Dzhokhar’s Sharpie Manifesto

CBS had a fascinating scoop this morning, reporting that (presumably in the hours when he was holed up and authorities searched just blocks away), Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrote a part-confess part-manifesto on the wall of the boat.

The note — scrawled with a marker on the interior wall of the cabin — said the bombings were retribution for U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, and called the Boston victims “collateral damage” in the same way Muslims have been in the American-led wars. “When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims,” Tsarnaev wrote.

Tsarnaev said he didn’t mourn older brother Tamerlan, the other suspect in the bombings, writing that by that point, Tamerlan was a martyr in paradise — and that he expected to join him there soon.

The CBS version of the story suggests this sharpie manifesto may make up for any evidentiary problems given the FBI’s refusal to give Dzhokhar a lawyer.

Miller explained that while Tsarnaev admitted many of the same details to authorities during his 16 hours [sic] in custody, those admissions came “during the time he was interrogated but before he was given his Miranda warning.” The note gives prosecutors supporting and clearly admissible evidence even if there is an fight over whether things Tsarnaev said before he was given his Miranda rights are admissible as evidence.

Though it’s unclear whether CBS’s reporter came to this conclusion on his own or that’s what his sources told him.

Which brings us to this laughable detail in the ABC version of the story.

Spokespeople for the Massachusetts State Police and the Watertown police had denied the existence of the writings when first asked about them by ABC News two weeks ago.

Today, both departments referred reporters to the FBI. A federal law enforcement official confirmed reports first broadcast by CBS News that writings had been discovered inside the boat.

The discovery of writings intensified tensions between the FBI and local police when FBI agents believed some Boston officers and state police had taken cell phone pictures of the writing.

Agents demanded the phones of all officers at the scene the night of the capture of Dzhokhar be confiscated to avoid the photos becoming public before being used as evidence at trial, according to two law enforcement officials.

A FBI spokesperson said agents cannot confiscate phones without a warrant and officials said none of the police approached would agree to turn over their phones to the FBI.

Hahahaha! The cops would turn over their phones, with their evidence of Dzhokhar’s manifesto, without a warrant!!!


Only, there’s something funny about the story. Why would cell phone pictures of the manifesto matter if the FBI had properly documented photos taken immediately after the arrest when the chain of custody was intact? I mean, I could see worrying about tainting the jury pool, but the leaked content of the interrogations already said all this stuff anyway.

18 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    What kind of light did he have? He was in the boat, under a cover. I would expect his lawyers to ask things like that.

  2. john francis lee says:

    ‘ Why would cell phone pictures of the manifesto matter if the FBI had properly documented photos taken immediately after the arrest when the chain of custody was intact? ‘

    Well … if they showed the sides of the boat before the FBI sharpies penciled in the Dzhokhar’s Confession/Manifesto it would be better for those photos not to get out, right?

    Remember, when it comes to the usg, if their lips are moving they’re lying.

  3. Frank33 says:

    The FBI is obviously the Gestapo. They are stealing cell phones from local police. The local police, Boston or otherwise are hardly perfect. But we may need them to defend us against the FBI and CIA and NSA and the national security Wolf Brigades.

    These bizarre actions of the FBI suggests they may be protecting other terrorists, such as “Graham Fuller”.

  4. joanneleon says:

    Wow that was really lucky that there was a sharpie there in the boat for Dzhokhar and lucky that it worked, given that the boat was probably sealed up since last summer. Interesting. Yes, funny that none of the cops would give up their phones without a warrant. Warrant for me but not for thee. I love it when law enforcement or muckety mucks get so upset about privacy invasion but if it’s done to the plebes, no problem!

  5. Nyah-ha-hah says:

    It’s like they’re testing public credulity: scenery-chewing ham actor Carlos Arredondo; victims stomping around with their clothes blown off like a Sid Ceasar skit; stories changing with laugh-out-loud contradictions. They making it cornier and cornier, but the media is just too gullible for them. They should reveal that Osama bin Laden is alive, and he did it, and let him escape on a jetpack with his evil laughter enchoing triple-tracked over Faneuil Hall.

  6. FrankProbst says:

    Okay, the only comments I can add that might give the FBI a little more credibility is that I wouldn’t be too surprised that a 19-year-old college student had a Sharpie with him, and he may have carried a lighter (He was a pothead, after all.) that he could use for light.

    That being said, I agree that the rest of it smells funny. This is a fairly long manifesto. The biggest question at the time Dzhokhar was questioned was whether or not the brothers acted alone. Unless there was something else in the manifesto that justified keeping it secret, the whole thing should’ve been made public fairly quickly (to reassure the public), and the text probably should’ve been in the charging document.

    I’m curious about what Dzhokhar might NOT have said, which would be anything to do with the killing of the MIT police officer. I’ve always thought that was done by Tamerlan. Is it possible that Dzhokhar wasn’t involved and didn’t even know it had happened when he wrote his manifesto?

  7. scribe says:

    @P J Evans: The cover was one of those translucent plastic sheet things that get shrinkwrapped onto boats being stored for the winter, and most of the time the FBI was looking for him it was daylight.
    So, no problem getting enough light to see and write.

  8. Max says:

    You forget who the US Attorney is for the District of Massachusetts. That tells you all you need to know about the agenda here.

  9. P J Evans says:

    Around here people get fabric covers that tie on – it looked like one of those, in the pictures I saw, not a shrink-wrapped job.

  10. bmaz says:

    @Max: I fail to see how the identity of the US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts tell us squat about “the agenda here” (whatever in the world is meant by that phrase in your comment). For starters, you might consider that the prosecution, although done in the District of Massachusetts, is overseen and run ultimately by the NSD at DOJ Main.

  11. klynn says:

    So, with all the planning involved and the cool headed drop of the backpack, there was never a “planned” manifesto written out long before the event?

    It happened while in hiding, cornered, and written with a Sharpie? THAT was the plan for composing a manifesto for an otherwise organized and planned crime? Hmmm.

    I guess?

  12. MaryCh says:

    Likely waaay off topic, but this law enforcement v. law enforcement action reminds me of the local v. state cops in Florida during the Terry Schiavo affair. Sure highlights the questions of why their motivations are so different.

  13. Pete says:

    I’m not a boat person but do they have compartments analogous to a glove compartment? Many people store pens in their cars. A marker might be useful for marking a fishing spot on a map, for example. It’s good to be skeptical though.

  14. bmaz says:

    Frankly, I am not too concerned about either the “manifesto” or the pictures. First off, the pictures should be superfluous, I would expect that part of the hull or wall to be cut out and preserved as the original best evidence. That is the standard for when things are written on drywall etc. Secondly, Tsarnaev was a student, there will be plenty of verifiable writing samples for a handwriting expert to compare and opine on. Similarly, I would expect the defense, should it ever get to trial, to have their own expert analysis.

  15. Gepay says:

    This is all being said by unnamed officials. The article says the locals denied the writings and the FBI officially says nothing. The suspect is being kept in a prison hospital. The lawyers for him I have seen mentioned seem to be experts in trying to get a life sentence rather than those that will try to get him acquitted. For those of us who at this point believe the government lies about these kinds of activities, there are two possibilities. Something will happen to Dzhokhar or he will be subjected to mind control and say whatever they want him to say like the accused in those 30s Stalinist trials. Anybody who has ever taken care of a 3year old has to laugh at the idea floated by the FBI that the brother constructed the bomb while taking care of his daughter when his wife was at work.

  16. proveitnow says:

    so state aand local police denied that the note existed huh not suprising, cant you just see the FBI steamin when they refused to give up their phones?! lol sounds like someone needs to cover their touche after not reading miranda rights! Truth where oh where are you tonite?

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