Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Faces the Death Penalty

Attorney General Holder has decided to seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The Prosecutors cite Dzhokhar’s “betrayal of the US,” his encouragement to others, the depraved manner in which he conducted his attack, and his targeting of the Boston Marathon among the reasons for their decision.

But, as Matt Apuzzo suggests in his story on the decision, DOJ’s pursuit of the death penalty — along with their earlier accession to letting death penalty specialist Judy Clarke represent him — actually makes a plea deal more likely. Clarke specializes in negotiating plea deals for clients in similar situations. Thus, one way to look at this decision is as a decision to aim for a plea deal rather than a trial.

There are multiple reasons DOJ may want to do that, starting with the contrast such a tidy resolution would offer with the 9/11 defendants, who are still engaged in the Kangaroo Court in Gitmo 13 years after their attack. A quick plea deal with ensure that Dzhokhar will be sent to Florence SuperMax within 20 months of his attack, yet again proving that civilian resolution to terrorism actually works better than the Kangaroo Court. Obama would get to look tough on terrorism and prove yet again that civilian trials work better than what Republicans prefer.

There’s also the way that a plea deal would serve to reinforce DOJ’s narrative of the crime, of two brothers radicalized by reading Anwar al-Awlaki’s Inspire (though if they were, why wasn’t NSA tracking them?) who acted on their own. The decision may also serve to close any questions about Ibragim Todashev’s death at the hands of the FBI and other unnamed law enforcement (or intelligence?) personnel; if I know this DOJ, they might even require Tsarnaev to throw in incriminating statements about the 2011 Watertown murders. It also would serve to side-step any evidence about the Tsarnaev’s family (including their spooked up uncle).

So I’m betting this leads not to the death penalty, but to a plea deal that closes the case.


18 replies
  1. Gaianne says:

    While I am not prepared to weigh in on the guilt or innocence of Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the official story of what happened evades reality (including the laws of physics) in many ways, and a jury trial would risk the defense raising many embarrassing questions.

    A jury trial is not going to happen.


  2. TheMagicIsOver says:

    @Bay State Librul: I think if you read a bit more about it you’ll find the police broke a lot of rules when chasing the brothers. As happy as I am they caught one of the main suspects, the police do need to face the music for the laws they violated in the process.

  3. Bay State Librul says:


    I disagree, have you watched the films?
    The jury would have no trouble convicting him.
    The official story is that he ruined many innocent lives.

  4. john francis lee says:

    Avoid a trial at all costs. There must be zero chance of the CIA being exposed. This is America. The Security State. The CIA is still hard ‘at work’ in Syria and the Ukraine … and the Obama/Brennan dronings continue.

    I hope that Dzhokhar has the presence of mind and the courage to refuse the ‘plea bargain’.

  5. guest says:

    It also would serve to side-step any evidence about the Tsarnaev’s family (including their spooked up uncle).
    Even after checking a couple google items, I’m not even sure what this is about. I guess nobody knows.
    Not that I have any sympathy for the kid, or any sense of what injustices might be happening. But everything about this case is so fucked up. It’s not even like the JFK assassination where you can pretend the conspiracy theorists are nothing but kooks. It’s obvious the spy agencies were doing bad things related to the Chechen brothers well before and after the bombing. It is just scary wondering what the hell really happened or why. Too bad Snowden didn’t give us the scoop on this one.

  6. pdaly says:


    Here are some questions still unanswered.
    The taxi cab: where were the brothers coming the day their backpacks were heavy with something? If they had come from New Hampshire after purchasing fireworks for the gunpowder, how had they ended up in Malden, MA?

    Why the drive to Watertown several times? The get away car was there reportedly, but why Watertown?
    Any connection with Gerry’s Italian Kitchen

  7. cate says:

    I wonder how many of the DP clients Judy Clarke has negotiated plea deals for actually were innocent. Not many of them I think. Most had serious mental health issues and were happy to claim responsibility for the crimes.

    It’s pretty clear that there is way more to be revealed about this case – which would want the Govt to avoid a trial. I want to see the evidence. I have not yet seen anything to convince me of the guilt of the defendant – but when 17 of the charges are DP charges – what chance does he have if he does go to trial?

    There was way too much going on that night of the arrest on the scanners – too many lies from authorities during and soon after. And the Todashev affair really showed the nature of the case.

    Where is the note on the boat? Can we at least have a trial so we can see that?! If it even exists…… The only way they will get him to plea I think is by pressure on family members/friends (which they are trying with the 3 friends).

    Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has nothing to lose by making them show cause. He already mostly lost it all.

  8. Stephen says:

    In other words the point of seeking the death penalty is to pressure the defence to seek a plea bargain deal, thereby avoiding a trial for which evidence to convict may be either less than conclusive or embarrassing to someone in authority should it be aired in a public forum like a court of law.

    Is that sort of manipulation the way the US justice system is supposed to work?

  9. john francis lee says:

    Federal authorities, however, have ample reasons to want keep the case from ever going to trial.

    It has already been established that US authorities had received notice from Russian federal officials in 2011 of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s sympathies for Islamist terrorism. In following up on these warnings, the FBI initiated an investigation into Tsarnaev, but closed it six months later, claiming to have turned up nothing. US authorities took him off a federal watch list and then allowed Tamerlan to travel to the Russian region of Dagestan in 2012, where he attempted to establish links with radical Islamist groups.

    It has also been revealed that the Tsarnaev family maintained links to both Chechen rebels and the US government through the Congress of Chechen International Organizations, set up by Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar. That outfit was run from the suburban Washington, DC home of Graham Fuller, former vice-chairman of the US National Intelligence Council and ex-CIA station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan.

    Further complicating the official story is the fate of Ibragim Todashev, a Chechen immigrant associate of Tamerlan Tsarnaev who was shot to death by an FBI agent while being interrogated in his Orlando, Florida apartment last May. It has been eight months since the killing of Todashev with no official explanation of the events being released.

    While officials first claimed that Todashev had lunged at the agent with a knife, they were later compelled to admit he had been unarmed, the victim of what evidently amounted to a state murder. The circumstances of his death raise real questions about whether he was silenced because he had information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s ties to Chechen Islamists and the FBI or other US government agencies.

    Last May, the Boston police commissioner and a top Massachusetts Homeland Security official told a congressional panel that local and state police were never informed by the FBI or the federal Homeland Security Department, in advance of the Boston Marathon, of warnings about the two Tsarnaevs or the investigation carried out by the FBI. This was despite the presence of state and local police officials on a joint terrorism task force for the region that included the FBI, Homeland Security and other federal agencies.

  10. Antoine says:

    I thought the death penalty was removed from federal indictements?
    Or is he not tried at the federal level? Or terror terror terror allows everything?

  11. Bay State Librul says:


    You replied “I have not yet seen anything to convince me of the guilt of the defendant —”

    Gonzo wisdom?
    Have all the baling wires in your brain snapped?

  12. john francis lee says:

    In the midst of an article at (a google front) on the ‘impracticality’ of letting the NSA analyse the date they collect (they should hire the geniuses at google to do it?) Philip Giraldi notes :

    “Somehow NSA missed the Boston Marathon bombing, as did the rest of the intelligence and law enforcement community even after the Russians had provided a heads up.”

    Anyone who believes that the NSA missed the communications of the Tsarnaev’s, who thinks that the nephews of the CIA’s man – CIA Kabul chief/al Qaeda’s Godfather Graham Fuller’s son-in-law – Ruslan Tsarnaev is out ot the loop … or part of the terrorist, criminal CIA action.

  13. Replying2u says:

    @Bay State Librul: What films BSL? the ones of the brothers walking at the marathon with empty looking backpacks that do not match the “black holdalls” the FBI reports on the court docs? Don’t you realize that that proves nothing? There were thousands of people at the marathon with backpacks, some that looked even more packed than the Tsarnaev’s. Their backpacks look empty.

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