Boston Marathon Bombing
A bomb explodes in the crowd as runners crosses the finish line during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Photo credit: © Tom Green/

Lawyers for convicted Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went to court to argue that he deserves a new trial. They’re not telling the full story of something amiss.

A court in Boston heard arguments on Thursday from lawyers for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. His defense team argued that he had not had a fair trial and deserves a new one. Tsarnaev is being held at the federal supermax prison in Florence, CO, where he faces the death penalty.  

The Boston Marathon Bombings were so horrific and egregious that the media pack quickly closed ranks around the narrative put out by the authorities and refused to look further. That’s understandable, but it isn’t good for journalism or for the country. Based on that history, we can both expect the media not to look carefully into the defense’s claims — nor at this late date to look into serious questions about the particulars of the case itself. 

WhoWhatWhy was among the very few news outlets to ask these questions and to dig deeper than the accepted narrative — and published more investigative pieces on this topic than any other: 70+ articles and podcasts. The cumulative work we did clearly shows that there is much more to this story than what the public has been told. 

Here are some of the remaining questions that need attention: 

What was the relationship between the FBI and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s elder brother Tamerlan prior to the bombing?

    • FBI records from April 2011 indicate that Tamerlan was willing to assist the FBI — and a senior FBI executive who had reviewed the documents suggested that Tamerlan had acted on this willingness via a telephone call.

Were the brothers even capable of building the bombs that exploded near the finish line of the Boston marathon?

    • Experts said that they were not, but the subject disappeared altogether. 

When did law enforcement first focus on the Tsarnaevs as suspects in the bombings?

    • Local law enforcement were surprised that the FBI seemed to consider the Tsarnaevs suspects while simultaneously announcing they had no idea who had committed the crime, and sought the public’s help.

If the brothers acted as “lone wolves,” as the government claims, why is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev being held under “special administrative measures”? These are usually applied if there is a concern that the detained person might pass on information to associates in a terrorist network. But with his brother dead and the two supposedly having acted alone, what is the justification for these measures?

This is just a sampling of the many unanswered questions. You can find more here

Seeking clarity is one of the most important functions of journalism: Even when a monstrous crime has been committed, it is our job to carefully ascertain the facts. 

WhoWhatWhy’s efforts to secure access to the prisoner and interview him have been repeatedly rebuffed by federal authorities. 

You can read some articles on our trial coverage here:

Here’s What the Boston Bombing Trial Judge Thinks a Good Juror Looks Like

Marathon Bombing Suspect’s Slim Chance of Moving His Trial From Boston

Marathon Bomber Appeals Conviction: Do His Lawyers Know Something We Don’t?

Media Fail: Watch Boston Media Admit Bias Against Tsarnaev

Tsarnaev Judge Did Not Practice What He Preaches

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Aaron “tango” Tang / Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0) and United States Marshals Service.


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