The Marathon Bombing Blame Game

So, just in time for the anniversary, the FBI has thoroughly investigated what went wrong before the Boston Marathon bombing, and wouldn’t you know it — it was those godless Russians who callously refused to share. Also too, if only our Local Heroes had been given the authority to read more Americans’ emails and riffle through more American drawers, everything would have been different and better. Per the NYTimes patriotic puff piece:

WASHINGTON — The Russian government declined to provide the F.B.I. with information about one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects that would most likely have led to more extensive scrutiny of him at least two years before the attack, according to an inspector general’s report…

“They found that the Russians did not provide all the information that they had on him back then, and based on everything that was available the F.B.I. did all that it could,” said a senior American official briefed on the review…

The review is similar to an internal review the F.B.I. conducted after the bombing. In that review, the bureau found that its agents had been restrained from conducting a more extensive investigation because of federal laws and Justice Department guidelines that prevent them from using surveillance tools like wiretapping in investigations like those conducted on Mr. Tsarnaev before the bombings

While the review largely exonerates the F.B.I., it does say that agents in the Boston area who investigated the Russian intelligence in 2011 could have conducted a few more interviews when they first examined the information….

Yeah, good luck convincing us about that, guys. The FBI does not have a sterling reputation in these parts. And there are persistent rumors that the heroic local Waltham police force missed a chance to get Tamerlane Tsarnaev off the streets months before the bombing, either because the FBI warned them off or just that ‘nobody cared about a couple drug dealers getting iced’. Even our local law’n’order tabloid, the Boston Herald, could not find it in their hearts to wave the Security Theatre flag:

Questions have been raised about how the FBI and intelligence agencies handled Russian intelligence tips that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was linked to Islamic extremists in Dagestan in the year before the April 15, 2013 bombing. After the bombing, the FBI released photos of the Tsarnaevs as unidentified suspects they were seeking days after the bombings, apparently not recognizing Tamerlan though agents had interviewed him the year before.

The Homeland Security Committee report faulted poor information sharing between agencies and questioned officials’ contention that the bombings could not have been prevented, but didn’t lay blame for failing to prevent the attacks on any specific agencies or individuals.

“As House Homeland Security found no smoking gun, neither did the ICIG (Intelligence Community Inspector General) report,” the official said.

There is nothing about the whole Tsarnaev saga that doesn’t stink, and the repercussions will probably last at least as long as the search for Whitey Bulger. But pretending that “more surveillance” would’ve kept a badly damaged immigrant with a family history of failure and too many murky ties to the security forces of at least three nations from reading bad stuff on the interwebs is just bass-akwards. There are certainly any number of turning points which don’t lead to dead and wounded innocents on a sunny April day, but all of them would have involved using information already available to better effect.

(And, yes, I appreciate that hindsight is always 20/20. Doesn’t excuse the current whocoodaknowd roundelay and the naked grab for more Security Theatre power.)

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56 replies
  1. 1
    kindness says:

    Annie is our crusader. Thank the FSM for her.

    You go girl.

  2. 2
    Belafon says:

    OT: Frankensteinbeck, repeat your comment from last thread about your book.

    Also, Balloon Juice needs a “There are writers here” section somewhere.

  3. 3
    Howard Beale IV says:

    BREAKING: 9 fatalities in bus crash.

    Reports were that students were on their way visiting colleges.

  4. 4
    aimai says:

    I remain agog that the FBI is getting away with murdering what they apparently thought was an important witness, Tsarnaev’s Florida friend. The sheer incompetence of killing that guy instead of arresting and holding him safely simply boggles my mind. If they intended to kill him that’s bad. If they were trying to question him and they were so incompetent as to let him attack them and then felt they needed to kill him thats just as bad, to my mind.

  5. 5
    aimai says:

    @Howard Beale IV: Why did you have to post that after I just dropped my child at a college for a two day visit? What purpose is served by throwing up a random tragic event?

  6. 6
    Ash Can says:

    So the solution is to do away with our current national security apparatus? Or…what?

    Seriously, I’m not sure what you’re getting at with this post.

  7. 7
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @aimai: It’s news. Deal with it. How the fuck were any of us supposed to know your spawn was off on a college trip FSM sake?

  8. 8
    greennotGreen says:

    poor information sharing between agencies

    Wasn’t that the problem the formation of “Homeland” Security after 9/11 was supposed to solve?

  9. 9
    RepubAnon says:

    @aimai: Indeed – one wonders whether they decided that a live witness who could speak for himself would cause more trouble than a dead witness who could not contradict the FBI’s press releases…

  10. 10
    efgoldman says:

    @aimai: @RepubAnon:
    Occam says incompetence.

  11. 11
    Cassidy says:

    @RepubAnon: You guys are going to info wars. Overweight, out of shape cop gets ass kicked by professional athlete, panics and kills him. The story is a cover up of the humiliation of getting beat up.

  12. 12
    Mnemosyne says:

    @RepubAnon:

    Given recent events here in Los Angeles, I’m far more likely to come down on the “incompetence” side than the “conspiracy” side with law enforcement right now. Frankly, law enforcement is going to need to show a much more basic level of competence than they’ve been demonstrating before I can believe they’d successfully pull off a conspiracy more complicated than cadging an extra donut at Winchell’s.

  13. 13
    Bob says:

    @Ash Can:

    Seriously, I’m not sure what you’re getting at with this post.

    The FBI is intrusive but not in a good way.

  14. 14
    Ash Can says:

    @Bob: My takeaway from this post is that the FBI needs to be more intrusive. And that it would have been more accurate in its intrusiveness if it had received more/better information from Russia. So…what?

  15. 15
    Bob says:

    @Ash Can: I agree with your assessment of the post. I could not discern a real point. I was attempting to have some fun with the mess.

  16. 16
    MikeJ says:

    I don’t understand how it’s possible, but I know that I’m supposed to blame Obama for this.

  17. 17
    amk says:

    @Ash Can: Yup, AL wants to have the cake and eat it too.

  18. 18
    The Dangerman says:

    @MikeJ:

    …I know that I’m supposed to blame Obama for this.

    Also, light a candle for Snowden.

  19. 19
    burnspbesq says:

    naked grab for more Security Theatre power.

    Unless my decoder ring is broken or it’s written between the lines in invisible pixels that can only be read with some special apparatus, there’s nothing remotely like that in the Times article to which you linked.

    It also seems highly unlikely that you’ve read the entire IG report, which is not due to be released until next week.

    MSU again?

  20. 20
    Suffern ACE says:

    There is a problem. I’m not sure it should be fixed.

  21. 21
    maya says:

    BOSTGHAZI! Let’s pry Crimea out of their cold dead hands.

  22. 22
    SatanicPanic says:

    You know what site deserves more mockery? Salon. Boy that site sucks. They somehow managed to get rid of Glenn Greenwald AND go downhill. I wouldn’t have thought that possible.

  23. 23
    Mandalay says:

    @aimai:

    I remain agog that the FBI is getting away with murdering what they apparently thought was an important witness, Tsarnaev’s Florida friend.

    Being agog if they didn’t get away with it might be more appropriate.

    It’s noteworthy that while our government spies on us constantly, when the FBI interview someone in connection with the Boston bombing they don’t record that interview, so there is video evidence that has to be explained. There was no video because the FBI killed him in his own apartment where he had been detained for several hours.

  24. 24
    Violet says:

    @SatanicPanic: I’m old enough to remember when Salon launched. Loved it back then. I can’t even remember the last time I visited Salon. What’s there now?

  25. 25
    GregB says:

    In related news, there will be an open casting for people who look like Whitey Bulger’s street thugs for the film version of the book Black Mass.

  26. 26
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Violet: “the hidden meaning of something popular and why when you look at it long enough you’ll find it repulsive”

  27. 27
  28. 28
    eemom says:

    Aside from incoherent clusterfucks that make the standard copy & paste schtick look like an art form, what else is on the agenda for the evening?

  29. 29
    Violet says:

    @eemom: My agenda involves going to bed and getting some sleep. I’ve been caregiving for my dad who had unexpected surgery last week and I’m exhausted. He’s better and we return to the doctor for a follow up tomorrow, so I’m hoping for good news. But I’m beat. I sat in front of the TV tonight for an hour and treated myself to some Ben & Jerry’s. And now I’m going to bed.

  30. 30
    Ian says:

    @aimai:
    Clearly the FBI needs to beat and kill more suspects, and shoot them dead. That way, the information that they know but they do not want us(the american public) to know will be of good use in the “war on terror”

  31. 31
    ruemara says:

    The amount of high-fiving I’m getting, now that the news of me leaving has gotten around, is a bit unseemly. I’ve also started to be so tired, I’m near narcoleptic. I nearly fell asleep standing upright, running a camera. WTF. I think the pressure letting up a bit has given some sort of signal to my body to just fall apart.

    Also, the car wound up costing over 1100$ jesu, there goes nearly all the scratch. the rear break assembly needed mfewao fhaewufhawjeaeai, which is all I understood, plus disks. A friend told me he did his own hose replacement and the brakes, but it took 4 months. Hmmm, at nearly 730 for labour, yet done in a day, I think that’s not gonna work for my schedule of needing the car to work all next week. There’s also some notes about strut not being good. I paraded around in front of a mirror and I found my strut to be plenty good. Mechanics are such basic bitches.

  32. 32
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Ash Can:

    Seriously, I’m not sure what you’re getting at with this post.

    “The Homeland Security Committee report faulted poor information sharing between agencies and questioned officials’ contention that the bombings could not have been prevented”… they had information, but they weren’t using it, for whatever reason. The proposed FBI solution is “So, give us the right to collect more information without inconvenient oversight.”

    It’s like your feckless roommate telling you, “Sure, you gave me that money to pay the rent, but I spent it on other stuff — you don’t wanna know what, exactly — so if you don’t give me more money, it’ll be your fault when we’re evicted for not paying the rent.”

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ruemara:

    I think the pressure letting up a bit has given some sort of signal to my body to just fall apart.

    Not “fall apart” so much as, “Oh, good, we can rest now.” I would strongly suggest taking a weekend day to just laze around the house in your PJs, napping whenever the urge strikes. Your body needs it, and it’s trying to tell you.

  34. 34
    ruemara says:

    @Mnemosyne: I think falling asleep standing up is sneaky, unamerican and totally cutting into my work around the clock lifestyle. I would like to complain to the management.

    I started dozing at the periodontist today. While pulling my mouth open with these metal hook thingys. And with a giant light in my face. Jeez

  35. 35
    Violet says:

    @ruemara: Your body clearly needs rest. Listen to it or you’ll pay the price later. Get some sleep, eat right, drink fluids, get some light/sun exposure if possible.

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ruemara:

    Good luck. Your body is actually a collection of independent organs that mostly cooperate, when they feel like it. Once they all gang up on you and convince your brain to power down, all you can do is give in and get some rest.

  37. 37
    Bob In Portland says:

    Surprised no one here heard the two other curious stories about the Marathon bombing.

    One is the boys’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who was badmouthing that side of the family to TV crews the days after the bombing, happens to be the former son-in-law of Graham Fuller. Ruslan married Fuller’s daughter and used Fuller’s address for a Chechen support group he was running. Who is Fuller? “Former” CIA, Rand, he was in the middle of Iran-contra when back way.

    The other curious story was that there were pictures of a detail of private security carrying black backpacks at the scene of the explosion moments before.

  38. 38
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    The proposed FBI solution is “So, give us the right to collect more information without inconvenient oversight.”

    I’m not seeing that.

    What I’m seeing is that the FBI thinks that the bar for obtaining a standard wiretap warrant should be lowered.

  39. 39
    Mandalay says:

    Just another run-of-the-mill oops-a-daisy from the Keystone Cops of LAPD

    Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies mistakenly shot to death a hostage who was fleeing from a knife-wielding attacker at a West Hollywood apartment, authorities announced Thursday…

    “Taking the life of an innocent person is a police officer’s greatest nightmare,” Interim Sheriff John Scott said at a news conference.

    The entire department mourned Winkler’s death, he added…

    The deputies, all department veterans, were removed from patrol after the shooting but were expected to return to full duty next week, sheriff’s officials said.

    Kill someone who is completely innocent and you get week off on full pay. Nice work if you can get it.

  40. 40
    Cacti says:

    @Bob In Portland:

    Stop the presses everyone! Bob thinks something was a false flag/conspiracy! How completely out of character for you.

    Speaking of false flags, Bob old bean, did you hear about the “pro-Russian protesters” in eastern Ukraine who accidentally stormed the Kharkiv opera house, thinking it was the city hall?

    Made me wonder if it had been organized by you.

  41. 41
    priscianus jr says:

    Sorry but the FBI are so full of shit their back teeth are brown.

  42. 42
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mandalay:

    Just another run-of-the-mill oops-a-daisy from the Keystone Cops of LAPD

    Except that’s actually the LA County sheriff’s department, not the LAPD. The fuckups in LACSD are, if anything, worse than LAPD.

  43. 43
    priscianus jr says:

    @Cacti: Bob thinks something was a false flag/conspiracy! How completely out of character for you.

    This country is blessed with one federal agency (the CIA) that has spent most of its time and money (much of it hot and off the books) for the last 65 years planning and executing covert operations, including many against our own country and even against (other parts of) itself; and another agency (the FBI) that likes to follow terrorists around and let them do their thing so they can see what happens.

    But false flag operations? Impossible! Hey, this is America. So naturally the FBI blames the Russians and you blame Bob.

  44. 44
    Cacti says:

    @priscianus jr:

    and another agency (the FBI) that likes to follow terrorists around and let them do their thing so they can see what happens.

    You mean they don’t just go willy nilly arresting them if they haven’t committed a crime?

    How nefarious.

  45. 45
    Mandalay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Except that’s actually the LA County sheriff’s department, not the LAPD.

    You are correct. Thanks.

    The incompetence of this operation is mind boggling. The initial press release stated:

    As the deputies approached an apartment inside the building, they were confronted by two men, according to the release.

    “The men aggressed the deputies and a deputy-involved shooting occurred,” the release said.

    So two innocent unarmed men who had been stabbed were escaping their attacker, yet they allegedly “confront” and “aggress” the police as they are fleeing. Really? I suppose we should be glad that the police aren’t as talented at lying as they are at killing the innocent.

  46. 46
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Howard Beale IV: Shit. Students were from an LA area school.

    Kids full of excitement about their future.

  47. 47
    priscianus jr says:

    @aimai: The sheer incompetence of killing that guy instead of arresting and holding him safely simply boggles my mind.

    Incompetence, hmm… Kind of like the incompetence of the Dallas police when Jack Ruby killed Oswald?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

  48. 48
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Mandalay: It’s breathtaking how cowardly anyone with a gun is these days. The man in NM that got shot – maybe he could have taken a swipe at one of the police in their tactical gear with a knife. No way in hell it would have been worse than just some stitches had he pulled it off.

    Same with these guys – how much harm could they have done, even if they had a knife?

  49. 49
    priscianus jr says:

    @Cacti: You mean they don’t just go willy nilly arresting them if they haven’t committed a crime?

    No, I mean they don’t arrest them when they know they are going to commit a crime, which they then commit.

  50. 50
    different-church-lady says:

    Right. And if they had gotten “Mr. Tsarnaev” off the streets, this post would instead be consisting of cut and pastes of ACLU press releases detailing the violations of his rights.

    ETA: and it would still bear the “security theater” tag

  51. 51
    currants says:

    Late to the thread and related to the Marathon but slightly tangential: a friend of mine is running the Boston marathon this year both because of last year’s bombing (she lived in the back bay then), and to support the Animal Rescue League (she has several small rescue dogs). Here is their pledge page, if you’re interested in such things: http://www.crowdrise.com/arl2014bostonmarathon

  52. 52
    El Cid says:

    If the FBI examines their record and finds the lack of dot-connecting is the fault of another country’s intelligence agency then by God that’s good enough for me.

    Likewise, all I need to know about this guy they shot was that the FBI shot him, which means they must have known what they were doing.

  53. 53
    Morbo says:

    @efgoldman: Hanlon too.

  54. 54
    LAC says:

    @The Dangerman: lol! In gardening, does talking out of both sides of your mouth help the petunias grow?

  55. 55
    Culture of Truth says:

    The government monitors Americans too much; also not enough.

  56. 56
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Shorter FBI: “we didn’t find the needle in the haystack this time, so we need MOAR HAY”

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