Feds pressure widow, pals in bomb case
BOSTON — Every time the widow of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev leaves her parents' house, federal agents watching the residence follow her in unmarked vehicles.
Federal authorities are placing intense pressure on what they know to be the inner circle of the two bombing suspects, arresting three college buddies of surviving brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and keeping Tamerlan's 24-year-old widow, Katherine Russell, in the public eye with their open surveillance and leaks to media about investigators' focus on her.
Legal experts say it's part of their quest not just to determine whether Russell and the friends are culpable but also to push for as much information as possible regarding whether the bombing suspects had ties to a terrorism network or accomplices working domestically or abroad. A primary goal is to push the widow and friends to give their full cooperation, according to the experts.
David Zlotnick, a professor of law at Roger Williams University and former federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia, said authorities may be tracking Russell closely because they feel she's not being completely honest about all she knows.
"It seems to me they don't believe her yet," he said.
Dzhokhar is in a prison hospital, facing a potential death sentence if convicted of the terrorism plot that authorities allege the 19-year-old and his late 26-year-old brother carried out April 15. Twin pressure cooker bombs detonated near the race's finish line, leaving three people dead and injuring more than 260 others. Tamerlan died in a gunfight with authorities April 19, a day after authorities released photos of the suspects.
Tamerlan's widow has been ensconced at her parents' North Kingstown, R.I., home since then. Much about her remains a mystery, including what she knew or witnessed in the weeks, months and years before the bombings, and what she saw and did in the days after.
It's unclear when Russell last communicated with her husband, but her lawyer, Amato DeLuca, told The Associated Press in an interview last month that the last time she saw him was before she went to work April 18. DeLuca said Tuesday that Russell had met with law enforcement "for many hours over the past week," and would continue to do so in the coming days. He previously told the AP that Russell didn't suspect her husband of anything before the bombings, and nothing seemed amiss in the days after.
Zlotnick said the fact that charges have been brought against the younger brother's three friends from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth over allegations they covered up for Dzhokhar indicates authorities are willing to go after the widow for similar actions. That puts pressure on Russell to cooperate.
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, students from Kazakhstan, were charged this week with conspiring to obstruct justice by taking a backpack with fireworks and a laptop from Dzhokhar's dorm room, while Robel Phillipos was charged with lying to investigators about the visit to the dorm room. All three are 19 years old and face the possibility of five or more years in federal prison.
The lawyers for the Kazakh students said their clients had nothing to do with the bombing and were shocked by the crime. Phillipos' attorney, Derege Demissie, said he was accused only of a "misrepresentation."
Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge in Massachusetts and a professor at Harvard Law School, said she believes authorities will try to use the conspiracy charges against the friends to turn them into cooperating witnesses against Dzhokhar. They will also see if the defendants can help them determine if there's a wider plot and a continuing danger for citizens.
"I think it's to find out ... are there other tentacles here?" Gertner said.
A grand jury is likely already hearing testimony against Dzhokhar, said Michael Sullivan, a former U.S. attorney for Massachusetts who also once headed the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He said investigators will be looking into whether the brothers tested bombs before the attack and asking questions about whom Tamerlan had contact with when he traveled to Russia last year.
Those are some of the things they would also want to know from Russell.
One of investigators' goals right now is "to figure out if she has knowledge of how he became radicalized, who he spoke to, how he may have learned to make the bomb and whether there are others out there who share his views," said Ron Sullivan, a professor and director of Harvard's Criminal Justice Institute.
In addition to threatening her with criminal charges and a potential prison sentence to get what they want from her, Ron Sullivan said authorities can bring social pressure to bear, including leaking information that suggests she isn't being helpful.
"She's the mother of a young daughter. I imagine she does not want to be deemed as a pariah or ostracized by the whole country," he said.
One question that swirls around Russell is what she saw inside the cramped Cambridge apartment she shared with Tamerlan, whom she married in 2010, and their toddler. Two U.S. officials have told the AP that Dzhokhar told investigators the bombs were assembled in that apartment. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the details of the ongoing investigation.
Robert Clark Corrente, a former U.S. attorney for Rhode Island, said it is unlikely Russell could be prosecuted if she saw a pressure cooker in the home. But if she saw a dozen pressure cookers and several bags of fireworks, that could be a different story.
Her culpability for her actions after the bombings is also a matter of degrees. She could be in trouble if authorities determine she harbored someone or destroyed evidence. But even if Russell communicated with her husband after the release of his photo as the bombing suspect, Corrente said she may not be charged because of the public way it happened.
"I think anybody would be expected to call his or her spouse and say, 'You won't believe what I just saw on TV,'" Corrente said.
The arrests of Dzhokhar's friends and scrutiny of Russell may also have a deterrent effect by demonstrating what happens to people who don't alert authorities if someone close to them is involved in a terror plot, Zlotnick said.
Eugene O'Donnell, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice lecturer and former police officer and assistant district attorney in New York City, said the message from federal authorities is clear: "No stone will be unturned" in their probe.
"I think after 9/11 there's really a kitchen sink approach to national security," he said.
US officials seek lessons in bombing catastrophe
Aim to balance antiterror steps with civil liberties
by Bryan Bender
WASHINGTON — Three weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings, the US Department of Homeland Security is seeking to use lessons from the attacks to enhance community policing and more effectively prepare religious and civic leaders to spot the warning signs of homegrown terrorism, according to top officials.
The approach, while raising its own set of civil liberties concerns, is seen by officials as a potentially more effective and less intrusive way of combating terror than expansive electronic and photographic surveillance powers or massive security sweeps at public events.
“How do we take the knowledge that we have acquired looking at these events and incorporate that into our community-policing efforts so that communities are better able to recognize an emerging threat, irrespective of the motivation, [and] prevent the threat from materializing?” explained John Cohen, the principal deputy counterterrorism coordinator at the Department of Homeland Security.
The approach requires a deep analysis of the Boston Marathon bombings by officials in a Department of Homeland Security program called Countering Violent Extremists, which was established in 2011 to devise new ways to confront homegrown threats.
Officials are profiling the psychology of the two Boston suspects, the tactics employed in the attack, and the interaction between law enforcement and local leaders to determine how additional outreach in the local community around Cambridge, where the two suspects lived, might have headed off tragedy, several officials said.
The goal of the review is to answer a key question: With additional training and encouragement, could local religious, education, or civic leaders have picked up on the emerging threat and alerted authorities?
The administration's desire for greater community engagement — which President Obama briefly mentioned in a press conference last week — is emerging as some members of Congress and security specialists assert that the Boston bombings underscore the need for more aggressive forms of policing: more domestic surveillance, greater security at large public gatherings, and greater police powers than were granted after 9/11.
There have also been calls for more surveillance cameras in public places, and even spy drones to help prevent domestic terrorist attacks or track potential suspects in the aftermath. Meanwhile, because the two primary Boston suspects were immigrants, others have advocated for a major tightening of border security.
But according to several top Obama administration officials, counterterrorism officials in Washington are taking a cautious approach to the calls for more layers of security, out of fear of overreacting and eroding Americans' civil liberties — a sacrifice that still may not make the nation safer.
“What are we willing to give up in terms of our freedoms to achieve security we're probably never fully going to get anyway?” said a senior Homeland Security official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.
But some local leaders also are wary about “community engagement'' aimed at early detection of certain behavior, concerned that it could lead to a system of domestic informants and unwarranted scrutiny of innocent people.
“I would be very nervous about perpetuating a culture when we are giving people a list of things that are indicators someone might be a threat to our national security, when there really is no profile,” said Ayanna Pressley, councilor-at-large on the Boston City Council.
Pressley, who was in Washington on Friday for a panel discussion on the lessons of the Boston attacks sponsored by the Truman National Security Project, agreed communities “should have a heightened and greater awareness of anyone who appears to be distressed.”
“But we need to tread very lightly here,” she added.
Civil liberties groups have also long been concerned about empowering local law enforcement or others to monitor individuals or organizations for possible criminal or terrorist behavior. Last fall, the Massachusetts ACLU obtained, through a suit against the Boston Police Department, intelligence reports that designated peace activists as “extremists.”
Meanwhile, so-called law enforcement “fusion” centers, designed to disseminate information on possible terrorist activity, have come under fire from Congress for unjustified invasions of privacy.
In the wake of the Boston attacks, the ACLU's national office urged Americans to resist the urge to profile people with particular backgrounds.
“Our nation needs to stay the course and judge people by their actions and their character, rather than the color of their skin or their religion or beliefs,” the organization said in a statement. “This is what makes America great.”
Cohen, a Lexington native who previously served as homeland security adviser for Governor Mitt Romney, said separate government reviews will determine if early warnings from Russia about suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whose name was added to a pair of terror watchlists in 2011, should have triggered more action or scrutiny from authorities.
The FBI investigated in 2011 whether Tsarnaev was becoming increasingly radicalized and determined he did not pose a threat.
In the meantime, Homeland Security is using the Boston attacks as a case study to develop better profiles of potentially violent individuals.
“We have developed an analytic process where we look at the event, we look at the tactics used in the event, we look at how the event was prepared for by the perpetrator, we look at the behaviors and indicators that were exhibited,” Cohen said. “We work with experts in the field — behavioral profilers and others — to get better understanding of the psychological dynamics of the individual or groups of individuals who carried out the attack.”
Government studies of previous large-scale attacks perpetrated by religious extremists, antigovernment groups, and the mentally disturbed have highlighted certain shared patterns, officials say.
“When you take motivation out of it,” said one US official involved in reviewing the homeland security implications of the Boston attack, “the indicators that are apparent to people are in many cases common across the board.
“In all of these cases there are opportunities for intervention. It may not be law enforcement at all times that is best suited to do it. It may be a teacher. It may be a faith leader,” the official said.
President Obama, speaking at a White House press conference on Wednesday, cited the benefit of enlisting well-informed community leaders in schools, churches, and other civic institutions to be part of an early warning network.
“Are there more things that we can do, whether it's engaging with communities where there's a potential for self-radicalization of this sort?” Obama proposed. “Is there work that can be done in terms of detection? But all of this has to be done in the context of our laws, due process.”
Such efforts, including training police cadets and organizing seminars for religious and other community leaders, have been expanded in the past two years under a plan Obama approved in 2011 called the “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.''
“Our best defenses against this threat are well-informed and equipped families, local communities, and institutions,” the plan stated. “Law enforcement plays an essential role in keeping us safe, but so too does engagement and partnership with communities.”
Oakland police take large amount of heroin off streets
by Nick Smith
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland police and FBI agents staged a series of early morning raids on Friday with big results. A lot of heroin is now off the streets, along with weapons and so-called "cop killer" bullets.
ABC7 News was given an exclusive look at the evidence recovered from the raid. Police say multiple warrants were issued in a direct response in a spike in violent crime.
"This is just some of the raw material, this is the tar heroin," said Oakland police Sgt. Sekou Millington.
In a series of early morning raids that produced multiple arrests, members of the Oakland Police Department's Special Operations Team confiscated weapons, ammunition and drugs.
"Street value is anywhere from $20,000 - $50,000 of heroin. That's a significant recovery," said Oakland Police Lt. Nishant Joshi.
It is significant because Joshi's special task force would not be possible without the voter-approved Measure Y, giving him the extra manpower to target crime in problem areas.
"Those that have been involved in and continue to be involved in violence can expect more response from the Oakland Police Department and our partners," said Joshi.
In addition to the drugs packaged for street sales, the pre-dawn raid netted netted heroin -- both tar and cut -- $1,600 in cash, two assault rifles, a loaded AR-15 100-round magazine and high caliber and hollow point bullets.
"The .223 and the .762 caliber ammo will cut through police body armor with ease. Our body armor can't stop that type of firepower," said Millington.
Victor Brown has lived and raised his family in West Oakland for more than 30 years and believes he knows why the crime doesn't really gets cleaned up.
"When we have more officers available, when they are working in the community and we have community policing, then you see the crime go down. You take that away, and crime goes right back up again," said Brown.
Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan is pushing hard for neighborhood policing. He says this morning's raids are only a prelude of what's to come.
"We know that this community has been plagued by violence and we want to make sure we send an impact message to this community that we do care about them," said Jordan.
"I can see they're moving in the right direction, but you have to understand, you're putting a Band-Aid over a serious wound," said Brown.
In 2004 Oakland residents voted to tax themselves for Measure Y. The Violence Prevention and Safety Act uses public funds to fund non-profits and social groups to help reduce violence in troubled areas.
Jim Bogle | Battered women have a champion
by CINDY HOEDEL
Jim Bogle is president of Newhouse Domestic Violence Shelter in Kansas City, newhouseshelter.org. The hotline for abuse victims and people who want to help is 816-468-5463. This conversation took place at the shelter.
How did you come to work with battered women?
My wife, Connie Russell, joined the board of Newhouse seven years ago. When I retired from IBM in 2008, she asked me to join as well. But that didn't make sense — two married people on the same board. Especially since we often disagree with each other.
So instead I decided to cook for the women. I did that for more than three years. In 2012, when the former director left the organization, I asked them if they would consider a man being the head of the shelter. I'm the only man running a women's shelter in Kansas City and one of just two in Missouri.
What qualities do you have that make you able to relate to the women in your care?
I am a survivor of a home where there was domestic violence and an alcoholic father. The first thing that does is turn off the judgmental adult opinion. My mother went back to my father, the abuser, seven times. And that is the national average, by the way.
For people who have never experienced abuse, it is easy to blame the woman by asking why in the world she would go back.
That's correct. But there are reasons they go back. In my mother's case, she was a waitress. She had three small children. Without the abuser's income, it was impossible to live.
What are the typical circumstances of the women in your shelter?
Their average annual income is $6,000. Many of them do not have a high school diploma, and there are often other obstacles to gaining employment, such as a bad check or drugs in their past.
Are there other reasons besides economic ones why women would go back to the abuser?
Love. She wants to believe the abuser will change.
How prevalent is domestic abuse in Missouri?
Every 16 minutes, a domestic abuse is reported in Missouri. The good news is, the police are now able to file charges even if the woman chooses not to. The bad news is, it's epidemic. Only 25 percent of abuse incidents get reported.
You know someone who is being abused — we all do — and if you think you don't, it's because the stigma attached to it means they won't tell you.
What should people do if they suspect someone in their life is a victim of abuse?
Try to get them to share it with you and if they do, do not share it with anyone else. They are very, very embarrassed. Encourage the person to take action. The abuser is usually very controlling. He controls the checkbook and the car keys. He will threaten to harm the pets if the victim leaves.
So help the victim get a plan. If she has a car, tell her to take the car keys and put them under a rock outside. Put $20 with the keys. Have a code word with that person, so if she feels threatened she can call you and say, “I'm sorry I can't go out for pizza with you tonight.” If “pizza” is the code word, you know to call the police for help.
What happens when the police come?
They will escort you out and also your children if there are children and take you to one of the safe homes. If the abuser discovers the location of the safe home, we move you to another one. You get 30 days at the shelter to stop and heal. We offer a bed, food, clothing if you need it. After 30 days you are welcome to participate in a program to break the cycle.
What does that involve?
It involves group therapy for you, the victim. While you are seeing therapists to help you deal with the trauma, we offer babysitting and a social worker who works with the children. Our passion at Newhouse is also to break the cycle at the children's level. A girl from an abusive home is four times more likely than average to have people abuse her as an adult. A boy from an abusive home is four times more likely to become an abuser.
The next step is, we offer programs in self-sufficiency. A banking person comes in to help you manage your money to make ends meet. If you are determined to become self-sufficient, we can house you for up to two years while you make a transition to a new life.