Making Sense of Boston - WhoWhatWhy

Making Sense of Boston

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Cameras from major media outlets converge outside the Tsarnaev trial.

We asked each member of our Boston Marathon Bombing reporting team to share their personal experience or perspective on one aspect of the bombing or the trial. Stay tuned for more personal perspectives like this as the trial concludes.

I’m a logical person. I do most things in life because they make sense. I have also been in a few extreme situations. For example, I was across the street from the Pentagon on 9/11, in the Hart Senate Building on the day anthrax was discovered there, in the White House during a bomb threat, and in New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina passed through.

In all of those cases, I observed people acting rationally. They generally did what you would expect a reasonable person to do. We all looked out for our own safety and listened to people who sounded as though they knew what they were doing. Nobody I saw did anything that I would classify as dumb or reckless. In short, everybody’s behavior made sense and was appropriate to the situation.

Why am I telling you this? Because to me the actions of the Tsarnaev brothers did not make sense.

Compared to just about everybody else on the WhoWhatWhy team, I’m a novice when it comes to the Boston bombing and only helped with a bit of the editing during the trial. I’m the wrong person to discuss the fine nuances of the case. I did, however, find myself shaking my head and thinking, “that doesn’t make sense” over and over again whenever I learned something new about the aftermath of the bombing.

Before pointing out a few examples, let me stress that, obviously, planting a bomb anywhere and targeting (especially) civilians to me is itself highly irrational. It is therefore possible that we are simply dealing with two really disturbed young men and it all happened exactly the way the prosecution in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial has said. Nevertheless, that conclusion would appear to be neither logical nor plausible. Let me explain what I mean.


I want to focus here not on theories or insinuations but rather on things anybody can watch, in three videos presented at the trial.

Video 1

What puzzled me the most is that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev took a couple of minutes to pick out the right kind of snacks at a gas station while his brother was waiting outside in a stolen car with a kidnapped individual in plain sight. Who in their right mind would do this while on the run? I’d grab the first snacks I saw and be in and out within 30 seconds at most. If that had happened, Dun “Danny” Meng would not have had time to escape—or describe how Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the man holding a gun on him, gratuitously confessed to both the bombing and the shooting of Officer Sean Collier.

Let’s keep in mind that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is the same guy who the prosecution said had the poise and tradecraft to know to smash his cell phones while on the run. He had the presence of mind to do that, but not to pick the first bag of potato chips he could find?

And then there is the matter of the two cars.

I’m guessing that the reason for the carjacking—if we can believe anything we’ve been told about that (and our investigations raise many questions about it) was that, once they were identified as suspects, the brothers did not want to use their own vehicle. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is bothering to retrieve Dzhokhar’s Honda after the carjacking victim escapes from his Mercedes. After that point, they were in a two-car convoy with both vehicles being actively looked for. Who would be so illogical? If they needed a different vehicle, they could have carjacked another one.

Video 2

And why even wait a couple of days before making a move, especially if that move is the brothers’ alleged plan to plant bombs in New York City? If, as the prosecution says, the Tsarnaevs were a couple of jihadists, then they should not have feared death. So why not make that move in the chaos immediately following the bombing? That was the perfect time to get away. Instead, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shows up in a store, in front of a camera, buys some milk and then returns it a minute or so later. Who would do that and why?

Video 3

The last video is the one from MIT that shows the murder of Officer Sean Collier. From quite a distance away, it shows two figures, who would later be named as the Tsarnaev brothers. But if it was indeed them, then why? Why would they even be there? The prosecution said it was to get another gun. Here is the thing about America: If you want a gun, you don’t need to attack a police officer 30 feet away from a busy street, especially if you are well-prepared jihadists. They could have gotten a gun just about anywhere else, ahead of time. It just doesn’t make sense that at a moment when their faces are plastered on TV screens in every household, that they’d decide to go to a public place instead of just leaving the city. Plus, they already had a gun. Even if they didn’t, who would expect to easily obtain a gun on a darkened university campus? Who would know that an officer was sitting in his patrol car between a couple of buildings on the campus?

What also doesn’t make sense is for the prosecution to omit a chunk of time from that video, which can clearly be observed in the video linked above (as evidenced by the timestamp and the cars passing on the upper left corner of the video). There is really no need to edit out any part of the video if everything happened exactly as the prosecution has described it. It couldn’t have been out of a desire to somehow shield the jury or the family of Sean Collier from violence. After all, the courtroom itself was the scene of gory images. And the video footage was grainy and images remote—taken by a camera a couple hundred feet away from the scene of the crime.

I obviously don’t have the answers to any of these questions. But neither did the defense or the media. And neither does the public.

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19 responses to “Making Sense of Boston”

  1. Title

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  2. Avatar Beantoes says:

    I simply want to know who were all those jack-booted, militarily armed soldiers pointing rifles at innocent civilians and conducting warrant-less searches. Surely, they were not all BPD officers. So who were they? And under what provision/authority were their actions approved? I search and search, but get no answers. Big fail, in my book.

  3. Avatar jane24 says:

    Thank you, Klaus Marre. The fact that much of what we have been told about this case does not make sense and indeed defies logic is one of the factors which caught my attention in the very beginning. I am stunned that this fact seems to have escaped so many.

  4. Avatar onetree says:

    I’ve got lots of questions about the Officer Collier business in addition to those raised in the article.

    (1) Where did they come from around the far building. Are there no surveillance cameras over there? That would seem odd to me, but then I’m not familiar with Boston or anything nearby.

    (2) From where they came from, how would they have known there was a police officer over there? Collier’s vehicle had just pulled up a few minutes earlier and he kept the lights on as if he might take off at any moment.

    (3) How was it that Collier happened to be in that spot with his lights on, etc.? Had someone sent him to that location for a particular reason? We don’t know.

    (4) Who, other than a ruthless killer, could/would waltz up to a police car and shoot the officer between the eyes right next to a busy street? There was no sign of any struggle. It looked like a professional-type hit to me. We saw two guys walk up to the car in the video, but since we didn’t see the actual shooting how do we even know it was those two guys who did it (whoever they are)?

    Nobody with any sense at all would come up with such a stupid idea to steal a gun.

  5. Avatar omar cluck says:

    I have followed WWW’s extensive coverage of the bombing from the beginning, and I’ve approached it with a lot of skepticism as far as there being a conspiracy against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But the more I’ve read, the more amazed I’ve been at the coincidences in the details. It reminds me a lot of the JFK assassination, and I’m old enough to remember those days, and all the weird details that didn’t add up, and that continue to be revealed about that assassination to this day.
    I was amazed to learn that a bomb drill was scheduled on Boylston St. close to where the real bomb went off, apparently about the same time the “fake” bomb was to go off in the drill. I was surprised to learn that Dzhokhar’s fingerprints were not found on any of the bomb fragments, although his brother’s prints were found on the fragments. I was mildly surprised to hear that American authorities like the FBI regularly harass and threaten mid-eastern immigrants and students here on visas to get information about potential terrorists, and they had apparently been harassing Dzhokhar and Tamerlan before the bombing. I don’t believe Dzhokhar wrote the confession inside the boat, because he didn’t know for sure his brother was dead, he had been shot and in a lot of pain, it would have been dark inside the boat and hard to see what you were writing, and it just doesn’t add up. I think Dzhokhar was forced by the FBI to take part in what he thought was a bomb drill, where he played the part of a bomber, and when he learned the truth, his only plan was to escape. His brother’s level of involvement was probably something very different. My thanks to Russ and WWW for an alternate view.

  6. Avatar rdzk says:

    Justice yes, and would not tell Bostonians what to do, but we should keep in mind, who we are, and we are NOT them. No road-rage knee-jerks, though emotionally, this is where we may be. Peace.

  7. Avatar PatGinSD says:

    The answer to everything is here. The FBI has lied from day 1 and these boys were framed to cover it up. PLEASE spread this everywhere and demand justice. See here:
    posted by Boston Globe announcing a military drill on the day of the Marathon, at Boylston st. across from the library, exactly where the bombings happened. Where was the “Defense” on this? Missing in action. We need to attract a high-profile HONEST legal mind to stop this farce of a trial.

  8. Avatar ra wo says:

    Everyone here is missing the boat. The prosecution has posted high resolution images showing the backpack said to be the one that killed Richard Martin to be CLEARLY black, you can even see the wrinkles in the fabric on the damned thing. That same prosecution posts images of Dzhokhar and his backpack which was clearly white. If the bag near Richard is black, then Dzhokhar is not the one who killed him. Go to “Bombshell: Tsarnaev Prosecution Exhibit Shows Backpack Different Color as One Tsarnaev Carried”

    This could be a breakthrough in the exposure of false flags. The bet is on that, no matter how much they have been dumbed down, people still know the difference between black and white.

    • Avatar Kevin Cannell says:

      ra wo, this unedited photo should have stopped the trial in it’s tracks. You can clearly see the black backpack just north east of the tree, and just south of Dzhokhar’s white backpack. I knew the fix was in when the defense didn’t respond.
      The black Fox racing backpack probably belonged to the “Blue Helmet Guy”. I don’t think that he thought that it would really explode, but after the explosion he came back to the scene to retrieve his phone that was under the metal trashcan.
      Also keep in mind that the white rectangle on the exploded black backpack is an RFID tag. Very similar to the white tag on the security contractors black backpack.

  9. Avatar oh_look says:

    I’d like WhoWhatWhy or one of the many smart commenters to read an article and comment: [edwardmd. wordpress. com /2013/05/26/two-fbi-agents-murdered-over-dannys-235000-the-closing-of-loose-lips-sinks-ships/ ] (you have put the link together. I’m not sure if I am allowed to add links).
    He says there were some articles on “Danny” having all this money in his car (like about 250K), but the articles have “disappeared”. His analysis on it was that Danny was a “handler” and was basically delivering the boys to a sting and their deaths.
    The article starts out about those 2 FBI agents (who happened to be on special operations for hostages) that mysteriously die several miles off the coast of Virginia the same week of the BMB, by “falling out of a helicopter”. They were on the same team that was apparently involved in Jahar’s Boat scene in some capacity or other.
    He then jumps into the Danny situation.
    I wish someone could find those old articles, and it goes to show how when these types of False flags are enfolding is the time to save every article you can, before the gestapo has time to start flushing information down the rabbit hole.

    I think the Danny story and the MIT shooting really show that this was a frame up. We deserve to know the truth, even though 90% or more of Americans probably believe the nonsensical government narrative.

  10. Avatar John Cathy says:

    Its all fake.
    The rules of court don’t allow you to put “edited” video into evidence unless a complicit defense team doesn’t object.

    Wake up.

    It isn’t just, “Hey these things couldn’t possibly happen”…shrug you shoulders and head out to grab some lunch…. Or is it.


  11. Avatar Kevin Cannell says:

    There are still so many unanswered questions in this case, but the one that stands out in my mind is this one. Who lived at 81 Dexter ave Watertown? Is this the location where the bombs were built, or is it just a random address used by police to show a general location for the Tsarnaev brothers?

    Police Audio:

    0:41:12 am- Mercedes tracking is showing that car in Watertown. 81 Dexter ave. Watertown.
    0:41:48 am- They’re pinging that black Mercedes to Watertown where I used to work. Thy’re saying the lojackers are coming back to the 81 Dexter ave.

    Nearly 2 minutes later:

    0:43:46 am- Stand by- being to that Watertown has that vehicle in site. Try and put a stop on it now.
    0:43:55 am- Be sure to tell Watertown they have guns.
    0:44:00 am- Be aware shots fired. Shots fired in Watertown.

    81 Dexter ave. is only 500 feet away from Laurel st., and 500 feet away from Adams st. where the 16 police rifle rounds were found. Plus we have the audio from three different sources of the five .22 caliber shots from this general area.

  12. Avatar Questions Remain says:

    1. Regarding “Danny” Meng who was carjacked – who goes out for a joy ride in his new suv to “unwind” in the middle of a massive manhunt in the city…strange.

    2. The 2 photos (from video?) of Jahar Tsarnaev outside the Forum restaurant seem to indicate that there was a good deal of time between the 2 photos because in the photo when Jahar is behind the tree the crowd is not as deep, there is nobody standing behind Martin Richard as he is standing on the barricade with his family. In the second photo with Jahar Tsarnaev on the phone outside the Forum restaurant to the side of the tree, the crowd on the sidewalk and behind the Richard family is much larger at this point.

    3. Did the prosecution specifically state in the trial testimony that the 2 backpacks were black ?? Jahar Tsarnaev’s backpack is clearly not black but is a much lighter shade of grey or white.

    4. The tools in the draw & nails in the glass jar taken from the Tsarnaev’s Cambridge apartment as evidence of bomb making materials seem to be materials that many or most people would keep on hand in their home…..coupled with the lack of any substantial amount of residue found in the apt. seems to indicate the bombs were in fact made somewhere else perhaps by somebody else or with the help of others…which also seems to indicate Katherine Russell may not have known anything about any bombs.

    5. In recent news reports it was questioned whether Katherine Russell saw the photos when they were released by the FBI to the general public approximately 5pm Thursday evening 4/18….I question what immediate phone calls did the authorities received identifying the Tsarnaev’s….it seems many people from places such as schools in Cambridge they attended, the boxing clubs, UMASS Dartmouth and the Cambridge community they grew up in, etc., etc. could have & should have easily been capable of immediately identifying the suspects in the photos released……therefore, their family residence/apt. In Cambridge could have & should have been immediately surrounded. WHAT is the official word on the identifying tips/phone calls that came in when their photos were released?? Katherine Russell and the Tsarnaev family are NOT the only people in the community that should have been able to make an immediate positive identification.

    6. If somebody else was involved WHO does WhoWhatWhy speculate that may be?

    • Avatar onetree says:

      WhoWhatWhy are journalists. It’s not their job to speculate. To borrow from another “news” service (only in this case, it’s actually true), they report — we decide.

    • Avatar Questions Remain says:

      Journalists speculate and there’s been quite a bit of understandable speculation in this case. It’s part of the analytical process. In law enforcement it’s called following a lead. Journalists, I’m sure you’ve heard the term “investigative journalists”, follow leads too…..some investigative leads pan out, some do not but not necessarily because the lead was not true. Think of all the journalistic speculation regarding JFK’s assassination to include published books and movie productions – We have the official Oswald/magic bullet version and then we have the journalistic narratives and works that offer speculative and highly plausible accounts.

    • Avatar onetree says:

      Real journalists report facts and ask reasonable questions.

    • Avatar Questions Remain says:

      This very story you are commenting on includes speculation that the official story does not make sense.

    • Avatar disqus_a2SRiKaB1i says:

      not just go out for a ride during a man hunt- he ilves on 3rd street Cambridge, so he essentially drove by MIT and all the goings on after the robbery of central square 7-11, police boats and helicopters were on/over the charles rives bc Obama was leaving Logan, and he admitted he was following the events and the car jackers did not look like the FBI pictures he said 5’7″ mid eastern (Arbic does not sound like Russian)

  13. Avatar onetree says:

    This is exactly correct. Did they just lose their minds in the weeks before the marathon without any previous indication of insanity? I’ve certainly got more questions than answers. My feeling is that the “story” that has been told by the law enforcement agencies and media was mostly made up and evidence put in place after the fact. Does this make sense? Well, yes, when you understand what the groups behind these people are trying to do. But, other than that, I can’t make any sense out of any of it.

    I’ll be looking forward to the forthcoming articles discussing other particular points of irrationality.