Say you are the government official in charge of the Boston case and it’s Thursday, May 2. What do you do next?
So far things have gone pretty well for you, in that almost no problems have surfaced outside the blogosphere. The MSM have bought your claim that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has confessed to the bombings, leading to a widespread public belief that he is guilty (to the point where journalists sometimes forget to put in the word “alleged” when calling him “the Boston bomber”). And your story that he said he and his brother were motivated by “the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” has even been embraced by much of the blogosphere. Against any objection that he was in no shape to offer such detail you floated the claim that he was interrogated during the “sedation holidays” where the medication drip is temporarily shut off that are normally used for doctors to find out if a patient’s brain is functioning properly.
And no one outside the blogosphere has questioned the medical ethics of using the holidays for that purpose, so that the doctors and nurses at Beth Israel stayed cowed and kept their mouths shut, even letting your people make the public announcements of Tsarnaev’s medical condition. And now he is in a prison hospital where no one is going to interfere.
Of course you could not keep the Congressional intelligence committees completely in the dark, but for the most part you have managed to divert them into blaming the FBI for “dropping the ball” by not keeping tabs on Tamerlan Tsarnaev after interviewing him in 2011, playing on the Republican desire to embarrass the Obama administration. The only problem is that a pesky staffer spilled the beans to the LA Times that your people had denied Tsarnaev’s repeated requests for a lawyer during the pre-Miranda interrogation. But the rest of the MSM didn’t take that up, and even in the blogosphere the emphasis was on a pessimistic conclusion that this meant the final death of constitutional rights, rather than an opening for defense attorneys to get everything that was said in that hospital room prior to Tsarnaev’s Mirandization thrown out in court.
One potential problem is that video that surfaced in the blogosphere which seems to show an ambulatory Tamerlan Tsarnaev, with body not riddled with bullets and not run over by a car, being taken into police custody, so that his subsequent death must have been their responsibility. But if that ever gets into the MSM you can probably claim that the person is someone else who has only been made to look like him with CGI. And if worse comes to worse the Boston PD is not a federal agency, so that it is not your problem.
And you’ve had a good day. Yesterday you had two Kazakh friends of the surviving Tsarnaev arrested, and trumpeted the fact along with a damning photo of them with the “guilty” bomber. It was wall to wall on cable for the rest of the day, producing a groundswell of Islamophobia as manifested in the comments threads to the online versions of the story.
So the atmosphere is nicely anti anything associated with the defendant. But that was yesterday and the story is off the front pages again. What can you do now to keep the fire smoldering? Maybe arrest the older Tsarnaev’s widow for not betraying her husband and calling the police immediately after she talked with him on the phone following his identification as a suspect? No, too dangerous. She has a 3-year old child and there are reports that she has now renounced Islam. She might come across as a sympathetic figure, and we’ve already got the problem of trying to get a curly-haired cutie who was probably under his brother’s spell executed.
Yes, that’s it! Accuse the brothers of really planning to attack an iconic American holiday. (Buzzes intercom) “[assistant,] float the story that the brothers really wanted to attack Christmas — no, wait, that’s too late in the year to make it sound plausible. OK, say that Tsarnaev confessed that they were really going to attack a celebration on the 4th of July, but, I don’t know, OK, say that they finished the bombs ahead of time and were hot to trot, so they went for the marathon. Give it to the Times and everyone else will follow.”
Friday, May 3
Well, that went fairly well. The Times front-paged it in its print edition, and it’s on the cable networks.
Not perfect, though. It’s not wall-to-wall on cable and the Washington Post only put it on page 3 (since they had to acknowledge that the Times got it first). What now?