Secrecy and the Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

In the case of the Boston Marathon bombing, the United States government is attempting to operate very much like a secret society. This behavior cannot be allowed to continue.

The latest evidence of this unacceptable and indefensible behavior can be seen in the prosecution’s continued refusal to turn over to Tsarnaev’s appeal team the full record of the trial and Judge O’Toole’s unbelievable rulings in support of that refusal.

There is no precedent for this refusal and no justification for its continuance in the appeals phase of this case.

From “Secret Society” on Wikipedia:

Alan Axelrod, author of the “International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Fraternal Orders” defines a secret society as an organization that:

  • Is exclusive
  • Claims to own special secrets
  • Shows a strong inclination to favor its own

This definition is more than adequate to describe the behavior of and relationship between the presiding judge and the prosecution attorneys in the Boston Marathon bombing case. Documents filed in answer to requests for discovery (in the initial trial) and requests for a full record of the first trial by the appeals team are rife with language and reasoning that would make any secret society proud.

In a free and democratic justice system that guarantees fairness for all in its constitution, it makes me sick. If it is somehow upheld, it should make us all very much afraid. The future of this great, unruly republic is unraveling, one case of staged terrorism resulting in one wrongful conviction at a time.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is innocent; of that let there no longer be any doubt.

Wikipedia’s full definition of a secret society:

A secret society is a club or an organization whose activities, events and inner functioning are concealed from non-members. The society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence. This term usually (emphasis mine) excludes covert groups, such as intelligence agencies or guerrilla insurgencies, that hide their activities and memberships but maintain a public presence. The exact qualifications for labeling a group a secret society are disputed, but definitions generally rely on the degree to which the organization insists on secrecy (again, emphasis mine) and might involve the retention and transmission of secret knowledge…

I’ll stop there. You get the idea.

From court document:


Appellant, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, by his counsel, hereby replies to the government’s Opposition to his motion to review a full record on appeal. The government continues to refuse to disclose numerous ex parte filings. This refusal appears to be unprecedented in a capital case, particularly given the availability of long-established methods for protecting sensitive information (emphasis mine).

In other words, the government’s continued attempt to keep information from the appeals team, just like they did the first defense team, by use of high-sounding but empty rhetoric intended to do nothing more than allow them to continue hiding behind that tired, old smokescreen of  “national security” simply does not hold water. In the case of the Boston Marathon bombing, the government has painted itself into a corner and having no other way out, continues to stall, waiting for the paint to dry.

From what I have observed thus far, paint on the bottom of the prosecution team’s shoes is all but unavoidable for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appears, so far, to finally have a real defense team whose sole purpose (no pun intended) is to defend him. Go figure.

The issue of keeping Dzhokhar incarcerated under SAMs is also defended as being necessary due to “national security concerns.”

In my letter to then President Obama, I attacked this weak argument with the same logic as did Dzhokhar’s appeal attorneys when I wrote to Obama:

I am not fooled by the argument that it is in the name of national security. Existing protocol already provides for incoming and outgoing inmate mail to be screened.

When did it become a threat to our national security to send letters of hope, encouragement and comfort to an inmate during what is surely the darkest time of their life… Or am I making this request to correspond with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev too simple?

If there is another reason for the continued denial of correspondence with him, I can only conclude that it is of a punitive nature. I want to believe we are better than that.

Clearly, the government has secrets to keep – big secrets – regarding what did and did not happen in Boston. Clearly, crimes have been committed – and not by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Clearly, those responsible are running out of excuses. Sticking together seems now to be their only option.

When these issues are considered by a higher court, as surely they must be, I will count on other judges, other voices, other men of the caliber and stripe of Juan Torruella to finally put an end to the injustice that has thus far marked this case. I will expect unbiased and impartial judges to tell the prosecution they must hand over the complete and un­-redacted record of the case to the appeal team. I will expect the prosecution to be forced to stop hiding behind the worn-out “national security” excuse. I will expect them to be told to follow the long-established procedures already in place for handling sensitive information.

And I will expect, ultimately, that God’s plan for Dzhokhar will prevail. Of that also let there no longer be any doubt.

The appeals team also stated in a recent filing:

…the discovery that was denied in this case may well have led to the development of mitigation evidence or the ability to counter aggravation evidence. Neither the government, nor, respectfully, the Court, should be in the position of making the assessment of what is “helpful” in a capital case (Opp. At 9), especially one of this complexity, without input from the defendant’s informed, experienced, and zealous advocates.

As George O’Toole continues to leave a trail of bad rulings like bread crumbs in this case, the new appeals team seems able and willing to call him and the prosecution on the proverbial carpet. In my opinion, the behavior of the prosecution and Court only increases the likelihood of a new trial for Dzhokhar. And of the outcome of that trial, when it happens, let there no longer be any doubt: he who was falsely accused and wrongly convicted will go free.





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