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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Todashev shooting

A short while ago, we noted that the FBI agent who shot Ibragim Todashev (acquainted with one of the accused Boston bombers) has been cleared of wrongdoing. Well...not so fast:
Florida state prosecutors on Friday denied that they had cleared an FBI agent who shot dead a friend of the Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev while interrogating him.

The FBI is understood to have concluded that the officer who shot Ibragim Todashev, 27, was left with no alternative but to fire in self defence after being struck on the neck with a metal pole.

But the state attorney in Florida, Jeff Ashton, denied that he had come to the same conclusion. Ashton's spokesman said he had completed his investigation but would make a final decision on how to proceed over the weekend. A review, by the civil rights division of the Department of Justice, is also understood to be complete.
Okay. So what was the deal with that first story?

Then again, the Todashev mystery has been one of conflicting stories from the beginning...
The unnamed agent was one of several who went to Todashev’s apartment in Orlando on 22 May 2013, to question the Chechen over his friendship with Tsarnaev and about the murder in Massachusetts of another of the bomber’s friends. In the hours and days after the death, officials gave various accounts of what happened.

Supporters of Todashev, a mixed martial arts fighter who was struck by six bullets in the torso and another in the back of the head, expressed their “concern” on Friday but said they wanted to study the reports in detail before reacting further.
The guy was not armed. He confronted not just an FBI agent but an unknown number of state troopers (accounts differ) plus a local police detective who did not fire. The manner of attack differs from telling to telling -- and sometimes within the same telling!
Here's the way the attack was described in The New York Times. Everyone seems to agree that after several hours of interrogation, Todashev was prepared to confess to an unsolved murder that he and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were connected to. Then things get a lot less clear:
At that moment, Mr. Todashev picked up the table and threw it at the agent, knocking him to the ground. While trying to stand up, the agent, who suffered a wound to his face from the table that required stitches, drew his gun and saw Mr. Todashev running at him with a metal pole, according to the official, adding that it might have been a broomstick.
So not only has the story changed again, it has now changed twice in the same sentence. The weapon has now gone from nothing to a knife, back to nothing to a table to a metal pole to a broomstick. Todashev was also apparently shot more than once, after an initial volley of "several shots" somehow failed to bring him down.

Oh, and there's a pretty big difference between a metal pole and a broomstick, and the fact that the Times source can't decide which one it is suggests they don't really know happened either.
People close to Todashev have been deported -- on rather flimsy excuses, some say.

From the Washington Post:
"With the eyes of the world once again on the United States' response to an act of terrorism and its treatment of foreign nationals, the last thing the U.S. government needs to do is fuel wild conspiracy theories by releasing too little information or investigating too slowly."
You know when the WP published those words? In May of last year!

It sure looks like someone is hiding something.
Boston Magazine recently published a worthwhile piece on Todashev, the initial bungled investigation into the Waltham murders, and the FBI's ongoing efforts to bury the Todashev shooting.

And supposedly the Florida prosecutor's report is supposed to be released today. Of course, it's been held back at least once already, seemingly at the request of the DOJ....
Aaaaaaand... it's out. Guess what? Self-defense; no charges filed.

Complete [redacted] report available here.
A metal pole and a broom handle can be the same thing. If a broom has a metal handle. My mop has what seems at first glance to be a metal handle but is in fact plastic. You people need to stop living in the nineteenth century with your wooden brooms. Did you weave the head together yourself with discarded straw like Cinderella?
...and check your email, BTW...
It's interesting how few of the reports mention how much pressure the FBI was applying to Todashev in the weeks prior to his death. He'd been interrogated repeatedly, was followed everywhere he went, and was basically driven to the brink by FBI pressure.

Maybe he and Tsarnaev were involved in the triple murder in Waltham. Maybe the murder in Waltham was a message to Tsarnaev to play ball. We'll never know what really happened, but as with every other material incident we've experienced in the past 15 years - and likely long before that - we as ordinary citizens will never know the truth.

I think an effective method of maintaining confusion within a population is to never provide a straightforward explanation of anything. If that's the strategy, it's working, because nothing adds up as far as I'm concerned.
The Boston Globe has a lengthy article, including a helpful graphic illustrating what allegedly happened, which you can read at There are currently nearly 60 comments. Many are skeptical that it could possibly have taken this long to issue reports if this is what really happened. Many also question why we never heard anything about the coffee table before.

The Boston Magazine story goes along with a full This American Life program, which you can listen to at Both are well worth your time.
Anon 10:13, I think the strategy goes beyond maintaining confusion and an environment where nothing adds up. Citizens' acceptance of that state of affairs becomes a sense of futility. Adopting the "We'll never know the truth" mantra, the helpless cynic gives up any expectation of government accountability, any expectation that the government should answer questions about its actions and policies, and goes around counseling the young that apathy is wisdom.
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