The “public safety” exception—invoked by authorities who withheld reading Miranda rights to the alleged Marathon bomber—started out narrow, but has grown into a warped version of itself, writes Paul Campos.
The controversy over when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would be read his Miranda rights illustrates how respect for both basic civil liberties and simple common sense are among the leading victims of this nation’s hysterical preoccupation with terrorism.
In this April 19, 2013 photo, taken by the Massachusetts State Police, ATF and FBI agents check suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for explosives and also give him medical attention after he was apprehended in Watertown, Mass. (Massachusetts State Police/AP)
After Tsarnaev was captured on Friday night following a day-long manhunt, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz announced that, for at least 48 hours, Tsarnaev—who had been seriously wounded during the chase—would be interrogated without being informed of his right to remain silent, or his right to be represented by an attorney.
The basis for this decision is the so-called “public safety” exception to the Miranda rule, which an increasingly conservative Supreme Court created in 1984, in a case called New York v. Quarles.
Brendan Mess, best friend of ‘Tam’ Tsarnaev, was found with his throat slit alongside two other men on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. His killer was never found. Michael Daly on new suspicions about the alleged Boston bomber.
The bodies of 25-year-old Brendan Mess and two other men were found with their throats cut on September 12, 2011, in what police deemed a triple homicide related to the drug trade.
This April 15 photo provided by Bob Leonard shows Tamerlan (right) and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. (Bob Leonard/AP)
Still-grieving relatives of the victims believe the men were killed the night before. And with word that Mess had once been the best friend and boxing partner of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, it seems there might be more significance than anybody imagined in this triple slaying being committed on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
The possibility that Tamerlan might have been involved also could help explain puzzling details of this unsolved crime that never fit with a ripoff or a drug deal gone bad.
Forget what you know about terrorism. Christopher Dickey on the three surprising factors that contribute to creating deadly terrorists, whether they are from al Qaeda or the IRA.
The emerging profile of the Tsarnaev brothers alleged to have bombed the Boston Marathon suggests that they have much in common with terrorists of the past—many of whom had nothing to do with Islam. Indeed, what we know of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is beginning to fit into a revealing pattern.
Afghan men shout anti American slogans during a protest in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Monday, March, 7, 2011. (Rahmat Gul/AP)
“You have to understand the person,” a senior law-enforcement official told me years ago, in a conversation I never forgot. And the operative word is, precisely, “person”: what makes him tick, and what tips him from inchoate anger (which is protected by the American Constitution) to active, targeted terrorism.
Lying in his hospital bed in Boston, nodding and scribbling as best he can, Dzhokhar is not likely to shed much light on that critical question. At least not directly. Self-awareness is not a characteristic of most terrorists. And to be effective those fighting them have to try to understand them better than they understand themselves.
The FBI had good reason not to make too much of their Russian counterpart’s 2011 request to check out Tamerlan Tsarnaev, U.S. officials tell Eli Lake.
On the surface, it looks like another failure to connect the dots.
Russia’s intelligence service, the FSB, warned the FBI in 2011 about a young Chechen named Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who they believed had become radicalized and was prepared to join an underground organization in Russia. The FBI interviewed the man, searched its databases and found nothing, and closed the case the same year. Two years later, Tamerlan and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, bombed the Boston Marathon.
Tamerlan Tsamaev, left, fights during the 2009 Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions. (Glenn DePriest/Getty)
Already two members of Congress have asked the Obama administration for answers about the FBI’s empty investigation. On Saturday, Rep. Michael McCaul (R–Texas), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and Rep. Peter King (R–New York), the chairman of that panel’s subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, wrote a letter asking for “all information possessed by the U.S. government related to Tsarnaev prior to April 15, 2013.”
Good for the Justice Department for ignoring the foolish and unconstitutional calls from the right to declare Dzhokhar Tsarnaev an ‘enemy combatant,’ says law professor Adam Winkler. Now justice can be served the American way.
The government’s decision to try Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in civilian courts has been met by vociferous criticism. Obama’s move was itself in response to calls by Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and others to label Tsarnaev an “enemy combatant.” That designation might justify continued interrogation of Tsarnaev, which is otherwise much more limited under ordinary rules of criminal procedure.
This wanted poster released by the FBI on Friday, April 19, 2013 shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspect the FBI orginally called suspect number 2 in the bombings at the Boston Marathon. (FBI/AP)
Was the administration right not to deem Tsarnaev an enemy combatant?
Perhaps the biggest hurdle to characterizing Tsarnaev in this way is that the evidence available to the public so far doesn’t support it legally. Radio talk show hosts can throw around any words or labels they like, but for the president, who is charged with ensuring that the law be faithfully executed, “enemy combatant” has a defined legal meaning. Under the Authorization of the Use of Military Force law enacted after 9/11 and the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, only someone who is “part of” or “substantially supporting” Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or affiliated groups can be legally designated an “enemy combatant.”
He was charged with using weapons of mass destruction in the Boston Marathon bombing. But a vocal group of fans says he’s innocent—and we should leave the guy alone. By Winston Ross.
She is a 20-year-old student at Holmes Community College in Mississippi, uncertain at the moment of whether she’ll stick with her current career track. But Emily Jolly is fairly certain of this: Dzhokhar “Jahar” Tsarnaev is no terrorist.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is shown in the upper center of the frame, wearing a white baseball cap, walking away from the scene of the explosions on April 15. (David Green/AP)
Jolly is among a growing legion of people who have examined enough of the mountain of “evidence” now available since last week’s bombings in Boston to be convinced the 19-year-old is innocent. Which is why, she says, she has taken to Twitter in recent days hoping to make the hashtag #freejahar a trending one, and of drumming up enough support for the hospitalized suspect to get him a “badass lawyer.”
Tsarnaev wasn’t even charged with a crime until Monday, and the government’s evidence has only begun to dribble out. But Jolly and thousands of other, mostly young people have already made up their minds, albeit with a wide array of conclusions. It was a setup. A false flag. Dzhokhar’s brother maybe did it, but not Dzhokhar. That Saudi guy was the ringleader. On and on and on.
The explanation of charges filed against the Boston bombing suspect is a riveting read. It’s also the fullest and most official account yet of the events of the past week.
After 9/11, America directed its anger toward Muslims—and then tried to remake the greater Middle East. Eleven years later, let’s try not to make the same mistake, writes Peter Beinart.
At times last week, it felt like the days after 9/11: the endless TV coverage, the heroic first responders, the ghastly images, the interfaith prayer services. But something was missing. It took me a few days to realize it: this time, America isn’t going to remake the Muslim world.
Muslims pray at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan on May 6, 2011. (Paul Sancya/AP)
After 9/11, that missionary impulse took different forms. For Ann Coulter, who proposed that “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity,” the post-9/11 “crusade” was literally that. Others were more ecumenical. In his address to Congress a week after the attacks, George W. Bush declared “freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom, the great achievement of our time and the great hope of every time, now depends on us.” And many who loathed Bush—myself included—cheered, believing that the best way to prevent another 9/11 was to wage a generational struggle for democracy in the Muslim world, as we had in Europe when its species of totalitarianism threatened our safety.
No one’s saying that anymore. To the contrary, all the Boston-related policy debates have been internal: should the police have read Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda rights, should he be tried before a military tribunal, does the attack weaken the case for immigration reform, or would a background check have helped? In part, this inward gaze stems from the particularities of attack. The suspects have not been linked to al Qaeda central, and al Qaeda central—which on 9/11 was basically running Afghanistan—is not what it once was. Unlike their 9/11 predecessors, these suspected killers are Americans—they were immigrants before they became terrorists. And unlike 9/11, where most of the suspects came from Saudi Arabia, a seething corner of America’s empire, the Tsarnaevs hail from the Caucuses, a seething corner of Russia’s.
Russia’s president now gets to tell the West ‘I told you so’ about Chechens after the Tsarnaev brothers were revealed as the bombing suspects, Chechnya’s opposition prime minister, Akhmed Zakayev, tells Michael Moynihan.
In another life, Akhmed Zakayev was a renowned actor, a severe-looking young Shakespearean who often played Caius Marcius Coriolanus and Hamlet in Grozny’s tiny theater scene. After the fall of the Soviet Union, in the violent tumult that followed Chechnya’s declaration of independence, he abandoned the stage for the battlefield, becoming a highly regarded rebel commander and navigating various political appointments (culture minister, foreign minister, deputy prime minister).
Polish police officers arrest Akhmed Zakhayev in Warsaw in September 2010. Zakayev, who lived in Britain and was wanted by Russia, was arrested on an international warrant. (STR/AP)
After Moscow pacified and reasserted political control over Chechnya, Zakayev was granted political asylum in the United Kingdom, where today he leads an exile government. His political movement, he says, is the middle way, a moderate alternative to the violent, anti-Russian insurgency led by Chechen Islamist Doku Umarov—frequently called Russia’s Osama bin Laden—and the Moscow-backed regime of Ramzan Kadyrov. When I met Zakayev in 2010, he objected to the descriptor “leader-in-exile,” insisting that he was, without qualification, the prime minister of the “Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.”
When it was revealed that the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were ethnic Chechens, the schizophrenic American media quickly shifted focus to the Caucasus’s recent history of Islamist terror, recalling the 2004 massacre in Beslan, North Ossetia, where Islamists killed hundreds, almost half of them children. (The New York Times quickly carried an opinion piece describing the Boston bombings as “Beslan Meets Columbine.”)
As the Boston manhunt blared from TVs, critic Liesl Schillinger found herself turning to Tolstoy’s haunting final novel, Hadji Murat—and its thistle-sharp lessons on heroism and identity.
This week, trying and failing to absorb the import of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, I let my unmoored thoughts travel away from questions of motive, politics, and ideology, and let them rest and rove in the fictionalized Chechnya conjured by Leo Tolstoy more than a century ago, in his final book, Hadji Murat. I sought no explanation there, only the reassuring touch of history’s veil, high-colored and shimmering, smoothed and made whole by Tolstoy’s literary imagination. I found refuge in his evocation of the rugged, lawless North Caucasus—a place which belongs equally to the past, to the present, and to no particular time at all.
A portrait of Leo Tolstoy, 1909 by I. E. Repin. (AP)
In that incantantory novel, set in 1851 and 1852, Tolstoy wrote of the charismatic Chechen warlord Hadji Murat, the dark-eyed, wily, fearless leader of a rebel band called the Avar. Armed with daggers, cloaked in sheepskins and burkas, Hadji Murat and his murid entourage rode on horseback across the fields and mountain paths of the Caucasus, fighting rival bands of rebels and the troops of encroaching Imperial Russia.
Tolstoy begins Hadji Murat with an allegory of a blood-red thistle in full bloom, which he uses as a metaphor for the Chechen spirit. As the narrator walks through a midsummer field, picking sweet-smelling clover, ox-eye daisies, cornflowers, and tulip-belled campanulas, he spots a thistle in a ditch—strong, coarse-stalked, and crimson-petaled. Attracted, he reaches to pluck it, to make it the centerpiece of his bouquet; but the thistle’s spines cut and prick him; he cannot dislodge it. When he at last tears it from the earth, its “stalk was all frayed and the flower itself no longer seemed so fresh and beautiful.” Walking on, he sees another thistle, downtrodden, but still firmly planted and defiantly thriving. “What vitality!” the narrator thinks. “This one won’t submit.”
At a radical mosque in Dagestan, alleged marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev is remembered by many worshippers—and the secret police. By Anna Nemtsova
The mosque on Kotrova Street in the capital of Dagestan is abuzz with passionate discussions. Here in the northern Caucasus, Muslim revolutionaries are fighting to break away from Russia and create a Salafi “emirate” akin to the caliphate yearned for by Al Qaeda. So people are used to talk about “terrorism.” But they are not used to hearing it linked to words like “Boston” and “marathon.” And they are trying to square what they’re hearing now with their memories of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, the elder of the two brothers at the center of the atrocity in the United States, who was killed last Friday in a Boston suburb.
This Monday, April 15, 2013 photo, taken approximately 10-20 minutes before the blast, shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, center-right, who was dubbed Suspect No. 1 and Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, center-left, who was dubbed Suspect No. 2 in the Boston Marathon bombings by law enforcement. (Bob Leonard/AP)
The men at the mosque on Kotrova Street saw a lot of Tsarnaev last summer and so, it appears, did the local security forces. The FSB, the successor to the KGB, allegedly even had a case file on him, according to one well-placed security source. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was dossier 1713. He was allegedly in the constant company of another Salafist, later killed, whom the FSB believed to have ties to the rebels in Caucasus. The Russian and Dagestani cops were allegedly “watching him closely for five months and three weeks,” according to this source. (The Russians had asked the FBI to take a close look at Tsarnaev in 2011, but the FBI had found nothing on him that they thought worth pursuing.)
“We remember him well,” says Shamil, a young Salafist at the mosque. “He impressed us, as he was from America.” The Tsarnaev family hailed from Chechnya, in fact, but the boys, Tamerlan and 19-year-old Dzokhar, had never lived there, and they essentially grew up in the United States these past 10 years.
After a brief post-9/11 burst, counterterrorism cooperation between the U.S. and Russia never really got off the ground. But in the wake of the Boston bombings and as the Sochi Olympics approaches, that has to change, says Rand Center for Russia and Eurasia director Andrew S. Weiss.
Amid the frenzy of speculation about the Chechen roots of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, I was reminded of a meeting Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton’s national security adviser, and I had with Vladimir Putin two years before 9/11 in New Zealand.
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russiaís President Vladimir Putin in a bilateral meeting during the G20 Summit, Monday, June 18, 2012, in Los Cabos, Mexico. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Putin’s chief of staff, Igor Sechin, and I were milling around waiting for the meeting to start. My pager buzzed with a message from the White House Situation Room about a bombing at an apartment building in suburban Moscow that had killed more than 100 people. I relayed the shocking news to Sechin and expressed my condolences. He ran off to find Putin, who was then Russia’s prime minister. The four of us sat down about 20 minutes later. Berger’s first comment was to stress the emerging threat al Qaeda and similar groups posed both to the United States and Russia. The U.S., Berger continued, was open to doing everything possible with the Russians to target Osama bin Laden and his network. Putin said he was game.
Intervening events made it hard to follow up. Blaming Chechen rebels for the bombings, Russian troops invaded Chechnya just days later, and U.S.-Russian relations quickly went downhill. Western governments condemned Moscow’s scorched-earth tactics and human rights abuses but had little or no leverage over its behavior. Shortly after the Auckland meeting Putin famously declared, “We will pursue the terrorists everywhere. Forgive me, but if we find them in the toilet, we will rub them out in the outhouse.” Putin’s take-no-prisoners attitude helped propel him into the Kremlin by year’s end. (Unanswered questions and conspiracy theories about the apartment bombings persist to this day.)
For nearly 12 hours, a scene from the video game Grand Theft Auto played out on Hassan Malik’s doorstep. He recounts the hunt for the brothers behind the Boston Marathon attack.
I woke up Friday morning to find local police—soon joined by FBI agents and SWAT team members—manning a barricade outside my living room window, and quickly came to realize that the losers who murdered an eight-year-old boy, two young women, and a young man working hard to achieve his dream of becoming a member of my town’s police force, and who gravely injured dozens more, had been living less than 200 meters from my front door.
A police SWAT team search houses on April 19, 2013 in Watertown, Massachusetts. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty)
I don’t recall ever having met either suspect, although, given that I walk past their house every day, it is almost certain we did cross paths or sit on the same bus. Dzhokhar’s Cambridge Rindge & Latin school, after all, was across the street from my favorite sandwich shop, on the way to my office at Harvard, and on the #69 bus route I frequently use. I still wonder if the slightly-built young man in a white cap I saw one afternoon last week sitting in the grassy vacant lot across from my building was the now infamous Dzhokhar.
For nearly 12 hours, I watched from my apartment, which lay inside an enlarged police cordon for much of the day, as law enforcement officials, including bomb squad members and FBI tactical agents carefully inspected the area around the suspects' car and house. In the process, they broke into the car and set off two controlled explosions. Staying inside, I followed the story on local TV and on Russian websites, knowing that crossing the cordon would likely mean having to stay outside it for an indeterminate period.
What’s a good doctor to do when a villain hobbles into the emergency room? Kent Sepkowitz on the human obligation to treat everyone. Even Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Staff at Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston faced a difficult situation Friday night when accused Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was brought to their emergency room for treatment. By report he had sustained two gunshot wounds and had lost a significant amount of blood—not an unusual clinical situation for an urban ER, where stabbings and bullets can seem as common as a sprained ankle. But just a few nights before, these same doctors and nurses had cared for dozens of people, some critically ill, many missing limbs, who were injured by bombs said to have been planted by the exact same person.
An ambulance carrying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old Massachusetts college student wanted in the Boston Marathon bombings, turns into Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on April 19, 2013, after he was captured in an all day manhunt. (Elise Amendola/AP)
With his ER appearance, Tsarnaev provided a too-close-for-comfort, right-here- and-right-now example of a well-worn pastime among doctors and nurses—the thought game of "deciding" what we would do if a villain, perhaps John Wilkes Booth, broken leg and all, hobbled into our office seeking care. For Booth, Dr. Samuel Mudd answered the call and set the assassin’s leg, but soon served prison time after conviction for conspiracy in the assassination. Though he was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson, the conviction remains in place despite decades of Mudd family attempts to overturn the judgment. As recently as 2003, their plea reached the Supreme Court though ultimately the judges refused to hear the case.
The legal end of the dilemma facing medical staff at Beth Israel is clear: the emergency room is compelled to treat everyone who enters the doors in need of emergency care. In 1986, Congress enacted the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) to assure that patients in need of emergency treatment receive medically appropriate attention. This law prevented patient dumping—the convenient refusal to care for the indigent demonstrated by certain hospitals looking for an exclusive, cash-and-carry clientele. Doctors and nurses, as employees of the hospital, have agreed to follow the hospital’s rules as a condition of employment. In other words, though the issue of a morally objectionable patient has not specifically addressed, the law provides no room for personal choice—hospital staff must treat anyone including John Wilkes Booth.
The Tsarnaev brothers were certainly enemies of the people of the United States. But, as Michael Daly reports, they were not enemy combatants. And it’s a mistake to elevate them with the designation.
The chant that rose in the streets of Watertown after the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was the same one shouted by people at Ground Zero in New York after the killing of Osama bin Laden.
“USA! USA! USA!”
In both instances, citizens were simultaneously announcing that they would not be intimidated and celebrating the brave souls who had placed themselves at risk to deliver justice—the Navy SEALs in the case of Bin Laden and the cops and agents in the case of Dzhokhar and his older brother, Tamerlan.
Adrenalized, impassioned, and unforgiving, an uncle of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Ruslan Tsarni, appealed to his fugitive nephew Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to surrender to authorities. 'He put a shame on our family' and 'the entire Chechen ethnicity,' said Tsarni.
In a press briefing Thursday afternoon, the FBI announced two unidentified suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, revealing pictures and video of the men and asking the public for help. "Identifying and locating those responsible is now our highest priority,' said DesLauriers.
From the man in the cowboy hat to a baseball player who wrote 'Pray for Boston' on his glove, heroes big and small emerged in the wake of the Boston marathon bombing.
Speaking from the White House Tuesday, President Obama said the Boston bombing was being investigated by the FBI as an act of terrorism, but clarified that little else is known about who carried out the attack, or why.
Watch video of one of the explosions that rocked the Boston Marathon and the country.