Saturday, 1 June 2013

This story stinks

My nomination for Most Bogus Explanation of the Week goes to the multi-hued stories emerging from the killing of Ibragim Todashev by an FBI agent after several hours of questioning, allegedly because the dead guy attacked the feds and other cops who then had to shoot him six times in self-defense. The details of this bizarre incident are so patently suspicious that one would expect some sort of uproar. But then one would be wrong because ‘terrorism’ suspects are to be considered road kill until proven innocent.

I suppose black kids in some of our rougher neighborhoods might not raise an eyebrow about the incident given the frequency with which the cops’ guns ‘go off accidentally’ when accosting them on the streets. But aren’t the FBI guys interested at least in keeping suspects alive long enough to find out things? Why was so little care exercised in the security of interrogator and suspect in this case?

When the Todashev killing was first made known, the official story was that he lunged at the questioning agent with a knife. The suspect had a knife in his possession? Does this perhaps sound like um, sloppy police work? Reporting on the anonymously-sourced accounts of the knife are summarized by Atlantic Wire here.

Note that the first explanations included the knife—important for creating impressions about why the death occurred—but once the first news cycle was over, suddenly maybe he didn’t have a knife after all but overturned a table in a threatening manner. Or something.

One would think one or two gunshots would be enough to restrain the most intractable detainee. So why six, including one in the back of the head?

There are a raft of other unanswered questions about this killing:

-Why was there no video recording of the interrogation? Several sources reported that Todashev had confessed to a triple-homicide committed with the Boston bomber just before he was killed. Huh? They get this close to a confession and don’t have him in a police station with cameras running? They’ve identified a dangerous killer with martial arts training and yet have taken no security precautions while holding him?

-Why did Todashev not have a lawyer present? They are about to secure a confession in a murder case, for chrissakes, but there was no concern about it being thrown out because of a lack of a documented Miranda warning?

-Why did Todashev have a funny feeling about the last questioning session with the FBI, as his friend Khusn Taramiv relates? Why did he think he was going to die? Did something happen in prior interrogations that set off an internal alarm?

But what’s really remarkable about the story is how little anyone seems to care. I suppose once we accept that the President himself can maintain a ‘kill list’ that he carefully reviews every Tuesday and that this list can include American citizens if he so decides, then it’s not much of a stretch to think that any agent of the state should just go ahead and generate a list of his own. After all, we’re talking about ‘terrorists’ here, the ‘worst of the worst’, and the American people demand to be protected from these nefarious creatures at all costs. So all those legal niceties known as the rule of law can go out the window. It’s fine though really because these tactics will never, ever be used against the rest of us.

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