Privacy SOS

FBI admits it doesn’t know where Marathon bombs were built, despite massive surveillance state

According to WBZ news reporter Christina Hager, the FBI still doesn't know where the bombs that exploded at the Boston Marathon in 2013 were manufactured.

It's worth remembering that in May 2013 officials told CNN something totally different. Back then they trumpeted assertions that the bombs were built in Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Cambridge apartment. And they provided details: "explosives residue…turned up in at least three places, the source said: the kitchen table, the kitchen sink and the bathtub." That's a little different from what US Attorney Carmen Ortiz wrote in a brief for the prosecution against Tamerlan's little brother, a year later.

A May 2014 prosecution motion states:

"[S]earches of the Tsarnaevs’ residences, three vehicles, and other locations associated with them yielded virtually no traces of black powder, again strongly suggesting that others had built, or at least helped the Tsarnaevs build, the bombs."

Now, in October 2014, the FBI again admits it doesn't know where the bombs were built—but only says so in court. Given the vast array of surveillance and monitoring powers available to FBI agents to use even retroactively, this is very difficult to accept.

Just days after the bombings, the FBI felt comfortable publicly asserting that the Tsarnaev brothers "acted alone." There were tens of news stories asserting this, all over the media. As far as I can tell, they've never corrected the record on this question, or issued any kind of clarification—except in a court, first in a motion in the Tsarnaev trial and now in testimony during the trial of the young man's friend.

Why haven't the FBI and DOJ addressed this issue in the press? If the Department of Justice seems nearly certain that someone else built—"or at least helped" build—the bombs that blew up on April 15, 2013 in Boston, why aren't we hearing more about that? Who are those other people? Where are the press releases and conferences announcing to the world that some of the culprits responsible for the attacks are still on the lam? Why isn't there a public effort to identify these other bombers?

And how is it possible that the government's near omnipotent surveillance state can't walk back the cat to figure out who the Tsarnaevs were working with?

UPDATE: As the Tsarnaev trial nears its end, there is still no answer to this fundamental question. While the DOJ presented lots of circumstantial evidence about bomb making materials and propaganda, and seemed to try to insinuate that Tamerlan built the bombs at his house, the government's chemist and forensics witness also acknowledged this:

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