My guest today is Russ Baker, forensic journalist, author and founder of WhoWhatWhy . Welcome back to OpEdNews!
(image by WhoWhatWhy.com)
Joan Brunwasser: We last spoke* in June, 2012, Russ. A lot has happened in the meantime. You've been conducting an exhaustive investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing which happened a year ago next month. For various reasons, that story has fallen off the radar compared to the massive coverage at the time. What made you want to look more into it? What didn't pass the sniff test?
Russ Baker: We started asking questions the very first week. Our original piece, which appeared within four days of the bombing, attracted tremendous attention and huge social media reaction, was based on our concerns that so many "national security" events don't make sense, and that we need to be vigilant about being manipulated in support of unexplained agendas, often having to do with the power and profitability of the perennial "homeland security" and "national security machines."
In that first article, http://whowhatwhy.com/2013/04/19/the-marathon-bombing-what-the-media-didnt-warn-you-about/ , we noted how these kinds of traumas generally unfold in similar ways, with a rush to judgment, a quick fixing of guilt long before proper investigations could have been carried out, a heavy propaganda effort by government and media to get the public all on one page, and so on.
As time passed, we saw more and more anomalies, which we described in subsequent pieces.
JB: Please give us some examples of how this event seems to fall into the mold (and molding) you describe.
RB: Well, first of all there was a smattering of intriguing law enforcement leaks of material that then was never mentioned again. And suddenly, within a few days, we were being told they had suspects. We were told that, and believed, that the government was on solid ground. We were told, and believed, that they had hard evidence and would show it to us that these two brothers planted the bombs. Many of us to this day believe we saw that evidence. But actually, we have not. This reminds me in some ways of other events, like the shooting of JFK, Martin Luther King, and so on. If you actually study the JFK shooting, the first reports--what the Parkland Hospital doctors said (that the throat shot came from front not back), what the first responders said (sheriffs arriving on sixth floor of book depository that the gun was a Mauser, not a Mannlicher Carcano as later asserted)-- conflict with what the authorities told us when their narrative gelled. Nobody who has studied that closely thinks either the doctors or sheriffs were mistaken.
JB: You bring up so much, it's hard to know where to start. Let's talk about the intense pressure against critiquing the official version of any of these events. The threat of being thought of as a conspiracy theorist or loony looms large and prevents full and open discussion. Look at the 2000 election, for example. But, let's go back to the Marathon bombing. Can you show how the narrative has morphed? For instance, the various narratives given by the Chinese national who was carjacked by the alleged bombers.
RB: Re: the pressure not to deviate from the official version: that is extremely dangerous for democracy. We historically saw that kind of thing of course in totalitarian societies, but also in societies headed in that direction. As for people worrying about being labeled as conspiracy theorists, that's a deliberate, longstanding effort to lump those who ask serious, logical questions about things that don't add up with people who are unstable or just reckless. we just ran something on this topic
Now, as to the various narratives: as we document in our two-part series we just published, there have been multiple versions of almost everything put out about the experience of the anonymous fellow, nicknamed "Danny", who is really the main basis for concluding that the Tsarnaevs were behind the marathon bombing and the killing of an MIT officer. Recall that it was Danny who "escaped" from his captors and told authorities that they had confessed in both crimes. But as we studied his statements, and the authorities' statements about what he had told them, we found loads of inconsistencies so big they cannot be dismissed as a misunderstanding. For example, in some accounts, he escaped from his captors while Tamerlan Tsarnaev was distracted in the SUV sitting next to him. In other accounts, Tamerlan is not even in the car when he "escapes.' Another example: in some accounts, he was never taken hostage at all, they just took his car. There are many such anomalies and inconsistencies we document in the two-parter.
JB: Couldn't the different version "Danny" gave be due to the trauma of being carjacked? I'm sure that emotional upheaval could lead to some confusion and therefore a slightly different version. Or am I off-base here?
(image by CBS News)
RB: These aren't "slightly different" versions. What witness would have trouble distinguishing between being taken hostage and not being taken hostage? How could he not know the difference between a carjacking that took zero minutes, one that took 30 minutes, and one that took 90 minutes? About whether he left a car where no one was guarding him or he escaped from a car while an armed man sitting next to him was momentarily distracted?
JB: Why is "Danny" still anonymous? Why can't we ask him these questions directly and clear this up once and for all?
RB: Well, of course, that is exactly what we at WhoWhatWhy wanted to know. We asked to speak to him, offered even to protect his identity if we could just try to help get the narrative clear. Via various people who did have access to him, our request was denied. It's, as any detective would say, "very strange, at a minimum."