by Russ Baker
Most of the national and international media have left Boston – and essentially moved on from the Marathon bombing story. But at WhoWhatWhy, we’re just getting started.
Why? Because we see a lot of problems with what we’ve been told so far. We’ve been disappointed that the media have failed to demonstrate healthy skepticism while passing along, unchallenged, the (self-serving) assertions of “the authorities.”
It is the job of journalism not only to report what authorities say, but also to confirm their claims, and address anomalies, errors, inconsistencies, outright lies, and cover-ups, large and small.
When it comes to falsehoods of all types, we’ve seen plenty of doozies, and you don’t have to go all the way back to the Tonkin Gulf incident – which helped pave the way for the escalation of the Vietnam conflict. Most people now understand that circa 2002-2003, the George W. Bush Administration knowingly exaggerated and deceived in order to justify a desired invasion of Iraq.
Things have not markedly improved with the Obama Administration. The 2011 “raid that killed Bin Laden” at Abbottabad, Pakistan, went a long way toward bolstering Obama’s “toughness cred,” and was probably a factor in his being re-elected. Yet staggering inconsistencies in official accounts of the raid have never been properly reconciled. The current scandal du jour is over the Obama Administration’s putting out fake story lines on Benghazi to divert attention from how it handled facility security in that troubled location.
Yet even partisans on the attack in each of these cases typically fail to get at the real story – which, in the case of Benghazi, has to do with how the entire “humanitarian intervention” in Libya was, as we reported, a cover for a deadly geo-strategic gamble that has opened a can of worms from which have sprung untold Al Qaeda types.
So what about the Boston Marathon bombing, in which innocent people died seemingly at the hands of anti-American monsters? While some insist that under these circumstances everyone, including the media, should prove their patriotism by shutting their eyes and ears, we hope you agree that especially at such times it’s important to ask the tough, even unpopular questions. The Boston story, as we previously noted, is full of question marks and high-stakes implications – all the more reason to dig beneath the screen of official handouts. And, in the coming weeks, that’s just what WhoWhatWhy plans to do.
For now, here are some examples of the things we wish to better understand:
We have been told – and see evidence – of a security presence unprecedented at such athletic events. This includes the claims by Alastair Stevenson, a college cross-country coach and frequent marathoner, that he heard announcements of security drills that day and saw beefed up security. It also includes the presence of personnel from the private contractor Craft International, first in the crowd watching the runners, then, after the bombs went off, actively involved in the crime scene investigation. Is there an explanation for this? What exactly were these security people deployed against?
The JFK Library Fire
We’re told that a fire broke out at almost exactly the same time as the Marathon bombing, a short distance away at the JFK library. Although initial reports indicated a possible explosion, we have since been told that it was just an “accident.” We’ve had very few details since then, though the museum did reopen after a number of days.
We originally heard from reporters that a police officer from MIT was killed during a confrontation with the Tsarnaev brothers. Later, around the time of a highly publicized funeral for the “hero cop,” the authorities quietly revised their story; in the new account, the officer was shot while sitting in his car, perhaps during an attempt to take his gun, though we’ve seen no evidence of this. No explanation of why the Tsarnaev brothers would even have been on the campus, or wanted or needed his gun, nor has hard proof been produced that the brothers were in fact the cop killers.
In the midst of the manhunt, we were told that the suspects robbed a 7-11 convenience store to obtain cash for a getaway. But later, that scenario vaporized. How did the initial wrong story come about?
How Tamerlan Died
On the night Tamerlan Tsarnaev was reportedly shot by police, then accidentally run over by his fleeing younger brother, CNN broadcast a video showing a crime scene teeming with police, in which a handcuffed man who looks quite a bit like Tamerlan – having been made to strip naked – is being hustled into a patrol car. The reporters speculated at the time that it might indeed be the bombing suspect.
Later on, the police issued a statement saying it was someone else, a case of mistaken identity. Fine. But who was it? Surely by now we can be told the name of that person – and presumably that person would have no problem recounting his harrowing evening. Perhaps the police are withholding his identity at his request – but given all the wild online speculation that the man in the video might have been Tamerlan himself, why not make more of an effort to clear up the matter? (While the original CNN video does not appear to be available online, numerous people copied and posted versions onto YouTube – and can be found there with a search on “naked man Watertown CNN.”)