Monday Morning Skeptic: In Boston Bombing, FBI Fights For Public’s Right To Know… Nothing

For more than six months, WhoWhatWhy has been asking questions about the Boston Marathon bombing and aftermath, pursuing our constitutionally protected duty. By and large, reaction from official sources has been mute.

Is the FBI conducting an honest investigation or working diligently on a cover-up? It’s impossible to know.

But the Bureau’s silence should be a red flag, since the FBI and other secretive U.S. agencies have a well-known record of duplicity when left to operate in the shadows.

Secrecy has become the rule. In Boston, the prosecutor of accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has asked the judge to withhold filings from the media. The FBI won’t even identify the agent who shot and killed a key witness in the investigation in Orlando, Florida, let alone clear up the muddy circumstances around the shooting. And the Bureau has ordered the sealing of a county coroner’s completed autopsy report of that killing.

And it’s not only the media that is being stonewalled. Politicians are being shut out, as well.

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, a reliably conservative Republican from Iowa, is now demanding answers from the FBI about its bombing investigation. In a letter to bureau Director James Comey, Grassley criticized the FBI’s lack of transparency and asked for answers to a series of questions about the bombing he first asked in June.

Three months ago, U.S. Rep. William Keating, a Massachusetts Democrat, asked his own questions in a scathing letter to Comey.

Favored Reporters Are Fed Leaks

The information blackout of the past six months stands in stark contrast to the FBI’s river of leaks to pet reporters during the week following the April 15 bombing.

This tactic of handing out selective “scoops” gave the FBI control of the narrative as it steered public opinion toward viewing the Boston Bombing as an open-and-shut case against the Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar.

As part of the quid pro quo for these scoops, favored journalists are not likely to press the government for answers to discomfiting questions.

But don’t take our word for it.

CBS News correspondent John Miller enjoys most-favored-journalist status as a former flack for the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. He explained the scoops-for-softballs system in an interview with David Bauder of the Associated Press.

“I am reluctant to criticize authorities,” Miller said. “My interpretation of when they need to be (criticized) and somebody else’s might be different…If you’ve been there and you know how that works and what it’s like, and how easy it is to take potshots from the outside, your criticism is more measured, your analysis of what is worthy of criticism and what isn’t is slightly different.”

Our Pursuit of a Police Report

According to the official narrative, the Tsarnaev brothers were “self-radicalized” Muslims who hatched the bomb plot unassisted, constructed rather sophisticated bombs on their own, killed university police Officer Sean Collier for his gun (which they somehow did not take), and carjacked the still-anonymous “Danny” (who either escaped or was let go).

And in order to catch the Tsarnaevs, the Boston region was in essence locked down under martial law.

In scrutinizing the prevailing narrative, WhoWhatWhy has found it instructive to follow one of the many loose threads.

We sought a copy of a Cambridge, Massachusetts police report related to the “Danny” carjacking in Cambridge on the night the Tsarnaev brothers were revealed as suspects. We hoped to clear up some conflicting information.

We know the report exists. The Wall Street Journal published a story based on the document. The reporter, Pervaiz Shallwani, claims to have been given access to the official document.

Police incident reports are considered public information. Since the report had already been released to a Wall Street Journal reporter, we thought it would be a simple matter to get a copy for WhoWhatWhy.

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