Tamerlan Tsarnaev: Not a Step by Step Investigation

Screen shot 2013-05-24 at 12.19.43 PMIn a piece summarizing investigators’ understanding of Tamerlan Tsarnaev based largely on their investigations in Russia, ABC unironically quotes Dana Rohrabacher — who used to play dress-up mujahadeen when they were fighting Russia in Afghanistan — on intelligence-sharing tensions with Russia.

That communication gap has become a target for a group of American lawmakers who plan to visit Russia next week to investigate the bombing.

“If there was a distrust, or lack of cooperation because of that distrust, between the Russian intelligence and the FBI, then that needs to be fixed and we will be talking about that,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats who is leading the Congressional delegation, told ABC News by telephone.

ABC makes no mention of the recent escalation of intelligence tensions, from the failed recruitment in March followed by the refused entry on May 5 of US lawyer Thomas Firestone, the May 14 exposure of Ryan Fogle, who allegedly was attempting to recruit FSB’s expert on Chechen extremists, and the May 17 exposure of someone FSB claimed was CIA’s Station Chief in Moscow.

That is, ABC doesn’t point to the pretty extraordinary ways Russia is trying to drive up tensions even as we’re supposed to be working together to understand the Boston Marathon attack.

Nor does it mention that the FBI “and other law enforcement personnel” killed Russian Ibragim Todashev, just as they were purportedly getting him to sign a confession to involvement, with Tamerlan, in a grisly 2011 triple murder.  The now-dead Todashev will not be able to shed any more light on what kind of relationship he had with Tamerlan, nor what relations with Russian nuts of all types they might have had.

There’s a lot it doesn’t mention.

It does, however, in the 25th and 26th paragraph (the last two), admit this:

While the officials described their cooperation with the Russians as “unprecedented,” they grumbled privately that they have been unable to do a methodical step-by-step investigation like they are used to doing in the U.S., or even in other countries where they have long-standing cooperation. American investigators from the FBI have been unable to travel to Dagestan without permission from the Russian authorities.

Still, they insist they have been able to confirm much of what they have been told by Russian government officials from what one official vaguely described as “other channels.”

I do hope these “other channels” are truly independent. Because it seems Russia is not only limiting the degree to which the FBI can investigate Tsarnaev, but inventing new reasons to add to tensions with the US.

11 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    It sounds to me like the Russians have some of the same problems with people who think of the Cold War as the ‘good old days’, and want to return to it.

  2. emptywheel says:

    @P J Evans: The US is attempting to rearrange all the power structure in the Middle East with Syria. What would ever have given Russia the idea that it’s like Cold War times again?

  3. Ann MacGibbon says:

    Another troubling thing about Todashev having been killed by the FBI (or whoever shot him) is now we won’t even learn his cause of death for months because of the investigation into the shooting.


    The notion of Michele Bachman, Steve King, and Dana Rohrabacker investigating something that happened here in Boston is just horrifying to me! I wonder if any of them have even been here?

  4. seedeevee says:

    ” . . . inventing new reasons to add to tensions with the US.”

    There are no new reasons. Just old regurgitated ones that politicians and courtiers have trotted out for millenia.

  5. lefty665 says:

    We’ve been tweaking the bear’s nose. Any reason to think it won’t tweak back?

    If I were on the other side of this you’d have to work pretty hard to convince me that Tamerlan, nephew of a Chechen married into the CIA, was anything other than a USG asset.

    On top of busting our spook, outing the Moscow CIA station chief was a very pointed message. The increased “inventions” may have more to do with getting our attention than real conflict. If Rohrabacher is our response, we can anticipate more explicit messages.

    There is hope we may escape the neocon missile madness http://rt.com/news/us-cancels-missile-interceptors-350/ If we make progress there other things might get easier.

  6. kris says:

    Given the US government’s use of Chechen rebels against Russia for the last decade it’s hardly surprising Russia wouldn’t be overeager to hand us intelligence.

  7. john francis lee says:

    The CIA sets up their agent and his brother with the bomb in Boston, kill him to shut him up after they set it off, wound the brother – lock-down Boston for a week figuring the younger brother will die of his wounds by that time – then kill this guy in Florida … but look, we have a ‘signed confession’ of the guy we hit in Florida, and a ‘manifesto/confession’ the younger brother wrote on the boat … when will they announce the death of the younger brother ?

    They are playing you ! How can you treat this with a straight face ?!

  8. FrankProbst says:

    (a) If an intelligence agency has complete trust in a foreign intelligence agency, it isn’t doing its job.

    (b) Dzhokar seems to be completely absent from the Todashev story. Is there ANY evidence he was involved in the triple homicide that was being investigated here?

  9. bmaz says:

    @FrankProbst: I saw one report that they had evidence from both Tamerlan and Dzhokar in the location of the triple homicide, but I am pretty hesitant to believe it. And it was a fleeting reference at that. Personally, I am operating under the assumption there is no such tie at this point.

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