The headline is a deliberate provocation, but it also happens to be true. Among the eleven most mystifying things the brothers did (according to this Mother Jones story
) is the following:
Keep the hostage's phone. The Tsarnaevs continued on without their hostage—but they did have his phone, which allowed police to track their location via GPS.
Mother Jones links to this piece in Time
Naturally, the carjacking victim provided police with the make and license-plate number of his vehicle. Even better, the Tsarnaevs now had their very own GPS beacon, as authorities tracked the location of a cell phone the man had left in his car. Within minutes, police had found the men and an ensuing gun battle left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar in hiding, soon to be caught. End of rampage.
Look, I don't approve of criminality or bombings or terrorism. Hell, I don't approve of any sort of violence except in self-defense (or, possibly, when dealing with louts who talk during movies). But I also don't approve of stupid
criminality. Many previous Cannonfire posts have pounded away at one theme: Even law-abiding folk should avoid carrying devices which allow the government to track every move.
Here are a few other tidbits from that MJ piece:
The Wall Street Journal reported that Dzhokhar stopped by an auto-body shop in Watertown on Tuesday to pick up the Mercedes he'd brought in for repairs.
As noted in a previous post, I saw a live news interview with the mechanic, who said that Dzhokhar was infuriated that the car was not repaired on time. Dzhokhar also intimated that the car belonged to a friend. Weirdly, both the malfunctioning car and the stolen SUV were made by Mercedes. (As we will see at the end of this post, the brothers had access to still another vehicle. The cops have yet to tell us if that was also a Mercedes.)
When Dzhokhar carjacked a Mercedes on Thursday night, he and his brother had one thing in mind: Get cash, and fast. They emptied $800 from an ATM using their victim's PIN number, before they reached the account limit. Holding up a stranger for money suggests a woeful lack of planning on their part (they hadn't budgeted) that helped alert them to the authorities.
If these guys owned a Mercedes, why did they feel obligated to steal cash from an ATM? They must have had some money set aside to pay the mechanic. (Anyone who specializes in repairing high end cars doesn't work cheap.) Hell, why not just sell the Mercedes on Craigslist, buy a nondescript beater for (say) $1200, and use the rest of the money to fund relocation?
Incidentally, we still have no clear story as to why they killed that MIT cop. In fact, I'd like to see the evidence that the Tsarnaevs committed that crime. Unless I missed something (and please double-check), the official Criminal Complaint against Dzhokhar makes no mention of this murder
On another front: Rand Paul
offers some sensible reasons
as to why we should not treat the younger Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant. If our normal criminal justice system was tough enough to take care of Tim McVeigh, it will suffice for Tamerlan's dimwitted kid brother.
The younger and elder Pauls have an odd place in our society. I despise their libertarian politics, which would rid corporations of all restraints and regulations. If the Pauls have their way, all of American society would soon resemble the immediate vicinity of the Texan fertilizer plant that had such a noteworthy "hiccup." And yet, paradoxically, Ron and Rand Paul are the only people on the right who -- every so often -- have the balls to tell their fellow conservatives to calm down and stop trying to militarize everything
. For that, I guess, we owe them some thanks.
Some commentators have cautioned that Tsarnaev should not be treated any differently from the way we have treated "white" bombers. The distinction amuses me. Born in Chechnya, the Tsarnaev brothers truly deserve to be called Caucasians
. Look it up
posits that Tamerlan's boxing career led him to develop CTE -- chronic traumatic encephalopathy. A silly idea, this: It's not as though pugilists have a history of turning into mad bombers. No, if you're looking for motive, the latest news from the WP
makes as much sense as anything else:
The 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack, according to U.S. officials familiar with the interviews.
Let me once again make myself clear: I loathe violence, as do all sensible people. But if we look at the situation from the detached, Olympian position of an historian writing 1000 years in the future...
Well. What was it Malcolm X once said? Something about chickens...?
And another point:
I just noticed an oddity in that afore-linked Time
The Tsarnaev brothers were armed and had multiple explosive devices. (The carjacking victim told police they drove to another car and transferred arms from it into his vehicle; by some reports the brothers were driving in two separate cars when police confronted them in Watertown.)
Obvious questions: If they already had a car, why steal one? Why bother transferring bombs from one vehicle to another in a place where witnesses might see suspicious activity? How could they keep the carjack victim "under wraps" during the transfer operation yet allow him to escape when they tried to empty his bank account? Why would they divulge their identity to their captive?
I'm not saying that these questions have no reasonable answers. They very well might. But at this point, we really deserve a scenario that makes sense.