Our coverage of sams

Do Not Disturb

DOJ Cites Bizarre Reason to Deny WhoWhatWhy Access to Tsarnaev Info

On the grounds that it wants to protect the privacy of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has stymied attempts by WhoWhatWhy to find out if Tsarnaev is still being held under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs). SAMs are a repressive type of confinement that severely limits a prisoner’s ability to communicate with anybody outside of his or her prison cell.


DOJ claimed that without Tsarnaev’s consent, revealing such information about the prisoner’s status “could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” This was in response to a Freedom of Information View article …

Boston Bombing Iron Curtain

A federal judge has rejected the American Civil Liberties Union’s request to file written arguments in support of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who stands accused in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Such arguments are known as amicus briefs, or “friend of the court” briefs, and are filed by third parties who wish to offer legal arguments that may be relevant in a case.  Federal trial judges rarely accept such briefs, which are typically filed not at the trial but at the appellate level.  But the denial is unusual for View article …

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Boston Bombing

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Still Gagged As Death Penalty Appeal Grinds On

As the fifth anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing comes and goes, we can’t help but wonder what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev might have to say for himself if he were allowed to speak.

For one thing, we’d like to ask him if he could fill in some details about his brother Tamerlan’s mysterious activities in the years leading up to the bombings much of which the government continues to withhold as “classified.”

Dzhokhar is being held at the maximum-security View article …

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

DOJ Continues to Block Media Access to Tsarnaev

For over two years now, WhoWhatWhy has been trying to get the government to give us the details of the justification behind incarcerating convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev under a repressive confinement regime known as Special Administrative Measures (SAMs). SAMs make it nearly impossible for the media to have any access to prisoners.


The Department of Justice (DOJ) refuses to budge and continues to deploy the dubious logic that to confirm or deny the existence of SAMs would be an unwarranted invasion of Tsarnaev’s privacy. This was in response to a request we filed back in 2015 through the View article …

Why the Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Is Silent

Were accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev imprisoned in another country and barred from speaking to the outside world, he’d doubtlessly be described as “being held incommunicado.”

Yet since he’s an accused terrorist being held in the United States, the Justice Department-ordered gag on him has barely been noticed. And were anyone to ask why he’s forcibly been kept silent, they’d be told he’s been subjected to “Special Administrative Measures.”

Don’t be fooled by the innocuous sound of that. The phrase refers to View article …

_Boston Marathon, bombing

Boston Marathon Bombing Anniversary: A WhoWhatWhy Retrospective

Editor’s Note:

Dear Reader:

I started WhoWhatWhy because throughout my career, I often broke stories that were so far from the mainstream reporting consensus that they were either ignored or ridiculed — until they no longer were. Once everyone else caught up, it became a point of pride for them to simply act like my reporting had not existed. With WhoWhatWhy, that pattern continues.

Fortunately, however, we are growing as an independent voice with our own distribution networks, not dependent on the rest of the media for approval or amplification.

Here’s yet another story where we were very early — and were variously View article …

Youth Jailed at Age 16 for Years with No Trial, Kills Self—Who’s Responsible?

When Kalief Browder was wrongly arrested at the age of 16 for allegedly stealing a backpack, he had not yet begun to shave. By the time he was released from Riker’s Island in New York three years later—convicted of nothing and never having gone to trial—he felt like a very old man indeed.


After his arrest, Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson and the court set a bail which Browder’s family could not meet. Browder was brought to court from Riker’s Island at least 30 times over three years, ready to assert his innocence. Each time, D.A. Johnson’s office stated View article …

Boston Marathon Bombing

The Boston Bombing Anniversary: A Legacy of Unanswered Questions

Here we are, on the third Boston Marathon since the one we will never forget. Two powerful bombs ripped through the assembled crowd, killing Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Martin Richard, and wounding many others. Later, a policeman was shot to death.  We were told he was shot by one of two brothers accused of the bombing, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.



The images are seared into our memories. So, too, is the extraordinary government response: an American city totally locked down while armored vehicles, helicopters, and police in full combat gear patrolled the streets of greater Boston.


Four days after the View article …

climate, Australia, Great Barrier Reef, coral bleaching, recovery

Australia’s Barrier Reef Erupts in Color as Corals Spawn

PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to picks@whowhatwhy.org.


Australia’s Barrier Reef Erupts in Color as Corals Spawn (Maria)

The author writes, “Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is spawning in an explosion of color as the World Heritage-listed natural wonder recovers from life-threatening coral bleaching episodes. Scientists recorded the corals fertilizing billions of offspring by casting sperm and eggs View article …

The Hacking Blame Game, Spying TVs & How the Sun Could Hurt Fossil Fuels: Feb. 9, 2014‏


Who’s Really Benefiting from the Alleged Chinese Hack Attacks by Curt Hopkins
The news that hackers stole 80 million people’s data from health insurer Anthem quickly led to the blame game, with favorite villain China making an early appearance. Just as swiftly, the government sprang into action to exploit the headlines and rally support for a bigger, more powerful security-industrial complex.


Brian Williams and the God Complex
Ken Auletta ponders Brian Williams’ decision to take himself of the air for a couple days while the dust settles around View article …

John Kiriakou

The CIA vs. Donald Trump

John Kiriakou spent 15 years working his way up the chain of command at the CIA. He speaks multiple languages, including Greek and Arabic, and was an analyst, case officer and, after 9/11, the director of counter-terrorism in Pakistan. He left the CIA in 2004.

Several years later, in an interview with ABC News, he was the first to fully expose the CIA’s complicity in torture, such as waterboarding and other forms of “enhanced interrogation.”

Kiriakou was ultimately charged with disclosing classified information to journalists, and served 23 months in federal prison.

In this week’s WhoWhatWhy interview, Kiriakou talks about a CIA View article …