The Boston bombing story is frustrating. On one hand, the official story has problems. On the other hand, some really dopey alternative theories have made the rounds. Once again, the nutballs have threatened to hijack inquiry into a legitimate enigma.
A couple of days ago, Russell Baker
made an excellent attempt to pinpoint some of the official problems without falling into the tarpits of Alex Jonesian wackiness.The major problem can be summed up in one name: "Danny."
It seems a little surprising, but only one witness has ever heard the Tsarnaev brothers confess to both the Boston bombing and the MIT shooting of a policeman named Collier: "Danny," the carjacking victim. (His last name has never been revealed, but we know that he is Chinese-American.) Baker has uncovered serious problems with Danny's story.
Before we look at a few of those problems, let me note that the cop-shooting has always seemed to be one of the most bizarre aspects of this story, because the crime seemed so purposeless. CBS News claimed that the brothers wanted to steal his gun. But why? You can't shoot a cop unless you already have
According to Baker, Danny has injured his credibility by telling mutating stories.
Where was Danny Carjacked?
Danny said: Brighton Avenue, Allston (across the river from Cambridge)
Conflicting version: 3rd Street, Cambridge, the Middlesex County District Attorney initially said.
How Long Was Danny Held Hostage?
Danny said: 90 minutes (reported by The Boston Globe, NBC and CBS).
Conflicting version 1: 30 minutes according to a joint statement by Middlesex acting district attorney Michael Pelgro, Cambridge police commissioner Robert Haas and MIT police chief John DiFava
Conflicting version 2: “a few minutes,” according to the Boston Globe and this report by the Associated Press, citing the Cambridge Police Department:
“Police said Friday at a Watertown news conference that one of the brothers stayed with the carjacking victim for a few minutes and then let him go.”
Pervaiz Shallwani of the Wall Street Journal, one of the very few who was able to see at least part of the Cambridge police report, supports this shorter time span when he writes:
“Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers accused of the bombing, crossed the Charles River into Boston and stole a Mercedes SUV at gunpoint, briefly holding the driver hostage, according to an excerpt from the Cambridge Police Department report filed by the driver and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.”
How Did Danny Gain His Freedom?
Danny said: He escaped when Tamerlan, seated next to him, was momentarily distracted, according the Boston Globe, NBC and CBS.
Conflicting version 1: He simply got out of the car when both brothers were outside the car, having left him alone, according to WMUR.
Conflicting version 2: The Tsarnaev brothers never held Danny as a captive, according to the Associated Press and Cambridge Police Department. They simply detained him for a few minutes, then left him by the roadside, essentially confiscating his vehicle. In this scenario, he had almost no interaction with the brothers, raising questions as to whether they would have confessed to the two crimes before taking off with his car.
Baker goes on from there, listing other important conflicts.
To my eyes, these are serious issues. (Baker is not the first to notice that the "escape" story had mutated.) It is possible, of course, that shoddy journalism made Danny seem a more unreliable witness than he really is. Although some of the conflicts identified by Baker may be explicable, I don't think that anyone will be able to reconcile all
of the many problems.