The Boston Marathon bombing is much more important than has been acknowledged, principally because it is the major domestic national security event since 9-11 and has played a major role in expanding the power of the security state. For that reason, WhoWhatWhy is continuing to investigate troubling aspects of this story and the establishment media treatment of it. So even as it slips from the headlines, we will be exploring new elements of the story regularly as the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev approaches.
Since the Boston Marathon bombing a year and a half ago, the FBI appears to be intimidating, harassing, and silencing friends and acquaintances of the Tsarnaev brothers. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers have noticed it too—they’re having trouble getting anyone to talk to them, recent court papers reveal.
In what WhoWhatWhy previously described as the FBI’s “war on witnesses”, the Bureau seems to be employing a scorched earth strategy of destroying anything that might be of use to the “enemy.”
On August 29, Tsarnaev’s lawyers filed a motion requesting a continuance for more time to prepare their defense, noting the fact that they were given only half the median preparation time that federal courts have allowed over the past decade for defendants on trial for their lives. (The judge did grant a two-month delay while refusing the defense request to move the trial out of Boston.)
The lawyers cited “outpaced requirements” in building a proper defense for their client: (1) the international nature of the investigation—including language and geographic barriers, (2) the large amount of evidence that has to be scrutinized, and most tellingly, (3) the climate of intimidation and fear created by the FBI’s investigative efforts since the bombing. They write:
Domestic defense mitigation investigation has been conducted amid a growing atmosphere of anxiety and agitation generated by highly-publicized arrests, indictments, prosecutions, deportations (and, in one instance, the FBI killing) of members of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s peer groups.
Most news reports brush over that last part. As if shooting to death an unarmed man involved in this case—as an FBI agent did to Tamerlan’s friend Ibragim Todashev—is not relevant to the difficulties the defense team has had in getting witnesses to talk to them. But even less extreme events are enough to silence potential witnesses, such as the mysterious closing of their bank accounts.
Prosecutors resisted this and an earlier attempt to have the trial delayed. The victims have a right to see justice done—swiftly, the thinking goes.
The victims and their families certainly deserve justice for this horrible atrocity. True justice should include a full accounting—something a hurried, one-sided investigation is not likely to produce. And of course Boston and the American public deserve, and need, the truth, whatever it may be.
Yet a close read of the motion document reveals FBI activities that seem more of an effort to conceal than to illuminate.