Leave the (alleged) Boston Marathon bomber’s wife alone, readers say

Well that was interesting.  I posted yesterday about the wife of Boston Marathon bombing Suspect #1, aka Tamerlan Tsarnaev – her name is Katherine – and her decision to turn down a request to speak with the FBI about her now-dead husband.

[UPDATE: A report today, April 23, has her lawyer quoted as saying:

“She is doing everything she can to assist with the investigation.”

I’m a lawyer too. In my opinion, that statement doesn’t really clarify, or say, much of anything.  Is she talking to the Feds or “can’t” she just yet?]

I was surprised by the feedback I got both here and on Facebook.

I noted my ambivalence about her decision.  While I can appreciate the need to mourn, when your husband is accused of planning and executing a huge terrorist bombing, you’re not permitted the luxury of mourning in peace.

Also, more generally, I was troubled as to why anyone wouldn’t want to talk to the FBI, if they could possibly help, even in a small way – unless, of course, they were guilty.


Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Suspect #1 in the Boston Marathon Bombing.

And finally, I did admit that I could understand why a Muslim – which the wife is (and despite some contrarians on Twitter, by all accounts she wasn’t “faking it,” look at the photo) – even an innocent Muslim, might be concerned about where an interview with the FBI might lead.

Well. You responded.

Initially, the responses seemed to show a bit of a gender gap.  Women noted the need to grieve, and more generally concerns about her rightful need to talk to a lawyer first.

Men tended to say she if she were innocent, she should just talk to the FBI.

But after a while, the comments tended to shift, male and female, to her defense – well, at least in terms of understanding that she should talk to a lawyer before talking to the FBI.

Here’s a sampling:

Some felt she should come forward:





Lots of generic “don’t talk to the cops without a lawyer, ever” advice:







A lot of lawyers weighed in:




Spousal privilege?

A number of folks mentioned spousal privilege – I’ll need to look into whether that survives death.  Okay, just looked this up – it seems that spousal privilege about communications survives death (what he said to her), but not spousal privilege about testimony (mean her observations of things). This area of law seems to be complicated, so I’d be curious if any of the lawyers out there who are familiar with this can weigh in:


Wife was abused?

A number of commenters believed the wife was an abused spouse – in fact, Tamelran was accused of domestic assault and battery back in 2009:


Mom needs to protect her kid

Some noted that, as a parent of a young child, it was understandable that she’d take every precaution when speaking with the authorities:by-default-2013-04-23-at-10.273

Testifying while Muslim

Others echoed the concern that, as a Muslim, she should be very careful in talking to the authorities (it would be ironic if our treatment of Muslims, post-9/11, made it more difficult for us to collect needed intelligence from even innocent witnesses):by-default-2013-04-23-at-10.27-2 by-default-2013-04-23-at-10.27

Time to grieve

Another mentioned her needed time to grieve (I’m not, however, fully convinced of the argument that if you think you don’t have any useful information, that means you shouldn’t talk to the cops – let them decide what’s useful):



Some did not by the “time to grieve” argument:


While others felt Kimo was being too harsh, Kimo has a point about “mourning,” IMHO.  Tell the parents of Martin Richard, the 8 year old boy who was blown to bits after Tamerlan (allegedly) placed a bomb quite literally at the boy’s feet (there’s a photo out there showing the alleged terrorists right near the boy, bomb already on the ground), that the wife of the guy who allegedly blew up their son in cold blood needs time to grieve.  Then get back to me.  There are exceptions to everything, and hubby being a mass murderer who may, or may not, be part of a larger cell to murder even more people, is an exception to giving the widow to time to grieve.

My humble love of American institutions is showing:


Not talking proves she’s innocent?

An interesting twist – perhaps her not wanting to talk to the police showed her innocent, rather than her guilt:


Why is everyone assuming she’s innocent?

And another interesting point – that perhaps we all shouldn’t be so quick to assume she’s so innocent.  Maybe she is, maybe she isn’t.


CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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112 Responses to “Leave the (alleged) Boston Marathon bomber’s wife alone, readers say”

  1. yourbestcomment says:

    i just don’t understand why in several current photos she appears to be smiling. it’s almost smug.

    i do think the feds know more about than what they say they do.

  2. J.r. Stacy says:

    in response to the last thing (innocent wife of a monster) just a thought, innocent wife of an innocent man.. until proven in court? also to your topic it’s understandable she would be scared of the fbi if she thought they killed her husband and his brother and framed them for a bombing, but then jahar wouldnt have admitted to anything either unless he was being tortured or he was dumb? cuz that would blow his case right, but if he’s tortured that evidence shouldnt be allowed in court under duress right? so will he even get a trial? will the alleged video of him putting the bomb there ever be seen? i guess we’ll find out on the next episode of “taking our bill of rights away one at a time”

  3. I like how you equate being called “Republican” with “sexist” :)

  4. Gene says:

    There are a couple of known facts. Her husband was a terrorist. He spent 6 months in an area noted for terrorist training. Her husband was investigated by the FBI for terrorism. Her husband didn’t work, visited terrorist web sites, spoke openly about US aggression. etc. She and her husband both were practicing Muslims. Her husband had bomb making material in the apartment he shared with his wife. The wife would have had to be death, blind and stupid not to know what was going on. Grieving or not, no wonder she will not talk to authorities!

  5. goulo says:

    Yep, Poe’s Law in action. I also thought it was a sincere comment in support of sending them to Gitmo. Sarcasm/irony is too often useless and misunderstood in political threads like this where every extreme view gets sincerely represented as well as mockingly respresented… :/

  6. BeccaM says:

    We have a good bunch of moderators. I doubt you were the only one to have reported our guest’s rude and out-of-bounds behavior.

  7. That wasn’t my point. In the second sentence I say the only reason to speak to them is if there is something you can accomplish by doing so. If you are not guilty of even circumstantial connection to whatever group they are trying to link the brothers to, then you don’t care what case they build. You don’t have anything to gain. If there is some way they might connect you, if other people speak and the case is built out of hearsay, then you get in there and speak and throw your spin on the associations. Thank you for reading only what you could turn into a damning assumption. That is kind of the point I am making about why you might want to speak, lawyer or not. Folks make the most damning case possible out of the most selective interpretation possible. CYA

  8. I whined.

  9. BeccaM says:

    There’s one theory floated over on ThinkProgress by Alyssa suggesting there should be a thorough autopsy on Tamerlan Tsarnaev to see if he had any signs of CTE from his boxing days. Apparently cranial trauma is well known to create psychological damage as well as physical and can even result in changes in personality.


  10. BeccaM says:

    These issues are indeed worth talking about and even though you and I don’t see eye-to-eye on everything — nor I with other commenters — I appreciate your giving me this place to voice my opinions.

    Here’s hoping your page hits are going through the roof.

  11. karmanot says:

    The more information that comes out about Tamerian, the more he looks like a bully loser, who turned to radical Islam as the only straw of masculinity he might possess, after living off his wife, who works 7 days a week. What an assh**e.

  12. MysticHoss says:

    Dr. Warren put his house on the market Friday to get a fresh start. It would seem they were aware of the foray of media that would be disturbing their privacy sometime during business hours on Friday. It has been reported that the Warren house was listed on Friday. Now I’m doubting that the chase that ensued late Friday would have been their time of enlightenment! It suggest that they knew. I’m betting they saw the reports and said oh crap we’ve got to get out of here. Did they call the FBI? Looks like they called a real estate agent. What would you’ve done? I’d called the FBI.

  13. Rufus says:

    Don’t mean to be cynical, but if she is offered immunity I hope her attorney is moxie enough to make sure the immunity is granted and signed by a judge. Prosecutors and law enforcement sometimes wave a piece of paper announcing immunity and requesting all information when, in fact, the piece of paper is just a piece of paper. Prosecutors and law enforcement have the “right” to lie to get information. Be wary.

  14. BeccaM says:

    You need to use sarcasm or snark tags, or otherwise let us know you’re exaggerating ad absurdum for effect. The way it sounded in your head as you typed the words doesn’t come across the same way to the rest of us, lacking context.

  15. karmanot says:

    No, the drug business would only be a means of financial support. They are not into American politics as far as I know, but are heavily infested in drugs and the sex trade.

  16. karmanot says:


  17. BeccaM says:

    I figured it’d happen eventually, just didn’t realize it had already happened. Cool.

  18. karmanot says:

    Toxic Kimo finally got the ax.

  19. Ninong says:

    The Russian Mafia isn’t interested in radical Islam or conservative Russian Orthodox or anything other than power and making money. Do you think the Russian Mafia had a hand in putting Tamerlan up to the bombing or are you speculating that the Russian mafia is financing the family’s expenses to travel back to the US?

    I just don’t see any benefit for the Russian Mafia in getting involved in stirring up shit over here that has nothing to do with power, control and making lots of money. They’re very much into Russian politics but I don’t think they’re into American politics???

  20. Mike Meyer says:

    I would NEVER defend a POS as GITMO. I believe in the 5th Amendment. BUT I STILL stand by my statement—–GITMO IS the face of American Justice.
    Look at OUR Congress. I’d bet more than 50% would send Tzarnev there today were it not for the outcry. Many in flyover country surely would send him to GITMO and cheer like it was Baghdad burning on a Saturday Night.

  21. Ninong says:

    When their father, Anzor Tsarnaev, lived over here, he “fixed cars.” I think Tamerlan dabbled in that a little while “training” to become an Olympic boxer. His delusional father told Russian media that Tamerlan was a well-known celebrity in the US.

    Their mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, “operates a spa” over there in Dakestan. I think that means she gives facials. She left here after being busted for shoplifting $1600 worth of clothes from Lord & Taylor (apparently she was never prosecuted).

    Two uncles over here in the US broke off with the family a few years ago after disagreements with Tamerlan and his mother, who had both become extra-religious after being converted by “a recent convert” over here in the US, according to one of the uncles. Tamerlan challenged one of his uncles to a fight the last time they saw each other. Both uncles blame the parents for being blind to Tamerlan’s faults. Both parents considered their two sons to be perfect angels, especially Tamerlan.

    Tamerlan was furious when his sister married a non-muslim and refused to accept the guy. So that was another family dispute.

    Both parents are making delusional statements to the media in Russia. The father said he hopes to travel to the US next week but the mother said they’re both leaving tomorrow for the US. They want to “get to the truth” of what happened and they want to take Tamerlan’s body back to Russia for burial.

  22. karmanot says:

    Interesting….Russian Mafia ties?

  23. In general, in the news, etc, there certainly is a softer tone taken about the 19 year old. The assumption right away was that the older brother radicalized and sucked the younger one into it. That older was the ringleader, younger the follower. That it was probably older who shot the cop, etc. I think overall it’s harder for folks to imagine an American 19 year old doing any of this – 26, a bit more so.

  24. Ninong says:

    I don’t know where they got the money for all of that but I do know that Dzhokhar was an honor student who took extra honor courses in high school and I read online that he was on a full 4-yr scholarship to U-Mass Dartmouth. He was a sophmore majoring in marine biology but apparently he failed most of his courses this current semester plus one course the previous semester. So apparently that was due to his brother’s influence.

    Tamerlan was reportedly very into radical Islam for the past three or four years and especially into it after he returned from Dakestan with a full beard and wearing Islamic dress. Dzhokhar has been described as a very bright student who started smoking pot daily the past few months. Don’t think smoking pot is allowed but what do I know? Tamerlan stopped drinking a few years ago and, of course, he asked his wife to convert to Islam before they were married by an imam.

    I don’t know if their apartment was in the $2500 category based on the photos I saw of the exterior of the building. What about this possibility. Is dealing drugs allowed for allegedly devout Muslims? Maybe one of the brothers did a little dealing on the side?

  25. Intg point. Dad didn’t look terribly rich over there in Russia. This guy was only 26. What did he even do for a living?

  26. BeccaM says:

    Yeah, that was a hoot and a half. Having cut my political teeth way back as activist for the Equal Rights Amendment, I wear the ‘radical feminist’ label proudly.

  27. BeccaM says:

    Really, he’s been banned? Huh. I thought only Tina got the boot last night.

  28. karmanot says:

    What? Did I just miss something?

  29. nicho says:

    My definitions devout is that you actually follow the teachings of a religion — not just observe the superficial trappings.

  30. nicho says:

    A huge unanswered question is the source of their funds. No mention has been made of jibs for either of them. Yet, one was going to college and living on campus. He and his brother had an apartment in a neighborhood where rents start at about $2,500 a month and go up from there. They drove a Mercedes. One of them was taking martial arts classes. They had enough money to buy numerous guns, explosives, etc. Tamerlan traveled to Russia, which presumably takes money and wouldn’t indicate ongoing employment here. Where was all their money coming from? The immediate thing that comes to mind is drugs — and the triple murder has all the earmarks of a drug feud.

  31. PeteWa says:

    the strangest thing about John citing the specific poster you brought up was that one of the moderators had already banned him from the blog.

  32. karmanot says:

    I was delighted when he called me ‘Miss’ though, after I admitted to being a radical feminist. If I had said I was a Lesbian radical feminist rich white lady who dines at lunch places recommended by Amy’s List he might have had a stroke. But, being a Buddhist and all I decided to be compassionate. :-)

  33. BeccaM says:

    I concur. It was fascinating to watch over the hours as someone who posted a comment that some merely didn’t agree with gradually devolved into utter trollishness.

    Then again, maybe that was his game all along.

    In any case, I’ll gladly poke trolls for a while, but it doesn’t take long before I decide they’re not worth my time. If that nasty little misogynist pokes his pointy nose around here again, I’m not going to be engaging him.

  34. BeccaM says:

    I share your annoyance, obviously. I think John could’ve picked a better example from one of our more rational and non-bigoted regular commenters.

  35. karmanot says:

    Agreed, that particular troll, actually became rather disturbing and creepy in the extreme.

  36. loona_c says:

    Yes and in my real life. I don’t understand any sympathy!!

  37. karmanot says:

    Exactly so….. the bottom line is justice and holding on to the values of due diligence that characterize our justice system- —–

  38. karmanot says:

    This whole gestalt is just riddled with horror, tragedy and sorrow.

  39. karmanot says:

    That happens to me often on long threads and I get myself in trouble.

  40. karmanot says:

    In the dark of this kind of night it’s hard to see the snark.

  41. karmanot says:

    I know John, I am so guilty of troll hunting.

  42. Naja pallida says:

    You anti-beaver, Republican, scruffy looking… NERF HERDER!

  43. karmanot says:

    exactly my thought. Those who hold the thought, that if one has nothing to hide, nothing bad will happen have never had a kid or oneself trapped in a police nightmare, experienced a prosecutor enamored with stats for political future and completely indifferent to guilt or innocence and police, who routinely testlie, and judges who practice social or religious engineering from the bench.

  44. Naja pallida says:

    Personally, I’m annoyed that someone who started off okay, but when couldn’t back up their stance when challenged with rationality devolved to name-calling and blatant misogyny, was given a wider platform, instead of the smack on the back of the head they deserved.

    It just stuns me how fast people are to jump to the urge to dispense with the law. No lawyer in their right mind would advise her to be entirely openly cooperative, regardless of what she had to offer in the case, if anything. We have a legal system. Yes, it is slow, ugly, and not always right, but it is the best tool we have for getting the job done. If we can’t work within the bounds of it, we’re no better than those we claim to despise. Not to mention, several reports have shown that when we work within the bounds of our justice system on terrorism issues, we win abroad. People who would otherwise be angry at us, see us working hard – and while maybe not happy about it – but at least accept we’re making the effort.to do things the right way. When we just lock people away, or accuse based on assumptions, all we do is make more enemies, and encourage further mayhem.

  45. Mike Rasor says:

    Well I’m no expert on the PATRIOT Act, but it is highly unlikely the government could just take her and send her away. My understanding is that she is a US citizen (and was in fact born in the US). As a US citizen in the United States, it would likely be unconstitutional to forcibly remove her from the US in order to interrogate her without Miranda protections. The Obama administration has acknowledged this earlier this week in connection with the second bomber. The administration has maintained that there is no constitutional way to declare him an enemy combatant and remove him from the judicial process because he is a citizen present in the country. The most controversial methods we have of dealing with terrorists deal with non-citizens and citizens captured or killed abroad. Once you get into the realm of a US citizen within the country, constitutional protections are much more clearly going to apply. Additionally, the fact that we are denying process rights to non-citizens and citizens abroad present legal issues which have yet to be fully litigated and decided by the Supreme Court, but the track record for challenges to the PATRIOT Act has been such that the government tends to lose if the case ever actually gets into a court.

  46. karmanot says:

    I know what you mean. It sometimes seems a thin line between genuine tragedy and the horror of such evil.

  47. karmanot says:

    On this site, I never noticed any sympathy for the younger brother or the family. I did notice a concern about due process and due diligence and an abhorrence for mob justice, so apparent on the other thread.

  48. karmanot says:

    Oh please don’t hate bunnies or Jesus John. Mao…..well that’s Ok. You did a great job on that post! I feel like others here, that it’s your participation that makes these debates so spirited and interesting. Not to mention the fact you run the show at the same time. Good work!

  49. karmanot says:

    Looks as if she comes from a good, established family,—-Some sessions of de-culting will help.

  50. Ah, I thought you were defending Gitmo :)

  51. karmanot says:

    That’s an excellent question. Can a citizen in America be rendered? Certainly the precedent has been established that an American outside the country can be kidnapped, even killed without a hearing or a trial.

  52. Who knows. The dynamic between husband and wife, between boyfriends and girlfriends, is a complicated one. Lots of people stay in bad relationships, for very complicated reasons. It will be interesting to see what we find out.

  53. Ninong says:

    It was in January 2012, four months after the Sept. 11, 2011 triple homicide, that Tamerlan left for Dagestan. I don’t know if that counts as “immediately after.” If he was a close friend of Mess, which he obviously was, I wonder why they couldn’t tie him to the crime when they investigated? Surely he must have left some DNA somewhere at the crime scene?

    Maybe he did it, but if he did, I wonder what his motive was, other than maybe making a sacrificial offering on 9/11? Weird. Will be interesting to see if they find something that ties him and/or his brother to the murders. I’m wondering why they left $5,000 in cash at the scene, unless they were unaware of that cash? Tamerlan could certainly have used that money, unless that was all part of a plan to make it look like a drug deal gone bad?

    It’s definitely suspicious but why didn’t they nail him for it during the four months he was here following the triple murder?

  54. I absolutely think these issues are worth talking about, and are important to talk about. Even reading through the comments helped solidify for me that I’d probably call a lawyer too. I’m still suspicious of the wife, generally, but after reading the comments I’d call a lawyer too. Thus the reason it’s important to discuss these issues, so people can learn, all around :)

  55. karmanot says:

    Do you think it could be a case of transference like that which affected Patty Hearst. Katherine is said to have been a battered wife. In any case I imagine she’s terrified right now and worried about her child.

  56. Mike Meyer says:

    EXACTLY!!!,John Aravosis, but how about GO DADDY? That would be OK to send him there over costing YOU a days pay, wouldn’t it?—–just joking.

    Personally I CALL Boehner @1-202-225-0600 and strongly mention (as strongly as I dare) to CLOSE GITMO, but maybe I’m the only one calling about the matter.

  57. Hue-Man says:

    Assuming she’s like the rest of us and unfamiliar with dealing with investigative agencies, she definitely should have a lawyer advising her, regardless of whether she was ignorant of the events or participated fully. When senior U.S. Senators are calling for U.S. citizens to be treated as “enemy combatants” you can’t be too careful.

    For those who are quick to condemn ALL Muslims, here’s some reporting on the intercepted alleged Canadian terrorist plot. “A national Muslim group and community leaders are thanking police for foiling an alleged terror plot against a Via Rail train.”

    “He [Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the Canadian version of the Council on American-Islamic Relations] also pointed out that the initial tip in the case came from within the Muslim community, apparently from an imam worried about radicalization.” http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/canada/Muslim+groups+thank+police+foiling+terror+plot+denounce/8283030/story.html

  58. karmanot says:

    But look at the storm stirred up. It was a great post! You’ve been hitting em out of the park lately!

  59. karmanot says:

    It wasn’t the ambivalence that ‘seemed’ sexist, but the idea that women would be more sympathetic to Katherine’s plight than men. That spirited thread defending her right to full legal protection included both men and women in about equal numbers. It was the phrasing that seemed sexist. I don’t think you are sexist in the least.

  60. Ford Prefect says:

    Especially the “classified” bits. It’s always the secret laws that are the most interesting!

  61. Ford Prefect says:

    Well, it’s kept most members of the last five administrations out of prison, so I’d say it works pretty well.

  62. I know, I told Disqus that only have a few indents was a bad idea, and they asked me to prove it. I was like, guys, I’m teling you, it’s confusing only have 3 indents, but what do I know…. ;-)

  63. Any idea how Patriot act affects this? Someone mentioned in a comment I posted above that they could just grab her and send her away. Is that true? Would they at least need some ALJ or magistrate or something to approve that?

  64. BeccaM says:

    People go into hiding all the time, John, leaving previous identities behind. Some for just this kind of reason, others like myself because there’s someone out there who wants to kill us.

    I’d suggest that even if Katherine doesn’t know anything, she’ll soon be forced into permanent hiding anyway, because of all the monster-howlers out there who want blood.

  65. I was just peeved because of the other nastiness, I know your comment isn’t related. And it’s a fair point. What I meant by the title was the response to my initial post having ambivalence towards her. Also, it’s extremely difficult to write a catchy short title that’s 100% clear :)

  66. SkippyFlipjack says:

    I didn’t participate in the thread yesterday so I don’t know whether this was prevailing thought but it seems that of course she should get a lawyer and wait to talk — she’s not concerned with the optics but with whether she’ll be charged as an accomplice in some really, really serious charges. Unless there’s a ticking bomb somewhere that she knows about — seems unlikely at this point — she’s doing the prudent thing in not wading in to the morass without a guide.

  67. BeccaM says:

    McCarthy era. The Crucible. Aftermath of 9/11. Lots of places.

  68. Jafafa Hots says:

    “If you are innocent, then you will remain innocent whether or not you talk to the FBI”

    As a victim of false arrest, and years later a victim of (a minor) physical assault by a cop and threatened with false arrest a second time, all I can say is that I wish I was able to remain as naive as you.

  69. Rufus says:

    John, I see no nexus between you being called a Republican and a sexist and your story title which I believe to be misleading. However, it’s your blog, so ——. Plus, I give you much slack because of your wonderful little dog.

  70. BeccaM says:

    I believe you’re right, it’s lawyer-speak without a doubt, and there are almost certainly police/attorney negotiations going on now for the terms of giving a statement.

    I’d wager almost anything what her attorney will be going for will be a grant of immunity.

  71. ezpz says:

    Ah, ok. It’s easy to lose track because the replies don’t indent ad infinitum like they used to until the replying comment was one letter per line.

  72. Jared Hyder says:


  73. Jafafa Hots says:

    Not hiring a lawyer before being questioned would be incredibly stupid.

  74. Jared Hyder says:


  75. BeccaM says:

    To clarify some of what I posted last night in that thread:

    – I never asserted that Katherine Tsarnaev was innocent or that it was a sure thing she didn’t know anything about what her reportedly abusive husband was up to, only that none of the currently publicly available evidence suggested she did. Maybe the cops do have more, but obviously we wouldn’t know that at this point.

    – There are credible accounts, including a CBS story, that Katherine was physically and emotionally abused by her husband. I’m not sure how that relates to this, except to say she may have learned the hard way to stay out of his business and not ask questions.

    – None of my comments used any “grieving” justification for not immediately talking to the investigators, but all of them stood squarely on the bedrock right all of us — even accused suspects — have to exercise our Constitutional rights, particularly the 5th Amendment right not to self-incriminate. It should be noted that I didn’t even say “Don’t ever talk to the cops.” My position was that she should not talk to investigators — police or FBI — without an attorney present and not without some assurance that she wouldn’t be charged if, as it turns out, she suspected (but didn’t know for sure) Tamerlan and his brother were up to something.

    What I found most disturbing among most of the “she MUST talk!” comments, as well as the frequent insinuation that “not immediately talking = must have something to hide” accusations, was the blithe dismissal of everybody’s legal rights under the Constitution — including from one commenter you cited, John, who after the not completely unreasonable comment you posted here, soon devolved into bloody shirt waving and ranting about militant rich white pill-popping radical feminists being the root of all of western society’s problems.

    Anyway, I remain firmly on the side of the several attorneys who offered their professionally informed opinions. I think they were right in urging caution, and I personally wouldn’t doubt that if Katherine does give the police a statement or have a formal interview, there will be some kind of negotiated immunity from prosecution. Especially if she has any kind of useful information.

    You’ll not find a single competent attorney anywhere who’d say, “Sure, go ahead just talk to them, nothing bad could possibly come of it for you. You don’t need me.”

    We have had numerous GOP leaders advocating that the rule of law be dispensed with and the surviving bomber turned over to the military. Others openly suggest that a big ole dose of torture is what’s needed. In this climate of “terrorist suspects deserve no rights at all,” I wouldn’t hesitate to advise even Dzhokhar’s friends and acquaintances to have an attorney present while giving statements to the police.

    By the way, the Federal prosecutor in charge of this case is US Att’y Carmen Ortiz. Yes, the same woman who famously hounded Aaron Swartz to suicide. She’s been formally admonished by the courts for “stretching the evidence,” “gross exaggeration,” and for violating a plea bargain deal. This fact only underlines the need for anybody involved in a federal case to be very, very careful in her jurisdiction, and especially in something as high profile as this.

  76. Well that’s all well and good until it’s your family that does something wrong, you’re innocent, and they send you to Gitmo :)

  77. Yes, sorry, I was trying to respond to Mike Meyer and his Gitmo comment above. Accidentally posted it here :)

  78. Mike Rasor says:

    Well invoking the 5th during a trial is only formally done in limited circumstances. Generally, if the witness is not the defendant, federal courts simply hold a pretrial hearing out of the presence of the jury where the witness will make it clear they intend to invoke their fifth amendment rights. Then the judge will generally exclude all testimony by the witness during trial if feasible (allowing the witness to testify selectively can lead to a violation of the defendant’s sixth amendment right to confront witnesses). A prosecutor can get around this by offering immunity in which case the witness can be compelled to testify. If the witness is the defendant, the fifth amendment simply bars the prosecution from requiring the defendant to testify. If the defendant chooses to testify on their own behalf, they have abrogated their fifth amendment right and can be cross examined on any relevant subject.

    But it should be noted this is what happens during a trial. In an interrogation, you always have the right to remain silent and to simply refuse to answer the question. In such a case, an attorney would merely have to tell the police their client wasn’t going to answer the question without acknowledging that the information is incriminating.

  79. Osama bin Laden was a “devout” Muslim. I think we’re using the word in two different ways. My usage doesn’t imply any judgment, positive or negative – I’m simply talking about whether the person never goes to church ever, or whether they go every sunday, to mix my religious metaphors. You can go to church every sunday, be a devout Christian, and still be a Jerry Falwell jerk.

  80. True, but can you imagine the life she’d have in this country if she gets immunity admits anything other than total ignorance?

  81. I was called a Republican below, and a sexist in the original post, for even suggesting that anyone could have any ambivalence about her at all, so I’d call my title not that far off :)

  82. Rufus says:

    John, I think your story title is misleading. Reading through all the comments, I don’t think the consensus was to leave her alone, rather that she would be wise to lawyer up and not speak to the FBI unless so advised by her lawyer. It’s called CRIM LAW first year.

  83. ezpz says:

    That was exactly my point.

  84. Ninong says:

    I would be surprised if it turns out that Katherine was an active participant in the conspiracy to bomb the Boston Marathon. Apparently she attended college for a couple of years before dropping out after she started dating Tamerlan. She married him in an Islamic ceremony. She converted to Islam while they were still dating. Her Facebook profile said she intended to join the Peace Corps after college.

    She was the only one working in that family. She worked 7 days a week as a home health aide while Tamerlan stayed home and cared for their daughter. Dzhokhar stayed at the apartment only off and on. Most of the time he stayed in his dorm room at U-Mass Dartmouth. That was the Tsarnaev family apartment where she lived with her husband, her child, her in-laws and her brother-in-law after she married Tamerlan. Neighbors of her parents in Rhode Island report that they saw Katherine, Tamerlan and their daughter at her parents house on weekends a lot, so maybe they visited her parents often?

    Her father, Warren Russell, is an emergency physician whose Facebook profile lists his high school alma mater as the elite New Hampshire boarding school Phillips Exeter Academy and college as Yale. Her mother works for a social services agency as a nurse of some sort. The family home in Rhode Island was listed for sale on the MLS, with pictures, the same day Tamerlan died. Maybe that was just a coincidence and was something previously planned?

  85. nicho says:

    I’m sure she’s still in some sort of shock. But things will change over the next few months. If she had converted to Islam and then met this guy, I would expect one thing of her. But since she met this guy, got knocked up, and then converted to Islam, there is a different dynamic at work here. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. I don’t know what you mean by “devout.” By all accounts he was violent towards women and anybody else who pissed off. If that’s a “devout Muslim,” then we really need to reexamine our feelings toward Islam.

  86. nicho says:

    You can grant someone immunity from prosecution as a way to get around the 5th. It’s done all the time.

  87. Well that’s all well and good until it’s your family that does something wrong, you’re innocent, and they send you to Gitmo :)

  88. It’s funny you say that. I noted a few days ago to myself, the day he was arrested, that I was having some kind of weird sympathy for Suspect 2 – even though I think he should hang. I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps just the age, and the pics of him looking like a high school kid. I’m having less for the wife, but readily admit that she could just be lawyering up out of an appropriate sense of caution, as folks have noted here.

  89. Well, depends on your definition of a “star Muslim” – I don’t consider terrorists star Muslims either. But from all accounts he was rather devout – that’s why he got so inflammatory. As for her, she’s still dressing in traditional more-devout clothing, even today, which is interesting.

  90. nicho says:

    And while the investigators may want to talk to her about this incident — and I’m sure they do — there are still other unsolved crimes that have links, no matter how tenuous, to the suspects.

    It was one of the most gruesome killings in Greater Boston in many years: three young men found with their throats slit inside a Waltham apartment on a quiet residential street, their bodies sprinkled with marijuana.

    Now, police and prosecutors are stepping up their investigation into the unsolved 2011 triple homicide at the request of victims’ relatives who believe that suspected Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have played a role, noting that Tsarnaev had been close friends with one of the dead men.

    What is more, the grieving relatives say the killings took place on a highly symbolic date for Islamic extremists: the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

    Tamerlan Tsarnaev knew Mess well, once introducing him to the owner of the gym where they both worked out as his “best friend.” But another friend of Mess pointed out that Tsarnaev did not even attend Mess’s funeral.


    The article goes on to point out that Tamerlan’s extended trip to Russia was immediately after the triple homicide.

  91. That’s a good point – she wouldn’t have to talk about the husband, but rather about what SHE knew, was doing, etc. How does the 5th amendment work in cases like this, or in any case? Can you simply invoke the 5th and be done with it, or can your invocation of the 5th be challenged, if it looks like maybe you’re just trying to avoid answering the question? Meaning, can you challenge someone’s invocation of the 5th as not relevant to the question asked?

  92. Thanks, hadn’t seen that, just aded it to the story – but yes, it’s lawyer-speak. IMHO it doesn’t clarify anything.

  93. nicho says:

    And her late husband wasn’t necessarily a star Muslim. He was shouted out of the local mosque a few months ago because he was an inflammatory douchebag. My guess is that if we see a picture of the wife in a few months, she will be dressing in her old clothes and back in the arms of her own family. After all, her only ties to the Muslim community are that she had brief relationship and a baby with a mass murderer who is now dead. She most likely doesn’t speak Arabic. She’s has no other ties to an Arab or Chechen community. Because of her husband’s actions, they’re going to want to keep their distance from her.

  94. Mike Rasor says:

    As a side note, privileges are only an issue at trial. During a custodial interrogation you always have the right not to answer questions, and in this situation there is simply no way I would answer any questions without counsel present.

  95. Ninong says:

    The two lawyers representing Katherine Russell Tsarnaeva issued a statement this morning saying that “she is doing everything she can to assist authorities.” Since that’s lawyer-speak, I guess you shouldn’t read anything into it. Could mean just about anything.

    Maybe she is responding, through her lawyers, to specific questions? Maybe she is just preparing to meet with them?

  96. loona_c says:

    LOL It is interesting to me how people are relating to those involved. The sympathy (!!) towards the younger brother and the kind feelings toward the family. People seem to be easily putting themselves in their shoes (Gosh, what if MY husband/son/brother did that….)

  97. Well, I’m not sure how the Muslim thing cuts here, if at all, with regards to her. By the photos, she appears to be still dressing in rather traditional Muslim women’s clothing. But she still could be simply the innocent wife, or not.

  98. Ford Prefect says:

    Here’s the standard Right-Wing Authoritarian meme expressed here:

    …unless, of course, they were guilty.

    Guilty until proven otherwise. Got it. “If you’ve got nothing to hide, then the invasion shouldn’t be a concern.”

    As an agnostic, I am not terribly respectful of any religion. But I know a red herring when I see one–your same exact words were used by McCarthyites back during the bogus Red Scare. She may, in fact, know things. She’d be stupid not to lawyer-up in that case. She may also be perfectly innocent, so lawyering up also makes perfect sense, given that a grand jury can indict a ham sandwich for “terrorism”.

    I get that you hate muslims. It’s never been clearer than it is now. But wow, this level of amateurish red baiting is a new low.

  99. Mike Rasor says:

    So as a lawyer I will weigh in on the privilege issues. The issues of privilege are not really in play in this case because the husband is dead. Generally spousal privileges are in play when one spouse is going to testify against another or the state is trying to compell such testimony. The reality is if the woman would incriminate herself by answering questions, those are issues argued out on Fifth and Sixth Amendment grounds not spousal privilege. Potentially, she could invoke spousal communications privilege to avoid testifying about things her husband told her in private which would incriminate the brother. However, the heresay rule would render much of that testimony inadmissible anyways.

  100. nicho says:

    Apparently, it’s all moot now. Reports indicate she did meet with federal investigators, along with her lawyers, for several hours today. As far as her “Muslim heritage,” she only became a Muslim a few months ago, after being knocked up by the murderer. prior to that she was a college student from a Christian family.

  101. Well, the counter-argument people make is the old “obstruction of justice”/Martha Stewart prosecution. That if they want to get you, they can get you on something you said that wasn’t quite right. And while I might have my personal doubts about the likelihood of the wife having no useful info at all to offer, I could see why she might want a lawyer.

  102. Yeah I was surprised by the discussion – on Facebook too, it was apparently from the beginning that folks were into the topic. So I thought it was a good idea to review the consenus in a follow-up post (even if it somehow reveals that I’m a very very very bad bad bad person who hates bunnies, or Jesus, or Mao or something (see comment below)).

  103. loona_c says:

    Yeah, I was impressed with your original story–350 comments!!

  104. nicho says:

    First, she was right — as many people have pointed out — to refuse to talk to the cops. Never, ever do that — not even to a friendly-seeming guy on the street — without a lawyer present.

    Second, the investigators would have been remiss in not asking her. Maybe she did know something. Maybe she wanted to tell them something. Investigators were correct in trying to find this out.

    So, basically, everyone has done what they should have done in the matter — and people need to get their panties out of a wad.

  105. Guest says:

    I think it is a tried and true American tradition to expect the police and media to find and hang the guilty party with little regard for determining “root cause” and preventing future issues. We have seen it with accidents (Exxon Valdez) and crimes (Columbine). We love our revenge, and don’t care much for what can be done to prevent the same thing from happening again. Thus we are condemned to repeat our mistakes.

  106. If you are innocent, then you will remain innocent whether or not you talk to the FBI. You only have reason to speak if there is something that could get worse depending on the interpretation of the investigator. LIke being arrested on another matter, and searched, but they don’t find the drugs. Now you are headed to jail with drugs on your person. If those drugs are found on your person after you are locked-up or you decide to offer them to someone(really really stupid) you could be looking at bigger charges than simple possession. self-incrimination can be your friend. Especially if you feel or sense you are being set-up.

  107. ezpz says:

    It’s too bad, though, that “evidence” – especially in cases like this – can be very subjective, not to mention creative – or, I should say ‘created’.

  108. Mike Meyer says:

    Send them ALL to GITMO and forgetaboutit. Its STILL open for business. THAT IS American Justice.

  109. What’s wrong with me is that I think it’s still possible, and important, for people to have a respectful discussion about ideas, recognize nuance in debate, and learn something from each other during a free and open exchange of thoughts, rather than treat each other like assholes. Often I’m proven wrong.

  110. TuxedoCartman says:

    Holy shit John… WTF is wrong with you?! You asked if it was strange for her to not be 100% fully cooperative with the FBI, and your readers responded overwhelmingly with valid, logical points as to why it’s unwise to ever speak with law enforcement without your own attorney present. Then, rather than offer your own (logical) points as to why you disagree, you present this straw man of a post insinuating that we all feel “she should be left alone.” Uh-uh. What most of us said was that, given the record of police and prosecutors twisting people’s words against them, it would be WISE for her to lawyer up, innocence or guilt be damned.

    And as for the whole, “tell that to the mother of the boy who died” angle you’re trying to play… when did you develop such little regard for the constitution? Someone else (arguably more photogenic or relatable) suffered, therefore she NEEDS to give up her constitutional rights to council? Should we just declare her an enemy combatant and waterboard her till she agrees to talk sans lawyers? If they have any sort of criminal case to prosecute her with, they won’t need her talking to move forward with it. What if some gay guy you know bombs a church and kills a pretty blonde church girl, and an understandably hostile police force show up on your doorstep: would you be willing to “fully cooperate” with officials, without hiding behind a lawyer? If so, you’re a bigger idiot than I would have ever guessed.

    I seem to remember you used to be a Republican, John, and all I can say about this strawmanning and authoritarianism bullshit is… your roots are showing.

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