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article imageOp-Ed: Tsarnaev signals vigorous defense, FBI struggles with story

By Ralph Lopez     Apr 29, 2014 in World
Being forced into virtually admitting that it has never heard of a mugshot before, the FBI has taken the position that it does not keep files on A-List terror suspects, at least not files with photographs anyway.
Forget that a good part of law enforcement is identification, in order to, you know, make sure you have the right guy. Did he have a mole or anything? Picking suspects out of a line-up or binder of photos. That sort of thing.
So when the Boston bombing suspects' pictures were posted all over the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF,) before being released to the public, you would think someone would have the wherewithal to go fetch the top batch of files in any of the Boston FBI Counter-Terrorism Unit's top drawers, and there you have likely found the file on Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Yes, the Boston FBI unit, the Boston JTTF, and their regional support fusion center are all now looking like a bunch of hat backwards-wearing, gum-chewing, pants-falling-off slackers who couldn't shoot their way out of a paper bag, who make Barney Fife look like a competent cop even when he is fumbling for his one bullet.
Speaking to Boston Magazine, spokesman for the Boston FBI office Kieran Ramsey said about the Boston FBI agent (there was only one?) who interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011:
“It’s absolutely unrealistic looking at a photo where there is a hat and sunglasses involved to expect that officer to recognize [him],”
So Russian intelligence thinks a man is important enough to warrant a direct contact with the US government, and he doesn't even get a surveillance photo paper-clipped to the top of his file? And future identification is based on one man's memory? Oh right, those thousands of photos the feds have taken over the last few years were all of those truly dangerous Occupy Wall Street types, who might poke someone's eye out with one of those signs.
In related news it looks like the surviving Boston suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is fixing to mount a vigorous defense, rather than hope for a plea bargain that will spare his life. Tsarnaev's defense team last month asked for any and all FBI records pertaining to previous FBI contacts with his older brother, and said that the FBI was pushing for Tamerlan to become an informant. This opens up to all sorts of speculation as to what leverage the FBI might have had over Tamerlan, a legal non-citizen with a domestic abuse charge on his rap sheet.
Now he has a daughter in the country, by an American, his wife Katherine Russell, and is a deportation away from never seeing her grow up.
The FBI's explanation for why it did not identify the brothers from the surveillance photos it released on April 18, 2013, is patently absurd. The Boston FBI had placed Tamerlan on at least one terror watch list in 2011. The FBI routinely explains that after multiple Russian alerts on Tamerlan, they investigated him, but turned up nothing.
That is a block-head cop response if ever I heard one. Of course they turned up nothing. He hadn't done anything yet.
We can believe the FBI can be incompetent, but do they really expect us to believe that the FBI wouldn't have photos of someone whom Russian intelligence said might cause mass suffering and death in the future?
And guess what? Pressure cooker bombs are a signature weapon of Chechnya and the Caucuses region. Now the list of prime suspects for the Boston office is getting much shorter.
Let's see. Boston-area terrorist suspect on the watchlist because we put them there, from Chechnya, who has a big hook nose and a kid brother with shaggy brown hair. Ringing a bell yet?
The FBI said they couldn't recognize Tamerlan with his sunglasses. But Dzhokhar is standing there without sunglasses, and he was interviewed too along with his family according to the FBI. Dzhokhar stands out like an oversized Muppet.
All of which leads us to one of two conclusions: that the FBI couldn't catch a terrorist if he landed on their front doorstep, which Tamerlan for all intents and purposes did, or it knew full well who they were all along and are lying.
Publicly released surveillance photo of Dzhokhar (left) and Tamerlan Tsarnaev  at Boston Marathon  a...
Publicly released surveillance photo of Dzhokhar (left) and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, at Boston Marathon, at
FBI public website
Would the FBI lie? Let's recall that the FBI initially denied having had any contact with Tamerlan at all, according to CBS News, until it was forced to admit that it had interviewed him at least once, if not many times, in 2011 and beyond.
Oh that Tamerlan Tsarnaev!
Then there is the FBI tall tale of the guy in Florida, Tamerlan's friend Ibragim Todashev, who flung himself backward at them and caught three bullets in the back, and one to the top of the head.
A star prosecutor would have an absolute field day picking apart the FBI's account of Todashev's death.
Enter one American hero, a blunt-spoken police sergeant from MIT, where officer Sean Collier was killed on the night of the chase which netted Dzhokhar, and ended Tamerlan's life. Sgt. Clarence Hennigan inconveniently lets loose that "word was" FBI and feds were all over Cambridge even before Collier was shot, including at the Tsarnaev house. Sgt. Hennigan said:
"word was out regarding the suspects. We knew that his house was under surveillance, and the feds were all over the city of Cambridge,"
Hennigan said “We had an idea that they had already put it together who they were.”
To which the FBI responded that Hennigan didn't know what he was talking about, and that the surveillance he mentioned was for something else entirely. The worst terror attack since 9/11, the suspects have not been caught yet, and the FBI is using manpower on some drug lord? Who just happens to live right by Tamerlan? That dog don't hunt.
Told of the FBI's response, Sgt. Hennigan stuck by his guns and said “We still have questions...and to some degree I’m sure [the FBI] knew.”
Now we are outside the realm of guilty vs. not guilty, and into the realm of 3-dimensional chess. When the music stopped two guys were in the spotlight and left holding the bag. But that doesn't mean no one else was playing. Coincidentally the game, in which many people were killed and seriously hurt, resulted in something never before seen in America: the first ever city-wide "lockdown," which started getting us used to virtual martial law. Some note that it didn't make sense. The gun battle had taken place the night before in Watertown, Tamerlan was dead, and Dzhokhar had fled on foot, likely wounded, and the area where he fled was sealed off. A flea couldn't have gotten out of Watertown.
Yet Governor Duval Patrick, in carefully chosen words, declared the first "shelter in place" anyway, the next morning. The media began to spread the term "lockdown," which is a prison word, meaning everyone to your cells and keep yourselves there. It seemed to be on the shelf and ready to go.
Seven weeks later the Department of Homeland Security spelled out the message in a professionally produced video suitable for viewing at schools and colleges. The video ends with a woman saying "There's bad guys out there, now we need to wait for the good guys." In a coincidence which can only be described as remarkable, the Boston Globe later reported that a terrorism exercise scheduled for June, just two months later, bore striking resemblances to the Marathon attack. In that drill, operatives were to plant backpacks across the city and evaluate the responses of law enforcement.
Department of Homeland Security promotional video of Boston "lock-down"
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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