Reasons To Despair About The FBI’s Honesty


Spring Has Come But Oh The Joy It Came Too Late My Little Boy He Could Not Wait
Spring Has Come But Oh The Joy It Came Too Late My Little Boy He Could Not Wait

According to the Washington Post today:

“Nine months before the Boston Marathon bombing, a U.S. counterterrorism task force received a warning that a suspected militant had returned from a lengthy trip to Russia, U.S. officials said.

The warning was delivered to a single U.S. Customs and Border Protection official assigned to Boston’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a cell of specialists from federal and local law enforcement agencies. . . .

But officials said there is no indication that the unidentified customs officer provided the information to any other members of the task force, including FBI agents who had previously interviewed the militant. . . . 

The apparent failure to alert the FBI has emerged as a significant, if slender, missed opportunity to scrutinize Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s activities ahead of the Boston attack.”

That story shows all that is wrong with this situation.

First, this was the top story in the Washington Post’s on-line edition this morning. It is based on information provided by the well known authority: “U.S. officials.” 

How is it that the headline story in one of the nation’s top papers does not attribute its information to anyone?  Why are we asked to believe a story that might have come from a driver of a mail truck? This is the type of information all of our major mainstream newspapers have been feeding us. Go back over the reports on the Marathon Terrorist Attack and see how much wrong information was written that was attributed to “officials.” 

I was once sitting in court next to a fellow assistant DA named Peter. We were off to the side in the jury box waiting for our cases to be called. The clerk called the name of one defendant on the list. He then turned to the judge and said, “the officials have not brought him in yet.”

Peter turned to me saying, “who are these officials he’s talking about? Have you ever seen them?” I realized everyone talks about officials and people seem to understand who these officials are but no one has ever shown up and said, “I’m one of the officials” nor does it appear anyone has ever seen “the officials.”

So when you read that a story is based on information given by “officials” you have to realize they don’t exist. And that’s how much credence you should give to statements from officials: none. And  remember, you can’t get something from nothing.

But that’s just the beginning of the problems with this headline story. Next, we have no idea what the warning is other than it is a warning. Did it have any meat to it? The Washington Post story doesn’t mention who gave the warning but I assume it is the Russians. Did the Russians just say “Warning Tamerlan Tsarnaev is returning to US from Russia” or did they say more?  We are left to wonder.

Then we’re told the warning went to a “U.S. Customs and Border Protection Official” who was part of Boston’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). All we know is the person was single and not married. We don’t know the person’s name because she is unidentified.

We know the Russians told the FBI in 2011 that Tamerlan was a threat. Why are they now talking to a customs person? What happened? Did someone in Russia call the FBI and this “official” answered? Did the Russian send this “official” a letter? How does a gal in Russia know enough to reach out to this “official?”

Why doesn’t this “official” have a name? There aren’t that many customs people on the JTTF, Why didn’t the reporters tracked her down and asked if this is true?

If you think this is a poorly reported story to be the lead in a top mainline media news source, you have to read what happened next.  The article says “there is no indication that the unidentified customs officer provided the information to any other members of the task force.” Do you know what that means?  This customs “official” who has become a customs “officer” either did give the information to others or she didn’t. When we read “no indication” that means she may have or she may not have. It’s meaningless.

However, after that we start to get an idea what this is all about. We read the end of the previous sentence, “including FBI agents who had previously interviewed the militant.” Boiled down the story says an unknown person says an unknown customs officer who worked with FBI agents who interviewed Tamerlan about his possible terrorist activities may or may not have told them about the unspecified warning of his return to Boston.

To make things worse, it concludes “The apparent failure [the possibility that the customs officer told them is still left open] to alert the FBI has emerged as a significant, if slender, missed opportunity to scrutinize Tamerlan”  Have you ever figured out how something could be significant but slender? Isn’t that like saying he had a good but poor chance to win the race?

Or is it saying that even if it is shown the FBI knew Tamerlan was back there is nothing that it could have done? That, of course, is nonsense. There are lots of things it could have done.

Is the FBI worried the Russians can probably show they communicated with the JTTF. Unable to deny that, the FBI puts it on a customs person even though the FBI agent might have received the call. But it’s not sure whether the story will fly. So it hedges its bets in case there is a record showing the FBI knew this.

I tell you my hopes the FBI would tell the truth about this are fading fast with the innumerable stories it has put out. This story has gone from the FBI having no previous warning about terrorists in Boston, then to only one report in 2011, then to a second report in 2011, and on to not knowing Tamerlan went on the trip to Russia, but back to knowing, and finally to not knowing he returned because the case was closed, but then to someone on their task force knowing but hedging on whether it knew it in case someone can prove that it did and it has to change its story again.

I’m not sure why this doesn’t bother our president or our members of Congress. I’d think they’d want to get to the bottom of this. Apparently they don’t. It shows the enormous power of this secret police force in America. It is reason to despair when we see it can spin out tale after tale without fear of being held to account for any of its falsities.

23 thoughts on “Reasons To Despair About The FBI’s Honesty

  1. And now it develops that the bombers were taped on wiretaps:

    “WASHINGTON (AP) – Russian authorities secretly recorded a telephone conversation in 2011 in which one of the Boston bombing suspects vaguely discussed jihad with his mother, officials said Saturday, days after the U.S. government finally received details about the call.’

    There’s more in the story.

    But the taps were probably illegal so don’t count, right? That’s why the FBI ignored them.

    1. Henry:
      I saw that. It’s all very strange. Someone dropped the ball big time. Note how the articles keep saying had the FBI done more (its job) they still may not have prevented the attack. Of course we don’t know that, but we do know that whatever the FBI did it didn’t prevent the attack. This does bring in the idea more people may have been involved. I wonder if we’ll ever find out what really happened or will the FBI manage to hide this like it does with everything else.

    2. Yes, the FBI would ignore illlegal wiretaps just like frenzied sharks would ignore an injured bloody sseal swimming along.

      1. Rather:
        We must imagine the FBI in a terrible hurry to cover-up its lack of response to all the information it could have had against Tamerlan. I have yet to read a story about its poor performance without the writer saying, “of course, even if the FBI had that information it may not have stopped the Marathon Terrorist Attack.” No one will say that if the FBI did its job it could have stopped the attack.

  2. I’m stuck on the idea the FBI had an accurate eyewitness description of Tamerlan Tsarnaev immediately after the bombing yet they apparently failed to match the description to the local terrorist in their files.

    The eyewitness spoke out today to WCVB and I find his story a damning indictment of the FBI’s “manhunt” for the terrorists. The FBI knew within hours of the bombing the perpetrator was a young WHITE male. The eyewitness even helped an FBI sketch artist draw Tamerlan, a sketch that was proven accurate when the videos of the suspects were eventually released on Thursday evening. Perhaps the FBI’s manhunt would have ended sooner and more peacefully if the FBI had just checked it’s files on local young, WHITE, radicals who fit the eyewitness description and sketch. Surely the FBI’s failure to run down the eyewitness description was a serious error?!

    Here’s some quotes from today’s WCVB article:

    “Jeff Bauman, 27, was on Boylston Street to cheer on his girlfriend, who was running the race, when he saw a man, later identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

    (There was) “Just that one guy who didn’t look like he was having a good time. He was right next to me. He was just an odd guy,” Bauman told WEEI Radio Friday.

    “He just didn’t seem right. I just looked at him and said ‘What’s this guy’s problem?’ It could have been five minutes (before the bombing), it could have been two minutes. He was there and then he was gone and “boom.”

    Bauman, whose rescue by Carlos Arredondo of Roslindale, was vividly captured in a horrific photo in the aftermath of the explosion, said AS HE WAS BEING TRANSPORTED TO THE HOSPITAL, HE GAVE A DESCRIPTION OF THE SUSPECT.’


    On the Wednesday after the bombing, Bauman said an FBI sketch artist was brought in and the likeness drawn was very much like that of the man the FBI identified Thursday as Suspect No. 1.”

    Read more:

    1. I see Obama has demanded answers to some of your questions. I note the FBI said it notified the state clearing center and that center is denying it. We’ll just have to wait to see what happens. I don’t see the advantage to the FBI of holding back on Tamerlan’s identity if they had it. From what I can see the FBI would have loved to have identified him and then brought about his arrest without all the hoopla.

      1. I agree the FBI had every incentive to pinch the terrorists as quickly as possible. I don’t suggest the FBI withheld the descriptions for some nefarious reason (this time). I’m just perplexed as to why they didn’t compare the eyewitness description, artist sketch, and surveillance videos to their own files on local Caucasian radicals before seeking the public’s help with the identification. Seems like a logical first step in a terrorism investigation. I assumed that’s what the FBI was doing when they delayed releasing the suspects’ photos until Thursday evening.

        The confusion here is entirely my own so I’ll wait to see if facts are released that explain how the investigation unfolded.

        1. Patty:
          The whole operation is still as clear as oatmeal. I am interested in the same things you have written about. I’ve yet to hear when they first identified the Tsarnaevs. How soon after they released the pictures did they start to get their names. From what I read people recognized them right away. Did they make a positive ID before they killed the MIT cop? That’s be a time line I’d be interested in seeing. I’ve also wondered about Joker running over Tamerlan. Now I’ve heard a police SUV ran him over as he was attacking them. He was als filled with lead from head to toe. Lot’s to learn. I only hope we don’t have to wait as long as we are still waiting for answers on Rossetti.

    1. Jim:
      I’m travelling so I didn’t show up. I see the Globe has an article on it. Whitey was in court sans beard. They are arguing over the immunity issue again. Not much to report on that since we don’t know what Casper will do.

  3. What would people think of an idea whereby the IRS and Massachusetts would agree not to tax the victims of the bombing – ever. If need be, to offset the lost revenue, an extra tax can be imposed on weapons manufacturers; or a corresponding line-item reduction in the DOD’s budget can be earmarked to the IRS for covering it? My guess is, if we make weapons manufacturers (maybe even fireworks companies too) more accountable to the IRS, the IRS isn’t gonna miss a thing.

    1. Alex:
      How would you define victim. There’s already over 250 who claim injury and others are sitting back claiming post traumatic stress. If such a deal were made not to tax the victims, you’d be amazed at how many victims would show up. On the other side no one would dare increase the taxes on those people. Nice idea but just won’t work.

  4. rather than FBI or CIA the officials work for the CYA

    it’s one thing for the government to be cautious with the press but the bungling intra and inter agency seems endless.

  5. The spin was something Agent John Connolly took part in also, however, Connolly was not the only one.

    1. John Connolly for 22 of his 23 years as an FBI agent was on the lowest rung of the ladder: the bottom of the totem pole. He neither started nor how power to stop the corruption/propaganda/lies of the Fbi.

  6. Matt, This post today makes my case to you better than I can. Your observations and comments are very informative to me. And, other bloggers post, give further meaning to the collective thought process. A true democracy relies upon an informed public. And, as you point out here, mass media is not doing the job that it can and should. The blogs have become the new forth estate, and you among others have been leading the vanguard. Keep on keeping on.

    1. Jean:

      What are we going to do when the Government passes an act called “The Rightful Thinking on The Internet Patriot Act” and establishes a list of people who are not right thinkers and has the Internet companies bar them from the Internet. Sort if like a “no fly list.” What is to protect us from that?

      1. Matt, I believe that I have already been put on that “list”. I am relying on bloggers such as those on this site to begin to show that there is truth to be found outside of the captured mass media. The question has now become, if I am allegedly “not competent”, and you all appear to have similar concerns as myself about the FBI and mass media, you too may already have been put on the “list”. How far does the first amendment go to protect bloggers? I know that another blogger was shut down by a Canadian court, even though it was operating in the US. This was in October 2111. I have yet to see a resolution of the matter. A portent of things to come?

        1. Jean:
          Whoever gets on the list will not have the sympathy of most other Americans who believe their Government would not have put a person on the list without a valid reason.

  7. Hi Matt, Wow, that story made my head spin. They really are the original “spin doctors.”
    I just finished reading “j Edgar Hoover-The Man and His Secrets” by Curt Gentry, an enlightening 846 page book. Hoover was an unscrupulous, lying megalomaniac who literally maneuvered himself into position to be the puppet-master of not only Congressmen, but sitting presidents. Time and again he lied, withheld evidence, gathered evidence illegally, and generally ran amok regarding the Constitution, for over 50this years

    1. Rather:

      Then you know the FBI had a whole division called the Public Records Division that was set up just to put out propaganda. The CIA was not allowed to do this while the FBI made the propaganda group in 1984 look like amateurs. And if your head is spinning that’s the purpose of spin.

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