Jeff Bauman’s eyewitness account of Tamerlan dropping his black backpack”
“suffice it to say the evidence is overwhelming”
“the suspect himself was in court” [though some have questioned, given the extreme secrecy of the proceedings thus far, whether it’s really him][“habeas corpus”]
“he clearly is the Boston Marathon bomber”
“Who is going to sue? His shop-lifting mother?”
MONDAY, AUGUST 5, 2013
Maddow: Something’s Very Rotten w/ FBI Tsarnaev-Todashev Boston Bombing-Linked “Investigation”
“… So, the FBI goes to question an unarmed man in his own home, and that man ends up with 7 bullets in him, including one through the top back part of his head. Why …? The Feds are doing an internal investigation, but the leaked explanations keep changing. Delta airlines refused to fly Todashev’s body home. Now we hear that Florida refuses to investigate the shooting…..”
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2013
“New York Post’s Boston ‘Bag Men’ Front Page Called ‘A New Low,’ ‘Appalling’ (PHOTO)” “‘Bag Men’ Sue New York Post Over Boston Marathon Bombing Cover” “‘Bag men’ sue New York Post over Boston Marathon bombing portrayal”. How is it that the New York Post coincidentally picked a picture of two young Muslim males carrying packs? Did the authorities know a priori that the perps has to be two young Muslim males carrying packs, but due to a clerical error picked the wrong picture of two young Muslim males carrying packs to send to the Post? The images are described by the Post as “photos being distributed by law-enforcement officials among themselves”. I have to wonder whether these two completely innocent guys were the backup patsies, to be blamed in case something went wrong with the case against the first set of innocent patsies.
“Revelation of link between Boston bomber, triple murder upsets friends” This is based entirely on what the FBI claims was said by an interview subject who unfortunately can’t be further questioned as he was murdered by the FBI.
“After Deportation, Tatiana Gruzdeva Looks to Move On” (‘deferred action’):
“. . . Gruzdeva told me repeatedly that the only reason ICE officials gave her for her arrest and deportation was that she had spoken to Boston magazine.”
“We live in a world which is purposely seeded with lies and obfuscation, as evidenced by the domestic propaganda produced by the National Geographic to convince the broad public that the Tsarnaev brothers really were the culprits who placed backpacks carrying pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, allowing a massive re-direction of attention away from the fact that the brothers had been “handled” by CIA operatives, that private military contractors (some of which may have been equipped with new secretive hand-held surveillance technologies) were not present on the scene, etc etc…..”
Elihu Katz on media events
http://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-11-22.pdf (See Pages D-4 and D-4)
… Before joining Palantir, Karp had spent years studying in Germany under Jürgen Habermas, the most prominent living representative of the Frankfurt School, the group of neo-Marxist philosophers and sociologists. After getting a PhD in philosophy from the University of Frankfurt—he also has a degree from Stanford Law School—Karp drifted from academia and dabbled in stocks. He proved so good at it that, with the backing of a handful of European billionaires, he set up a money management firm called the Caedmon Group.
[Ed.: See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurt_school and the reference to Habermas by Elihu Katz, the c-author of “Media Events”: http://www.thesullenbell.com/2015/01/05/communications-21st-century/ ]
Palantir’s advisors include Condoleezza Rice and former CIA director George Tenet…
EXPOSED: DHS Planned Drill Targeting Patriot Groups w/Backpack Bombs Before Boston Marathon Bombing
As of 2013, Palantir was used by at least 12 groups within the US Government including the CIA, DHS, NSA, FBI, the CDC, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point, the Joint IED-defeat organization and Allies, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“This is Just a Drill”
Brian Williams, a now discredited journalist, selling more propaganda about guys with boxcutters using our own aviation system….but Snowden reminds us that we had the “dots” but we didn’t understand what we’re doing.
The point is that it’s common practice for intel operatives to be placed on the scene of a false flag attack to quickly establish the official narrative for the media. Sure enough, we’ve come across a couple of instances of this at the Boston Marathon bombing.
Another Boston boy who made it big in the media
In 1995, having established himself as a national media personality, O’Reilly was accepted to Harvard University‘s John F. Kennedy School of Government; he received a master of public administration degree in 1996. At Harvard, he was a student of Marvin Kalb.
In early 2007, researchers from the Indiana University School of Journalism published a report that analyzed O’Reilly’s “Talking Points Memo” segment. Using analysis techniques developed in the 1930s by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis, the study concluded that O’Reilly used propaganda, frequently engaged in name calling, and consistently cast non-Americans as threats and never “in the role of victim or hero.”
December 21, 2014 by The WhoWhatWhy Team
#1 Why were runners being told that a bomb squad drill was taking place during the Boston Marathon?
2 Why did authorities deny that a bomb squad drill was being held?
If that is the case, why are authorities in Boston adamantly insisting that the two brothers were acting alone?
#4 The mother of the two Tsarnaev brothers insists that the FBI had been in contact with them for up to five years. Will we ever learn the true scope of the previous relationship between the FBI and the Tsarnaev brothers?
#5 Debka is reporting that the Tsarnaev brothers were “double agents” which had been “hired by US and Saudi intelligence to penetrate the Wahhabi jihadist networks which, helped by Saudi financial institutions, had spread across the restive Russian Caucasian.” Could this possibly be true? If so, will the American people be told the truth about these links?
#6 According to their uncle, there were “mentors” that “radicalized” the Tsarnaev brothers. So precisely who were those “mentors”?
#7 What happened during Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s trip to Dagestan and Chechnya last year?
#8 Were the Tsarnaev brothers in contact with a rebel leader named Doku Umarov who is known as “Russia’s Bin Laden”?
#11 Initially we were told that Saudi national Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi was a “person of interest” in the case. But now he is scheduled to leave the countrywith the full blessing of the U.S. government. Why is there such a rush to get him out of the United States?
#12 Why aren’t we being told that Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi was photographed with two other Saudis in the vicinity of the Boston marathon bombings?
#16 Why did Michelle Obama visit Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi in the hospital?
Read the entire thing here:
by Michael Snyder
Wayne Madsen Reports
from April 16th, 2013 through August 30th, 2013
Full pdf copy of all those reports covers:
- The relationship of the event to the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which has been likened to a “Patriot Act for the Internet”;
- the ties between the Tsarnaev brothers and Chechnya, George Soros, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. and Arizona Republican Senator John McCain;
- the observation that “most of the media began resurrecting a slogan from the post-9/11 months: that the Boston marathon bombings represented the “new normal,” that is, that Americans should get used to the idea of living under virtual martial law with the U.S. Constitution representing nothing more than a ‘quaint piece of paper’”;
- photo questions;
- Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s 10-day transit through Turkey on a Kyrgyz passport;
- Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s links to the the “Caucasus Emirate”;
- “… NBC News anchorman Brian Williams noted the odd presence of a U.S. State Department Diplomatic Security agent in Watertown shortly after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apprehended while hiding in a boat parked in a yard in the Boston suburb. On April 20, FBI and Department of Homeland Security agents arrested two men believed to be connected to the Tsarnaev brothers at the Hidden Brook apartments in New Bedford, Massachusetts, near the campus of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev attended as a student. A minivan with foreign consular plates was present at the time of the arrests in New Bedford.….”;
- the dispatch of “Israeli police officers and detectives to Boston to meet with FBI agents in the hours after the terrorist bombing”;
- the report from Ha’aretz that “Ron Dermer, a foreign affairs adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and prospective Israeli ambassador to the United States, told a secret group of Jewish leaders in New York that the Boston marathon bombings would increase U.S. support for Israel…..”;
- Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s links to CIA operations in Caucasus, and the Caucasus Fund, the Jamestown Foundation (“founded, in part, by CIA director William Casey in 1984 [and] used as an employer for high-ranking Soviet bloc defectors), and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) activities, and that “Tsarnaev’s Maryland-based uncle, Ruslan Tsarni (name changed from Tsarnaev) was also contracted to USAID”;
- that Soros’ Pussy Riot activist Masha Gessen left Radio Liberty after a positive media campaign by The New York Times and other outlets “because she was going to be writing a book on the Boston bombing, particularly due to the number of “sources” she has in Dagestan, Chechnya, and the rest of the Caucasus region”; and
- Graham Fuller’s links to the CIA and to Ruslan Tsarni.
“The culprits of the Boston attack are the same as those who were involved in 9/11 — the neocons and their loyalists inside the U.S. government.”
By David J. Krajicek on Aug 5, 2013
A glib article published in the Boston Globe on July 27 suggested that those who question the opaque law enforcement narrative about the Boston Marathon bombing have a screw loose.
“There are those,” the writer begins, ”who believe the bombs and blood were staged, the amputees and others injured were actors in some kind of Hollywood production designed to justify martial law.”
David Abel’s lead is a splendid Straw Man ploy: dismiss an idea by seizing upon an absurd exaggeration, like looking at a reflection in a funhouse mirror.
For validation, Abel quotes Jeanne Kempthorne, a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer who worked from 1992 to 2003 as an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston. She slapped aside skeptics.
“It’s just human nature,” Kempthorne told the paper. “There will always be flat-earthers or grassy knoll types, people who will go to great lengths to dispute the obvious or find conspiracies or come up with evidence-free speculation.”
But what she calls evidence-free speculation others call collaborative deduction.
A fast-forward evolution is happening in criminal justice as citizen gumshoes use the Internet and social media to wheedle out clues and, yes, even evidence.
In one instructive example, a blogger named Alexandria Goddard used evidence collected from social media to help expose the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl last summer in Steubenville, Ohio.
“The authorities” view this as meddling by amateurs. But online gatecrashing by “grassy knoll types” is certain to increase as law enforcement agencies like the FBI, once viewed as virtually infallible, have grown increasingly furtive, under cover of the surveillance state.
We asked Martin Garbus, one of the country’s premier constitutional attorneys, about the issue of public trust for law enforcers. He suggested that Americans have been taught a lesson by recent revelations of wholesale spying on citizens by the National Security Agency.
“There is no more reason to think that the FBI will do the right thing,” Garbus told us, “than there is to think that the NSA will do the right thing.”
William Keating seems to agree, and he doesn’t seem like a kook. He is a Democratic U.S. Congressman who represents southeast Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, New Bedford and Plymouth. But he has respectful skepticism about law enforcement, learned on the job.
Like Kempthorne, Keating is a former prosecutor, having served 12 years as district attorney for Norfolk County, Massachusetts, before he was elected to Congress in 2010. He is a member of both the House Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees.
For three months, Keating has doggedly pursued answers about the Boston bombing from the FBI. He wants to know when the FBI recognized that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the dead bombing suspect, was a threat to national security and why it did not share its intelligence with the Boston Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.
It would be charitable to describe the Bureau’s response as “less than forthcoming.”
So on July 31, Keating sent a wrathful three-page, 1,200 word letter letter to James Comey, the newly confirmed FBI director, demanding answers to seven questions related to the bombing investigation. Keating, who traveled to Russia in late May to investigate the case on his own, said he found the Russian intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service, to be more forthcoming than the FBI.
Keating complained that the FBI has three times declined invitations to appear before the House Homeland Security Committee to answer questions publicly. And in an Orwellian plot twist, FBI officials replied the next day–but not by contacting Keating. They planted a response in the New York Times.
The story begins, “The F.B.I. has concluded that there was little its agents could have done to prevent the Boston Marathon bombings, according to law enforcement officials, rejecting criticism that it could have better monitored one of the suspects before the attack.”
In other words, no mistakes were made.
Unnamed agency officials told the newspaper that the FBI has no intention of conducting an internal investigation. Nor, apparently, does it intend to cooperate with Keating’s committee.
If the congressman was seething when he sent the letter to Comey, he must have been apoplectic when he saw the response in the Times—by agency officials who were allowed by the newspaper to push back against the people’s representatives while remaining anonymous.
This has become a pattern for the FBI. Information is channeled without specific attribution through the major media, especially via John Miller, a CBS correspondent who once served as the agency’s spokesman. Often, the information has been flatly wrong.
One example was the New York Times’ report on April 22 about the weapons used by the Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar. One paragraph read:
“Along with determining that the suspects had made at least five pipe bombs, the authorities recovered four firearms that they believe the suspects used, according to a law enforcement official. The authorities found an M-4 carbine rifle — a weapon similar to ones used by American forces in Afghanistan — on the boat where the younger suspect was found Friday night in Watertown, Mass.”
The same story cited a “senior United States official” as describing a gunshot wound to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s neck as “close-range, self-inflicted style.”
Two days later, an Associated Press story—again citing unnamed officials—reported that the brothers had had a single gun, a 9mm pistol, and that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was unarmed as local, state and federal law enforcers peppered his boat hideout with dozens of shots.
The April 22 story in the Times was corrected twice. One error concerned the geographic relationship of Watertown to Boston. The second clarified the use of the Miranda Warning exception used in the case. But the totally fallacious inventory of weapons was not corrected, and those details are still found in the electronic version of the story in the Times archive.
In fact, mistakes were made. Lots of them—and on more than a few significant aspects of the story.
But do such details really matter?
If you believe in the infallibility of the FBI, probably not. (The agency regards itself as infallible, as this perceptive –dare one say “skeptical”?– New York Times story about the FBI’s remarkable perfect record of faultlessness in agent-involved shootings dating to 1993.)
But the Boston Marathon bombing investigation has bloomed into a complex filigree of related inquiries—from the unsolved triple murder in 2011 in drowsy Waltham, Mass., to the rare “shelter-in-place” order and live-TV posse search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on April 19, to the puzzling FBI-agent shooting death in Florida of an unarmed friend of the Tsarnaevs who might have been able to answer crucial questions–had he lived.
Yes, details matter because they often can reveal larger truths.
So WhoWhatWhy joins flat-earthers like the American Civil Liberties Union and Congressman William Keating in asking questions that deserve answers.
1. If Russia recognized Tamerlan Tsarnaev as a potential security threat, why didn’t the FBI?
In March 2011, Russian security officials asked the U.S. to help determine whether Tsarnaev had gone radical. The agency did a cursory investigation, and then dropped it. In a justification published in the New York Times on Aug. 1, unnamed officials said the FBI had absolved itself of any missteps in “several internal reviews.” The agency also has claimed it was prevented by law from delving further into Tsarnaev’s activities.
A point of contrast concerning what the authorities can do, inside or outside the law: On July 31, six law officers showed up at the Boston-area home of Michelle Catalano because members of her family had Googled the terms “pressure cooker” and “backpack.” It turns out they had been shopping online.
2. How was Ibragim Todashev killed, and how has an FBI agent-involved shooting related to a high-profile terrorist bombing managed to become a state secret?
In an April 22, 2013, missive from the Russian FSB to the FBI, Ibragim Todashev’s name appeared under the heading “matters of significance.” He was a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. One month later, on May 22, Todashev was shot and killed in his Orlando apartment by a Boston-based FBI agent.
The first gauzy explanation was channeled through John Miller of CBS, the agency’s former mouthpiece. As the story evolved, we were told that Todashev was armed with a knife. Or a broomstick. Or that he was unarmed—but that a samurai sword was hanging on the wall. The agent, who has never been publicly identified, fired five or six shots. A Massachusetts state trooper who was with him did not fire once. The Florida medical examiner’s office refused to release the autopsy report, by orders of the FBI.
Civil libertarians have demanded an accounting. As Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida put it, “Secrecy fosters suspicion.”
Two points: If Todashev was considered a threat (and he should have been), informal questioning in the unsecured surroundings of the suspect’s own apartment was a glaring investigative mistake. Second, the case highlights, once again, a fundamental lack of accountability for federal law enforcement entities. State and local police agencies are held accountable to the elected officials who hire and fire the top administrators and set budgets. Unless there is pressure from Washington politicians, the FBI can stave off public inquiries with virtual impunity—as in this case.
3. How did the Waltham, Mass., Police Department and Massachusetts State Police go so wrong in its investigation of the triple murder in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Todashev were later implicated?
On Sept. 11, 2011, Brendan Mess, Erik Weissman and Raphael Teken were found dead in a house at 12 Harding Ave. in Waltham, a city of 60,000 west of Boston. Their throats were slit, and cash and marijuana were sprinkled on the bodies.
It should have been a high-priority crime in Waltham, where triple murders are about as rare as Halley’s Comet. Officials believed the victims knew their killers. Tsarnaev was a close friend of Mess’s and a frequent visitor to the Harding Avenue house.
Friends and loved ones of the victims have said they pointedly told police investigators to question Tsarnaev. The suggestions should have been unnecessary; it is template detective work to interview those closest to murder victims. But no cop ever questioned Tsarnaev about the murders. Why?
4. Who opened fire on the boat in Watertown, and why?
Amid the chaotic search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on April 19, David Henneberry alerted police that a bloody person seemed to be secreted in a drydocked boat in his backyard, at 67 Franklin St. in the Boston suburb of Watertown.
Officers from Boston police, Massachusetts state police and the FBI “set up a perimeter,” as Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis put it, then “exchanged gunfire” with Tsarnaev for about an hour. Much of the action was viewed and heard on live television, included the reports of flash-bang percussion grenades.
Photos showed about 40 bullet holes in the port side of the 22-foot boat. The shot pattern was clustered toward the middle of the boat, precisely the spot where the helicopter imaging had shown him lying.
When a bloody Tsarnaev finally emerged, the media reported that he had been hunkered down with a small arsenal—including an M-4 rifle, as a Washington source told the New York Times—and that he had apparently shot himself in the neck. That was all wrong, it turned out.
In most cases, a law enforcement shooting siege against an unarmed person leads to a weapons-discharge investigation. Will that happen in this case?
5. Will Danny the Carjack Victim ever emerge from the shadows and tell his story publicly?
American crime heroes usually end up on the sofa at NBC’s “Today” show. But Danny has shied from the true-crime klieg lights, appearing in shadow with a fuzzed-up voice with both Today’s Matt Lauer and CBS’s Miller—after sitting with the Boston Globe, in an interview brokered by Jamie Fox, a Northeastern University criminology professor.
Is something stopping Danny from stepping into the sunshine and enjoying his media star turn?
6. Why was Sean Collier, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, killed?
Collier was shot and killed at about 10:20 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, as his sat in a patrol car near Vassar and Main streets on the nearly empty MIT campus in Cambridge. The public has been told that his assailants were almost certainly the Tsarnaev brothers, but produced no rationale or proof. WhoWhatWhy’s Russ Baker explored some of the questions about that particular component of this investigative labyrinth.
Dangerous Machinery: “Conspiracy Theorist” as a Transpersonal Strategy of Exclusion
Ginna Husting, Boise State University
Martin Orr, Boise State University
In a culture of fear, we should expect the rise of new mechanisms of social control to deflect distrust, anxiety, and threat. Relying on the analysis of popular and academic texts, we examine one such mechanism, the label conspiracy theory, and explore how it works in public discourse to “go meta” by sidestepping the examination of evidence. Our findings suggest that authors use the conspiracy theorist label as (1) a routinized strategy of exclusion; (2) a reframing mechanism that deflects questions or concerns about power, corruption, and motive; and (3) an attack upon the personhood and competence of the questioner. This label becomes dangerous machinery at the transpersonal levels of media and academic discourse, symbolically stripping the claimant of the status of reasonable interlocutor—often to avoid the need to account for one’s own action or speech. We argue that this and similar mechanisms simultaneously control the flow of information and symbolically demobilize certain voices and issues in public discourse.
Ginna Husting and Martin Orr. “Dangerous Machinery: “Conspiracy Theorist” as a Transpersonal Strategy of Exclusion” Symbolic Interaction 30.2 (2007): 127-150.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ginna_husting/3
By Peter Dale Scott on Jun 23, 2013
Amid the swirl of mysteries surrounding the alleged Boston bombers, one fact, barely touched upon in the mainstream U.S. media, stands out: There is a strong possibility that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers, was a double agent, perhaps recruited by the FBI.
If Tsarnaev was a double agent, he would be just one of thousands of young people coerced by the FBI, as the price for settling a minor legal problem, into a dangerous career as an informant.
That he was so coerced is the easiest explanation for two seemingly incompatible incidents in his life:
The first is that he returned to Russia in 2012, ostensibly to renew his Russian passport so he could file an application for US citizenship.
The second is that Tsarnaev then jeopardized his citizenship application with conspicuous, provocative — almost theatrical — behavior that seemed more caricature than characteristic of a Muslim extremist.
While walking around in flashy western clothes in the Russian Republic of Dagestan, he visited his cousin, Magomed Kartashov, a prominent Islamist leader, already on the Russians’ radar. The two reportedly spent hours discussing Tsarnaev’s wish to join a terrorist cell there in the Caucasus. Later, Russian authorities asked Kartashov if he had tried to incite Tsarnaev with “extremist” views. Kartashov said it was the other way around: he had tried to convince Tsarnaev that “violent methods are not right.”
Experts agree that Tsarnaev could not have expected such provocative activity to escape the notice of the vigilant Russian authorities.
Back in America, Tsarnaev again called attention to himself as a radical Muslim. Just one month after he returned from his trip, a YouTube page that appeared to belong to him featured multiple jihadist videos that he had purportedly endorsed.
And in January 2013, he got himself thrown out of a mosque in Cambridge for shouting at a speaker who compared the Prophet Mohammed to Martin Luther King Jr. Tsarnaev rarely attended this mosque, but he must have known it was moderate. (He had done something similar the previous November at the same mosque.) Typically, jihadists are trained to blend in, to be as inconspicuous as possible. Did Tsarnaev go to this mosque with the express intent of smoking out possible radicals?
The key to Tsarnaev’s puzzling behavior may lie in the answer to another question: when exactly did Tsarnaev first come to the attention of the FBI? The timeline offered by the agency, and duly reported in the mainstream media, has been inconsistent. One story line focused on the FBI’s response to an alert from Russian authorities.
Eric Schmitt and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times, wrote, on April 24, 2013,
The first Russian request came in March 2011 through the F.B.I.’s office in the United States Embassy in Moscow. The one-page request said Mr. Tsarnaev ”had changed drastically since 2010” and was preparing to travel to a part of Russia “to join unspecified underground groups.”
The Russian request was reportedly based on intercepted phone calls between Tsarnaev’s mother and an unidentified person (The Guardian [London], April 21, 2013). According to another source, several calls were intercepted, including one between Tsarnaev and his mother.
So was it the Russian alert in March 2011 that first prompted the FBI to investigate Tsarnaev? This conclusion seems undermined by another report in the Times—written four days earlier by the same two reporters plus a third– that dated the agency’s first contact with Tamerlan and family members at least two months earlier, in January 2011.
If the FBI interviewed Tsarnaev before the Russians asked them to, then what prompted the agency’s interest in him? Were his contacts here as well as in Russia considered useful to American counterintelligence?
The Canadian Connection
Although it’s not known why the Russians were intercepting phone calls involving the Tsarnaevs, one reason might have been Tamerlan’s connection, direct or indirect, with a Canadian terrorist named William Plotnikov. According to USA Today, a Russian security official told the AP that
Plotnikov had been detained in Dagestan in December 2010 on suspicion of having ties to the militants and during his interrogation was forced to hand over a list of social networking friends from the United States and Canada who like him had once lived in Russia, Novaya Gazeta reported. The newspaper said Tsarnaev’s name was on that list, bringing him for the first time to the attention of Russia’s secret services.
According to a slightly different version, Plotnikov, “while under interrogation in the militant hotbed of Dagestan, named Tsarnaev as a fellow extremist.”
The similar backgrounds of Plotnikov and Tsarnaev make it likely that they had indeed been in contact. Both were recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Both had successful boxing careers in North America, and both surprised their friends by converting to Islamist extremism.
Plotnikov was a member of the Caucasus Emirate, an al-Qaeda ally, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had been searching for him since 2010. By 2011 the United States had joined the Russians in targeting this terrorist group as an al-Qaeda ally, and had offered $5 million for information leading to the capture of the group’s leader Dokka Umarov. (Moscow Times, May 27, 2011)
Plotnikov was killed in July 2012 in a shootout between militants and police in Dagestan. Tsarnaev left Dagestan for America two days after Plotnikov was killed.
US and Russia Share Concerns
Tsarnaev’s hopes for a Russian passport would have been put at risk by his openly provocative behavior in Dagestan –unless he was acting as an informant. But for which government, the U.S. or Russia?
The United States and Russia have two shared concerns in the “arc of crisis” stretching from Afghanistan to the Caucasus – terrorism and drugs. The two problems are interrelated, because drugs, especially in the Caucasus, help finance terror operations. This vitally affects Russia, both because it has one of the highest heroin death rates in the world, and even more because some of its member republics, like Dagestan, are up to 80 percent Muslim. This shared concern has led to a successful joint US-Russia anti-drug operation in Afghanistan.
Was Tamerlan Tsarnaev caught up in a similar counter-intelligence operation?
The FBI’s Dysfunctional Informant Program
One of the more controversial features of the FBI’s informant program is the frequency with which FBI agents coerce young people into the dangerous role of informant, as a price for settling a minor legal problem. Tsarnaev fits the mold. His successful career as a boxer was interrupted and his application for U.S. citizenship was held up (and perhaps denied) because “a 2009 domestic violence complaint was standing in his way.” This alone would mark him as a candidate for recruitment.
Thousands of vulnerable young people avoid our overcrowded prisons by agreeing to become snitches, sometimes wearing a wire. In this way a person whose only crime may have been selling marijuana to a friend can end up risking his career and even his life. And for what?
According to Sarah Stillman in The New Yorker,
The snitch-based system has proved notoriously unreliable, fuelling wrongful convictions. In 2000, more than twenty innocent African-American men in Hearne, Texas, were arrested on cocaine charges, based on the false accusations of an informant seeking to escape a burglary charge. This incident, and a number of others like it, prompted calls for national legislation to regulate informant use.
After 9/11, the coercive techniques of the FBI drug war, along with half of the agents using them, were redirected to surveillance of Muslims. The emphasis was no longer on investigation of specific crimes, but the recruitment of spies to report on all Muslim communities.
In 2005 the FBI’s Office of the Inspector General found that a high percentage of cases involving informants contained violations of the FBI’s own guidelines. Its report noted that since 2001 the rules had been loosened to reflect the new emphasis on intelligence gathering and. by extension, the bureau’s urgent need for informants.
According to the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, … nearly every major post-9/11 terrorism-related prosecution has involved a sting operation, at the center of which is a government informant. In these cases, the informants—who work for money or are seeking leniency on criminal charges of their own—have crossed the line from merely observing potential criminal behavior to encouraging and assisting people to participate in plots that are largely scripted by the FBI itself. Under the FBI’s guiding hand, the informants provide the weapons, suggest the targets and even initiate the inflammatory political rhetoric that later elevates the charges to the level of terrorism.
A writer for Mother Jones, Trevor Aaronson, also investigated the FBI’s informant-led terrorism cases for over a year; he too found that in a number of cases, “the government provides the plot, the means, and the opportunity.”
Refuse the FBI and See What Happens
And what happens to Muslims who refuse to become spies? The case of Ahmadullah Niazi is not atypical. Niazi was one of several members of a California mosque who sought a restraining court order against another member–actually an FBI informant–who was flagrantly advocating violence in their midst. When Niazi was subsequently asked to become an informant himself and refused, he was arrested on charges of lying to immigration officials about alleged family connections to a member of Al Qaeda. The charges were ultimately withdrawn, but by then both Niazi and his wife had lost their jobs.
Another Muslim, Khalifa al-Akili, when pressured to become an informant, complained to the Guardian newspaper in London that “he believed he was the target of an FBI ‘entrapment’ sting.” One day after the Guardian contacted al-Akili, the FBI arrested him on a felony charge for illegal gun possession, based on the fact that two years earlier he had used a friend’s rifle (at a firing range), something he was prohibited from doing since he already had a drug conviction on his record. Al-Akili was held without bail as a potential threat to the public, and ultimately convicted.
These recruitments were taking place in a climate of fear. In addition to the tens of thousands of Muslims in America who were interviewed or investigated after 9/11, there were also by 2003 (according to an American imam’s compilation of US Government figures), 6,483 detained or arrested, 3,208 deported, 13,434 in process of deportation, and 144,513 interviewed and then registered under a Special Registration program of the Justice Department.
It is instructive to study how the FBI handled drone victim Anwar al-Awlaki. Right after 9/11, Awlaki was the “go-to” imam for the U.S media, because of his willingness to denounce the atrocity as anti-Islamic. But a few years earlier, while a Muslim cleric in San Diego, he had been twice arrested and convicted for soliciting prostitutes. According to Awlaki, he had been set up both times, because the U.S. government had been trying to recruit him as a spy:
In 1996 while waiting at a traffic light in my minivan a middle aged woman knocked on the window of the passenger seat. By the time I rolled down the window and before even myself or the woman uttering a word I was surrounded by police officers who had me come out of my vehicle only to be handcuffed. I was accused of soliciting a prostitute and then released. They made it a point to make me know in no uncertain terms that the woman was an undercover cop. I didn’t know what to make of the incident. However a few days later came the answer. I was visited by two men who introduced themselves as officials with the US government … and that they are interested in my cooperation with them. When I asked what cooperation did they expect, they responded by saying that they are interested in having me liaise with them concerning the Muslim community of San Diego. I was greatly irritated by such an offer and made it clear to them that they should never expect such cooperation from myself. I never heard back from them again until in 1998 when I was approached by a woman, this time from my window and again I was surrounded by police officers who this time said I had to go to court. This time I was told that this is a sting operation and you would not be able to get out of it.
Awlaki’s allegations may have been at least partly true. In 2002, when he came under suspicion in Operation Green Quest, an investigation of Muslim nonprofit organizations, the FBI reportedly did try to flip him, using prostitution charges.
According to U.S. News,
FBI agents hoped al-Awlaki might cooperate with the 9/11 probe if they could nab him on similar charges in Virginia. FBI sources say agents observed the imam allegedly taking Washington-area prostitutes into Virginia and contemplated using a federal statute usually reserved for nabbing pimps who transport prostitutes across state lines.
Were the FBI’s recruitment efforts successful? Another Muslim “person of interest,” Ali al-Timimi, tells a strange tale about al-Awlaki’s unnaturally provocative behavior:
When Awlaki came to his home, Timimi said, he started talking about recruiting Western jihadists. “Ali had never, in his whole life, even talked to the guy or met him,” Timimi’s lawyer, Edward MacMahon, told me. “Awlaki just showed up at his house and asked him if he could assist him in finding young men to join the jihad.” MacMahon said that Timimi was suspicious of Awlaki showing up “completely out of the blue” (Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars, 71).
Timimi’s attorneys argued that Awlaki was wearing a wire at the time, and asked that the US Government produce the tapes, which would show Timimi’s rejection of Awlaki’s terrorist request. The Government refused, on the grounds that “We are aware of no authority for this request.” Timimi, a promising research scientist, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Another glaring indication that Awlaki had been flipped is the ease with which he was able to return to the US from studies in Yemen in 2002, even though there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
On October 9, 2002, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Colorado “abruptly filed a motion to have the warrant for Awlaki’s arrest vacated and dismissed.”
On October 10, Awlaki and his family arrived at JFK airport on a flight from Saudi Arabia. After a brief period of confusion, Customs officials released them and recorded later that the FBI had told them “the warrant had been removed on 10/9.” In fact, documents show the warrant was still active, and was only vacated later that day.
Asked to comment on these anomalies, former FBI agents indicated there were only two likely explanations: either the bureau let the cleric into the country to track him for intelligence, or the bureau wanted to work with him as a friendly contact.
Does a similar analysis apply to the FBI’s curious “relationship” with Tamerlan Tsarnaev?
Despite Tsarnaev’s inflammatory behavior, as reported by the Russians and also in this country, a senior law enforcement official told the New York Times that intelligence agencies never followed up on Tsarnaev once he returned to the U.S., because their investigation “did not turn up anything and it did not have the legal authority to keep tabs on him”
This claim sounds strange in the light of recent revelations about widespread surveillance of telephone and Internet traffic of ordinary Americans and the ease with which law enforcement officials obtain warrants to probe more deeply into the activities of anyone suspected of ties to “terrorists.”
The case of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, like that of Anwar al-Awlaki, leaves many unanswered questions. But one thing seems clear: the FBI’s informant program, especially when dealing with the War on Terror, has proliferated wildly out of control.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev prison restrictions should be eased, attorneys argue
By Milton J. Valencia, Globe Staff
Attorneys for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged Boston Marathon bomber, asked a federal judge to ease special restrictions that have been placed on him at the prison in Fort Devens, saying they have unduly left him in harsh isolation while preventing proper communication with his family and his legal team.
The attorneys argued that US Attorney General Eric H. Holder J. had no basis to order the Special Administrative Measures for Tsarnaev in late August, more than four months after his arrest, with no evidence that Tsarnaev was a further threat of violence or to security.
“The government has not alleged that Mr. Tsarnaev has done or said anything since his arrest to commit violence, incite violence, or engage in communications that pose a security threat,” the lawyers argued in a courting filing Wednesday, calling the measures “unlawful and unwarranted.”
Federal prosecutors have not yet responded to the court filing.
More at the link:
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, who led his department’s response to the Boston Marathon bombing, says he’s stepping down after seven years on the job. Davis was thrust into the national spotlight on April 15 when twin explosions near the marathon finish line killed three people and wounded more than 260. Along with Menino and Gov. Deval Patrick, Davis ordered a daylong, city-wide lockdown after the two bombing suspects were involved in a shootout with police.
“Davis, 57, said he was “leaning heavily” toward accepting a fellowship at Harvard University but was entertaining other offers as well. He did not completely rule out the possibility of a federal post in the future, but he said he was not planning on leaving the Boston area at this time…..”
He’s a consultant for WBZ-TV News in Boston.
I’ll Remember April, Ahmad Jamal
I’ll remember the footsteps of April
“The following timeline of the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three and injured many more provides a platform to better understand how the event was publicly presented by corporate and alternative news media. The chronological assemblage of coverage is not comprehensive of all reports published on the incident but is an ongoing project that also seeks to explain how the storyline was largely constructed by federal and state law enforcement, medical authorities and major media around the eventual theory that Dzokhar and Tamarlan Tsarnaev were the sole instigators of the bombing.
This scenario has become an established reality through the news media’s pronounced repetition of law enforcement’s narrative…..”
Submit story/event suggestions for possible inclusion in Boston Marathon Bombing Timeline here.
“… How about this: two-day-old footage of runners approaching the finish line of the Boston Marathon. A puff of smoke rises at the right of the screen. A runner falls down in the street. The anchor is saying: “The FBI has announced a bomb made in a pressure cooker caused the injuries and deaths.”
Must be so. We saw the pictures and heard the voice explain.
We see Building #7 of the WTC collapse. Must have been the result of a fire. The anchor tells us so. Words over pictures.
We see footage of Lee Harvey Oswald inside the Dallas police station. The anchor tells he’s about to be transferred, under heavy guard, to another location. Oswald must be guilty, because we’re seeing him in a police station, and the anchor just said “under heavy guard.”
Because it mirrors what the human mind, in an infantile state, is always doing: looking at the world and seeking a brief summary to explain what the world is, at any given moment…..”